The clock is ticking on holiday gift shopping. If you’re procrastinating because you have no idea what to buy or you just haven’t had the time to shop, don’t panic. It’s easier than ever to buy gifts at the last minute without making it look like you bought gifts at the last minute. According to a Consumer Reports holiday poll, almost one-third of Americans had yet to buy a single present with just about a week to go until Christmas. Almost 50 percent of survey respondents said they were halfway done. Here are some last minute gift ideas that should make the gift-getters in your life happy:
Buy experiences. Though about half of survey respondents in the Consumer Reports holiday poll said they’d like to receive a material gift, almost as many prefer the gift of a special experience. Get tickets to a professional game, a concert, or a play. Event ticket prices can be steep, but Consumer Reports explains how to get the best prices and land hard-to-score tickets.
For an adventurer, great gift ideas include rock climbing and race-car driving lessons, whitewater rafting, or a windjammer cruise. For more modest budgets, consider buying movie tickets in bulk from theater chains or Costco.
Shop the supermarket. Here’s a gift idea you could pull off on the way to a present-exchange gathering: Make your own foodie gift basket. Most big supermarket chains carry high-end food. You can gather the ingredients for an Italian meal—gourmet pasta sauces, pesto sauce, different types of pasta, a hunk of Parmesan cheese, and a fancy bottle of extra-virgin olive oil. In the housewares aisle, pick up a colorful colander and arrange the items in it. Or fill a basket with gourmet coffee, tea, and hot chocolate, add in nice mugs, a teapot, and colorful tea towels.
Give the gift of time. Time is precious, and you can help loved ones gain some back with gifts of personal services. These can make good group gifts. For the stressed out parent, get a monthly cleaning service for a year. For elderly parents, the gift of a yard-maintenance service could be very welcome.
For someone who doesn’t have time to make a nice home-cooked meal, give a meal delivery service. Consumer Reports tested out five major meal delivery services, such as Blue Apron. The services aren’t that expensive. At Blue Apron, for example, all the ingredients are delivered to your home and you can buy one week’s, two weeks’, or even a month’s worth of meals. Cost is about $10 per person per meal.
Frame a memory. In the selfie era, a photo may not sound special. But most people leave their photos on their phone. Find a fun moment you captured (and haven’t already posted on Facebook) and put it in lovely frame. You can pick up prints quickly at your local retail pharmacy, such as CVS Photo. Many online sites, such as Shutterfly, offer rush shipping for Christmas deadlines. Use this Consumer Reports guide on how to get great deals on online photos.
Go to gift cards. Prepaid gift cards aren’t impersonal if you get one that reflects the gift getter’s interests. And many people say they want them: According to a National Retail Federation survey of 7,200 consumers, 56 percent of respondents have gift cards on their Christmas shopping list. Be careful of gift-card scams that target purchasers of gift cards.
Make the most of Amazon Prime. Almost half of U.S. households have Amazon Prime memberships ($99 per year), and it’s not too late to join to take advantage of its two-day shipping guarantee. You have till Dec. 22 to order gifts that will arrive by Christmas Eve. Traveling? Have the gifts sent your destination. About 30 million items on Amazon are eligible for two-day delivery, though closer to the 22nd, fewer items will qualify for shipping for holiday delivery.
A Prime membership itself also makes a good gift idea. Members get access to tens of thousands of streaming movies and TV shows, unlimited ad-free access to more than 2 million songs, and expanded photo storage. If the gift recipient is already a member, the membership will be changed to a $99 gift card.