Are you avoiding your phone, turning down invitations, and refusing to answer the door rather than get caught without a gift for someone at the last minute? If you’re willing to shell out for overnight shipping, it’s not too late to shop from my list of 10 Types of Great Gifts for Under $20.
But maybe, like so many of us, you’re in the giving spirit but so strapped for money you feel you can’t afford anything nice? Don’t fret. Here are five last-minute, mostly handmade gifts you can put together for under $10 a piece, and I’m not talking crap that someone will throw away, either!
1. A luxurious spa set for your lady friends.
Whip up some Gingerbread Body Scrub with a few spices from your kitchen, a neutral oil (olive oil works!) and some brown sugar for under $1. In another bowl, shake the same spices together with 1 lb. of Epsom salts ($1.50). Put both in pretty containers, print or write a nice tag, and put them in a box or basket with a loofah ($3) and a pretty ivory-colored pillar candle ($3) from Wal-mart. Voila, a treat for the senses and skin!
2. An art set for creative kids.
Pick up crayons ($0.50), watercolor paints ($1.00), and a ream of blank paper ($3.90) from the dollar store. While you’re there, grab five or six packets of unsweetened Kool-Aid or similar drink mix ($0.10 each). Make a batch of Kool-Aid Playdough and package it in small containers which you can get at the dollar store for $0.50, or well-scrubbed jars. (I save jars from pimientos and marinated artichoke hearts all year for this.) Put them all together in a box or basket and present it to the little artist to keep him/her entertained for hours.
3. Goodies for Guys.
They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Guess what? The way to making him happy on Christmas starts there, too! If you’ve got a guy you need an inexpensive gift for, it’s as simple as finding a large container (oatmeal containers are perfect for this) or picking one up from the store. Make a batch of microwave fudge and some microwave peanut brittle. (Note: if he or anyone in his household has a peanut allergy, make the brittle with some other kind of nut like cashews, or even shelled sunflower seeds!) Alternate layers of them in the container, separating each with some wax paper, and put a label on it that declares it’s all his, because if there’s one thing guys like more than goodies it’s not having to share them!
4. Cocoa for Co-Eds.
College kids are a hungry lot, but many of their dorms don’t allow any kind of cooking more complicated than using a microwave. Know how many would turn down a box filled with yummy things to suit those midnight munchies? None! So whip up a batch of homemade cocoa mix (ingredients cost $4.70) and put it in a pretty jar. In a second jar, combine a box of angel food cake mix with a box of chocolate cake mix ($2.75), then attach a printed card telling them how to make Cake in a Cup by adding 1/3 cup of the cake mix and 3 tbsp. of water in a large coffee mug sprayed with Pam and microwave it for 90 seconds. Bonus points if you throw in a pretty mug for them to use, too!
5. Pamper The Parents.
Oh, sure, everyone knows how tough it is for couples to take time off from their roles as parents and reconnect with each other. And, of course, we all make noises about how important that is, but unless the couple has family living nearby or a reliable babysitter (do those even exist?), it’s just a lot of empty talk. So imagine how much the pair would appreciate if you gave them a $25 gift voucher (that’ll only set you back $10) from Restaurant.com to a nearby dining spot AND you insisted on watching their kids while they went out for a nice dinner together… alone. As a mom who hasn’t had a Date Night with my husband in almost two years now, trust me, a gift like that is worth its weight in diamonds. Really!