If you woke up this morning to the horrifying realization that Christmas is mere days away and you haven’t even started your Christmas shopping, you are undoubtably not alone. You may feel your palms starting to sweat at the thought of paying for super-rush shipping from an online store, or having to brave the swarms of other panickers at the mall. Take a deep breath. It’s going to be okay. We’re here to offer some suggestions and tips for finding a gift without dealing with the mall or online shipping options.
Below is a selection of items that have been gifted and well-received in the past. Not all of these will work for everyone on your list (consider what brightens the eyes of those for whom you’re buying), but hopefully, this gives you some ideas to alleviate your stress level and keep you from joining the masses of raging last-minute shoppers.
1. Calendars – Sure, in a day and age where people are glued to their smart phones and have their schedules popping up alerts all the time, it seems reasonable to think that wall calendars are useless things of the past. Truth is, a lot of people still use them. (I have two.) It’s nice to be able to glance up at the wall and see that you have a deadline on Friday, or that a favorite band is playing two weeks from tomorrow. The best thing about calendars is that there is literally something for everyone from old movie posters to hot chicks and cool cars. If you’re on a budget and buying something small for a lot of different people, discount book stores, like Half Price Books, offer a variety of new calendars from very inexpensive to reasonably priced.
2. Alcohol – This one gets passed over so often, but it’s one of the easiest gifts to get, and I’ve had numerous friends consider it “the best gift” they’ve gotten the year I gave it. This time of year, liquor stores will often have gift sets that contain a set of glasses along with a bottle of pretty much any type of liquor you want to buy. If you have a friend who enjoys a drink now and again, gifts like this are certain to be used and appreciated. If your friend loves trying new beer styles, you’re in luck. Craft breweries are popping up like weeds all over the country. They sell not only beer, but also shirts, glasses, hats, and other brewery-related items. Seek out stores that stock a decent selection of craft beer so you could be sure to give the gift of merriment. Best part is you could get something for yourself to celebrate your success when you get home.
3. Chargers – We are addicted to our smart phones. One of the worst feelings nowadays is being stuck waiting somewhere and the battery on your phone dies. You’re stuck for god knows how long with no Angry Birds or Clash of Clans to occupy your mind. Now what are you going to do? Read the 3-year old magazine on the table? Stare at the woman who keeps twirling her hair? In moments like these you wish you could have a way to charge your phone without hunting down an outlet somewhere. Do you know there are power banks you can buy for smart phones? What smart phone owner would not appreciate having the ability to charge a mobile device without being tethered to a wall. There are a variety of brands, most ranging from $10.00 to $50.00. The best thing is even if the person already has one, would it really be so bad to have an extra?
4. Local flair – I’m not sure what it’s like in your city, but here in Austin, we love to shop locally. The best way to avoid the insanity of the malls is to seek out a locally owned and operated store. You may find some great crafty items or unique gifts for someone who maybe likes things that are a little different. You may want to call ahead or check online to get a feel for the types of items they carry, and expect prices may be a little higher but come on, it’s got to be worth a few extra bucks to have a stress-free shopping experience!
5. Tickets to concerts, performances, etc – Generally these are more expensive than a lot of gifts, but it depends which performances you select. There are numerous shows put on locally in most cities, so rather than forking out the big bucks to give tickets to a Broadway Across America show, you could choose something done locally at 1/3 of the cost. Or go big. It’s up to you. Just be aware of date/time conflicts. You’d hate to discover the tickets you purchased for your parents are for dates when they’ll be out of town.
5. Gift certificates – While sometimes gift certificates are shunned as being a “thoughtless gift,” I think it depends on what it is. A generic one may not be as appreciated as a specific one. Personally, I always love getting Alamo Drafthouse gift certificates. I practically live there, and I use those things like crazy. This is where knowing what your friends like comes in handy. These days you can get gift certificates for anything from massages to restaurants. If a person frequents a place, see if there are gift cards available. Why not? You’ll know the gift won’t end up collecting dust in the closet.
7. Grocery Plus Stores – These days a lot of places where you do your grocery shopping offer tons of non-grocery items. Toys, electronics, zombie chia heads, you’d be surprised what’s there. Rather than making a special trip to a specialty shop, try wandering down the aisles you generally ignore and see if anything would be perfect for Uncle Tony. Gift baskets can be costly, but you could buy a selection of items, some decorative Ziploc containers, colorful foil, and make your own inexpensive versions. Few people care much about the basket itself; it’s what’s inside it that counts.
Hope you have a happy holiday season and that this gives you some ideas to give some much appreciated gifts.