Last Minute Gift Ideas for Busy Parents


Back in my 20s, I used to spend the weeks of early November thinking of the perfect Christmas gift for each person on my list, and then do all my shopping right after Thanksgiving. I was so organized, planning out when I would shop, what days I would wrap, making cookies…

Ha. I was so cute. Not this year.

Being a work-at-home-mom does not lend itself well to thoughtful gift planning - it really takes a lot of time. This holiday I’ve really had to change the way I buy gifts (i.e. last minute).

But I have to say, last minute gift shopping has had its virtues too. I’ve been forced to be much more decisive since I have less time, and sometimes it’s actually easier to find a gift for someone when you’re out browsing in a store and ideas present themselves to you.

Christmas is now less than 5 days. If you still haven’t done your shopping, chances are you need some help. And coming up with gift inspiration can be stressful if you feel pressure to get the perfect gift, but have zero ideas.

So my intern Samantha and I are here to save the day - check out our suggestions below for great last minute gifts for everyone on your list. We even double-checked to verify that they’re still in stock as of today and can be made or shipped in time for the big day. (You’re welcome!)

Spouse/Partner: Crosley Turntables

$75 - 100, Urban Outfitters, Nordstrom, and even Amazon.

Vintage is in and who doesn’t love music? Jewelry and tech gifts are go-tos for the holidays, so why not break from the norm and surprise the one you love with a gorgeous colored turntable (they come in black, white, navy, pastel pink, and more). It’s briefcase-style so it can be easily closed and protected from your little ones. Some new or vintage vinyl records from your partner’s favorite artists could be awesome personalized add-ons too.

And this gift can be more romantic than you think. Relive your wedding by turning up your first dance song and break out those dance lesson moves to really wow your partner. Another fun fact, this player doesn’t just play records, but also plays from your MP3 player, so it’s a throwback gift that fits perfectly into your 21st century lifestyle. Your spouse will definitely be moved by the personal touch of this gift that says “I love you. Let’s dance.”

Parents/Grandparents: DIY Recipe/Poem/Quote/Drawing Plate

Cost of the plate and a sharpie marker

This is one of my favorites. DIY can be intimidating to some, but this one is SUPER simple, I promise. Preserve and give your favorite recipe, poem, quote, or children’s drawing with a Personalized Ceramic Plate that you can make one night after work.

It only takes about 10 minutes of prep time. (Less time than getting to the mall in holiday traffic!)

Tools required:
- Sharpie
- Ceramic plate of your choosing
- Your oven at 425 for 35 minutes

Use your sharpie to complete the personalization, bake at 425 for 35 minutes, then leave to cool in the oven overnight. You end up with a lovely personalized gift for your parents or grandparents.

If you have a recipe that has been passed down in the family for years that your parents cook all the time, but they’re always searching for that torn piece of scrap paper with the recipe written in chicken scratch, then this is perfect. It will mean the world to them that you made it yourself and they will appreciate that that family recipe is so important to you both. Alternately, you can give them the tools and simple instructions so they can make one to share back with your family as a way to encourage them to preserve and pass down your family traditions. It’s a beautiful sentimental gift that can be shared both ways and keeps on giving for years to come.

Kids: Pie Face Game [or] Question Box

Pie Face! Game
Hasbro $17.99 - $20, Target, and Amazon

Kids are messy, so why not get them a game where they can embrace that. Plus the whole family will get a kick out of watching them play, or may even jump in to join the fun! Just have some old dish towels on hand for bibs/clean up, and make sure you have whipped cream in the house because the kids will want to play immediately.

The Family Dinner Box of Questions
Around $10, Amazon

If you’re looking for a less messy option that will also bring the family closer together, the Family Dinner Box of Questions is great idea. It contains 82 conversation starters for the whole family to bond over. They also make a Christmas version, a truth-or-dare version, and even a mini version that would make a great stocking stuffer.


Siblings/Friends: Gift Certificates and Tickets (for an experience together!)


Your choice of cost

Before you roll your eyes at a generic gift card, think about how it can be more personal by giving the gift of time and experiences. If you’re a parent, odds are the greatest gift you can give right now is your time. And lots of our friend and sibling relationships can fall to the side in the face of parenting demands.

So instead of buying your sister or college roommate a gift card to GAP or Starbucks, get them a gift certificate to a local spa for you to visit together, a hot new restaurant that you can go to one night, or train tickets for you to explore somewhere new together. Just because you can’t lock down a reservation without ruining the surprise, doesn’t mean you can’t give them an experience you both will never forget.


Teacher/Babysitter/Neighbor/etc: Books

Mostly under $10, Amazon

Let me interrupt you mid-yawn. I know books can be boring gifts, but gifts for acquaintances, colleagues, employees, etc. are nearly impossible. So before you go out and buy them a bottle of wine, a plant that will die in two days, or an overly sentimental gift that can make things awkward when you don’t know someone very well, buy them a book. Books can be amazing gifts. Not only do they help us break from our digital addiction, but it’s a gift that can be easily personalized to fit the tastes of the person you’re giving it to. Also, they are super affordable and ship in two days or less if you have Amazon Prime. Besides being practical, books also make fun coffee table decor and conversation starters, plus will last a lot longer than a poinsettia or cookies.

Great options are:

“If… (Questions For The Game of Life)” by Evelyn McFarlane

“Now I Know: The Revealing Stories Behind the World’s Most Interesting Facts” by Dan Lewis

“You Deserve a Drink” by Mamrie Hart

I hope these ideas help make your next few days as joyful and happy as the holiday season is supposed to be. Leave a comment letting me know which idea was your favorite and if you’re ended up getting any of these for your friends and family.

Happy Holidays!



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