Cool Last-Minute Christmas Gift Ideas

So what do you do if you have to buy a simple last-minute Christmas gift for a co-worker? The holidays are fun, busy, manic, and sometimes stressful without worrying about the perfect Christmas present for people in your office, at your job, and your place of employment. Here are a number of simple, cheap, last-minute Christmas present ideas for co-workers.


You’ve heard the old phrase -- location, location, location. If it’s truly last-minute and going to the mall or your favorite department store like Target, WalMart, Kohl’s, or elsewhere is too much of a pain that this is the list for you! (If you could go to one of these places then a gift-card makes a lot of sense. Why? I cannot imagine any person that couldn’t find a way to use a Target or Wal-Mart gift card. These stores really have everything from clothes, to housewares, to food now so that would be simple. OK, YOU’RE DONE.) Going to the mall is a different beast -- at least the department stores often have locations AWAY from the crazy malls...

WHERE ELSE TO SHOPSanta-Sheep-with-GiftsCredit: Wikimedia Commons

So if the department store can’t work here are three places that make quick cheap simple last-minute Christmas shopping very easy!


As a frequent last-minute shopper for all occasions, I have drug store shopping down to a science. If you go to your local Walgreen’s or CVS, or others you can find a number of great last-minute ideas like candles, nice glycerine soaps, chocolate in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, and small handy electronics items. For women you can often find bath or shower sets with salts, bubble bath, and nice sponges. For men consider some blank DVDs or CD-Rs or a few magazines like Men’s Health and Money Magazine or Kiplinger’s and a bar of imported chocolate. Any guy would love this simple gift! Warning: Avoid the tacky after shave!

While you’re at the drug store get a Hallmark or American Greetings card and you have half of your gift ready for your next stop....


Usually you can find these on every city block and unless you live in a real rural part of the country, you can also find a 7-Eleven or other convenience store every few miles. A grab bag gift here makes sense -- again think chocolates, nuts (bagged almonds, cashews, or trail mix), and more. Find the most unique items... If this seems hopeless, the stand-by gift here, using your greeting card from the drug store -- lottery tickets. You can buy quick pick numbers for national games like Mega Millions or Powerball, or simply buy scratch tickets in various denominations. In my state scratch offs are available in $1 to $20 tickets. What makes these a nice gift is that many people WILL NOT buy them for themselves. If you want to stretch your gift dollar, get several of various denominations so that it involves a lot of scratching. One small warning - all the odds are against them -- be ready for your co-worker to win, and maybe win big! Perhaps they’ll even share some with you!


IF ALL ELSE FAILS.... I always shop for last-minute Christmas presents at the local grocery store. Every one has a Shaws, Stop and Shop, Albertson’s, or other chain or local grocery store near them. 

There are so many great items at grocery stores that make great last-minute gifts. Stores know that you might need to do this so very often you will see gift baskets just inside the main entrance near the produce section. These are good, simple, but not always cheap. I prefer to make my own care packages of food, fruit, or specialty items -- because honestly most people don’t care whether they get an actual basket or not. And you have more freedom in what to select. If you just pack the items in a box, or a gift bag -- it has the same effect.

Some ideas for grocery store gift items: obviously chocolate bars, fresh fruits (consider organic apples or specialty dried fruits), mixed nuts (bags or cans of cashews), a small container of real maple syrup. It doesn’t have to be a themed basket -- consider some random but yummy items like a small jar of salsa, some organic hot chocolate, some nice tea (green, earl grey, or darjeeling). There are nice bottled beverages, specialty coffees, cheeses, snacks -- a wide variety of gourmet food items that you would love to receive. Check the international foods aisle as well for great ideas like jars of imported olives, special Mediterranean, South American or Asian foods, Indian spices, and so much more. Let your imagination be your last-minute shopping guide. 


When I was about thirteen and started taking an interest in buying Christmas gifts for my family, I was concerned about two things. Even though I had a paper route, I didn’t want to spend too much money on my siblings (!) and others, BUT I wanted the gifts to be memorable. At that age ‘memorable’ is the crazy expression on my uncle’s face while he tries to unwrap a small perfect sphere which turns out to be.... a fresh hairy coconut from the local grocery store. The coconut, a whole pineapple, or some other crazy imported fruit in New England was my gift of choice for everyone for a few years. On one hand it seems silly, but relatives told me stories later about trying to break or drill open the coconuts for the fresh coconut milk, and eat the tasty shavings and unique “white meat”. They’re really delicious, and fresh fruit harkens back to an earlier Christmas tradition of special foods, sweets, and treats. And in case you think I was a snotty-little punk for buying relatives coconuts or pineapples - rest assured that I wrapped these gifts myself at that age -- no small feat. The hard round fruit is fun to give (especially when recipients shake it and hear liquid!) Have you ever tried to wrap a giant fresh pineapple? 

Good luck with your last-minute Christmas shopping for co-workers.

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