Holiday Central

10 last-minute gift ideas for procrastinators

Late but not least

Greg Vote | VStock | Getty Images

Well, here we are again.

The holidays are here. The clock is ticking down on Christmas morning or that party your best friend is throwing and you're just now realizing that you haven't gotten around to purchasing a gift. Maybe next year will be the one where you start shopping earlier.

Good news. There's still time to come out of this holiday season as a gift-giving hero. You just have to know where to look — and have a good sense of exactly how much time you have left.

Here are some ideas that can add a touch of personalization to your last-minute gift — and spare you from grabbing a gift card from the corner store.

— By Chris Morris, special to
Posted 15 December 2015

Goldbely ($20 and up)


Want a sandwich from New York's Katz's Deli when you live in Nebraska? Historically, you've been pretty much out of luck. Goldbely acts as a hub of sorts for gourmet foods from some of the nation's top restaurants, delivering them directly to you.

The site offers signature meals directly from dozens of world-class locations. The menu tends to vary a little and is searchable by either region or types of dishes, making it pretty easy to find what you're looking for from the wide selection.

Heifer International ($10 and up)

Source: Heifer International

Sometimes the best gifts aren't for the people who receive them. It's made in their name. Heifer International works to eliminate world hunger and poverty, providing animals to villages that help supply a variety of goods.

Sheep, for instance, can provide clothing to a community, as well as income when extra wool is sold at market. A goat can provide milk as well as additional income. And you can donate anything from a share of these animals (for $10 or more) to a full one (where prices range from $20 to $500).

Unlimited entertainment (prices vary by service)

Source: House of Cards

Rather than splurging on a new TV, give your last-minute designee a year's worth of entertainment. A one-year Netflix subscription will run $108, giving them access to shows like "House of Cards" and "The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt." Do they need to catch up on past seasons of favorite shows? Hulu can help a one-year subscription to the commercial-free version (the one they really want) is $144. Or you can buy them an Amazon Prime subscription, which includes video streaming, music streaming and expedited shipping.

Kindle ($80 and up)

Source: Amazon

Yes, we mentioned this eReader in our gadget gift guide, but if you've got more than 24 hours before you have to give the gift, you've still got time to buy one and have it delivered.

The eReader makes it easy to take and read any book with you — and the clarity of newer versions, like the Paperwhite, is stunning. If you're lucky, Amazon may be having one of its semi-frequent sales on the devices, which drop prices to $60 and up.

Subscription box service (prices vary)

Source: Lootcrate

The joy of subscription boxes is that they deliver things the recipients likely wouldn't buy for themselves. And the themes are so widespread, there's a fit for everyone on your list.

Need a gift for a techie? There's LootCrate. Buying for a kid? Pley offers monthly rentals of Lego toys. Fashion obsessed? Bombfell is the answer. Want to pamper the man or woman on your list? Birchbox provides personalized grooming and beauty products. There's even a mystery box for fishers called TackleBox.

The extreme experience (prices vary)

Source: Nascar Racing Experience

Know someone who dreams of living the extreme life? Indulge those fantasies by getting them the experience of a lifetime.

There are several services that offer this sort of wish fulfillment — from experiencing the thrill of airborne combat ($700–$1,400) to driving a Nascar race car around a real track ($129–$500) to soaring through the sky in a hot-air balloon (regional, but shared flights in Asheville, North Carolina, start at $199).

Massage ($50 and up)

Source: Massage Envy

After 2015, we could all use a good rubdown. It's a chance to let go of some of the stress we carry in our shoulders and neck and an hour of uninterrupted "me" time — something any parent would certainly appreciate. (Be warned, though: You may need to include babysitting as part of this gift.)

Prices will vary depending on the spa you choose, but the Massage Envy chain has introductory one-hour sessions for just $50.

ScanMyPhotos ($145)

Chris Morris | CNBC

We've all got stacks of old print photos lying around that we mean to put in albums but rarely (if ever) look at. Digitizing them is the smart way to go, but no one wants to spend that much time manually doing it. ScanMyPhotos is an online service that does the job for you with a remarkable turnaround time.

The company sends a prepaid postage box (which is all you have to hand over as the gift), which customers load with as many pictures as they can. About a week or so later, it's returned with the photos scanned into digital form and put on a CD or USB.

Gift a game ($1 and up)

Source: Valve Software

Need a gift for a gamer? There are plenty of choices this holiday season. While gifting a title directly from your Xbox or PlayStation 4 is still a pipe dream, PC gamers can easily gain instant access to games and gift them through Steam. The online entertainment platform features more than 3,500 games, from action to Indie and everything in between.

As a bonus, the service typically offers tremendous deals as the holidays draw closer, letting you buy a lot for a little, meaning your generosity will overshadow your lack of planning.

Concert/theater tickets ($10 and up)

TKTS ticket booth in Times Square, New York.
Ben Hider | Getty Images

All too often, people intend to buy tickets to Broadway or see a favorite artist but never quite get around to it. Step in on their behalf and buy them a night on the town where they can shake off the day-to-day and enjoy a little culture or just rock out. Just don't buy 'em the cheap seats in the nosebleed section. This is the holidays, after all.

Related Tags