With the end of the holiday season approaching, the shopping procrastinators among us may be scrambling for gift ideas for risk of leaving a loved one with something they may not want.
This year, there is a plethora of popular tech products and perennial gifts to give, but for the shopper looking for something different, these products may not be the first thing that comes to mind.
This is especially handy if you’ve waited until the last minute. These gifts are sure to be readily available no matter where you are, and may not even require you to leave the house to make the purchase. In addition, most people would likely find these gifts unique and enjoyable, since most can be customized for particular preferences and are generally off the beaten path.
So if you’ve left your holiday buying until the last minute, click ahead to see these gift ideas that may save the day.
By Josephine Bila & Paul Toscano
Posted Dec 9 2010
Prices start at: $60
Unless you’re shopping for a vegetarian, mail-order steaks may be the perfect solution for the holiday gift procrastinator.
Companies like Omaha Steaks, the Chicago Steak Company, or the Kansas City Steak Company offer mail-order cuts of meat that are perfect for the holidays. These companies are currently offering a wide variety of holiday packages and deals. Free shipping is included and you can also find gift cards and discounts.
Additionally, if the person you have in mind is looking for a little more than steak, these companies offer other items, including lobster, poultry, pork or even monthly delivery plans.
Prices start at: $30
MP3 players are one of the most-gifted products of the decade, but if someone you love doesn’t currently have one or even has a relatively obsolete model, a new MP3 player may be a quick and easy gift.
The good thing about MP3 players is that they are available almost anywhere and the newest models are not overly expensive, with new features like games, apps and video capabilities trumping their predecessors. To put some extra thought in, however, take into account what they’ll be using it for, such as running, traveling or just casually listening to music, and buy a player that will perform well under those conditions.
Suggested gift: 2%-5% of loan principal
It’s a special gift for the recession, or really any time, especially for newly graduated students or even new homeowners taking on their first mortgage. Paying off debt can be thought of as the gift that keeps on giving, and it’s a little more thoughtful and vastly more rewarding than simply giving money.
For example, if someone you know is carrying student debt of $20,000 borrowed at 8%, depending on how it compounds, that will cost them $1,600 or more annually. If that person were to apply a gift of $500 directly to their payments, they would essentially save $40 in interest payments every year until the loan is paid off, which would add up to $400 over 10 years, for a total of $900 in savings... or even more if the interest compounds over short time periods.
Although it’s not the flashiest gift of the year, it is arguably one of the most useful, since helping someone you love reduce their debt burden is integral to their long-term financial health. They’ll thank you for it later.
Expect to pay: $150-$500, potentially more
If you can honestly say you have a good sense for your loved ones’ artistic tastes, a painting may be the perfect last-minute gift.
In almost any part of the country, you can find a store selling various types of artwork, often original pieces, that you can get for several hundred dollars. A gift like this may not have the instant appeal of others presented here, but a quick drive to the local art store could have you walking out with a memorable gift. In addition, even a medium-sized painting will look impressive when gift-wrapped.
Price starts at: $7.99/month, $95.88 per year
If someone on your holiday list asked for DVDs or you know that they are a film buff, instead of only gifting one movie at a time, why not give them access to a near-limitless movie and television library like Netflix.
Although most Netflix subscriptions include having DVDs sent directly to your mailbox, the service includes a “watch instantly” library that can be accessed on a personal computer, gaming console, Netflix-enabled blu-ray player, or certain mobile devices, even with the lowest-tiered subscription.
If you’ve procrastinated on a gift, you won’t even have to leave your home to shop for a Netflix subscription. The company is currently offering gift packages where you can buy 12 months in advance, to make sure they can enjoy their new subscription all year long.
Expect to pay: $100 or more, depending on the item
Sometimes, the best gifts arise from things you already have. It may pay off to take inventory of what your loved one uses on a daily basis and ask yourself whether they’ve been unsettled by it falling into disrepair.
Items like leather handbags and shoes can be refurbished for a fraction of their original price. (Although this can vary on the complexity of the product.) Car interiors, furniture, jackets or jewelry that are showing signs of age can all be made to look as good as new.
In addition, the recipient has already spent plenty of time with the item and their emotional attachment to it may add an extra level of excitement when they get this gift, even though it may be for the second time.
Prices differ on type of item/charity
Some of the most impressive gifts you can give this year may not even be found in stores, and could even go for a good cause. Sites like Charity Folks, BiddingForGood and even eBay offer unique packages, with the opportunity to have the proceeds to go to charity.
Not only could your loved one have the experience of throwing out the first pitch at a Baseball game, going on a Jack Nicklaus Golf Vacationor having a TV character named after you.
Alternatively, many charities, such as Toys for Totsand Save The Children,offer the opportunity to donate in someone’s name, which can be a great gift in itself.
Expect to pay: $1-$12 per month
For the music aficionado on your gift list, a monthly digital music plan could be exactly what they’re looking for. Places like eMusic that allows for up to 24 song downloads per month, while sites like Pandora takes monthly payments of $0.99 for listening over 40 hours per week.
Other places, such as iTunes, which offers redeemable gift cards for MP3 downloads, and Rhapsody, which offers unlimited downloads for $10 per month are also great places to shop, if you’re looking to expand a loved one’s music library. Some of these vendors also offer eBooks and movie downloads.
Price starts at: $25
Who knew fun-filled experiences could come in e-certificates that never expire? Just visit xperiencedays.com and in only a few mouse clicks, you’ll find an activity that perfectly suits your recipient's personality.
From spa days to walking tours to air combat dogfights, there's truly something for everyone. With locations spanning both the United States and United Kingdom, you can even join your gift recipient in an expedition since some gifts are good for two!
Go ahead, wait until the last minute to find a gift. Just be sure to give yourself at least a few seconds to search through the site’s vast array of options.
Price starts at: $25
Whether you have a brother who appreciates a live football game or a wife who adores Michael Bublé, places like StubHub and Ticketmaster offer gift certificates that are great for getting someone to a show.
You also have the option of purchasing live tickets that can be printed directly from your computer or wireless device. Why not buy an extra ticket and share in the experience of a live show? This could be a gift even you will remember.
Price starts at: $30
Does grandma enjoy sitting by the fireplace with a highball of Baileys on the rocks? If your answer was yes, get her a Baileys gift set!
Liquor gift sets can be found in nearly every town in the country, from the local liquor store to department stores. Sets start at around $30 and many come in festive boxes with accompanying glassware.