The Last-Minute Procrastinator’s Gift Guide

You forgot to buy a gift, but don’t worry, there’s no need to restart your life under an assumed identity just yet.


Oh no. 

You thought you got everything and last night you went to bed secure in the knowledge that you’d purchased every single Christmas gift you needed to. Then came this morning and you realized your error: Someone was completely forgotten, and if you don’t get them a gift, there will be hell to pay.

If this is you, what to do about it? Well, you have a few options (but not many). 

Your Phone
The first and easiest option is to get on your phone and buy some kind of electronic gift. The trick here is to find something that you couldn’t have gotten in person, otherwise it’ll reveal that you forgot. Electronic gift cards and subscriptions are perfect for this kind of thing, as are anything that gifts some sort of experience (but be careful with the latter, as you’d want that experience to still be an okay gift in a socially-distanced world). If you do end up getting a gift via phone, all you have to do is buy it, print a copy and then shove it in a personalized Christmas card. Done!

What’s Open
For a tangible gift, you’re forced to either regift something or settle for whatever stores are open (which, even on a normal year, is not many). The safest bets are generally pharmacy chains, but coffee chains are also open, as are some grocery stores and convenience stores.

Behold: The Basket
For all of these places, gift-giving expert Laura Fabrizio of Coastal Concierge explains that since a quality gift is pretty much impossible at this point, you’re going to have to go for quantity instead. So, for any place you’re shopping, Fabrizio says, “you want to make some sort of a basket by assembling items all around a theme related to the person.”

Remember though, just a gift card from one of these stores isn’t enough. So listen up!

The Coffee Chain. If your forgotten relative (or friend) is a coffee fiend, the basket is easy: A mug is the basket. Just buy a mug, a gift card and one or two of those packaged cookies by the counter and arrange them nicely in the mug. There, that’s your basket, and it wasn’t even all that hard.

The Pharmacy (your best bet). Your safest stop is going to be your chain pharmacies. They’re the most reliable of the last-minute Christmas shopping venues because you know they’ll be open. A basket here likely won’t be a true basket, but you can get a bucket from the cleaning aisle and stuff it with car-care stuff for your car-guy uncle. You can also get a makeup container and fill it with beauty supplies (as long as you know what brands someone likes). As some pharmacies have a small section of kitchenware, you might be able to find a small pot that you can stuff with cooking supplies. You can also stuff a pencil case with office supplies, or if there are Christmas decorations left, grab a stocking and stuff it with snacks. Another option is to head to the pet section, grab a pet bed and stuff it with junk for their dog. That last one is a particularly good gift, because no one else is going to be thinking about their pet.

If you’ve filled the basket and it’s still looking like, y’know, a bucket of cheap crap you just threw together, head over to the gift cards and add one to the top of the display. Ideally, this will also be related to whatever the theme of the basket is.

The Convenience Store. Convenience stores are tricky because you can never predict whatever random items will be there. You’ve got 600 different types of lighters next to some gas station sex pills next a used DVDs discount bin — it’s completely unpredictable. But, if it’s your only option, try to follow the same pattern as you would in a pharmacy, assuming you can find anything that resembles a basket.

The Grocery Store. Finally, there are grocery stores. Grocery stores are the holy Grail of Christmas Day shopping because they have everything. The only problem is finding one that’s open: Most aren’t, and those that are likely have limited hours. For holidays, the hours listed online are generally unreliable, so you’ve got to call your local supermarket on the telephone. If that alone is not enough to discourage you, then great, start calling and if you get lucky and find an open one, hurry the hell over there and start stuffing a basket.

Fortunately, there are tons more basket options here. For example, you can get a disposable baking pan and stuff it with cake supplies for the person who loves to bake. Or, you can get an actual basket (which is much nicer than a bucket!) to shove things in. In a real basket, you can put fruit or breads or pretty much anything. 

Baskets are amazing, which is why pretty much any day-of Christmas gift is all about replicating a basket. The only trick is getting your basket — or “basket” — made in time for Christmas dinner. Better get moving…