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5 Fun and Frugal Last Minute Christmas Gifts

last minute christmas gifts

I know it’s a bit early to think about last minute Christmas gifts though as the calendar falls this year we will have one less week to get Christmas shopping done. With that in mind, I thought I’d share some last minute Christmas gift ideas – several of which I’ve used in the past and others I’m looking seriously at this year.

I have to let you in on a secret…Christmas is coming up shortly! If you’ve waited around to buy Christmas gifts then the time to act on getting that Christmas gift is now. The key is not to panic, and stick to your budget. You can still be frugal and get last minute Christmas gifts that will make both your wallet and the person you’re shopping for happy.

I’ve written about my disdain for going out shopping at this time of year, and thankfully there’s several ways a person like me can still buy a gift from the convenience of your own house through sites like Amazon. While some of the gifts might require you to actually go out and fight the crowds, they’ll still score you some great last minute Christmas gifts.

My list is not meant to be exhaustive, but to give you some ideas on what you can possibly purchase. As an aside, if you’re looking for specific ideas, I’ve also written on great Christmas gift ideas for your wife if you need help coming up with other ideas. :-)

Gift Cards Make Great Last Minute Christmas Gifts 

 

I know for some that a gift card is a no-go in terms of gift giving, but that’s a topic for a different place and time. Part of the reason that gift cards make great last minute Christmas gifts is that you can get them almost anywhere. You can buy them online or in store. I know shipping is an issue at this time of the year and if you’re like me you won’t want to pay an exorbitant price to ship with two day shipping but there is a solution.

Many online retailers now offer you the choice to buy an electronic gift card and it gets delivered to the recipient’s email inbox. Not bad at all in my opinion. If that’s not an option, you can even get a gift card at your local grocery store. All that said, my gift card go-to is Gift Certificates.com as they have thousands of retailers to choose from or you can get the recipient a “Super Certificate” that allows them to choose where they want the gift card from. My other favorite option is buying an Amazon Gift Card as they can be sent via email and can be used on virtually anything! That’s also not to mention that you can use any remaining balance you have on anything you want with the Amazon option as opposed to being limited like you would with a department store card.

Coffee

 

If you’re looking for last minute Christmas gift ideas, look no further than coffee as a possible Christmas gift. If you live with or are related to a coffee lover, then brew up some joy for them with a gift of coffee. Don’t limit yourself to just coffee; give a travel or coffee mug or even a gift card to your local coffee shop. My wife loves coffee and if I am in the pinch for some last minute Christmas gifts than I need look no further than a coffee gift card. You’d think I bought her a diamond with how much she loves them. If you’re thinking of coffee as an option Starbucks is always a good choice and one my wife always enjoys.

Related: If you’re still looking for a gift for that child in your life, check out my Christmas gift ideas for kids post – each one is $25 or less!

gift sets

 

Since I’m not a fan of Christmas shopping I look for gifts that make it easy on me but also get me several gifts in one. That’s where a gift set comes in for last minute Christmas gifts. You can either make one on your own like with the coffee above, or get one that is pre-made. If you’re looking for Christmas gift ideas for your husband then one to consider is this BBQ sauce gift set from Pinky’s Kitchen. It looks great to me and something I’ve asked my wife for. :-) If you’re looking for that special woman in your life then consider this Burt’s Bees Essential Everyday Beauty Kit. I’ve bought it for my wife in the past and she loved it.

digital photo frame

 

If you’re like my family then you have a lot of pictures on your phone but have dozens you’d love to display in your home, That is where a digital picture frame comes in as one of the last minute Christmas gifts you might want to look at. They can vary wildly in price, though have found the ViewSonic 8-inch Digital Photo Frame to be of good value for what you get. We love ours as it allows us to display a number of pictures of our kids without having to pick just one. If you use Amazon much, this can be a great last minute Christmas idea for the photo lover in your life.

google chromecast

 

The Google Chromecast is a great last minute Christmas gift idea for the tech person in your life. This is especially the case if they’ve cut cable recently. At just over $30 the Chromecast offers a simple way to stream content to your TV using either your laptop, smartphone or tablet. You can get content from a number of apps like HBO Go, Netflix, ESPN and many more, If you prefer content on Amazon, you can also go with the Fire TV Stick for roughly the same price. If you have Amazon Prime, either make good last minute Christmas gifts as you can have it within two days.

