Last Minute Gifts They Will Actually Love

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If you're beginning to feel the pressure of finding gifts for everyone on your list this holiday, I'm here to help! To me, the perfect gift isn't about how much it costs or what brand name it carries; it's about giving something that is thoughtful and personal.

With some brainstorming and a bit of research, it's easy to come up with a list of gifts that will delight your friends and family. Thanks to online shopping and with the help of local shops, gifts can often be delivered within a few days. And remember, this approach to gift-giving is useful for any occasion. Follow along as I use these tips to find gift inspiration for a dear friend.


Even last-minute gifts should have some thought behind them. Set aside a few minutes and grab pen and paper to find inspiration with these simple steps:

1) Answer Some Questions About the Gift Recipient:


What hobbies do they enjoy? Common hobbies could include travel, cooking, sports/outdoor activities, music, photography, gardening, etc.


What life events will be happening now or within the next year? This could include a new home, once-in-a-lifetime vacation, milestone birthday/anniversary, etc.


What activities do we enjoy doing together? Are you both first in line for the latest blockbuster movies? Do you visit the same music festival every year? Do you always meet up at a local coffee shop?


2) Seek Out Their Social Wish Lists

Finding gift ideas can be a cinch when your recipient is active on social media. Look for an existing wishlist on Amazon, and peruse their Pinterest boards, which may already include a wishlist. If you are both members of Goodreads, check out the recipient's "want to read" list for books you could give. Seek out your friends on universal wishlist sites like GiftHero. On Facebook, visit the "About" section of your gift recipient's profile to see the music, movies, TV shows, books and games they may have listed, or scroll through their "Likes" to find favorite brands, local shops, causes, and more.

Here's what my research notes look like after 15 minutes of brainstorming and online surfing:

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Some gift ideas are easy to identify, such as the notebook or camera bag from the "Wishlist" board on my friend's Pinterest profile, or the books on their Goodreads list. I could contact Paste Magazine to extend an existing subscription or buy a new one, and I could buy a gift certificate for the local craft shop my friend likes on Facebook. If your gift won't arrive in time, use it as an excuse to get together with the recipient after the event. I have yet to hear of anyone refusing a gift after the event has past!


Now that you've completed your research, some gift ideas may have already presented themselves. If not, consider any of these five themes to help you connect the dots. 


The Beauty of Real Books

Giving a book not only encourages reading, a pastime so many of us enjoy, but physical books are often delivered quickly. We are all familiar with Amazon, but also check IndieBound, which connects to local, independent book shops that can typically deliver a book with a few days notice. Or better yet, if you have a favorite neighborhood bookseller, stop by and ask for recommendations with your recipient's interests in mind. Aside from the titles I discovered in Goodreads, here are a few ideas for my friend based on my research.


Share a Part of You

If you're giving a gift to someone special, you already have quite a few things in common. The things that you love will often be cherished by your recipient too, or at the very least, appreciated because it's meaningful to you. Some examples:

  • Buy another copy of your favorite cookbook and include sticky notes marking the pages with your go-to recipes. You can add a personal note to any of your favorite books, really, from the mystery you couldn't put down to inspiring nonfiction to the photography book you proudly display on your coffee table.
  • Create a digital "mixed tape" of new music you've discovered. Easily share your playlist via iTunes or generate a playlist code you can print on a card through Spotify Codes.
  • Gift the tech gadgets you can't live without, like a portable battery charger or the latest Apple TV. Be prepared to help the recipient set it up!

Gifts That Keep On Giving

When you give a subscription or membership, your friends and family can enjoy your gift many times over. Review your research notes on your gift recipient and think about a subscription or membership they might love based on their areas of interest. Consider niche magazines, local and regional museums, or expert-led courses. Here are some ideas for my friend:

  • A membership to the local contemporary art museum, which is well known for its powerful photography exhibitions.
  • An annual subscription to Hop & Barley magazine, a quarterly print publication about the craft beer movement.
  • A bread baking course taught at my friend's neighborhood bakery.
  • A three-month subscription to BarkBox with toys and treats for my friend's new puppy.

Time Together

Give the gift of experiences by planning an event together for a future date. This could include a trip to the theater, performance or concert, class, or distinctive outing or getaway. Once you have researched potential events, make sure to clear the date with the recipient before you give the gift. For my friend, I found a few activities we would enjoy together:

  • A craft beer tasting at a brewery in the area.
  • An all-day tennis boot camp.
  • A calligraphy class at the local craft shop my friend follows on Facebook.
  • A National Geographic talk about nature photography.

Donate to the Causes They Love 

Most of us have philanthropic causes we support, from children's charities to medical research to wildlife and nature preservation. Not only do many nonprofit organizations accept donations in honor of someone, they often allow donations towards a specific goal. I like giving donations to recipients who really don't want any more "stuff" but instead focus their energy on helping others. If you're not sure which organization to choose, remember that many communities around the world still need support after the string of natural disasters this year (read our blog post on the topic for ways you can help).

No matter who is on your gift list, I hope these simple steps inspire you to find the perfect gift this year! Happy gift hunting!


How do you choose the perfect gift? Share your ideas with the Compass & Key community in the comments below.