The “don’t panic, it’s Christmas” guide to last minute gifts

My gorgeous niece Ruby, panicking. Photo by Kylie Jacobsen

The week before Christmas is usually the week where I run out of Christmas steam, I’m running out of good present ideas and the budget is getting tighter.

I blame this week for the plethora of gift-pack cosmetics, socks and singing Christmas kitchiness, because if you’re shopping this week, chances are you’re pretty over it, delusional and lost for ideas.

On top of that it is the week where you get gifts from people that you had no prior gift-giving relationship with… the random kid at preschool you’ve never heard of or the neighbour who moved in last week.

Cue another trip to the shops.

Therefore here is my guide to simple, inexpensive and thoughtful last minute gifts, that are available almost anywhere and that will hopefully save your sanity.

For the kids who have everything:

  1. ART & CRAFT: My general rule for kids is they can never have too many books, art & craft or outdoor toys. Most $2 stores have a great selection of canvases, paints, glitter glue, crayons and pencils. Present them in a box or basket so that you’re also providing a storage solution. A trip to the thrift store may also uncover excess art supplies, still in packets and good quality used baskets.
  2. BOOKS: Books are also an easily accessible gift, you can pick up good quality used books at thrift shops or new ones at the supermarket. The books to avoid are ones that come from movies or cartoon shows, from experience they’re either too wordy for the age group they’re marketed at or worse, they’re poorly written. The exception to this rule is for kids who never read… these books are good to at least get them interested in story time.
  3. OUTDOOR TOYS: Outdoor toys and in particular water toys are great for holiday entertainment and get kids out of the house and burning off some energy. There’s nothing better than a water fight, so water pistols, water balloons, bath toys and anything that connects up to the hose are great for summer. Water & kids must always be accompanied by adult supervision. A simple gift could be a jar full of water balloons and ‘Just Add Water’ written on a sticky label across the jar.

For the adult you don’t know what to buy:

  1. RECIPE CARDS: Think of 3-5 of your favourite dinners, type out the recipe for each and get them printed on A5 pieces of card. Present cards wrapped with a ribbon and a tag that reads, “Dinner ideas for 2012”. Go the extra mile by thinking of clever names for your dishes i.e. ‘One Dish Wonder‘, ‘Cupboard is bare spaghetti‘. You could do the same with cookie recipes and present with a few assorted cookie cutter shapes. If you really suck at cooking, that is what the internet is for, go to and cut & paste a few recipes.
  2. INSTANT HERB GARDEN: Most supermarkets now sell small pots of parsley and basil. Purchase one or even three small pots of herbs and replant them in a more decorative planters available at hardwares, garden centres and department stores like Target, Kmart and Big W. Label pots with permanent marker or purchase garden labels which stick into the soil. Tie a simple bow around the pot rather than trying to wrap a living thing!
  3. THE BEST WAY TO GIFT DECORATIVE SOAPS: Scented soaps on their own may seem a little lame (personally I love soap!) however by teaming it with a small decorative dish and a set of white hand towels, it becomes a more thoughtful gift. This is a great host gift if you are staying with someone over the holidays. Try and buy the nicest soap you can afford and/or something in either an interesting shape or with pretty packaging. The dish can be found at thrift stores or even a small blue and white china soup bowl. My tip is to not buy an actual soap dish, they’re always ugly and practical looking. Hand towels for the bathroom are always, excuse the pun, handy. Unless you can afford striped Missoni hand towels, stick to plain white as colours fade  & tend to look raggedy much quicker.
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2 thoughts on “The “don’t panic, it’s Christmas” guide to last minute gifts

  1. rachel kara says:

    This is good. All gift guides I have read have been, however desirable, highly unattainable…until now. Thanks Katie x

  2. Thanks Rach, that’s the idea.
    Hopefully most of these things you could buy last minute at Coles if you had to!
    Love your blog xx

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