How to give the perfect last minute gift

Ho Ho Hoping to find the perfect gift?  Who isn’t? Usually people have good intentions, but then all of a sudden it’s the week before Christmas and the perfect gift is nowhere in sight. Since we’re down to the wire for 2010 gifts, here are some suggestions to help you still be the best giver, even at the last minute.

Experiences. Things come and go but experiences can stay with you forever.  Make it personal – here are a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing:

  • For sports fanatics – tickets to a game.
  • For scuba divers – plan a trip to an island with great dive sites.
  • For the adventurous – if it’s not something you like to do – plan it for two and let the recipients  take whoever they choose. We once planned a ski trip for the husband of a client.  All the leg work was done – plane tickets, lodging, dinner reservations- for her husband and his… ski buddy!
  • Togetherness –  keep it simple and spend time with the person and plan brunch at a restaurant that the two of you like.

You can get creative with your gift packaging by picking up something small that represents the gift.  Like a key chain with the sports team on it for the game or a ski hat for the trip or a bottle of champagne, some orange juice and a few bagels to represent the brunch, you get the idea.

Make a donation to the person’s favorite charity. For the person with a big heart or someone who already has it all, a donation is always nice. Make sure to choose a charity that they love, not necessarily one of your faves.

Lessons. Cooking lessons, a photography class, tennis lessons, or even a foreign language tutor. This works well if you know that the person has been wanting to do this but hasn’t made the time. Thanks to you, now they will.

Custom Coupons. Get creative and save cash. If it’s too much to purchase actual gifts for everyone all at the same time (who came up with this idea anyway?!), make coupons that can be cashed in to you at any time – spreading out the $$ you spend over the course of the year. For example:

  • Good for: 1 massage
  • Good for: one night out on the town
  • Good for: dinner and a movie

*Be sure to read about packaging your gift (below). You know what your people like… make the vouchers personal and it’s a win-win.

Guilty Pleasures. Get something that you know anyone would love, but would never ask for (or even do themselves).

  • Cook dinner once a month and deliver it to their doorstep.
  • Give them the dates that you are babysitting while they go out – no if’s, and’s or but’s.
  • Send over someone to deep clean the house (who wouldn’t love that!)

Cold Hard Cash. It may not be the most personal, but it’s often the most appreciated. In fact, Eduardo Porter says that often people value presents less than what the presents cost to buy. Check out his theory on giving cash.

Additonal Tips.

If you’re still not sure you hit the mark, go above and beyond with the gift wrap.  Everyone loves a beautifully wrapped gift.  Research shows given the choice of a nicely wrapped present or an averagely wrapped (or not wrapped at all) gift, the prettier one wins every time.

I once had a last minute call from a client who needed a gift for her boss (the next morning). She didn’t know what to get so she opted for a simple Barnes and Noble gift certificate (gift certificates although not the most creative, are always well liked and appreciated!). She could have just printed the gift certificate and put it in a card, but  to make it a little more interesting, she knew her boss liked jelly beans, so we filled a gift box with jelly beans, put the gift card inside, tied a huge bow on it and voila!  It was a simple way to create a fun gift for an out of the ordinary gift card. Another suggestion, get a container of some sort – a box, poster tube, or a duffel bag and fill it with dollar bills.  All of a sudden $25 just got to be a lot of fun!”

Remember: If you’re not sure you have the perfect gift on your hands, be sure to package the gift perfectly!

Also, when looking for the perfect gift:  it’s not about you.   Just because you don’t know what to get don’t get something just because you like it.  Remember when Homer Simpson gave Marge a bowling ball and she ended up falling for her bowling instructor… it often backfires. Take a few minutes to think about the person and you’ll be on your way to giving the perfect gift – even at the last minute.

Happy Gifting!

Do you have any last minute gift ideas?  Please leave a comment.

One Response to How to give the perfect last minute gift
  1. Sally Haver
    January 5, 2011 | 3:33 pm

    I accumulate appropriate gifts throughout the year, with specific people in mind. Then, as the time approaches, I simply “shop in my closet”, gift-wrap, and Voila! Done!

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