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Six Short Days Until Christmas-Easy, No Time For Shopping, Last Minute Gift Ideas

Updated on May 3, 2011

Making a List, Checking it Twice

It is five-thirty in the morning on the Saturday before Christmas, I am the only one awake. That isn't unusual, I am by nature an early riser. I like a huge helping of peace and quiet with my morning coffee, I like the feeling of, a fresh start to a new day,that I get every morning as I watch the sun rising up in the eastern sky, and let's be honest, as a writer, who has two teenagers, a three year old, and an aging father with dementia; This is the only time of day where I can actually write without about a billion interruptions. The only difference this morning, versus any other Saturday morning? That darn sheet of paper on the cork-board above my desk, the one with the pre-printed heading, Things To Do, at the top, underneath which I have scribbled, Before Christmas, and all it's empty unchecked boxes.

That list has been up there since the week before Thanksgiving. It is a nearly exact carbon copy of the list of Christmas specific chores needing to be done, that I have written every year for the past two decades; Decorate the house, Trim the Tree, Write and send out the Christmas Cards, Clean out the old toys to make room for the new ones that Santa will bring , etc. Every year, as the holiday season approaches, and the more vividly memorable moments of the previous year's last minute Christmas Eve Dash, rise to the surface, I grab pen and paper, and promising myself that this Christmas Eve, I will not be the one with my nose pressed against the hard cold glass of the locked department store door, pleading, like some deranged Santa's helper, please, please, please, let me in! It's an emergency! I just need to get one more gift! I sit down at my desk, and diligently make out my list, and then I post it smack-dab in the center of the bulletin board where I cannot possibly miss it.

In the beginning, I am like some over-achieving, super-charged Christmas elf, checking my list every day, Atta Girl! I say, as I pat myself on the back, and smugly mark off another item on the list. Then it happens, a crisis with one of the kids or my father, an unexpected visit from a friend or relative, an unforeseen natural disaster,( it varies from year to year, and I never see it coming, so who knows exactly what causes it?), but like that green Christmas hating Grinch, it swoops down upon my well thought out plan, trying to steal Christmas.

Suddenly, here I am again! Five-thirty in the morning, six short days before Christmas, and glaring down at me, with all the subtleties of Rudolph's shiny red nose, are all those little unchecked boxes. I feel the first tingles of the panic that have started to rise, as the memory of last year's just barely averted catastrophes begin to surface, and steeling myself against the inevitable, I resign myself to the unavoidable truth of this year's last minute Christmas Eve Dash .

Next year, I am going to start in August!


It's Christmas Eve and the stores have all closed, when suddenly you realize that you've forgotten to buy a gift for someone on your list, or your phone rings with the news of an unexpected extra guest, (for whom you didn't buy a present) or maybe, like I sometimes do, you just plain ran out of time.....No need to panic! Take a deep breathe, exhale, and take a look around your house, you might be surprised at the ideas you'll find!

Here are some creative last minute ideas that I have actually used:

RE-GIFT - (May as well start with the most obvious)While no one wants to admit to re-gifting, the fact is that at some point during the Holiday Season, almost everyone will receive at least one or two gifts that will work as an emergency re-gift; Perhaps you received a bottle of wine, or a bath gel/body lotion combo, a stationary set, or a big scented candle in an office gift exchange?

Here's What I Did:One year, needing an emergency gift for a twenty-something niece, I took the bath gel/body lotion combination, which I had received in the office gift exchange. A big vanilla scented candle in a jar that I had received at a holiday party white elephant exchange, some bath salts that I happened to have on hand, but had never opened, and placed them in a basket that I already had on hand, with some left over Easter grass, covered the whole thing in colored Saran Wrap, and tied it off with a bunch of curling ribbon.

Other Re-Gift Ideas: That bottle of wine or liquor that you received would make a great host or hostess gift, and gift cards for Wal-Mart or Target, can be put in a card and given to that special teen aged niece of nephew that you forgot to buy for.

MAKE SOMETHING OF YOURS A KEEPSAKE FOR SOMEONE ELSE-Maybe you have something in your jewelry box that you don't wear often, but would be a treasure keepsake to a daughter, daughter-in-law, or granddaughter? Maybe you have a special piece that you received at a significant age, or a piece that belonged to your parent or grandparent that you feel the time has come to pass along?

