The Receptionist's last-minute gift guide

Sometimes you need to get a last-minute gift and you still want it to come off personally - here's how to get a last-minute gift that will come off well and save you money

It's almost Christmas! If you're anything like me, you've barely even taken a moment to consider what gifts you need to get, let alone have purchased or made any. So how do you give a last-minute gift that is still excellent and doesn't stress you out?

If you're rich, no problem! Just go to a store and spend a bunch of money. Done. Heck, if you're rich enough you probably can just send someone to go spend the money for you. Why are you even worried? Buying stuff is literally the easiest thing about being rich.

If you're not rich, then let's talk.

Unfortunately, most last minute gifts that aren't crazy expensive (candles, chocolate, picture frames, chocolate) simply scream "I don't know you that well!" or "I forgot to buy you a gift!" or "Why do we even bother???" These are undesirable things for a gift to scream at someone you care about.

The key to a good last-minute gift is that it's easy to find and is at least moderately personal. Let's examine the options by their most general categories. 

Gift Cards

Some people are anti-gift card. To these people you will send a powerful symbol of indifference with a gift card. Others may seriously appreciate them, so long as you put at least five seconds of thought into what they might want beyond Best Buy or Walmart (puke).

Do they play a lot of video games? Do they love make up? Do they read all the time? Do they like to attend arts and culture events? Could they use a massage? Are they outdoorsy? Do they love baking? There are places to buy all of these things.

Bonus points the more "local" and "thoughtful" the gift card is. Did you get it for their favourite artisanal shop in the hipsteriest neighbourhood? Did you package it up with a growler or in a cool-looking box? Well played, friend.


Remember when the cheese of the month club was a running gag on TV shows for impersonal bosses? Well, we have now entered the golden age of subscription services (and I, for one, would LOVE a cheese of the month membership).

Monthly subscriptions have all the ease of gift cards but way way way more Perceived Thoughtfulness Points. What do they like? They can get books (Vellum & Bloom), geekery (Loot Crate), underwear (Me Undies), and, I don't know, a thousand other things. Make up, crafty stuff, booze, whatever. Heck, you could pay their Netflix account for a year.

Oh! And don't forget about magazines! I realize that people are hip with iPads and stuff these days, but you can get magazine subscriptions for under $30. Then you have given your loved one a full year's worth of reading materials to actually read or leave on the coffee table and impress everyone with.


Oh alcohol, the go-to gift for every occasion. First thing to consider: does this person drink? If they don't, alcohol is going to be a terrible gift. If they do, our task is to turn the most generic gift into something that seems thoughtful. This will not necessarily succeed.

First question: what is their booze of choice? Beer? Wine? Scotch?

If they're into whiskey or other such drinks, any size bottle of a good-quality liquor will be welcome, especially if you accompany it with drinking-related accessories (a cigar, complimentary chocolate, fine drinking glass, cocktail bitters, a fancy simple syrup, etc.)

If it's beer, go craft and local and variety. A sampler pack of local brews, perhaps? 

Wine? I don't know how to make wine not generic. Sorry. Even a crazy expensive bottle is pretty impersonal.

Warm Things

Scarves, gloves, warm socks, slippers. Sure, your 21 year old brosef may not be stoked on a sweater, but there are ways to make them fun.

For example, if you know a Harry Potter fan (cough cough) who still doesn't have their house scarf (cough Ravenclaw cough), then you could certainly get that for them and be met with squeals of delight.

Otherwise, just get a nice warm thing that matches their style (rustic/hipster, fancy/fashionable, geekish) and you'll be covered. The best part? Warm things ABOUND this time of year. Grocery stores are selling scarves, for pete's sake.

Electronic Accessories

Being that we've already established you aren't rich, you probably aren't buying them an actual electronic device. But could they use a portable charger? Some other accessory? (I'm not really into electronics, I don't know, why am I even writing this section?)


If you have a skill that you can offer them as a service for a gift, this could come off very well. UNLESS you would normally just do this thing for them anyways, because you are friends, or it is lame.

If you don't want to come across as a child who made a booklet of coupons for car washes and hugs to their grandparent, you'd better be saving someone time, stress, or money (pick two) and be actually good at the service you are offering.


Here is where we separate the wheat from the chaff. The amateurs from the professionals. The lamebrains from the cool cats. This is almost as important - NAY - almost MORE important than the gift itself when it comes to personalizing and special-izing a last-minute gift.

A little polish in the packaging creates the illusion of time investment and pre-emptive care that will really throw a person off the trail. Get thee to Pinterest and spend a few extra minutes picking out your wrapping paper or tying spruce bows to the box.


Best last-minute gifts that are easy, cheap, and awesome

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