5 Fun and Frugal Last Minute Christmas Gifts

Last Minute Christmas Gifts

As the calendar fell this year, we lost a week in between Thanksgiving and Christmas which means the increases the chances that many are still scrambling to purchase last minute Christmas gifts. If you’re in that boat, then perhaps some of these ideas will prove helpful for a Christmas gift…

I have to let you in on a secret…Christmas is just in a few days! If you’ve waited around to buy Christmas gifts then you have five days left, including today, to get that last minute gift. Luckily, you can find Christmas gifts for moms, dads, siblings and other loved ones online. Don’t panic, 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. 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.

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. Many will sell gift cards for numerous national brands and restaurants.


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.

Related: If you’re still looking for a gift for that child in your life, check out my Christmas gift ideas for kids post.


The great thing about wine is that you really can spend as much or as little as you want. Now, I wouldn’t recommend stuffing a bottle of Two Buck Chuck into a stocking, but you can still be frugal and buy wine as a gift. You can spend as little as $10 or $20 on a nice bottle of wine for the wine lover in your family. A helpful hint on wine buying – Costco has some excellent deals on wine for its members.

Tablet Apps

With the growing popularity of tablets there are many gifts you can buy for those you know with a tablet. These last minute Christmas gifts are perfect for children or adults. If you’re looking for your child, there are a wide variety of apps that are both educational and game-oriented that they would have great fun with. If you’re looking for that hard-to-buy parent or other adult you can buy e-subscriptions to a favorite magazine or a book. The great thing about apps as last minute Christmas gifts is that it can be done in a matter of minutes.

Netflix Subscription

Who doesn’t love a good movie? I know that pretty much everyone has heard of Netflix, but it is one of the great last minute Christmas ideas out there. The signup is relatively stress free and can be done straight from your computer. It allows you to be frugal yet still give a great gift that the movie lover will like. The great thing is that their plans are month-to-month which allows the recipient to see if it’s something they’d like to continue to keep once the subscription runs out. If you’re not a Netflix fan, you could accomplish something similar with a subscription to Amazon Prime for that Amazon lover in your family.


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: Weliton Slima


*Post updated from original on December 20, 2012

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About the author:

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. You can connect via Twitter / Facebook.

57 comments on “5 Fun and Frugal Last Minute Christmas Gifts

    • 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.

  1. 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!
    Jordann @ My Alternate Life recently posted..Minimalist Christmas GiftsMy Profile

    • 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.

    • 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.

  2. 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!
    Lyn @ Pretty Frugal recently posted..Movin’ On InMy Profile

    • 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.

    • 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!

    • 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.

  3. 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.
    Michelle recently posted..Great Part-time Jobs For Busy ParentsMy Profile

    • 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.

    • 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?

  4. 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!
    Daisy @ Money Smart Guides recently posted..Should You Combine Finances When You Get MarriedMy Profile

  5. 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? :)
    Veronica @ Pelican on Money recently posted..Sometimes It’s Better to Pay UpMy Profile

  6. 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.
    Felix Lee recently posted..7 Rich People ProblemsMy Profile

    • 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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 @ The Joy of Simple recently posted..Date Night With Myself :) My Profile

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