When it comes to deciding who to shop for, Americans tend to focus on family and people they’re close to, according to a survey by Mint. If you organize your shopping list in a similar fashion, you might encounter that one dreadful moment every year: the person you forgot to shop for. They’re not quite family, and not quite close, but they got you something. Maybe it’s that childhood friend you speak to on the phone once a year who happened to be in town for one holiday drink. And there she is, sitting at the bar with something in a bright red box. Maybe it’s a client you work with closely – you didn’t realize you were on gift-giving terms, but, you do see them a lot. And now there they are, dropping off a little something at your doorstep.
Even though people say they don’t give gifts expecting anything in return, let’s be honest: it stings a little to give someone a gift who got you nothing. And nobody wants to be the cause of that hurt. Luckily, if you do a little planning, there are some gifts you can stock up on that you can whip out in a hurry for that person you forgot. The trick is to pick items that almost seem personal, but could actually be for anybody.
A Cute Collapsible Shopping Bag
No matter who you forgot to shop for, you can guarantee that they go shopping on a regular basis because everybody has to hit the grocery store. And with so many stores now charging for bags, giving the gift of reusable, collapsible bags is actually giving the gift of money back. There are dozens of varieties online featuring fun prints and patterns, including gender neutral designs. They’re highly affordable and take up very little space, so if you don’t find a chance to give them away this year, they won’t clog your gift closet in the meantime.
Super Soft Socks
Not just any socks. The super fuzzy, cozy, fleece-lined, knit, fit-for-a-ski-cabin kind that could easily replace slippers. The great thing about these is they are typically one size fits all since they’re so stretchy, and many come in gender neutral designs so they’re appropriate for nearly any recipient. Nobody likes to have cold feet, and socks like these are perfect for lounging around the house or keeping one’s toes warm on an airplane. You can usually grab a nice pair for around $10, so grab a few in case you forgot to shop for a handful of people.
A Gorgeous Notebook
Here’s the nice thing about giving someone a notebook: if they already love to write, then it seems like a very thoughtful gift, and if they don’t yet write, you can say that you’ve been thinking they should take it up. It’s a win-win. Everybody likes to fancy themselves a scribe, a scholar, a poet – you get it. You can flatter them with a pretty little notebook that says that’s just how you see them. A faux leather bound one has that classic collegiate look, but doesn’t cost nearly as much as a real leather journal. You can always quickly write their name on the inside of the cover to really make it look like you picked this out just for them, weeks ago.
A Sporty Money Clip
If you have some sports lovers in your life, pick up a bundle of these money clips. They’re just about $5 each, and can be customized to depict some of the top team’s logos from the San Francisco 49ers to the Philadelphia Eagles and beyond. Get several, each with a different popular sports team. You never know when the New York Giants lover in your life will buy you something on the year you forgot about them. If you feel you owe this friend more than a money clip, you can attach it to the next item on our list.
A Big Retail Gift Card
You can never go wrong with the gift of money, so consider keeping some big name retailer’s gift cards on hand. Stack up on $15, $25 and $50 gift cards (you know who in your life is in the $15 versus $50 category) from places like Target, Kohl’s, Amazon, Starbucks, Walmart and so on. Amazon is always a good pick, since no matter where someone lives, they can always order items online. The great thing about these last-minute gifts is that if you don’t find someone to give them to, you can probably find a way to spend them yourself.
Decadent Hand Cream
Nobody likes to have dry hands, and this is a time of year when you really see that skin crack and flake. For the person you forgot to shop for who deserves something a little decadent, pull out this nice set of Shea butter hand creams. This holiday gift set from L’Occitane has several fragrances and a variety of products including nail gream and hand gel for an at-home manicure. The petite size of the bottles make them perfect for storing one in the car, one in a bag and one at home.
A Unisex Candle
While candles have a reputation for being “girly,” this is one almost anyone is sure to appreciate. People often want to bring the smell of nature into their home around the holidays, and natural soy candles from Coco Benjamin do just that. Many have gender neutral fragrances with notes of teak, cedar wood, grass and sea salt. They come in beautiful glass jars with secure lids and last a long time.
A Cool Ash Tray
If your friend is a smoker, they can probably always use one more tray around their home to put out their butts. And even those who aren’t smokers might have smoking friends come over, and want to give them somewhere besides the ground to put out their cigarettes. This ceramic tray that resembles marble and has a wood lid conceals cigarette odors and looks good with most décor. P.S., if you’re shopping for the cannabis enthusiast, check out our list of weed products you didn’t know you needed.
Giving the gift of self-care is always appreciated and while buying gift certificates to day spas for everyone in your life might not be a financial option, you can buy some nice sheet masks at an affordable price. This variety pack has one of each of the following: aloe, collagen, aqua, milk and charcoal and offers a variety of benefits from firming to hydrating to smoothing. It’s the perfect gift for someone who needs an at-home spa day, and it’s less than $20.
A USB Mug Warmer
Most of the people in your life probably already have enough mugs, and they might have enough thermoses, but do they have one of these USB mug warmers that plug right into a computer’s USB port, heat up, and keep a hot beverage hot while allowing someone to use whatever mug they want? Probably not. It’s a thoughtful gift for anyone who is often sipping on something warm. While it is practical, it also seems thoughtful, and it doesn’t take up much space.