Monday, December 15, 2008

Last Minute Holiday Ideas

Since the holidays are approaching fast, most of your "Holiday To Do List" items might already be finished - gift shopping, decorating, as well as ideas for parties.

In case you are not there yet, here are some quick last minute ideas.

Gifts ($25 and under)

For Kids

Try Five Below for some great last minute gifts. Since nothing at this store is over $5, you can get 5 gifts for one child for $25 or get 5 kids, one gift each for $25. Either way it's a pretty good bargain and a quick fix. They have many board games, craft ideas, small toys, books and lotion sets for kids of all ages. They also have many small items, which make great stocking stuffers.

Speaking of stocking stuffers, don't forget to utilize your Dollar Stores for items that are fast, easy as well as inexpensive. If your nearest dollar store seems to be more of a .25 cent store (in other words, it looks and feels really cheap), try to find some other nearby dollar stores. Some of these stores have great items that you would be shocked to see that it only costs $1!

For Women

Yes, we women are difficult to shop for, but there are always items that we need that we may not always buy for ourselves. Let's not get into what we want, because I can be writing for days about those wish lists!

Gloves and scarves; leather gloves can still be inexpensive. Pajamas, a nice robe, lotion sets, and even a throw. Perfume, rain boots, a USB flash drive for those that can't live without their computers. If she has an iPod, get some accessories for that. She enjoys a certain hobby, get items for that (example: crossword puzzles, word finders, sudoku - there are books for that; loves to draw or paint - get art supplies, such as new brushes, a drawing pad or paint; loves to read - get a book she has been wanting to read or get a gift card from a nearby book store)

Stocking stuffers - a new brush/comb, candy or chocolate that she likes to eat, hair accessories, hair products, or even a gift card to her favorite store.

For Men

Men are a little easier, although some of you can be picky too. :-)

Gloves, scarves, ear muffs, pajamas, a thermos, or a universal battery charger for his phone. Hobbies that he might have (enjoys tinkering with his car -a magnetic arm band that holds tools on it while he's working; enjoys taking pictures - a mini tripod or a camera strap; travels a lot for work - a mini travel set; sports enthusiast - anything related to his favorite team).

Stocking stuffers - a tie, cuff links, a book (maybe even comics, go ahead and indulge him), chocolate, a USB flash drive, a lens cleaner for his eye glasses, or accessories for his iPod/iPhone.


Sometimes we have unexpected visitors and wish we had something to give them. What is always nice and useful to have is a quick stash of "extra" gifts for just these types of occasions. Remember to always keep extra gift bags, tissue and wrapping paper as well as extra cards around - I think that blank note cards work best, since it could be useful for any type of occasion. I would also suggest keeping these items in a storage container along with a pen, tape, scissors and labels in there so that everything is all in one convenient spot.

Items that are nice to give are diffusers, soap or lotion sets, wine or sparkling apple cider, a nice coffee mug or hot chocolate set for two, chocolates in a nice tin or one of the smaller Godiva boxes, popcorn tins, jam sets, or even a set of assorted teas or coffees.

Tip: Something to also keep in mind is that even high end stores, such as Nordstroms and Lord and Taylor do have bargain racks and around the holidays you will find items (mainly clothes) that are under $50 and some are even as low as $5 (!) that used to be priced at over $100, so don't be afraid to at least check out these stores; even if it's for yourself. No one ever said you can't give yourself a little gift on Christmas.


A lot of stores are having sales of 30-50% off of their Christmas and holiday decorations to try to get these items out of the stores. So, if you still haven't gotten a wreath, garland or any other decorative item - go do it now. Michaels, Lowes and Home Depot have a huge selection of items to spruce up your home for the holidays. Take advantage of the sales and don't be afraid that you started late in the season, you still have time.

One quick tip: I bought a real wreath from Lowes that was pretty simple and inexpensive and then embellished it with silver and gold pieces that I bought from the local dollar store. Once the season is over, I will throw away the wreath and keep the fillers - either for the next wreath I choose next Winter or to be used in other holiday decorations. You can do the same thing either with a real or fake wreath. Just get something simple and inexpensive; then dress it up with some type of decorative or seasonal filler or even with some beautiful ribbon. No experience is required, just be creative.

Parties and Events

When you have guests over make sure that you have enough of all items in your home, so you are not telling someone to go out for a last minute run to get something from the store. Do your best to have the day of the event be as less stressful as possible.

  • Prepare most, if not all, dishes the night before; this will relieve some of the stress in case a dish you are preparing doesn't turn out well the day of the event.

  • Set up the room(s) the way you want them to look. Put the tablecloth on the table and put all the items where you want them to be.

  • Make sure that you have more than enough trash bags, napkins, utensils, dishes and food items on hand. It might also be helpful to keep extra batteries of all sizes around for toys that all-of-a-sudden don't work. Always keep in mind (for events in your home) that it is better to have more than less.

  • Crafts for the kids. Buy items from a local craft store, there are usually $1 - $3 lanes in most of these places or get a gingerbread or rice krispies house for them to work on; get a few sets if there will be a lot of kids. This will hopefully keep them near the adults for a while before they get bored and run off somewhere in your home.

  • Games for the adults. For those that enjoy playing cards, keep a stack available. Other good board games are Jenga, Scattergories, Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader? or most types of trivia games.

  • Games for all - how about the Wii or some embarrassing karaoke?

By the way, have you sent out your holiday cards yet? Don't worry, I am in the same category; just make it a priority for this week.


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