Last Minute Frugal Gift Ideas

Are you done with your Gift Shopping?

Christmas is just around the corner, and what if you are one of those people, who still have some shopping left to do? Not to mention, some one gave you gifts that you were not expecting and now you feel you ought to buy them something too. I forget sometimes, little something for my neighbors, or mail woman or our gardener and so on. So, now I have to go and get something that gets delivered in time before Christmas eve.

If you are in situation like this, do not panic. Okay, panic for 1 minute then take a deep breath. I think I figured out a few ways we can save the Christmas gift giving. Gift giving does not have to cost a fortune or cause a stress, with little planning and creativity, one can find out last minute frugal gifts that are good for you and recipient.

How to Get Last Minute Gifts Suggestions

Last minute gift ideas will not work for most traditional online shipping ideas, specially if you are short on time. We need gift right NOW, I mean in most day or two, we can not wait for order and wait for shipping to arrive, or can you? Here are some tips that I am exploring for getting last minute gift buying: Hopefully, these tips will help you as well, if you are in similar situation like me.

1. When you have 2-3 days left for shopping:

  • Buy Gifts from Local stores: If you have still few days left before Christmas, you can go to Walmart, Target, Kohls or ToysrUS and buy things and pay for it and give to person just in time.
  • If stores or online stores can do one day shipping for your out of state family and friends, you may want to take that option and pay bit extra for one day shipping.

2. When you have only 1 day or less for shopping:

  • You can go to local grocery store for buying gifts. Yes, grocery stores do sell other things besides groceries, so check it out such as cookware and kitchen gadgets to photo frames.
  • You can go to Gas station or drug store for last minute gifts shopping. Drug stores are sometimes open 24 hours and have perfume, toys, small kitchen gadgets, photo albums and more.
  • If nothing is open, you can go to your local airport, they are open even during Christmas eve as everyone seems to be flying around it. You can purchase books, candies or wine from airport stores last minute.
  • If you buy online gift cards, you can email the card numbers to your relatives who might be living far and they may get gifts right away to use it.
  • Give IOU card, if nothing else works, give them a promise to buy something as soon as possible. This may not work with small child but some adults, so know people’s emotions.
  • You can make something at home such as soup, cookies or jam and use it as a edible gifts.

Last Minute Gift Ideas under $20

Okay, so you decided to try buying a last minute gifts from grocery store, drug store, gas station or air port store, what can you buy there and how much usually it will cost you? While prices of stuff varies by locations, I have found these 20 items under $20 or so, that you can buy from these stores. Sounds like a good plan and last minute solution to many of us.

  1. Candies and Chocolate Boxes
  2. Lotto tickets
  3. Music CDs, Movies
  4. Photo frames and Photo Albums
  5. T-shirts
  6. Caps
  7. Wine and Beer
  8. Magazines and Books
  9. Magazine Subscription
  10. Candles
  11. Small Kitchen Cookware gadgets
  12. Board games
  13. Small toys for kids
  14. Perfume for men and women
  15. Beauty and Makeup kits
  16. Notebook, pens etc
  17. Coffee mug and gourmet Coffee
  18. Clock of various types
  19. Calendar and planners for next year
  20. Plant


If you have time or chance, buy extra few generic gifts and store it on your garage or extra room for emergency last minute gifts. Otherwise, I hope these tips will be useful to any of you looking for last minute gift ideas.

The best way to not get in to this is either do not do gift giving or buy it now when you have time. Have a great shopping and even better holidays!


Image source:  Christmas Gifts


  1. Matt says:

    You make a really good point by pointing to grocery stores as a great place to find last minute gifts under $20. In the closest grocery store to where I live here in Nashville, I noticed that they have gift cards to many of the major retailers in addition to all the interesting potential gifts they sell on their shelves.

    Grocery stores are one of the last stores open up to the end of the holiday shopping season–don’t underestimate their usefulness as sources of last-minute gifts!

  2. Mike says:

    I think these are great tips, I have never thought of using an airport shop or grocery store for getting a last minute gift, but it makes so much sense. I always forget one or two people every year, no matter how planned I think I was. 🙂

  3. Lyka Ricks says:

    I truly agree on buying generic or unisex gifts. These will serve as your gift buffers in case you have miss someone in your list. It may be that simple and affordable, its the thought that counts!

  4. ZenGirl says:


    Yes, many grocery stores and other stores carry gift cards for many retailers and it is such a good idea for last minute or for someone choosing is hard to do. I often choose gift cards when I am running of ideas on what to give.

  5. ZenGirl says:


    Yep, it happens to me as well that someone gives me gift that I had not thought of, now I either keep generic gifts or give gift cards for such last minute changes. Airport shop are always open and good idea to get something there at last minute.

  6. ZenGirl says:


    Yes, we had a nice holidays and laid back with family. We saw Christmas lights, saw cartoon christmas movies with kids. How was your holidays?

  7. ZenGirl says:


    Yes, keeping generic small gifts in my storage shelf has helped me in many situation. Zenguy always laughs at me, when buy things but it has worked for me. Only thing I have work hard on is not to buy too many 🙂

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