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Last Minute Gift-Giving Strategies

Because you don't want someone to say, "What am I supposed to do with this?" after you leave.

It’s the week before Christmas, which means it is crunch time for gift giving. The holiday parties, the service providers, the neighbors, and all the other special people that we all appreciate so much but are not always top of mind. 

I know women who have gift closets. While they're out and about, they'll pick up things on sale to keep in the gift closet so they will always have something at the last minute. I’ve never been really good about those types of things. All the candles I buy on sale are my own. 

One of my friends and I made an agreement years ago that our gift to each other every year was that we wouldn’t feel obligated to give each other holiday gifts. And we maintain that agreement today. 

Because it is stressful to come up with something that you know people will appreciate but doesn't set you back too much time, money, or energy.

For years I watched my mother and grandmother rattle through a list of gift-recipients which included cousins, neighbors, friends, and the mailman my Maw had a crush on. And inevitably, they would develop a plan for the year. One year, they decided they would make hard candy. It was the boiled sugar kind that required coloring, flavoring, and a thermometer that would determine when this scalding liquid reached the “hard ball” stage. Then it would be poured into rows of powdered sugar until it set. Almost all of it was cinnamon flavored.  Another year, it was puppy chow – melted chocolate on Chex Cereal and then tossed in powdered sugar. 

Y’all, our powdered sugar budget around Christmas was through the roof!

And then my mother started making cheese balls. Many of you may have eaten a cheese ball from Hickory Farms or the Swiss Colony. They have Cheddar Cheese and sometimes port wine, and feel like they've been in a fridge forever. My mother would make homemade cheese balls. She'd take the largest Tupperware bowl she owned – like you could soak your feet in it big– and fill it with bricks of cream cheese, onion seasoning, garlic seasoning, and a little shredded cheddar cheese. She’d squish them and pat them out like mud pies to form them into these 1 lb balls and roll then them in crushed pecans. We kept a stack of them in the flower walk-in cooler. Everyone got one. Merry Christmas! Here’s your cheese ball! To be eaten with Ritz crackers. I got a text message from an old friend not too long ago asking for the recipe because they missed it so much.

My mother and grandmother sold gift items in their flower shop, so if they were completely caught off guard, they’d just grab something from the store. Then they’d be the belle of the Bunko ball carrying in a grapevine wreath, beaded necklace, or a purse that had been inspired by a famous designer, but not the actual name brand.

I don’t have a store to commandeer things from when I need to give a last minute gift, so instead, I developed a strategy. Although it occurs to me now that I could have been handing out copies of Mothers of the Missing Mermaid this year.  

Homemade chocolate Chip cookies in plain silver tins
Simple tins, simple ribbon, yummy goodie inside.

Here are my last minute gift strategies for when I need a quick gift that I know that people will enjoy. 

  1. Sweets and Treats -- I will bake something, but even if I don’t have time to bake, little sweets, treats, or candies are always appreciated because the receiver feels like they have a little goodie all for themself, and if they don’t like it, they don’t feel bad for giving it away or tossing it out. World Market is a fantastic place to find little packages of cookies, candy, or oversized blocks of Kit Kats.

  2. Wine or Champagne – If your person imbibes, what’s great about it as a gift is it doesn’t need to be consumed immediately. It doesn’t take up a lot of space, can spice up a meal or celebration down the road, or can be regifted. Check out my post about great wines for gifting

  3. Stress Balls or squishy things – NeeDoh is a company that makes neon and electric blue squishable toys that bring a pop of color to a desktop or drawer. They come in balls, blocks, or the cutest little cats.

  4. Blind bags – Kids love these things, but these are also fun little goodies for adults, especially fandom adults. Stores like BoxLunch are a great place to pick up blind bag clips, figurines, and enamel lapel pins. 

  5. Scratch Off Lottery Tickets – I attended a white elephant party one time where the gift was a box of scratch offs. People went nuts over them, and some of them even paid off. 

  6. A deck of cards – I’ve learned that keeping a deck of cards in my pocket can keep me or as many as four people occupied when there is a lull. It’s way more fun to play Crazy Eights while waiting for food at Cracker Barrel than just getting sucked into our phones. W. found a set of trivia cards at PopShelf that are themed for the decades (the 80s, the 90s, the 00s), which are lots of fun when people are sitting around. And if in a pinch, grab a deck of Uno cards. Even if they have a deck already, it’s probably time for a new one. 

  7. Gift Cards – I don’t like gift cards, but I am putting them here because – let’s face it – they work. Hubs loves gift cards. He would be perfectly content if he only got a stack of gift cards wrapped in ribbon under the tree. I think Kroger actually has the best selection.  

  8. Self-made goodie bag – You know what’s better than getting a gift? Getting a box full of little gifts. Slone is the best at this type of gifting, often mailing us a box full of candies, cookies, sheet masks, hair bands, T-shirts, and more. I did this for a friend just this week, filling a bag with eye patches, hand masks, caramel popcorn, and a furry sleep mask. I added a bottle of sparkling wine and called it a Mom’s Night Off kit!. She loved it and I had so much fun putting it together!

A box with a brown tin of tea, a black coffee mug with white cats drawn on it, a package of chocolate turtles, all wrapped in orange paper.
Goodie box from Slone

Remember, when buying something at the last minute, go for something small, cute, sweet, and fun. 

Read Books. Wear Boots.




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