The Deal Mommy

No Brainer Last Minute Gifts (That Are Better Than a Gift Card)

Looking for a last minute gift?  You aren’t stuck with a gift card! I’d be remiss without mentioning my #1 gift idea: travel. I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention my holiday PSA: avoid anything that ends with -GRAM. 

Now that housekeeping is out of the way: Amazon has two days left for free prime shipping (or can do prime now on Christmas Eve). Amazon isn’t even your only option.  Here are some no-brainer ideas that are more thoughtful than a gift card:

Last Minute Gifts: Travelers


  • NanoBlocks: (Note: these are smaller than standard Legos, so are best for 9 to adult) NanoBlocks are my go-to when we have a destination in mind with the kids: Santa did the Nanoblocks Kinkaku-Ji for Deal Kid’s stocking last year as we visited Japan last summer. Small sets go as low as $5. 
  • Ankle wallet: stocking stuffer size, and must have for pick-pocket proof travel. 
  • Today only: Rosetta Stone Level 1-5 Set language software for $149.99 and get a Fire tablet free. Repeat of Black Friday deal, and a pretty good one if you were already considering a language program. 

Last Minute Gifts: Readers

Kindle Books

Did you know you can schedule Kindle book gifts to show up on a specific date? Gifting actual books is so much more thoughtful than just gifting an Amazon gift card. They can always return the book to Amazon (even in Kindle form) if they decide it’s not the right fit. 

If you know they have a trip coming up, what about a guidebook? Have you read anything great lately? You can even browse the last minute deals page for inspiration.

Looking for kids’ books? Here are a few Deal Kid tested favorites

Amazon is also offering 25% off Kindle Unlimited annual subscriptions.  I have it and am still a fan, but not as much as before. Kindle Unlimited used to offer the entire Lonely Planet library but now only offers selected volumes. 

And while we’re talking Kindle books, here’s a gift for you: 12 free Lonely Planet E-Books

Texture or Magazine Subscription

You can get a magazine subscription as low as $5/year.  I go all in on magazines so subscribe to Texture, which for $15/month gives me over 100 magazines including Afar, Conde Nast, Travel and Leisure, and National Geographic Traveler. 

Last Minute Gifts: Beauty Mavens

  • Walmart does a fun beauty box subscription that’s only $5 once a quarter. They’re offering a gifting option this year so $20 gets your niece/sister/friend/daughter four fun boxes of goodies- and four reminders of how cool you are. 
  • Amazon’s  luxury beauty box may actually arrive on time if you order today, but you can always give the “it’s coming” note as a teaser. I wrote about it in detail in this post. The luxury beauty box includes 20 (!) high end samples from brands such as Calvin Klein, Vichy, Juice Beauty and many others.  The best part: if you’re a Prime member chose one or all of seventeen boxes and get the purchase price back on a future amazon purchase.  At $19.99, the luxury beauty box is a deal. At $19.99 with a $19.99 credit? Say it with me: No. Brainer.  

Last Minute Gifts: Kids

Among the Deal Kid’s favorites:

Melissa and Doug: Pretty much the gold standard in little kid toys. You won’t go wrong with any of these, but some of our faves include the Melissa & Doug Monster Plush Bowling GameMelissa & Doug See & SpellMelissa & Doug Deluxe Wooden Stringing Beads and Melissa & Doug Deluxe Magnetic Letters & Numbers in a Box Bundle.

Alex Toys and Kits: ALEX was both tested by the Deal Kids and was a staple in the gift closet. I’m a big fan of ALEX because their stuff gets kids thinking and doing instead of just passively watching. Kits range from art projects to sewing to science. We’ve done the Early Learning Paper Bag Puppets, Bling Along 3 Cake Jewelry Boxes, (sticky mosaics) and Monster Bubbles.

Lay-n-Go Lego Storage Mat: Terrific for any lego-maniacs out there. The Lay n go is a handy mat that pinches up to travel. Parents will thank you as much as the kids! Also great is the The LEGO Ideas Book which helps breathe new life to old Lego sets.

Last Minute Gifts: Giving Back

  • Kiva: Looking for an alternative to giving straight cash? Consider Kiva. Kiva allows the giftee to designate the loan to any number of individuals or groups, then either withdraw or relend the funds when they are repaid. I’ve cycled in over $1,000 and never had a payment missed.
  • Heifer International: What to give the person who has absolutely everything?  How about a flock of ducks? A beehive? It’s possible, with Heifer, where you can “gift” a donation in the amount needed for a person in need to purchase an animal to raise.

Last Minute Gift: When you’re truly out of options, there’s always the candle

Whatever you give, or get, I hope your holiday is merry and bright. 

The Deal Mommy is a proud member of the Saverocity network. 

Looking for a last minute gift? Here are some no brainer ideas that are better than a gift card!


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