10 Last-Minute Gift Ideas for Under $15

By Paul Michael on 21 December 2010 (Updated 25 November 2013) 3 comments

It’s that time again. You think you’ve got presents for everyone on your list, but somehow you forgot Great Aunt Noonie. Or your neighbor pops over with a gift and now you want to return the sentiment. What do you get? (See also: 25 Gifts You Can Make Today)

The internet is usually my first resource for finding gifts, but now you have the dreaded shipping-and-handling issue to deal with. Sure, you could get it in time, but pay through the nose to get it overnighted. Plus, the stores are emptying faster than a beer keg at a frat party. But don’t despair.

Here are ten last-minute gift ideas that can help you spread some cheer without giving yourself an ulcer in the process.

1. Magazine Subscriptions

There are many places to buy these, inlcluding Amazon. They can start from as little as $3 per year and will usually come with an e-card or printable gift card that you can pop in an envelope.

2. Apps

With the enormous popularity of the iPhone and other smartphones, it makes sense that gifts for these phones are also increasing in number. You can now buy apps as gifts, with many apps giving you the option to “gift this app.” Most apps are well under $10, so maybe you can gift a few. You can also add a personalized message.

3. Cook Something

Well, that’s a broad term, but nothing says you care like something home-made and delicious. From jams and jellies to cakes and cookies, they’re usually something you can make within a day. Wrap them in something nice and wait for the smiles. It sure beats a tie. (See also: 15 Gifts You Can Bake)

4. The Re-Gift

I did a whole post on this, and while some people think it objectionable, most see it as a way to make someone happy with a gift that you personally don’t like. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, but you must of course follow the re-gifting guidelines.

5. Movies

I’ve had Netflix for a few years now, although recently it has come into its own thanks to instant streaming through the Wii and Roku. For just $7.99 for the first month, you can give someone the gift of a whole month of streaming movies. It’s a little more for a month that includes DVDs, but it’s still a great gift that can be delivered instantly via email. Amazon.com also offers movies on demand, and you can buy credits to use in the Movies On Demand section of Amazon. Again, it’s instant and will be enjoyed by many over the holiday season.

6. iTunes Cash

If you don’t have time to run out and buy a CD, you can give your gift recipient a code that will let them download it themselves. Most albums are available through iTunes for $10, and the iTunes program will let you print the gift certificate, or email it to your friend or relative. Just go to the iTunes store and click the Buy iTunes Gifts button on the top right, under Quick Links.

7. Gift Cards

If music isn’t their cup of tea, you can always pick up gift cards for a wide variety of stores from the checkouts of your local grocery stores. They start at $5 and show a little more thought than just throwing a few bills in an envelope.

8. Get Your Groupon

This is a double-whammy. Not only can you get something very quickly and print it out, but you also get huge savings. Groupon deals are different for every city but they are always worth checking it. For instance, at the time of writing this article, the Groupon for my city, Denver, was a $30 meal at an Indian restaurant for just $15. Other regular Groupon deals include spa treatments, magazine subscriptions, dance classes and a lot more.

9. Get Artistic

This isn’t for everyone, but then again, art is in the eye of the beholder. All you need is a little paint (or whatever else you have laying around) and something to paint on. You could go for the traditional canvas, they start at just a few dollars at places like Michaels and Joann’s. You could decorate pottery. You could use fabric paint on a t-shirt. You can glue shells to bottles if you like. It’s up to you. But it’s unique, it shows you really care, and it’s quick and inexpensive.

10. Facebook Credits

It’s estimated that 1 in 2 American’s now have a Facebook account. And games are one of the most popular features of this website. Of course, like most things in life, there can be costs associated with the fun, and many games have premium items associated with them.  For instance, my Achilles Heel is Bejeweled Blitz, and if I want extra credits for power-ups, I can pay for them. Other games even come with merchandise and collectibles. If you know someone who is hooked on Facebook games, the gift of Facebook Credits may go down very well. Target and Walmart both carry $10 Facebook Credits gift cards, and you can also buy them online for instant redemption.

If you have any more ideas, please share. It is the season of giving after all. From everyone at Wise Bread, have a very happy and safe Holiday season.

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Mikey Rox's picture

Such good ideas, Paul! And I love that most of these are intangible or consumable gifts that don't take up space. I hate when I unwrap another "thing" for which I need to find space. Gift me "Angry Birds" for my iPad and I'm a happy camper.

Andrea Karim's picture

I couldn't find a decent gift for my dad... well, to be honest, I never can. This year, I was able to get a serious of online coupons at Living Social for a web site that scans old photos and film into a digital format. We can scan our own photos, obviously, but we have tons of old home movies that we don't have the equipment to move to digital. I'm hoping that this will help us further preserve some of our favorite memories.

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Kati

In addition to ur #9 artistic gifts , a great idea(I think @ least!) Is either personalizing an ornament or another artsy idea is making homemade wreaths (just buy some Garland (or use the one u have above ur mantle) shape it into a circle and secure, add some ornaments.and/or bows, etc, from ur tree or u found on clearance, and wallah! Another gift idea that's incredibly sentimental, yet very low in price, is buying a plain white or light colored pillowcase or T-shirt, grab some clothing paint and ur kid(s) and have them put their hand &/or footprints on the shirt (or whatever ur gifting )then add whatever ud like : names, year, or a cute sentiment. I made a T-shirt one year that had my neices handprints all over it and then wrote "Hands down, my Daddy's the Best!" I've never seen him cry until then, and although that was 4yrs ago, he still wears that shirt with pride! I hope these additional ideas help u spread Christmas love and cheer! Merry Christmas everyone!!