 

There are many last minute Christmas gifts you can buy that will not bust your budget and still leave the recipient happy. Are you done with your Christmas shopping, or will be looking for some last minute Christmas gifts yourself?

 

Photo courtesy of: Jimmie

 

 

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I'm the founder of Frugal Rules, a Dad, husband and veteran of the financial services industry. I'm passionate about helping people learn from my mistakes so that they can enjoy the freedom that comes from living frugally. I'm also a freelance writer, and regularly contribute to U.S. News & World Report, Investopedia, Credit Karma and more. If you're wanting to learn how to monetize your blog, check out my blog coaching services to see how I can help you take your site to the next level.

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58 Comments

  • Great tips, John. I also found out that You can do Redbox gift certificates.that and a box of popcorn would be a great gift.

  • I didn’t actually think of tablet apps before. That’s interesting/cheap gift idea.

  • Michelle says:

    My work Christmas party is actually TOMORROW and I completely forgot to buy any gifts. I plan on going to some good restaurants and getting them certificates to there.

  • Pauline says:

    A subscription in general is a great idea. My grandfather has been subscribed to natgeo for 40 years and renewing his subscription is an easy no brainer gift.

  • Catherine says:

    I’m done my shopping Whoo! If I forget a gift I usually opt for a giftcard if they’re not yet of age or a bottle of wine/booze some sort if they are. Restaurant gift certificates are always well received too.

    • John says:

      Awesome! I finished mine a week or two as well. Restaurant gift cards are never a bad idea. We love them because it’s one less night that we have to cook.

  • Creative list! I have never thought of giving someone apps before. I will have to keep that in mind. Coffee and wine are always winners in my books.

  • I’m thankfully done with my Christmas shopping. I only need to get one more thing which is, funnily enough, coffee. These are all great gift ideas! I was initially a little sceptical about getting a Netflix subscription since I’m usually against subscribing people for things, but since it’s month to month with no commitment, they can opt out easily. Good post!

    • John says:

      Thanks Jordann! I am usually against subscribing people as well, but Netflix is great with the month to month arrangement. I am done as well, it’s a great feeling.

  • These are all great last minute gift ideas. I definitely would be happy with coffee, wine, or gift cards! In fact I would prefer gift cards over any other gift, and that’s all I asked for this year.

  • Oh, these are perfect. My husband and I have been lazy gift givers in the past, and our poor families have been showered with gift cards. But this year we resolved to not give out a single gift card! The thing is, despite putting in more effort this year, I think our families would have liked the gift cards just as much 😉

    • John says:

      Thanks Joanna! It can be hard to determine whether or not to give out gift cards because they can seem impersonal. But, I’d much rather have that and get something I want as opposed to some random thing.

  • These are all good last minutes gifts. I forgot about the Netflix subscription, but I have it and love it. I use gift cards as regular gifts that I purchase early. They are easy and most people like them.

  • I’ve given Netflix subscriptions in the past and they are always a hit! I love a good gift card also, especially if they are thoughtful enough to make it to a place I go all the time. I’ve gotten upscale gift cards in the past and never used them because it was a hassle to find something I wanted that wouldn’t just be ‘discounted’ by using the amount on the gift card!

    • John says:

      It is much nicer when the gift card is to a store you normally frequent, that makes it much easier to get something you want. Thanks for stopping by!

  • I think that gift cards are awesome gifts!!! That is by far my favorite thing to get aside from plain old cash!

  • Mackenzie says:

    These are great tips! And I’m with your wife: a gift card for coffee is A-okay in my book :)

    • John says:

      Thanks Mackenzie! A coffee gift card is seriously one of the first things I get my wife. They way she likes them you’d think I bought her a diamond ring.

  • I love the cheap plug. I am thankful that my wife has done most of our shopping. We had one big crash day where we went to town. I do have to get a few things for my wife but they are things I know that they will have in stock so I am not too worried.

    • John says:

      Glad you liked it Christopher. 😉 We do most of our shopping online as I hate going out to do it. I just finished for my wife a week or so ago, glad it’s done!

  • Retire By 40 says:

    How about some toys? We went to the museum gift shop and there were some cool toys there. :)

  • Great tips. Love the Netflix idea, maybe pay for the first couple months. Cool way for the recipient to try it out. Small world, I just did a similar post to yours this morning.

