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8 Great Last Minute Gift Ideas for Any Occasion

Updated on July 14, 2014

Why do we love giving gifts? Often a gift brings us closer to those we love or to those we want to know better. An unexpected present can lift spirits and make others genuinely happy. A gift is a physical token of our appreciation. It is a way to express "thank you". So even if we feel rushed, unprepared or worried about cost, be reminded some of the greatest gifts come from our own heartfelt words and smallest acts of kindness.

Even when time is running out your imagination shouldn't. Spark your own creativity with these quick and inexpensive gift ideas.

Glass Jar Delights

Do you have a glass bowl, flower vase or empty jar and plenty of creative insight? Then you have part of the ingredients needed to assemble an instant homemade gift for any occasion. Simply fill a Ball Mason or glass preserve jar with your favorite ideas such as layering the ingredients of a beloved chocolate chip cookie confection or hot coco with marshmallows. Attach a handwritten recipe for the gift receiver to follow. Add a decorative ribbon and eye-catching fabric for your own personal touch.

Fill a jar with Epsom Salts, food coloring, vanilla extract and olive oil and you've just created a soothing body scrub any tired and achy soul will love to use in the bath or shower.

Use the jar to make a homemade candle or fill it with sand, seashells and starfish as a reminder of a special vacation moment with a loved one. Fill a jar with art supplies, crayons, or colored markers for a child. Use a jar as an organizer in a garage for the loved on who works on cars. You can fill it with nails, bolts or even microfiber cloths.

Other useful ideas include filling and decorating a jar with your own homemade jam, gumballs, jellybeans, Hershey's Kisses, bubble bath or hand lotion.

Fill the jar with individual love notes that describe all the ways a special person enriches your life. The possibilities are endless.

Gift Bags

Do you have cellophane wrap, ribbon and a little imagination? Think of all the delightful treats you can gather up with happiness. To make your own gift bag with a twist all you need is cellophane, wrapping paper, decorative cloth fabric, dish towels (plastic wrap works in a pinch), ribbon, scissors and your own filling. Gifts that work wonders range from scented candles, candy, mini soaps and drink coasters to magnets, game cards, pet treats for dog and cat lovers or snack food. Make your present personal and watch the magic unfold.

Flowers and Plants

On special occasions nothing says "I love you" or " you mean the world to me" more than a beautiful bouquet of freshly cut roses. If they come from your very own garden they are sure to be one of the most treasured gifts you can give. Any hand picked flower or special plant nurtured by you is sure to please. Even if you're unable to grow you're own flora, select a store bought flower or plant that shows your gratefulness. The color, texture and aroma will bring temporary joy to a permanent love. Remind the receiver that a moment in time together is as precious as the life of a budding bloom.

Instant Dinner Gifts

By filling a wooden basket with homemade bread and cheese or placing a bottle of wine and jar of spaghetti sauce inside an old fashioned metal pasta strainer, your creative contents will satisfy any growling tummy with food and love. Place pre made pizza crust, tomatoes, pepperoni and fresh mozzarella cheese inside cellophane and place on a decorated baking sheet. Think of all the inventive ways you could present a hearty meal to your friends and loved ones. Put all the ingredients for chocolate chip pancakes into a decorative bowl or skillet. Take oven mittens and add all the essential utensils such as a spatula, whisk and wooden spoon. Add a selection of holiday cookie cutters to create unique shapes.

The college student in your life may appreciate a generously stocked laundry basket full of soup, mac n' cheese and dorm room friendly snacks. The on-the-go traveler may love a backpack or suitcase full of quick and nutritious meals.

“I am starting to think that maybe memories are like this dessert. I eat it, and it becomes a part of me, whether I remember it later or not.”
― Erica Bauermeister, The School of Essential Ingredients

Remember stressed spelled backwards is desserts........

“We must have a pie. Stress cannot exist in the presence of a pie.”
― David Mamet, Boston Marriage

Delicious Desserts

When you need a quick gift but sincerely want to show someone you care nothing beats homemade cookies, cakes, muffins, pie or decadent fudge. Use wrapping paper to cover a plate or decorate a box to add to the presentation. Fresh fruit, nuts and assorted candies will make the baked goods look extra festive and inviting.

Good food and scrumptious desserts brings back fond memories of tradition and childhood comfort.

Charitable Donations

Making a donation to a special someone's favorite charity is a wonderful way to recognize both the loved one and the organization. Present a thank you card or letter received from the charity regarding the gift. Many non-profits will send a confirmation email, letter or card if a special memorial donation has been made in a specific person or families name.

This is a unique and thoughtful way to honor those who have lost loved ones to disease or terminal illness. Animal rights supporters and the environmentally conscious will appreciate the compassionate gesture.

Music, Theater and Sporting Event Tickets

Depending on your location, most gift givers can research and find excellent deals on movie and theater tickets online. Check local theater websites or Most regular season sporting event tickets are sold at a reasonable rate.

A great alternative for the music lover in your family is an iTunes gift card. The card receiver chooses the artists and songs they want to download.

