Creative Last-Minute Presents

I’m usually not a ‘last-minute’ person. I like to have everything ready well in advance in case anything comes up. But in recent years, recurring events such as Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries … tend to stress me out a little.

At first you think that there is still a whole month (or two or three) to prepare. But then, there is so much else to do and so much to think of; and before you know it, it is only a few days left and no matter how much time you had, it is never enough.

Only a few days until Christmas now! I purchased my last Christmas gifts only yesterday. That doesn’t mean I gift-wrapped anything yet.

For those who, like me, tend to lose track of time and still need a few (additional) presents for Christmas, I’ve put together a list of ideas for last-minute gifts.

No reason to panic, time to get creative! 😉

Hand-made gift certificates

A gift certificate is certainly a good present, especially if it is handmade. There are many different things you can give away as a gift certificate.

  • Money, money, money:

    Okay, so money is not the most inventive of presents. But money is not necessarily a bad present at all occasions.Think hard: Is there something the recipient is really keen on at the moment? Some hobby they currently rejoice in so much that they keep buying new things for it, such as materials, tools, how-to books etc. Collecting money as a group so recipients can buy an expensive tool for their hobby, for example, can be a sweet present.

    BUT: Make sure to wrap it up nicely. The infamous non-descript envelope is not a very personal gift. Hand-make a nice gift certificate that shows the purpose of the money … which demonstrates that you gave some thought to what the person might need instead of merely stuffing some money into an envelope.

    If you know how much it costs and have collected the relevant sum, you needn’t even put the money into the gift card. Glue in a picture of the thing(s) you are going to buy to state that you are going to get those for them.

  • Do something Together:

    Much more personal could be to give an activity that you will do together with the recipient. Something you know they like doing. This could be an invitation to the favorite restaurant, a trip together, a nice evening at the cinema, a day at the spa, a candlelight dinner …

  • Promise to make/do something for them:

    If you are good at something, it is a nice idea to give a promise to make or do something for the other person. Sew or knit something for them that you know they need, prepare their favorite dish, build a tree house for a kid, make a photo book, repair their broken furniture, launch a blog for them and show them how it works, paint a room, a nice massage …

    It does not even have to cost anything. Giving someone your time and effort is a very sweet gift.

If you want to give something larger than “just” one gift certificate, why not make a christmasy box with several different coupons? I’m sure you’ll think of something … I once did this with a hand-filled Advent calendar. As I didn’t want to include only sweets, I put some nice little coupons in.

There are many great ways to make gift certificates. You can hand craft them and write them yourself. You can also make them on your computer and print them. Just be inspired …

Purchased gift certificates

Maybe not as creative as the hand-made variety, but if we know that someone wants something from a particular shop, it can be as thoughtful to give them a coupon for that shop.

Think back. Did the person mention anything they wanted to get? Did you pass by a store sometime and they were fascinated by a particular thing they did not buy after all? What is currently their favorite hobby? Did they mention anything they might still need for that? This might make a nice present as well.

Many can even be bought online and then printed if it is really last-minute. 😉


Concerts, theater, ballet, an amusement park, a club, the cinema … whatever you know the recipient would enjoy. Maybe they have mentioned that they really wanted to see something. Many tickets can be bought online. If the actual tickets do not arrive on time, that’s no problem. Just print mock tickets as a gift coupon and later provide the real ones.

But, make sure that either the tickets are valid for a longer span of time and/or that the person really has time on the particular day.

Handmade Gifts

Instead of just promising to make something for someone in the future, why not go right ahead and make it? A certificate can be nice. But if we already have a good idea of what the person might want and are sure to know their taste, it is much more fun to unpack something that is already made.

A scarf or a beanie, for example, can be knitted or crocheted in one afternoon. You could also: Bake some cute Christmans cookies and put them in a nice box, make jewlery, a video, a painting, etc.

If you know something that the person would like that you don’t know how to make, no problem: There are tutorials all over the internet. Look for how-to websites and YouTube videos. Or, if you know someone who knows how, get some help.

If I’m not 100% sure how the recipient wants his present, however, I usally prefer to give a certificate, allowing the recipient to participate in the making while it remains a surprise until they unpack the coupon. This way, you can make sure it will be exactly the way they want it to be. It can also be a fun activity to shop for material and to plan togehter.

Photo Gifts

Many stores have day printing. It is always nice to make something with photos of you and the recipient. A little handmade album, a collage in a nice frame, a personalized notebook …

A Few More Thoughts

Some people criticize that the hype made with presents these days is a clear indication of how the spirit of Christmas is getting lost in today’s cusumer society. However, I say it is up to us how we handle it. If we consider giving presents a nuaicence and just buy something to get it over with. Or if we start to value presents only by how much they cost. Or if we don’t know what to give someone because we hardly speak with them and only give them something because we feel we have to … Then it is true. But it does not have to be that way.

I for my part love giving presents and the joy they bring when you picked the right things. I also love to be surprised by the presents I get. I couldn’t imagine a Christmas without presents. It needn’t be much, and they needn’t be expensive. But Christmas without presents would be cheerless.

The whole point, I think, is 1) to give presents that make the recipients happy, that show that we care about them and that we gave a few thoughts to what they might like, and 2) to have a good time together eating, chatting and unpacking.

When I’m not short on money, I like spending it on those I care about. But good presents don’t have to be expensive. They don’t even have to cost anything, for that matter.

For me, coming up with new ideas for presents each year is a very creative activity. Especially if you have a tight schedule. Though I like to start early and buy (or make a note to buy) presents throughtout the year when I see something, this is often not enough.

But whether you start early or late, I think the above ideas make really good presents. Or a nice handmade addition to something you bought.

In that spirit … Happy Holidays to y’all! 😀


Still not sufficently inspired? Here are some websites I found for you to browse:

40 Last-Minute Christmas Gift Ideas

28 Last-Minute Handmade Gifts

20 Unique Gifts in a Jar

Do you have more ideas or webtips for last-minute presents you’d like to share? Then leave a comment …

Categories: Creativity | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

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