Are you a procrastinator who puts off gift buying until the last minute? Or maybe it's not you, it's them — the people on your list so difficult, so picky, so impossible to please that gifting feels like a drag? Or maybe it's that someone you always leave out and regret? No need to panic. Here are some great eleventh-hour solutions — all $35 or less — so you can leave the real work to Santa and his delivery elves.
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PHOTO BY: Gap (2); J.Crew
1. The nice neighbor
Mr. Rogers would love them! They come through with an extra toilet paper six-pack when grocery shelves are bare and shovel your walk along with their own. Even if you just exchange a daily “Hello, and how are you?” keep the good vibes going with a thoughtful something like the Gap Rib Beanie ($17, gap.com), a knit pull-on hat in classic colors; the J.Crew Reusable Everyday Tote in Stewart tartan ($10, jcrew.com) in washable cotton; or the Gap Adult Face Mask (3-Pack) in multi black/green/blue and navy blue bandana ($5 each pack, gap.com), because who ever has enough masks?
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PHOTO BY: Target; Uniqlo; H&M
2. The special sidekick
A money gift is always appreciated when it comes to your hairdresser, colorist, housekeeper or mom's caretaker — and rightfully so since they're an essential part of your life. But why not personalize things and add the envelope to a fun fashion gift like the chic H&M Quilted Shoulder Bag in black ($25, hm.com), a standout scarf like the Uniqlo Women's Padded Marimekko Scarf in 08 dark gray or 68 blue ($30, uniqlo.com) or a sophisticated sweatshirt like the Goodfellow & Co Men's Colorblock Regular Fit Crew Fleece ($12, target.com)? They'll be delighted.
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PHOTO BY: JCPenney; Nordstrom; Target
3. The single soul
Whether they're divorced, widowed, separated or happily single, those living alone deserve to know you care. Maybe they're regularly posting selfies on Facebook and Instagram, dating online or just thinking about it. Restore their twinkle and confidence with a glow-building makeup kit like the NARS Orgasm Threesome Travel Size Set ($29, nordstrom.com), which includes the iconic multitasking radiant peachy-pink blush stick; the Case-Mate Apple iPhone Case in Stardust ($13, target.com) for a touch of star power; or the Microphone Soap On a Rope ($10, jcpenney.com) for singing their heart out in the shower.
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PHOTO BY: Target; Ulta Beauty (2)
4. The chummy coworker
Now that you're working from home Zoom meetings rule, but you miss the camaraderie of Starbucks runs for lattes and daily gossip. Keep the 9 to 5 link lively with a spirited stocking stuffer like the Wild Fable Women's Tech Touch Magic Gloves ($3, target.com), for inexpensive, one-size-fits-all convenience; a Lip Smacker Coca-Cola Lip Balm Tin ($6, ulta.com) in nostalgic vanilla, cherry and original Coca-Cola flavors; or a travel-size set of makeup brushes like the e.l.f. Rose Gold Travel Brush Kit ($10, ulta.com) with ingenious full-size brush heads and shorter handles for easy storage in desk drawer or makeup bag.
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PHOTO BY: Ulta Beauty; Nordstrom; Urban Outfitters
5. The college crony
They've been part of your crew since high school or college and still encourage your rebellious, sillier self to buy sparkly blue nail polish, get into TikTok and watch Emily in Paris. Get a heartwarming chuckle with a gift like the Urban Outfitters Diana Ring Holder ($19, urbanoutfitters.com), a ceramic hand that sits on shelf or table; the Beauty Bakerie Black Blending Egg Makeup Sponge Set ($18, nordstrom.com), a set of six latex-free, vegan sponges in an egg carton package; or the Tarte Curl's Best Friend Lash Curler Set ($20, ulta.com), a sparkle- handled eyelash curler and vegan mascara duo.
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PHOTO BY: Kohl's; Uncommon Goods; Target
6. The pet pal
He or she may be your vet, dog walker, a neighbor who does daily morning walks with her Fifi and your Fido, or the local pet store owner who helped you housebreak your shelter puppy. A dog print umbrella like the Choose Your Dog Breed Umbrella ($28, uncommongoods.com), a fashionable knit sweater like the Boots & Barkley Holiday Dog and Cat Striped Sweater ($12, target.com) or even a cruelty-free lip balm trio like the Burt's Bees Essentials Kit ($7, kohls.com) will make any animal lover purr.