Do you have a friend who loves ballet, ice skating, poetry or just wants to see the latest action adventure flick? Gift cards are good but tickets can be the perfect present especially when you get to go along!

Printable Cards and Photo's

Have a stash of online photographs capturing a special moment with a loved one? Print out the picture and place in a decorative frame or one of kind holiday or birthday card. Write a short story about the event or create a poem to accompany a beautiful visual memory.

Make your own photo album, book or design your own puzzle to share.

Remember, no matter how much time you have the true art of giving begins with the heart.

Which Gift Would You Love to Receive Most?

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Submit a Comment

  • LKMore01 profile imageAUTHOR


    4 years ago

    Thank you for stopping by, Careermommy. It's one of those gift ideas that opens up everyone's creativity. Peace to you.

  • Careermommy profile image

    Tirralan Watkins 

    4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

    Great suggestions! I like the glass jar idea. There are so many possibilities with this.

  • LKMore01 profile imageAUTHOR


    4 years ago

    Thank you for commenting, Kathryn. On my way out right now to get a few last minute items for my brother and sister-in-law. Please, have a wonderful weekend and a very Merry Christmas.

  • LKMore01 profile imageAUTHOR


    4 years ago

    Thank you, Jeannie. As I recall you have an awesome HUB yourself with inspiring and affordable gift ideas.

    Everyone should check out that article by they way!!! Great stuff!! Have a beautiful holiday,Jeannie!

  • Kathryn Stratford profile image


    4 years ago from Manchester, Connecticut

    Thanks for sharing these ideas with us. It's particularly handy this time of the year, when our shopping days until Christmas are numbered.

    Voted up, sharing, and pinning.

    Have a wonderful holiday season.

    ~ Kathryn

  • Jeannieinabottle profile image

    Jeannie InABottle 

    4 years ago from Baltimore, MD

    There are so many great last minute gift ideas. Thanks for sharing this information. I suspect many people (myself included) need all the help we can get!

  • LKMore01 profile imageAUTHOR


    4 years ago

    Sounds yummy, kidcrafts! Your family and friends are very fortunate to have you. A recipe like that takes time and craftsmanship. My family loves Hungarian nut and poppy seed balish but they are difficult to make and even more difficult to find.

  • kidscrafts profile image


    4 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

    I can tell you it's delicious :-) I put an almond paste (homemade) in the middle :-) So each time someone cut a slice, the center is almond paste. I mix the dough with 2 kinds of raisins and 2 kinds of candied fruits :-) I am sure you can start to smell them ;-))))

  • LKMore01 profile imageAUTHOR


    4 years ago

    Dutch breads sound delicious and a perfect gift, kidcrafts. Thank you for commenting. Please have a beautiful holiday.

  • kidscrafts profile image


    4 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

    Great suggestions, LKMore :-) I think the best gifts come from the heart. I love to bake special Dutch breads and give them away. I know that they are appreciated and I feel good baking them :-) In fact, I am baking 3 more tomorrow morning :-)))

    Enjoy your holidays!

  • LKMore01 profile imageAUTHOR


    4 years ago

    Thank you, Flourish. There really are so many ways we can personalize a gift and stay within a budget. Peace to you and your family always.

  • LKMore01 profile imageAUTHOR


    4 years ago

    Thank you, oldiesmusic. So happy to read you find the suggestions useful. Best to you.

  • FlourishAnyway profile image


    4 years ago from USA

    These are some good ideas for personalized gifts without too much effort. I also like a little basket or bag of crafting supplies like scrapbooking stuff.

  • oldiesmusic profile image


    4 years ago from United States

    This is just what I need. I am very busy this holiday season but I still want to give gifts without thinking so much through it. Thanks for posting. Bookmarking this :)

  • LKMore01 profile imageAUTHOR


    4 years ago

    Thank you, Bill. You are a gift to all of us. This has been updated and refined so I hope you read the better version. Your support is always appreciated and if you or anyone can benefit from this article all the better. Peace to you.

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 

    4 years ago from Olympia, WA

    This must have been written for me since I have not done any shopping yet. Thanks for the suggestions my friend and happy holidays to you.

  • LKMore01 profile imageAUTHOR


    4 years ago

    Thank you so much for reading and commenting Suzette. This was a pleasure to research and put together. Wishing you and your family a beautiful holiday.

  • suzettenaples profile image

    Suzette Walker 

    4 years ago from Taos, NM

    What great ideas for last minute Christmas gifts. This is such a great article / hub. In enjoyed reading this. And I with the exception of the free babysitting (I don't have children) I love all those Christmas gifts and any one would do for me! This is such a happy time of the year and you have added to it with this delightful hub.

  • LKMore01 profile imageAUTHOR


    4 years ago

    Thank you for reading, CS. Your comment about simple gifts is very much appreciated.

  • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

    Chitrangada Sharan 

    4 years ago from New Delhi, India

    These are wonderful gift ideas for any occasion!

    I love simple gifts, not necessarily expensive ones.

    Thanks for sharing this interesting hub. Voted up!


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