You thought you got it all. Yeah, you waited until the last minute, holding out until just a day, maybe two, before Christmas to get your shopping done, but last night you went to bed secure in the knowledge that you’d gotten every gift you needed to. Then came this morning and you realized your error: Someone was completely forgotten — someone who’s maybe even hosting you today — and if you don’t get them a gift, there will be hell to pay.
So, what do you do now? Well, you have a few options, but not many.
The first and easiest option is to get on your phone and buy some kind of electronic gift. The trick here is to find something that you couldn’t have gotten in person, otherwise it’ll reveal that you forgot. Gift cards are out because you can easily get them in the store, but a Groupon is okay if you’re sure the recipient is tech-savvy enough to use it. Then there are tickets, but tickets to pretty much anything tend to be expensive, and that’s likely more than you want to spend on someone so forgettable that, well, you forgot them. If you find the right electronic gift, though, just buy it, print it, fold it and shove it in a personalized Christmas card. Done!
For a tangible gift, you’re forced to either regift something or settle for whatever stores are open. The safest bets are pharmacy chains like CVS, Walgreens and Rite Aid; then you have movie theaters; coffee chains like Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks; some grocery stores; and convenience stores like 7-Eleven, QuickCheck and Wawa.
Behold: The Basket
For all of these places, gift-giving expert Laura Fabrizio of Coastal Concierge explains that since a quality gift is pretty much impossible at this point, you’re going to have to go for quantity. So, for any place you’re shopping, Fabrizio says, “you want to make some sort of a basket by assembling items all around a theme related to the person.”
Just remember that a gift card isn’t enough. Again: A gift card is NOT enough! So listen up.
The Coffee Chain. If your forgotten relative (or friend) is a coffee fiend and you’ve got a Starbucks nearby, the basket is easy: A mug is the basket. Just buy a mug, a gift card and one or two of those packaged cookies by the counter and arrange them nicely in the mug. There, that’s your basket, and it wasn’t even all that hard.
The Movie Theater. Movie theaters are also open on Christmas, but generally not until about 11 a.m., so be aware of that. There, the basket is the popcorn bucket. Get one of those and stuff it with some classic movie snacks like Twizzlers, M&M’s and Raisinets, then get a gift card that covers at least two movie tickets and place it on top. That’s an incredibly thoughtful-seeming gift for a movie goer.
The Pharmacy (your best bet). Your safest stop is going to be your chain pharmacies — they’re the most reliable of the last-minute Christmas shopping venues because you know they’ll be open. A basket here likely won’t be a true basket, but you can get a bucket from the cleaning isle and stuff it with car-care stuff for your car-guy uncle. You can also get a makeup container and fill it with beauty supplies, as long as you know what brands someone likes. As some pharmacies have a small section of kitchenware, you might be able to find a small pot that you can stuff with cooking supplies. You can also stuff a pencil case with office supplies, or if there are Christmas decorations left, grab a stocking and stuff it with snacks. Another option is to head to the pet section, grab a pet bed and stuff it with junk for their dog. That last one is a particularly good gift, because no one else is going to be thinking about their pet.
If you’ve filled the basket and it’s still looking like, y’know, a bucket of cheap crap you just hastily purchased from CVS, head over to the gift cards and add one to the top of the display. Ideally, this will also be related to whatever the theme of the basket is.
The Convenience Store. Convenience stores are tricky because — much like 7-Eleven’s taquitos — you can never predict what random shit will be in there. You’ve got 600 different types of lighters next to some gas station sex pills, which are above some fancy bongs in a display case and below used DVDs of movies like Goldeneye. It’s a complete shitshow. But, if it’s your only option, try to follow the same pattern as you would in a pharmacy, assuming you can find anything that resembles a basket.
The Grocery Store. Finally, there are grocery stores. Grocery stores are the holy Grail of Christmas Day shopping because they have everything. The only problem is finding one that’s open: Most aren’t, and those that are likely have limited hours. For holidays, Google’s posting of business hours are generally unreliable, so you’ve got to call your local supermarket on the telephone. If that’s not enough to discourage you, then great, start calling and if you get lucky and find an open one, hurry the hell over there and start stuffing a basket.
Fortunately, there are tons more basket options here. For example, you can get a disposable baking pan and stuff it with cake supplies for the person who loves to bake. Or, you can get an actual basket (which is much nicer than a bucket!) to shove things in. In a real basket, you can put fruit or breads or pretty much anything.
Baskets are amazing, which is why pretty much any day-of Christmas gift is all about replicating a basket. The only trick is getting your basket — or “basket” — made in time for Christmas dinner without looking like, well… a basket case.