Every Christmas Eve it happens: we accidentally left someone off our holiday list, and the next day we are going to have to see this person sans a present.
Even if the other person is gracious and truly doesn’t seem perturbed, it is nonetheless an awkward situation. While I have known more than a few people who have remedied the situation by driving to a 24 hour drug store or supermarket just to buy something to give to another person, I do not embrace this approach.
For one thing, a last minute, hastily purchased present usually comes across a hastily purchased, last minute gift. Plus, there really isn’t much of a reason to give a gift in the first place if it doesn’t come from the heart and doesn’t try to appeal to some aspect of the recipient’s personality or at least tap into something they are interested in.
That leaves the question what should we give when we find ourselves in such a fix?
Below are four examples of last minute, truly meaningful gifts that can show we care and do not scream, “I forgot!”…even if that happens to be the case:
These are tried and true standbys. These can be IOUs or if you prefer, coupons, for anything for housecleaning services, babysitting services, etc. (Yoga instructors, massage therapists and those with other special talents may wish to gift their services.)
While it’s the thought that counts, presentation is important, too. Rather than just write it out in ballpoint on a piece of ruled notebook paper, it can be nice to print these out on fancy paper with lovely font and perhaps some holiday motifs. (A quick Google search can produce copyright-free images in a snap.)
2. Homemade bath-pampering products.
During the holiday season, nearly everyone could use a good soak.
While recipes for various homemade beauty products abound, I find bath products to be the best. Both women and men seem to like receiving these and usually, most of us already have these ingredients in our kitchens or bathroom closets.
A simple one I have found for a sugar scrub includes: 1/2 cup of sugar and enough olive oil so it is smooth but still gritty enough to exfoliate. A couple drops of essential oil is nice but if you don’t have any, even a few drops of lemon oil or vanilla extract will suffice. (If you don’t have sugar, try using salt, but you may need to increase the oil.)
If you want to include bath salts, use 1/2 cup of Epsom salt, 1/4 cup of sea salt, 1-2 teaspoon olive oil, and 10-15 drops of essential oil and mix in a bowl until all is well mixed.
Again, presentation is important, so putting it in a nice jar with a nice ribbon or stickers on it will give the impression that some thought went into this.
3. A homemade meal.
While many of us give and receive cookies, cakes, pies, and other desserts as holiday gifts, a homemade meal makes a great gift as well. I would argue it is actually nicer in some cases to receive an entire meal as opposed to just a dessert especially for those who live alone, don’t like to cook, or may have to drive a long way back home the day after Christmas and may not feel like cooking afterwards.
The meal can either be cooked and refrigerated or frozen, or it may be something like a quiche or pot pie which is all prepared and need only be popped into the oven once the recipient get home.
If possible, place it in a festive box along with preparation instructions inside the lid.
4. Cutting from a tree or houseplant.
Clearly, this is for someone who loves gardening or raising plants. (Don’t give this to someone who doesn’t.)
Several years ago, I met someone on my birthday who gave me the cutting from a beautiful crown of thorns plant she had in her studio. I took it home, placed it in water until it grew roots and today, it is one of my most treasured houseplants and one of my favorite gifts of all time.
Many indoor and outdoor plants can be successfully grown from cuttings. (If you are unsure if yours can, then Google.)
If you happen to have a spare plant container or pot lying around, it can be washed up and decorated and the cutting can go into that.
If not, then putting the directions on pretty homemade tag can work as well.
In closing, being caught without a present can be stressful but most of us can find or make a truly meaningful, last minute present. The best thing is, these don’t even have to come across as hastily produced, and the person receiving one of these will truly like it, too.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Author: Kimberly Lo
Editor: Renée Picard
Photo: erika g at Flickr