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Last Minute Gift Guide: no Wrapping, no Mailing, no Supply Chain Delay

The countdown is on. There are only 5 shopping days left and you haven’t snagged a present for someone who will definitely be expecting one. What to do? You could always give them money or stop at Walgreen’s, which is open even on Christmas day, but you really wanted to give them something personal and special. You may have waited until the last minute, but that doesn’t mean your intentions weren’t heartfelt. You want a gift that shows you care, not reveals that you were rushed. Here are a few ideas:

1. Books. Books are great because they’re a gift in and of themselves, but they can also be a way to indulge the recipient’s greater passion. You can give them a classic work of literature, a modern romance or mystery, but you can also give them a specialty book that will help them celebrity any hobby or interest, be it sports, cooking, photography, travel or art. A golf book with expert tips might mean just as much to a player’s game as a new iron club might. I would especially recommend a book subscription, because it gives ongoing pleasure. Page 1 is a company that hand selects book, based on the reader’s taste, so it feels like a gift that is tailor made for your recipient. They offer 3, 6 or 12 month subscriptions come wrapped, with a personalized gift card, free shipping and a side gift to go along with the book.

Page 1 offers book subscriptions, individual books and gift bundles

2. Experience Gifts. Instead of buying them a thing, buy them memories and feelings: a spa visit, dinner coupons, cooking lessons, concert tickets, museums passes, lessons, or a hotel package which might include spa, food and activity offerings. Xperience Days offers a wide range of these type of gifts, be it food tasting to golf lessons with a pro.

couple doing skydiving together
Photo by Russ Jani on
You can buy lessons for almost any interest and they’re offered locally, no matter where your recipient lives

3. Streaming Services. So often this year I’ve heard people say they wanted to watch a certain television show, but they refused to subscribe to a new streaming service in order to do so. Then, there are many people who have cut the cable cord and miss their favorite premium content. If you know someone like this, buy them something they decided not to buy themselves. You can purchase Hulu, Netflix, Sling, Peacock or Apple TV for others. You can find gift cards for streaming services, in grocery, drug or big box stores, the same places where you buy department store gift cards. You might also want to consider streaming music, like Pandora or Spotify.

man holding remote control
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Buy them streams

4. Photo and story archiving. Now that my own mother is 84 and her siblings are aging, too, I’ve begun to fear that large swatches of the family history will be lost to time. I’m not a crafty person and you won’t find me making scrap books with glue and construction paper. That’s why I welcomed the opportunity to create a scrapbook electronically and let others do the work. I chose Storyworth, which lets me upload pictures and text and, after a year, will preserve meaningful moments and memories my mother and I have collected online into a beautiful keepsake book. Storyworth suggests questions for you to ask your loved ones, such as their favorite vacations or childhood home. These are great conversation starters, but you can form your own questions to ask, too. The questions are sent on a weekly basis. You or the recipient can upload pictures to correspond with the questions and answers and in the end you have a book, full of photographs, stories and descriptive captions that your family can pass down for generations. Your friends and relatives can order a copy of their own, as well.

5. Vinyl. Everything old is new again. For the person who has everything, why not buy it again. Recently, there has been a renewed love of vinyl music and, over the last 5 years, people supplemented their CD and MP3 collection with old-fashioned vinyl. You can buy the new Adele album in vinyl or go to a used record store (yes, they still exist) and purchase a classic. Remember buying used is a great way to avoid the “I’m sorry but we’re out of stock” blues. Moreover, with vinyl, you’re not just buying music, you’re giving them a collectible. Often the vinyl comes with bonus material, liner notes, and photographs that gives fan more than a computer download ever could. The album covers can be mounted on the wall, as art. Audiophiles swear that vinyl sounds better, warmer, than even remastered digital versions do. If your recipient doesn’t have a turntable, that would make a great gift as well.

black and gold vinyl record player
Photo by Matthias Groeneveld on Pexel

6. Buying Used. As suggested above, buying used is a great shopping alternative and it’s unlikely that you’ll have to fight the holiday crowd, if you drop into your nearest “previously owned” shop. Most people dismiss second hand stores as selling only worn hand me downs. They have a negative “Good Will” perception in their mind, when that’s a notion that’s more outdated than the vintage merchandise is. Used stores are a great way to find high end goods for less than you would pay for them new. Furthermore, in many cases you can find items that are not really “used” at all. They might still have the tags on them. And when you’re talking jewelry, I don’t think there’s any such thing as an “old” diamond. Pawn shops are a great place to look for used items and, if you go, make sure you search for anything you might want to sell yourself before heading off. You can use any money you make towards the gift item. There are also luxury resale stores like, the Real Real, online and in brick and mortar locations, where you can nab designer goods at a discount.

7. Monitoring. Now that everyone has The Ring doorbell, they’re grappling with the monthly fees that come along with it. Why not gift them by paying for a few months of doorbell or security camera protection or a service like Life Alert that makes the elderly feel secure. People are using cameras for much more than protection against burglars. They monitor pets, children, even plants. Get them a gift that offsets some of the costs of running a Smart Home.

8. Food and Wine. Of course, the gift basket is an old staple, be it filled with wine, food or sweets. But with all of the subscription food services that abound, you can take edible gifts in a whole new direction. And remember Uber Eats and Instacart. They offer gift cards as well. Or have food delivered to them. Because of Covid, many restaurants that did not offer take out before do today, so the options are unlimited.

a man in black crew neck t shirt making food delivery
Photo by Mikhail Nilov on
Have Christmas or New Year’s dinner delivered

Now, that your time to shop is down to the wire, just remember that a great gift is not always something that can be tied with a bow. In today’s world, virtual gifts are sometimes better than those things we can touch and can be a more perfect match for your loved one’s tastes. What is more, if you need something quick that’s the way to get it there the fastest, without stinting on that personal touch.

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