Ahh, yes.  You are the procrastinator who thought, “I’ll buy the gifts tomorrow.”  But then you kept going to the nightly holiday parties…yet never could quite make it to a store.

And now you’re leaving to go home but haven’t bought your presents.

So for you, I have created a “cheat list” of easy holiday gifts that people will like — and it’s not a gift card! 

  • Magazine subscriptions — This is quite possibly one of the most brilliant tactics.  Buy the magazine that you think your family/friend would like (perhaps Food & Wine, Wine Spectator, etc), then go online and order a subscription for them.  Wrap December’s magazine up with a note that says they are getting a year’s subscription. 
  • Netflix — I’ve been an on-and-off member for about 8 years and I love it.  I briefly switched to Blockbuster’s plan thinking it’d be better, but it wasn’t.  With Netflix, I got my movies faster and they offered many more independent movies (and yes, I’m a “heavy” user).  So, why not get your loved one a subscription to Netflix?  You can print off the certificate and wrap it under the tree.
  • Movie package/spa package/wine basket/etc — Go to your local movie theater or store and buy 2-3 DVDs that you know would be a hit, get some microwaved popcorn, candy, etc and put into a cute bag or basket.  You can do the same with a “spa” package by getting some scented candles, bubble bath, etc.  Or what about a wine basket?  Go and buy a few bottles, a wine opener, crackers, etc. 
  • With most food banks facing empty shelves this year, $20 will go a long way.  Make a donation in a person’s honor to feed a hungry family.  Here are a few worthy food-related organizations based in the DC-metro area.
  • Just tell everyone you’re making an effort to go carbon neutral.  So in lieu of gifts, you’ve off-set everyone’s carbon footprint.  You would have printed out the certificates, but then that would have defeated the carbon neutral thing.  Instead, you’ll email everyone their certificate. 
  • For those who have money remaining in your FSA, here are some approved items you can pick up (that could make for a good present):
    • New Year’s Recovery Kit — Include ice pack (or heat packs), Advil, eye drops, and bottle of water
    • The smoker who needs to quit?  How about some of that quit smoking patches or gum?
    • First Aid kit for the new apartment, house, car.
    • Anti-get sick kit — DayQuil and NyQuil, Vicks rubbing cream, and Halls Defense.
    • Skin care product Dr Burt’s Res-Q Ointment
    • Heart Defibrillator if you have $800 in your FSA? 

Drum roll please for the last suggestion that you can try…but you had better be a good actor/liar! 

When you arrive home (or call), ask what they thought of your gift.  When they say, “I haven’t gotten it yet.”  Act surprised and annoyed.  Tell them that you ordered it a few weeks ago (so it seems like you were planning in advance) and then say say you’re going to see what happened.  You could blame shipping or the “holiday craziness” or whatever.  Then order their gift and have it shipped normally — it’ll appear a couple of days post-Christmas, but at least it gets there.