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4 easy, thoughtful last-minute gift ideas

Posted August 4

Are you running out of time, but still hoping to find personal gifts for your loved ones and friends?

You don’t have to gamble on shipping or brave busy stores to be successful. Below are some ideas for personalized last-minute gifts that are sure to bring joy. Share your ideas in the comment section.

A night out

Gift certificates sometimes have the bad reputation of being a slacker’s gift, but when chosen with care they can actually make for a super thoughtful present. A lot of people would love to have a night out on the town, but are reluctant to spend money on themselves. That’s where you come in.

Instead of just purchasing a gift card from a big-box retailer, take the time to plan a fun night out for your friend or family member. You can personalize the gift and make it go further by purchasing several certificates of smaller amounts. For example, you could get $15 at their favorite restaurant — or a new restaurant you think they would love — and $10 for a nearby dessert shop or a movie theater. Be creative: sometimes tickets to professional sports events or concerts can be purchased for less than $20.

If you’re feeling ambitious, you could include an outline of the plan for the night out in the package, or pair the gift certificates with your loved one’s favorite snack for an added touch.

Day of relaxation

On a similar vein, you can give your friends and loved ones an excuse to pamper themselves. Many spas, salons, massage parlors and other relaxing locales offer discounted deal packages online. Just print off the details — and maybe add a tasty treat to enjoy right away — so your gift recipient can revel in star treatment at their leisure. If they have kids, go the extra mile and offer to babysit while they claim their prize.

Stroll down memory lane

People say “it’s the thought that counts” so often that the statement might feel trite, but it’s actually true. An easy way to instantly add value to a present is by making it about fun memories you shared together. Piece together a photo album that fits your relationship, complete with expressions of gratitude and inside jokes. Or, make a modern mix tape on a CD or USB that features songs from key moments of your friendship.

If you have a little extra time, you can get crafty. One easy idea from Martha Stewart’s website is to create a map of a road trip you took together by hand-stitching the route into a paper map and framing it. Another idea is to hodgepodge a favorite photo onto a block of wood.

Gifts that keep giving

Receiving a present doesn’t have to be a one-time experience. By purchasing a membership or subscription for a loved one, they can feel like it is the holidays year-round. Magazine subscriptions can often be a budget friendly option, with publications like Wired starting at $5 for six months' worth of fun reading material. Retailers like Amazon offers numerous magazine subscriptions that cost less than $20 for people of all interests and ages.

Another fun option is to buy memberships to local attractions for individuals or groups. Educational spots like the Clark Planetarium, zoo and aquarium all offer memberships. For people who like to stay active, you could purchase memberships to regular gyms or gift certificates for local studios so they can sign up for classes.

If your friend or loved one loves to stay home and snuggle into their couch instead, buy a subscription to a streaming service like Netflix or Hulu. You could even log into the new account and set up their preferences so it has personalized recommendations the first time they log in.

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