7 Seriously Last-Minute Gift Ideas

Waited until the absolute last moment to shop for presents? Pull off a holiday miracle with one of these seven great gift ideas.

By: Sarah Zlotnick

No one needs to know you booked that getaway the night before. Photograph courtesy of Savage River Lodge

Okay. So you’re not proud of it, but you did it: drifted through December in denial about the holidays, ignored our ginormous gift guide , and waited until the absolute last minute to begin shopping. Stores are only open for a few more hours (or they closed long ago), but you’re just getting started. Ack! What to do, what to do? Well, after giving yourself a firm slap on the wrist (and perhaps drafting a written contract with yourself to never do this again. Ever), you can really only head to two places: the grocery store, which is open later than most shops, and the Internet, which is open 24/7. Here are seven ideas you can execute at either location.

1) A Subscription to The Washingtonian (or, you know, another magazine)
From 75 Best Bars to Great Day Trips to our legendary 100 Very Best Restaurants, The Washingtonian is filled with all the info you need to live a fun, fulfilling after-work life in the DMV. Just because you’re late in getting them an actual cool experience doesn’t mean you can’t help them plot their next one. $29.95 for the first gift, and $19.95 for each additional subscription after that.

2) A Great Vacation
If you’re really hoping to impress, one of the slickest last-minute gifts (but unfortunately also one of the most expensive) is a trip out of town. Print a picture of the hotel, mix in papers detailing the flight confirmation, slip it all into an envelope, and nonchalantly place it under the tree. They’ll be psyched to go, and it’ll look like you had things planned weeks in advance. Ease the burden on your wallet by booking one of our December Travel Deals, which have discounts on everything from fun ski lodges to sunny Florida resorts.

3) A Ticket to Unveiled, Our Gorgeous Wedding Expo
Maybe the big present this year is a proposal, and you’ve been running around like a madman trying to find the right ring and perfect all the details. But now all that’s under control, and you’d like to stick a little something extra under the tree. If you’re confident she’s saying yes (and you’d better be, if you’re proposing), give her a jumpstart on wedding planning with a ticket to Unveiled, our annual bridal expo. She’ll be able to sip Champagne and nibble on macarons while meeting the top planners and vendors in the area. Tickets ($65) are available here, and you can view video and pictures from last year’s event here.

4) The Ultimate Pantry Makeover
A well-stocked pantry is the key to successful impromptu meals. For our May Where to Buy Great Food package, Washington’s top chefs dished on their favorite everyday cooking ingredients, as well as a few secret additions. Fill a box with as many as you can find, then print out our explanations of what to do with them and add them to the mix.

5) The Ingredients for Their Favorite Restaurant Cocktail
DIY kits never get old! If there’s someone on your list who loves hitting a specific bar for that one favorite drink but constantly laments how expensive the indulgence is, gift him or her the ingredients to re-create the cocktail at home. We’ve got step-by-step recipes for Todd Thrasher’s Cider Car, Gina Chersevani’s chocolatey Dark & Skinny, Restaurant Eve’s Peppermint Paddy, the Passenger’s Michelada, the Round Robin Bar’s mint julep, and Oya’s signature margarita. You could also follow these steps for infusing your own liquor, and let your recipient know she’ll simply have to wait a bit to drink the concoction.

6) Their Favorite Washington Dessert
Staying up all night baking is fair punishment for last-minute gifting, right? Right? If you’re up for the challenge and your special someone has a serious sweet tooth, we’ve got recipes for some of the best restaurant baked goods in Washington. Check this list for any he may have raved about (bonus points if it’s one you’ve eaten together), then go get your grocery on.

1789’s whoopie pies
Watershed’s chocolate chip cookies
Ardeo + Bardeo’s cheesecake with cassis pudding
Bread & Brew’s olive oil cake
Something Sweet’s brownies
Bar Pilar’s buttermilk pie
Northside Social’s chocolate gingerbread cookies
Churchkey’s caramel corn
Baked & Wired’s peaches-and-cream pie

7) A LivingSocial Adventure for Two
When all is said and done, an exhilarating experience you can share is a better present than any fancy purse or sweater. LivingSocial offers adventure packs, which pair unique meals with cool activities—we think the Bear Creek Mountain Resort night snow tubing and pub party ($110) sounds super fun. Then again, so does the boot camp/sparring lesson ($90) at the Baltimore Boxing Club.