Low-Stress, Last-Minute Gift Ideas

The first day of Christmas is this next Tuesday… Has it set in yet? It’s absolutely hit me like a brick wall this week — Advent has whooshed by so fast this year.

We keep our gift-giving pretty simple around here, but some years I’ve waited to think up the just-right gift idea, which left me scurrying at the last minute, buying some just-okay something.

Gifts don’t mean everything, but it’s also lovely to get something that doesn’t feel like a phone-in.

Yes, shop local first — 100 percent, every time (a small business? Even better). But sometimes it’s not always possible; you don’t have decent local options, you’ve got young kids and it’s a nightmare to take them shopping during the holidays, or there’s some personal reason that makes being in stores right now a major challenge. I get it.

Here are a few gift ideas you can still order online and have them arrive in time for Christmas. You got this.

For the Hard-to-Buy-For Person

• Pair my travel memoir, At Home in the World, with a hammock or some fair-trade chocolates (these are so good).

• Give Salt Fat Acid Heat with a foodie gift, like shredder claws, a dutch oven, or mixing bowls.

• Pair any of the books featured in our Gift Guide this year with book-themed socks or a book light.

StoryWorth is a crazy-fun idea that’s also sentimental  (I got this for my dad last year).

• Or, give them the gift of selecting their own books every month with a Book of the Month subscription (you’ve got the option to print a gift card).

• For the dog fan in your life, go with a combo of either the We Rate Dogs calendar + Dog Shaming book with a We Rate Dogs book + Dog Shaming calendar.

• Give a Skillshare subscription, pairing it with a sketchbook or journal for note-taking.

For Little Ones

• All our kids loved Green Toys vehicles when they were little (they also make a great tea set).

• They also loved this simple wooden block collection and played with them for years.

• A durable indoor-outdoor play tent is a great backdrop for years of open-ended play.

• And this sound crazy, but these make great stocking stuffers — all my toddlers loved these as toys, and they’re ridiculously affordable. (Have a dog? They serve double-duty.)

For Slightly-Older-But-Still-Young Kids

• LEGO — always a classic, always a good choice when in doubt. Unique kits are fun, but so are classic block sets.

• Board games are a favorite around here, and it’s fun to add to a classic collection: at various ages our kids have loved Clue (we got the Harry Potter version last year!), Connect 4, Battleship, Hedbanz, Suspend, Klask, and Spot It.

• “Make-something” kits are fun — think SnapCircuits (our older kids still play with these), DIY plushies, friendship bracelet kits, or tin can robots.

• Our youngest begged for a TinkerCrate subscription, so that’s what he’s getting this year (shhh). You can still order and print a gift card letting them know what’s on the way.

For Teens

• The bluetooth record player we featured in the Gift Guide has sold out, but this one is supposed to be good, too. Pair it with a few classic albums — like this, this, or this.

• Or? Stick to digital with a Spotify gift card.

G’Morning G’Night! is a delightful book; teens would appreciate the Lin-Manuel + Jonny Sun mashup.

• My teen daughter and I each have a paint-by-number kit, and we work on ours together on Sunday afternoons.

Felt letter boards are always fun for bedrooms (so are these).

• Go classic, and grow some crystals.

Movie theater gift cards are always a win around here. Pair it with popcorn or movie candy.

For the Whole Family

I’m a fan of giving family-wide gifts; not only is it more affordable, but you’re gifting something to do together.

• We typically get a new game every Christmas — great choices are Table Topics, Game of Things, Not Parent Approved, or Family Edition Trivia Pursuit.

• Yard games are great, too — think spikeball, cornhole, kan jam, or bocce ball.

• And like the teens, we’re always big fans of family-wide movie theater gift cards , or maybe an iTunes gift card so we can download a new movie for our collection.

Whatever you finalize for your gift-giving, remember: years later, we rarely remember the specific gifts we get. We remember so much more how our homes felt during the holidays. Keep things laid-back and simple, and you’ll hit the bullseye.

p.s. – Here’s the shipping calendar for Amazon. Shop locally and first, if you can! (And all grace and understanding if that’s difficult.)

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You’ll also get an excerpt from her latest book, At Home in the World, a memoir about the school year her family backpacked around the world.