Christmas is just days away and you still have gifts to buy.

It's probably too late to order online. You don't know that you'll be able to get the gifts on time. Even if you can get the gifts on time, it will cost a lot extra to make sure that you receive the gifts by Christmas. On top of that, you’ll likely want to spend as little time as possible in the crowded malls.

Before you despair that there is no way for you to manage, here are a few last minute ideas to quickly get Christmas gifts for those people still remaining on your list.


Choose a Gift Card

In the past, gift cards seemed impersonal. We hate the idea of getting gift cards because it seems like there hasn't been thought put into it. However, the reality is that many people prefer gift cards because it allows them to choose what they want.

If you want to make it special, give an experience, such as a day at the spa or dinner and a movie. This way there is a personal touch, but it’s fast and leaves a degree of choice to the recipient. Another way to add a personal touch is to get something to a favorite store or restaurant, or to a place that the recipient would enjoy, but would never go to on his or her own. That shows thoughtfulness, and can be cost-effective, especially if you buy from a discount card site that will give you a card with a higher face value than what you pay.

Don't forget to go through your own stock of gift cards. Do you have gift cards you haven't used? Pass these on. You just need to make sure that any of these cards have the full value on them before you give them away.

Similar to gift cards, a membership could be greatly appreciated as a special, thoughtful gift. Two of my favorites, Costco and CAA, offer gift memberships that can save the person money the whole year long! It’s a good way to give a gift that keeps on giving.

Make a Donation

Do you know someone who is thoughtful and loves to help others? Make a donation in that person's name. This can be a great gift  for those that have all they need and haven’t asked for much this Christmas. It’s a thoughtful gift that can increase someone’s stature. We all like to be recognized for what we do, and it is a good memorial. Just make sure that you make a donation to a cause that the recipient is passionate about.

Food Gifts

Have a tasty recipe? Bake cookies or squares and give them in a festive tin or on a nice, decorative plate. Think about a treat that the recipient has expressed a love for in the past and create that. You don't need to spend a lot on the presentation, but it should be classy and attractive.

As long as the person you’re shopping for enjoys the occasional drink, it’s hard to go wrong with a nice bottle of wine, gift set of beer, or a fancy liqueur. Look for something unique that you think the recipient would enjoy and dress up the presentation a little bit with a bow or ribbon.

Don’t forget about gourmet gift baskets that include items like hot chocolate, fine coffee, artisan cheese or bread, or anything else that the recipient likes. You can even create your own basket with low-cost craft items and individually selected and assembled treats if you don't want to spend on a pre-made basket.

Photo Gifts

Have a photo that’s meaningful to the person you’re giving the gift to? Get it enlarged and framed, or even put in on a mug or mouse pad. Many places can do this within a day, but check to make sure, as some special items could take longer. You might also need to be ready to possibly pay extra shipping to get it in time for Christmas if you go the online route. However, there are a number of local big box retailers that can do it for you in-house.

If you have quite a few photos you’d like to give, create a DVD slideshow of them. Google’s Picasa is free and can do the job. There are also great digital photo frames that will cycle through hundreds of photos at a time. This is a cost-efficient way to show your love to someone else.

Careful Re-gifting

Did you receive something at a gift exchange or office party in the past month that you haven’t opened and won’t use? Re-gifting might solve your shopping stress, save you money, and hopefully the person you give it to will truly enjoy it more than you.

If you decide to go the re-gifting route, make sure you get rid of any individual information, and that you don’t re-gift to someone who gifted to you in the first place. If you decide to make re-gifting a regular feature of your holiday attempts, be sure that you create a spreadsheet that explains where you got the item, and who gave it to you. That can help you avoid uncomfortable situations.

More Ideas for Inexpensive Gifts

There are plenty of other ideas out there for cheap last-minute gifts, including DIY craft gifts. If you have a talent for crafting, the possibilities are practically endless. Even if you aren't very good with crafts, there are a number of items that are easy to create, from pinecone firestarters to paint-dipped wooden utensils. Don't assume that a lack of crafting ability precludes you from creating something thoughtful and attractive.

With a little creativity, it’s possible to get something for everyone on your list, and you don't have to break the bank or spend a lot of time at the mall to make it happen.

Christmas is just days away and you still have gifts to buy. Here are a few last minute ideas to get Christmas gifts for people remaining on your list.

About Tom Drake

Tom Drake is the owner and head writer of the award-winning MapleMoney. With a career as a Financial Analyst and over eight years writing about personal finance, Tom has the knowledge to help you get control of your money and make it work for you.