Last minute gift ideas for the holiday procrastinator

Courtesy of Pittsburgh Magazine Dressed up for the holidays, Market Square offers Christmas-themed activities for all ages and tastes.

Jamie Crow | Staff Writer


It’s that time of year again, where malls and stores are filled with last minute shoppers trying to find the perfect gift before the holidays arrive. If you’re one of those people who postpone their present buying, you’re definitely not alone; I’m right there with you. The holidays really snuck up on me this year, and before I knew it, I was hopping on board the last minute train at procrastination station. For you who have waited until the last minute to buy your friends and loved ones gifts, I’ve compiled a list of some of my go-to presents to snag at the last minute:

Gift Cards

Gift cards are basically a no-risk present option. If you know what stores your friends or family like, buying them a gift card takes the weight off of your shoulders. They buy whatever they want, and you don’t worry about getting them a gift they might end up returning. This season, a lot of stores are sweetening the deal of buying gift cards by giving back. Stores like American Eagle and Barnes and Noble give you a free gift card if you buy a certain amount of them, netting you even more presents (or a treat for yourself).


A sweet-smelling candle is a super easy option to get when you’re on a time crunch. All types of boutiques and stores feature a wide selection of holiday-themed fragrances to choose from, so you’re sure to find something your friends or family will love. If you want to support a local business, Amazing Books and Records in South Side has a selection of book-themed candles that are great for any bibliophile. Etsy shops and small online businesses offer even more scents to choose from, whether they’re inspired by the holidays or a powerful quote, that small personalization makes the gift that much more special. If you’re looking for classic options, look no further than your local Bath and Body works; they’ll also gift wrap your candles, making your life that much easier.


Candy is a classic option that everyone is sure to love. The Milkshake Factory is filled with delicious options like peppermint bark, fudge and chocolate covered pretzels that are guaranteed to satisfy a sweet tooth. The Hallmark Store also offers classic options from cordial cherries to assorted boxes of specialty chocolates, and there’s really something there for everyone. When in doubt, Sarris Candies is a great local option that provides scrumptious options like peanut brittle and caramel corn, among other classic choices.

Something to do Together

Growing up, I always bought my grandmother a puzzle for Christmas, and we would spend the next week or so working on it together. Some of my favorite holiday memories are of putting those puzzles together with her, and it’s something I hold dear to my heart. Whether it’s a puzzle or a board game, tickets to a movie or a show, dinner or a spa day, doing things with your loved ones together is a great option. You’ll get to make some new memories, and it gives you the time to slow down and appreciate the time you have with them. Doing something with your loved ones makes the season that much more special, and I’d argue that time spent together is worth more than anything money could by.

Anything Homemade

I love making gifts for my friends and family. I usually paint canvases for my friends, or sometimes bake cookies and wrap them up as presents. Anything homemade is so unique, and your friends and family will appreciate the effort you put in to their gifts. If you need ideas, there’s thousands of tutorials on Pinterest for things you can easily make, from homemade ornaments to DIY spa kits. If you’re not up for making something yourself, sites like Etsy feature hundreds of personalized items sure to delight — your gift will be just as special, plus you will be supporting a small business.


Overall, gift buying shouldn’t be stressful. It should be a way of showing that you’re grateful for those around you during the holiday season, but don’t forget that that can be just as easily said without a gift, too.