Here's What I Did: I had a small fourteen karat gold heart with a tiny diamond in the center given to me by my grandparents on my thirteenth birthday. It was of great sentimental value to me, but to be honest, it had been sitting in my jewelry box, unworn, for several years. As I was wrapping gifts on the Christmas Eve just after my oldest daughter's thirteenth birthday, I suddenly realized that compared to her brother and sister, she had somehow been shorted on gifts. As I was trying to figure out what I was going to do to even things up a bit, I remembered that necklace. On a piece of my very best stationary, I wrote a letter explaining to my daughter that this necklace was very special to me because it had been a gift from her great-grandparents when I had been just her age, and that because she was so special to me, I felt the time had come to pass it along to her. She wears it everyday.

Here's What I Am Doing This Year: (Although it isn't a last minute gift, I still think it's a great idea!) My niece's husband has expressed interest in writing a comparison of Judisim and Christianity, and has said many times that he needs a copy of the Old Testament, (We are an interfaith family). We have in our home library several copies of the Old Testament, as well as several volumes on Jewish History. This year I am giving him not only a copy of the Old Testament, but I am also giving him the two volume box set "The Jewish Book of Why"

FRAME A PHOTO- You have a computer, and like me, you probably have hundreds of photos stored on it, Do you have a great shot of the person you need a gift for? Or maybe you have a shot of loved one that would make their day?

Here's What I Did:I have actually done this not just as a last minute gift, but I've done it for Mother's Day, Birthdays, etc... I had a photo that was taken of my husband's grandmother with all of her great-grandchildren at Thanksgiving 2006, Unfortunately, Bubbie passed away just after Christmas the following year, but for Christmas 2008 I printed that photo, and framed it for my husband, and for my in-laws. It was a wonderful reminder of someone that we all loved very much, and I heard so many complaints from our children, that I ended up framing it for each one of them on their birthdays.

A PLANT IS A GIFT THAT LASTS ALL YEAR- Do you have a plant in the house that will grow just from a cutting? Maybe you have a small house plant that you would be willing to give?

Here's What I Did: My grandmother, upon seeing my African Violet Plant, had mentioned that she absolutely loved African Violets, so for one of her gifts that year, I re-potted my plant in a plain terra cotta pot that I had hand painted with little hearts and the names and birth dates of her her great-grandchildren, and tied a pretty bow around it. She was absolutely thrilled! and it sat in the center of her kitchen table until she passed away a few years later.

MAKE YOUR OWN RECIPE JARS- This is an easy project and is also a great neighborhood, service person thank-you, or teacher gift:

Here's What I Did: I make a special chocolate cake from scratch that my family calls The Cake. When I was PTA president for my children's school, I wanted to give a special gift to my board members, but we didn't really have a lot of money to spend, so I took Mason Jars, filled them with the dry ingredients for the cake and sealed them by using a small square of gingham fabric between the lid and the ring. I printed the recipe and instructions from my computer, and hole punched the corner, tying several strands of curling ribbon around the top of the jar, I attached the printed instructions to one strand and curled the rest. This is also a great alternative to the traditional cookie plates that you might make for your neighbors!

CASH OR CHECK- The least favorite of all my last minute gift ideas, because I feel that it lacks personal feeling, but one that I have to admit, I've never seen anyone return; When all else fails, and you are down to the wire, you can always stick a check or cash inside a Christmas card. Adding a note in the card saying something like; Take this money and spend it on something you will enjoy, can be added to personalize it.

Whatever you give this Christmas, try to remember that Christmas truly isn't supposed to be about the WHAT gifts we give or receive, but about THE SPIRIT in which we gave or received, and most importantly, it is about WHO we spend it with, because the holidays were meant to be spent in the company of our family, friends, and loved ones!




My Three Darling J's Holiday Photo 2010
My Three Darling J's Holiday Photo 2010 | Source


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    • K. Burns Darling profile image

      Kristen Burns-Darling 7 years ago from Orange County, California

      Thanks ghomefitness, and you are so right about Facebook, we haven't exchanged holiday gifts with my niece and her husband yet, and so I didn't post this one on my FB for that very reason! :-)

    • ghomefitness profile image

      ghomefitness 7 years ago from Chicago,IL

      These are all great ideas, but don't post this hub on your Facebook or some people might recognize the gifts. :)