I’ve got a dark confession to make:
I’m almost never rushing around for Christmas because I loooooove getting all my stuff done early.
But for the rest of the world… let the frenzy begin!
Because when your schedule is packed and work won’t quit, sometimes Christmas just doesn’t come together “on schedule.” If I weren’t ready to go, here’s where I would look for last-minute yet practical and beautiful (and cheap, if you want) Christmas gifts:
1. Inspirational Etsy Prints
Etsy is a wonderful world of handwritten calligraphy and word art. In particular, I fell in love with Joyful Papery when I saw her stuff at a craft fair last year. Her shop is closed for the rest of the year, but you can still get print-your-own and print-at-home options.
All you need is some classy paper from Target or Walmart and a decent printer. Pick up a beautiful frame from Goodwill, Salvation Army, or the sale rack at Home Goods, TJ Maxx, or Target or Walmart and you’ve got yourself a reasonably-priced inspirational gift for a loved one. Pair with ribbon and a heartfelt card.
2. Homemade Natural Beauty Products
Some natural beauty products require crazy wax pellets, cooking, and dangerous temperatures. But those products only give the others a bad name. For many homemade beauty products, it’s not as complicated as you think!
Here’s my new favorite: room sprays. Gather a few essential oils and a classy glass vial with water and a touch of oil (though the oil is optional) and you’ve got yourself a fancy, thoughtful, and non-hormone-disrupting gift for friends.
Combinations I love for perfume or room spray:
Bergamot + Lavender + Sweet Orange = Perfumey like marshmallows and baby powder
Sweet Orange + Lime + Lemon = Super fresh and citrusy
Frankincense + Myrrh = Expensive, but it smells like church!
If you want to get super complicated, you can make this Pumpkin Spice one from Wellness Mama, or click around her site for awesome ideas like natural lipstick, body butter, or hair oils.
3. Unique or Thoughtful Magazine Subscription
Give year-round for about $15-20! You can find some great stuff at your local book store, but you can also look online for magazines that suit a special interest or unique group of people.
I’m always eyeing Paleo Magazine, and I’ve seen magazines for literature, poetry, knitting… you name it. You can also get kid’s subscriptions for kids or adults, because who wouldn’t love a magazine about nature, animals, or coloring?
4. Tube of Cuteness (AKA Mini Gift Basket)
You don’t have to go big to show your thoughtfulness for Christmas. I came across $2.50 simple clear vases at a thrift store and bought several in case I needed last-minute hostess gifts. Fill with holly or leftover tree trimmings and red and white tissue paper, then mix with mini ornaments, candy (candy canes and peppermints, perhaps), and other thoughtful niceties (notebooks, pens, gift card).
All of these things can be found free or cheap around the house or at Target (or you can scale it up to be more expensive), but when you put it together it has a great “Wow!” factor.
5. Delayed Gratification in the Form of Coupons
If you’re truly stumped for a gift idea and it’s a close friend you want to spend time with, make one or a batch of cute coupons. A batch might be tons of small things like the following:
- Text you an anagram poem of how awesome you are
- DD for a night out
- Errand favor any time, any place
Or they can be more significant one-time things like:
- Dinner out, just you and me
- I/You come over and cook you/I an amazing dinner
- An afternoon of [my skill] (personal shopping, babysitting, decorating, organizing, cleaning, whatever you do well)
This has the added benefit of 1) being really thoughtful and personalized, and 2) not being an expense now so you can save up and pay for it later if it’s out of your Christmas budget. Make sure the coupons are artsy and on nice paper to avoid the whole obvious last-minute cheapskate thing.
More on Our Kind of Christmas
How do we avoid the frenzy? By being cheap and being planners.
Since we started Dave Ramsey’s plan, we get our Christmas budget together in November and our $50 Christmas Draw name (for one side of the family) around Thanksgiving. Then we identify the theme for the year for the rest of our list and make it happen in the first few weeks of December (last year it was gift cards, this year is Christmas ornaments). Around this time I also get the Christmas cards out (purchased the year before 1/2 off during after-Christmas sales) and review our address list, design the note, and purchase stamps.
We err on the side of cheaper gifts so that we can stay on track with our debt-free goals and get to the point where we can be generous gift-givers faster. We typically give $5-10 gifts (or lower) and rarely go above $20 unless it’s a particularly special event or a very close friend (give or take the occasional meal-buying).
How about you?
Are you done with your shopping, or do you shop til the last minute? Do you blow out your budget every year, or stay on track to the dime every time?