Last-Minute Gift Ideas That Never Fail


It seems that every year Christmas comes upon us "all of a sudden," and we are caught scrambling around last-minute for gifts to give family and friends.

As one poster I saw recently wrote on social media, stressing over the right gift really is a disservice to the reason for the season. The lament may be true, but it doesn't get us out of having to deliver a gift on Dec. 25 that isn't a head-scratcher (or next year's selection for the white elephant gift exchange ... again).

Rather than choosing the latest and greatest random electronic thing or the soulless gift card this year, why not consider going back to basics? Here are some of my reliable bets.

For her:

1. Candles

I’ve learned this much already in life — women like things that smell good. A good smelling house is a welcoming house, and for many women, a pleasant environment (especially one where stinky males of the teenage variety reside) is well ... pleasant. A candle adds a certain kind of atmosphere, one of relaxation and warmth. The choice of scent may vary depending on who the woman is, but it’s a fairly easy gift to find and one that’s not terribly expensive, yet is something that she’ll likely appreciate and use.

2. Cashmere Sweater

These sweaters are warm, super soft, and are versatile to fit almost any personality. And during the winter, who wouldn’t want to be just a bit warmer while also winning style points? The price of cashmere has come way down over the years, so for about $40 or so (maybe a bit more), you can get a nice article of clothing that almost every woman is willing to don. Just make sure you know her size (please don’t mess that part up).

3. Heated blanket

Hey, what do you know, another item having to do with warmth! It has been scientifically demonstrated that women feel colder than men (I can testify to this going by the temperature of my wife's feet), so having a heated blanket would be a rather welcome gift for one of these chill(y) women in your life. For around $40 or so, you can help a friend or family member stay just a bit warmer for the rest of winter.

For him:

1. Tie

Even men who don't regularly wear a tie for work have occasion to dress up now and again, and odds are that the collection sitting in the dresser door or hanging on the back of the closet door is woefully out of date. And if you think your guy is never going to need a tie, buying him one along with tickets to a theater show of your choice could just give him a reason to wear it.

2. Pocket knife

A pocket knife is a tool every man should carry on him wherever he goes. It has myriad uses, like unsealing packages, cutting off loose strings from your clothes, or even opening a bottle (yes, I’ve done that). Not to mention the fact that many pocket knives have a seat belt cutter and glass breaker on one end should one need to escape a vehicle in an emergency situation (although the car's head rest can also do that even if it wasn't actually designed for this purpose). Knives can get pretty expensive, but even for $30-$40, one can find a fairly solid pocket knife.

3. Car emergency kit

At some point, one may find oneself stuck dealing with car troubles. Especially for those who drive much older cars, they just break down (really, it happens!). One thing your male gift recipients may find useful is a roadside emergency kit for his car. These kits will often be packed with things like jumper cables, gloves, reflective gear, a flashlight, and even tools. It usually isn't a fix-it-all solution, but for $20-$40 it could come in handy should he get stuck on the side of the road (it is probably good for her as well!).

So, original and new-fangled? Maybe not, but useful and appreciated? Most definitely.

What kind of last-minute gifts have you bought or made in the past, and did they work out or were they a fail? Share your ideas here!