A Procrastinator’s Guide to the Holidays: 10 Last Minute Gifts

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So the holiday season hit you in the face like a baseball bat. Now the countdown to Christmas started and you have no plan for presents. If you worked as an elf in Santa’s factory, you would’ve been fired long ago. Don’t freak; gift guides exist for procrastinators, too. Here’s 10 last minute holiday gifts—all within a reasonable college budget.

1. Grab Bags

Look around in checkout lines of grocery stores to find last minute gift ideas. Usually there’s an array of small items to pick up for cheap and stuff into a cute 50¢ gift bag. Incorporate travel-sized perfumes and delicious candy or mix and match small checkout items to create a fun basket of knick-knacks to gift your friends. This gift looks cute and well-planned even though there was no plan all along.

2. A Gift Card

Nothing says “I really didn’t know what to get you” quite like a gift card. But even so, no one can deny that people love free money and an opportunity to pick out their own gift. Sure, you might look like a lazy friend, but let’s be honest, your procrastination is what got you here in the first place. If you want to amp up your weak present a bit, package your gift card in a holiday greeting card. Write out a nice message so it looks like you planned for it to look this terribly thought-out.

3. Lottery Tickets

Lottery scratch cards are fun to play and even more fun when you make some money from them. Turn this fun game into a great last minute holiday gift by stopping at your nearest gas station to pick up a couple of these tickets, then place inside of one of those cute Hallmark cards from the drugstore.

4. A Bottle of Wine

For your legal friends, this gift is always a great way to go—so long as you’re legal to buy, too. No one turns down wine in college, no matter how small the cost. Win bonus points for style if you put the bottle in a sparkly wine gift bags from the drug store.

5. Accessories

Scarves, hats, jewelry, watches—these gifts are so underrated yet so convenient. They’re easy to pick out and everyone needs a new accessory to spice up an outfit. It sounds basic, but when on a limited budget, accessories usually can’t make the cut. Make your girlfriends’ arms jingle with bracelets and your guy-friends cringe with hat hair in a baseball cap.

6. A Pre-Made Gift

If you walk through a department store around Christmas, notice the elegantly wrapped box sets of pre-made Christmas gifts. The boxes are typically filled with things such as cologne samples, make-up or little collectables. The best part? This gift requires absolutely no effort. All you have to do is show up and pay.

7. A Homemade Gift

Homemade gifts: A heartfelt way to let your friends know that you’re a broke college student doing your best to please everyone at Christmas. Although a homemade card or necklace may not be exactly what they hoped for, your effort and appreciation will shine through. No one needs to know you waited until Christmas Eve to put in that effort.

8. Candy

It’s easy to stop by your closest CVS or Walgreens to grab a couple boxes of candy for a quick, delicious gesture. You can make this gift as casual or elegant as you please. If you’re feeling a simpler gift, pick out a few fun boxes of Skittles, Reese’s or M&M’s to place in a gift basket. If you’re trying to go full out, find a fancy heart-shaped box with handcrafted chocolate bites. Regardless of the direction you go, this last-minute buy will make your friends’ stomachs happy.

9. The Re-Gift

Your mom just bought you an adorable red scarf and the tags are still on it. Unfortunately, you already own a scarf that looks pretty similar. Use this opportunity to give that new scarf a more loving home by re-gifting it to a friend. Though this gift is a great last-minute option, be careful not to get caught. If you decide to re-gift the scarf to your sister, you’ll end up facing a pretty awkward Christmas dinner with your mom.

10. Coupons

If all else fails, make homemade coupons. They take only a few minutes to create but have a great pay-off. They can say things like, “Redeemable for one free hug” or “Redeemable for one lunch date on me.” This gift shows your friends that you put some thought and care in, even though you came up with it last minute. Just remember that you’re going to end up paying for your laziness later when your friends redeem the coupon.

Erin is a broadcast journalism major at the University of Maryland. She enjoys acrylic painting, playing piano, and long-distance running. Erin also enjoys skiing and snowboarding in her hometown of Buffalo, New York.

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