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Inexpensive Last Minute Gift Ideas: $10 or Less!

Updated on December 17, 2009

It never fails! No matter how hard we plan, we always forget someone on our Christmas list. With only a few days left until Christmas and your wallet is empty! No need to worry, here are some great ideas for last minute gifts for just about anyone. They are easy, inexpensive and quick to buy or make! The very last gift isn't under $10, but it is easy, fun and can be done last minute so I added it!

Gifts from Grocery or Drug Stores

  • Stationaryis always a nice gift for a female and every drug store and most grocery stores have a card aisle where you will find a nice selection. There are so many design choices, you can really make it special for the person you are buying it for and they will think that you planned it instead of bought it last minute!
  • If you forgot the amateur chef on your list, you could hit the gourmet food aisle at your local grocery store. Purchase a high-quality item that they might not normally splurge for, such as an herbed rice mix, a gourmet cocoa or a fancy vinegar or specialty oil. These usually come very attractively packaged or bottled. Tie a ribbon around it with a card.  For an nice addition to your gift, you could attach a recipe that includes the ingredient.  You could even add a sprig of greenery or a Christmas ornament. Another added touch would be to tie a kitchen utensil to it such as a wisk or a wooden spoon.
  • This one is great for a guy.  Purchase a small bottle of his favorite liquor. You can add a shot glass or tie a bow around the bottle with some swizzle sticks or drink stirrers.
  • The chance to win a gazillion dollars! Everyone loves instant lottery tickets. You could insert them in a card, tie them with a ribbon or as something funny, include a box of Lucky Charms cereal with them. As another gift that will get a laugh, tuck the tickets inside a card and tape a quarter to the inside of the card as well and write something like, "Magic Moola Revealing Tool" or "Special Moola Revealing Tool Included." Or you could tape a penny to the inside of the card and then write next to it, "Special Scratching Penny" or "Increase your chances of winning by using the special scratching mechanism included." These are my ideas, I'm sure you can come up with something more clever on your own.
  • Energy drinks and bars are all the rage! You could group a few together, include a candy cane or two and a note that says "I hope your Christmas is a blast!" or "Another year has raced by" or "Here's a jump start on your New Year."
  • Use an inexpensive basket or bowl from the dollar store and fill it with various oranges (navel, clementines, tangerines, blood oranges or even grapefruit) and an orange peeler or various apples (Gala, McIntosh, Pink Lady, Red Delicious and don't forget to add some Granny Smith apples for some green color) and an apple corer (you could also include some caramel dip) or you could do the same with nuts and a nut cracker. Sprinkle a few Christmas candies and/or candy canes to complete the basket.  You can even make your basket more "professional" looking by enclosing it with shrink wrap.  You can usually find this in the Christmas section at dollar stores!
  • Know someone that is nuts about a particular kind of candy or just candy in general? Buy 10 of their favorite Candy bars and wrap them with a ribbon or put assorted candies in a candy dish or jar or even a basket or bowl.  If the favorite candy happens to be Hershey bars or similar, you can carefully peel off the outer wrapper, it is normally white on the inside or make a wrapper on your own from white, red, green or any kind of paper.  Decorate the outside by writing Christmas Wishes or Greetings on them or "Kim's Special Candy Bar" or simply stamp with holiday images, or whatever would be appropriate for the person. Use the original wrapper as a pattern, decorate the outside of it and then wrap it around the foil wrapped candy bar using a glue stick to secure.  You could also just remove the outer wrapper and replace it with Christmas paper.
  • Take an inexpensive bowl and a cheap cooking utensil such as a wooden spoon. Purchase the ingredients for a meal such as spaghetti, include noodles, a primo sauce and grated cheese or any other meal you can think of.  I am sure you can get a lot more creative with the meal idea to include if you are a better cook than myself, which I am sure most of you are.  Attach a recipe if necessary.
  • Using a large inexpensive bowl, plastic is great, you can leave it plain or using markers or craft paints, write the persons name on the outside of the bowl. Include popcorn, maybe even a couple of different kinds and a special popcorn flavor or salt.

Homemade from the Heart in a Hurry!

  • A personalized CD. Burn the persons favorite tunes on a CD. You could make it love songs, or dance music or classical. You can even make your own jacket for the jewel case. Design it as a To: / From: card, a picture of the two of you, some funky clip art, whatever. I made one for a guy I was dating once and took a picture of us and copied it into the center of a dollar bill (personal story about the dollar bill) but it looked great and had a special, sentimental value at that point.
  • Organize carry-out menus from the recipients neighborhood in a folder or binder and then include a gift card to one of them.
  • Gather your favorite recipes and hand write or type, or print them out and paste on to index or recipe cards.  You could assemble them in a binder. Include notes such as "Great Grandmas Best Banana Pudding" or "Even finicky eaters will love this!" You could even include pictures if you had time.
  • For your bargain hunter, clip coupons from products you are sure the person uses or would buy or you can just gather them randomly and organize them in to a brand new coupon organizer.
  • Framed pictures are always a wonderful gift. To make it extra special write a heartfelt message directly on the picture in permanent marker before framing. Worried that the ink from the marker may damage the photo over time?  Simply use markers designed for scrapbooking. If the gift is for a grandparent, have the grandchild write "I love you Grandma" or another simple message on the photo.
  • Purchase inexpensive pots and use your overgrown house plants as starters for the pots. You can tie them with ribbons and insert a floral stick with instructions on how to take care of the plant.

A Few More Ingenious Last Minute Ideas

  • Ornaments! Everyone loves ornaments. At the end of the season when they go 50% or 75% off purchase a few extra to have on hand for Christmas gifts the following year. You can also run out and purchase an ornament last minute. With so many to chose from you can pick something that is specific to the person you are giving it to. But when buying in bulk at the end of the season, you will save a ton of money and won't have to worry about a last minute trip out to pick something up.
  • Purchase a small gift such as a paperback book, a DVD, CD, Perfume,Cologne or Bath Gel or Body Spray, Nail Polish or Lip Gloss with a catchy name and write a cute note. Use your imagination. An example would be a note saying "Because I love you, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah" and include a Beatles CD. You can get really creative with this.
  • For the movie lover you can purchase a bucket of microwave popcorn and a 1 month subscription to Netflix or free rentals to any video rental store.
  • Make a donation online to a cause you think the person would appreciate or you know they already support. Print a "gift receipt" and tuck it in a Christmas card.
  • Buy them land on the moon!  This is a great gift for the person who has everything!   It's really cool.  The recipient gets a deed to the moon property, a map and other fun factual stuff about their land. I went as saw the movie 2012 with someone and we laughed afterward about how we were going to have to work harder to save up enough money to purchase our spots on the ark (if you seen the movie, you know what I am talking about. I don't want to say any more to spoil it for those who haven't see it.)  I am writing in the card, "I couldn't afford a spot on the ark for you, so I got you one on the moon, figuring out how to get there when the time comes is up to you!"  Hope they aren't reading this as I haven't given it yet.  If you are doing it last minute, for an additional fee of $4.99 you can send them a digital image through e-mail telling them the gift is on it's way.  They also offer priority and next day shipping.  Go to for this fun gift!


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      Tammy Lochmann 8 years ago

      Great Ideas!