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PHOTO BY: Walgreens (2); Target
7. The relatives
You're not that close or maybe just rarely see them, but she or he is still family. Maybe they're adult stepkids who live out of town, a second cousin who pops in at Christmas or even your ex who shares grandkid playdates at the park. Keep some joy in the relationship with a handy gift like the Scunci Opulent Scrunchies Box ($10, walgreens.com) that will dress up any length ponytail — even minis; the Dr. Teal's Holiday Gift Set Lavender ($5, walgreens.com) that turn a foamy bath or Epsom salt soak into a spa vacation; or the Target Best of Box Groom and Go Men's Edition ($15, target.com), an everything kit of multi-brand minis for guys. They'll be back.
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PHOTO BY: Ulta Beauty; J.Crew; Uncommon Goods
8. The frazzled friend
They've had a lousy year. Bad breakup. COVID scare. Lost job or relocation to a new home. Any one of the above can send the most grounded, confidant person into a tailspin. Let them know there's light at the end of the tunnel with a de-stressing gift like the Mercury Retrograde Protection Candle ($30, uncommongoods.com), studded with soothing botanicals and calming crystals like quartz; the This Works Choose Sleep Kit ($15, ulta.com), an essential oils rollerball and lavender spray for a before-bed aromatherapeutic fragrance treat; or statement pearl earrings like the J.Crew Pearl-Cluster Dangle Earrings ($13, jcrew.com) to jazz up their face masks and screen time.
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PHOTO BY: Uncommon Goods; Target; JCPenney
9. The sophisticated soul mates
You adore them but they're fixated on anything designer-branded, logo-d or premium — from Golden Goose sneakers to a first-class trip to Rio. What present can possibly rate a wow? Something truly original and “insider” cool they don't have — like a Chiapas Flores Face Mask in yellow, red or blue ($18, uncommongoods.com), embroidered and made by Mexican artisans; the Olive & June The Poppy Manicure Tool ($16, target.com), an ergonomically shaped cap cover that makes applying DIY nail polish easy — even with your not-dominant hand; or the Sol de Janeiro Carnaval Flight Set ($25, jcpenney.com) minis for body and hair with the Brazilian Bum Bum Cream fragrance and skin-coddling cupuaçu butter and coconut oil.
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PHOTO BY: Uncommon Goods; Target; Anthropologie
10. The prickly pal
Every year they say “don't-get-me-anything” and you drop off cookies. This year the combo of crazy news, social distancing and mask wearing is making them even crankier than usual. Bet you get a smile from the Love Beauty & Planet Tucuma Butter and Vanilla Body Lotion + Hand Lotion Gift Pack Set ($10, target.com), because who doesn't love vanilla; the Songbird Eyeglasses Holder ($28, uncommongoods.com) to keep readers or Rx frames handy; or the Lil Sire Tigressa Velvet Eye Pillow in red motif ($28, anthropologie.com), a lavender-filled mask that heats in the microwave to soothe tired eyes or chills in the freezer to de-puff them.
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PHOTO BY: Bloomingdale's; JCPenney; Target
11. The altruistic ally
They're problem-solving acquaintances who always help you out. Maybe she's the mahjong partner who loaned you a fan when your air conditioner crashed last summer or a former assistant who talked you through a new laptop and printer setup over FaceTime. Give a new-world gift that'll help you solve their dilemmas in 2021, such as the Pinch Provisions Errand Kit ($24, bloomingdales.com), a go-kit with mask, hand sanitizer, wipes, stylus/pen and reusable tote; the Olivia Miller No-Touch Door Opener in gold ($10, jcpenney.com), so high-touch surfaces like screens and door handles are germ-free; or the Dermstore Holiday Box ($20, target.com) for trial-size premium skin care from brands like Bioderma, First Aid Beauty and Naturopathica.