Last-Minute Shopping Survival Guide

Convenient, affordable gift ideas just in the nick of time

By Lisa Petty
|  Wednesday, Dec 23, 2009  |  Updated 2:25 PM EDT
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Holiday Shopping Guide: Gifts for Everyone on Your List

Yamini Chao

Shoplifter choses wrong getaway car.

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You are so on the ‘naughty’ list this year.  Once again, the big day is but hours away and you’re still completely empty-handed.  For shame.

Good thing for you we’ve got your back.  Read on for a sleigh-full of gifts from the most convenient stores you can find.  All ring in at $25 or less and all can be found at the grocery store, the drug store or even, yes, the gas station.   Christmas is saved.

GIFTS FROM THE GROCERY

The grocery store is our top choice for last-minute shopping, and not only because of the wide selection of gift-ables.  See, you’ve also got access to holiday bags and tissue here, giving the impression of thoughtful premeditation.  Fill ‘em with a cookie tin or candy, or check out these creative ideas instead:

Fiesta in a Box:  Pack up taco shells, tortilla chips, salsa, bean dip and margarita mix for a party just waiting to happen.  This one’s great for bachelors and dorm-dwellers.

Recession-Proof Vacation:  A couple of fun chick-lit books, some tropical-scented bath gel and a bottle of self-tanner equal a getaway she can enjoy any night of the week.

Teen Angst Starter Kit:  Admit it – you’re always game for a new and creative way to aggravate your older brother.  This year, irk him through his children by giving ‘em all the tools they’ll need to cause him a few sleepless nights:  hair color in either black or fire-engine red, black nail polish and a couple of Twilight fan ‘zines.

DRUGSTORE SANTA

You can also pick up gift bags and other wrapping trappings at the drug store, making it our second favorite desperation shopping spot.  Find a neck massager for Grandpa and some perfume for Granny while you’re there, and check out these ideas for the rest of the folks on your list:

The Manscaper:  Many drugstores have shavers and beard trimmers on sale this time of year, so why not bundle one with a bottle of aftershave for your favorite nephew or cousin?   Great idea!

Pampered Pet Package:  For the pet-lover, fill a small dog or cat bed with toys and treats, then tie it up with an oversized bow. 

Gourmet Gift Set:  Combine the ubiquitous Chia Herb Garden with a copy of Bon Appétit, and you’ve got yourself a great gift for a new bride or cooking enthusiast.

A CONVENIENT CHRISTMAS

Finally, when all else fails, the gas station or convenience store can save the day.  But you can do better than a fold-out map and a couple of scratch-offs, right?

Team Toppers:  Most gas stations have at least a small selection of baseball caps from local teams.  Sometimes, if you’re lucky, they’ve got t-shirts, too.

Up All Night:  Put together a study survival kit for high school and college students by filling a large travel mug with a jar of instant coffee and a couple of 5-Hour Energy shots.  They’ll love it.

Toast Your Host:  A bottle of wine or bubbly is always welcome at the holidays.  Personalize it with a tree-shaped air freshener in red or green – just sign your name with a Sharpie and hang it ‘round the neck of the bottle.  Very Merry!
 

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