    • John says:

      Thanks Kyle! That was my exact thought with Netflix. It’s rather frugal and it doesn’t clutter up a house with extra “stuff”. Great minds think alike I guess. 😉 I’ll pop over to your post to check it out.

  • Michelle says:

    My husband and I had a cute idea for frugal Christmas presents a few years ago. We went to the dollar store and bought baskets, cloth bistro napkins, coffee mugs, and small jars of jam. We lined the basket with the napkins, added a bag of premium coffee, two mugs per basket, and the jams. I can’t remember what other little items we put in each, but they were really cute and probably cost less than $20 apiece. Everyone loved them.

    • John says:

      That sounds like an awesome gift idea Michelle! Plus, there’s the added benefit of some solid time put in to get the gift all together, which is a bonus is my book as a recipient.

  • Cat says:

    I am basically done – now I just need to do some wrapping!

  • Gift cards are always the easiest not just for last minute, but also for if you don’t know what to get them! (my parents…)

    • John says:

      I feel the same way Joe. They can be very convenient at any time of the shopping season. If they’re to places you like then they’re even better.

  • Boris says:

    These are great last minute ideas. You can never go wrong with coffee. I always get stuff that’s not needed in the household, and it’s always recycled to someone else!

  • Savvy Scot says:

    Some good last minute tips! That said, Amazon are still delivering for orders received before the MORNING of Christmas eve in the UK can you believe that!?!?!

  • Lots of great ideas here. We like to give and get gift cards ourselves so we can get what we want but wait for it to go on sale thus making the card potentially go further. :-) On a good note, we are done shopping!! Happy Holidays mate! Mr.CBB

    • John says:

      Thanks Mr. CBB! That’s a great point to wait and use them when you can take advantage of a sale, we like to do that as well. It does feel good to be done shopping, doesn’t it?

  • One time, as a last minute gift, I got the giftee a gift basket full of their favorite foods from the grocery store. It was great because the grocery store was open, and the gift showed that I did put some thought into it because I knew her favorites. Plus, it’s nice not to have to worry about grocery shopping at least for a little bit!

  • Veronica @ Pelican on Money says:

    I like the coffee gift idea as I’m a big coffee lover. I’m such a lazy gift giver that I typically do everything last moment. In fact, I still haven’t gotten all the gift shopping done! Typically, my last minute gift is a gift card… I know how creative is that, right? :)

  • Felix Lee says:

    Great ideas. I love receiving wine so it follows that I like giving them as gifts as well. Gifts cards are my go-to gift when I don’t know what to get someone or don’t have time. It’s so convenient. I’ve never thought about giving apps though. That’s a good idea I should try this Christmas.

  • We just gave my parents a year subscription of Netflix. It is perfect for them because they’re not caught up with the latest and greatest movies/TV shows. So now they have an entire year to get caught up =)

  • I love these ideas. Definitely ones I hadn’t thought about. Tea would also be a good substitute for coffee.

    I try and avoid gift cards thought. I think a prepaid card or money is more useful. It’s less likely to sit around collecting dust.

    • John says:

      Tea is a great idea as well. Money is always a good gift idea. Though, I now that prepaid cash cards can have issues being used at different places, so I’d go with the cash.

  • Justin says:

    I just got my dad, who is a big time golfer, a golf ball of the month membership. The company sent me a PDF personalized message in an e-mail and they his first shipment will arrive on January 1. LIFESAVER! The company was called birdie-life.

  • Nicely done John :)

    A bunch of years ago I decided to not buy any gifts for my adult friends. It just seemed a whole lot easier that way. I do however, buy their kids gift certificates for local coffee shops where they can get a hot chocolate and yummy treat. This surprisingly is a hit with all the kids as they can feel like an “adult” when ordering on their own dime as it were.

    So gift certificates for me are huge!!

    Thanks again for an enjoyable read and take care.

    All the best to you and yours over the holidays.

    Lyle

    • John says:

      Thanks Lyle! Yea, we basically only shop for the kids as well and you’re right on about the gift cards. Hope you have a wonderful Holiday as well!

  • Steve Adcock says:

    Don’t forget the gift of experiences, either. If you know Spanish and someone wants to learn it, offer to teach them. Get a little bit creative and thinking about what you could personally do for them and avoid perpetuating the swapping of “stuff” for Christmas.

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