With less than a week until Christmas, you may not have crossed everyone off on your gift list. My late husband purposely left all of his shopping to Christmas Eve because he loved being immersed in the holiday rush. On the other hand, I prefer to finish at the two-week mark; but inevitably find myself short on a couple of gifts, usually in an effort to make sure presents are evenly distributed across the kids. So today I give you my last-minute gift ideas, along with tips for getting your items on time and at the best price.
I like to give gifts that serve a purpose for the recipient, but practical doesn’t mean boring. For instance, Kano’s Harry Potter Coding Kit ($80 retail, but $70 at Best Buy) teaches coding through building spells for a real wand. Once users have built the correct code with step-by-step prompts, they can use their wand to activate the spell on their computer or phone screen. The wand contains a gyroscope, accelerometer and magnetometer that track its movement in 3D space and is compatible with PCs, Macs, iOS and Android phones.The wand’s tip appears as a cursor on the screen linking the real world with the virtual one. Kano’s wand was named one of the best inventions of 2018 by Time magazine and offers free lesson plans to educators, one of the reasons why I bought it for my daughter’s classroom.
Because time is running short, last-minute gifts like the wand will likely mean a trip to a local store. Do a Google shopping search: Type in the name of an item in the search bar, then click “Shopping” in the menu at the top of your search results and filter by selecting “Available nearby” under the “Show only” header. Google will show you a list of store locations and prices.
Sure to please almost any grown-up on your list is Amazon’s third-generation Echo Dot, a voice-controlled smart speaker. The Dot is an easy introduction to the smart home and is currently on sale for $30 at Amazon or two for $50, which is the regular price for one Dot. Use your voice to turn on lights, adjust thermostats, lock doors or just ask Alexa questions and play music.
The really great news for online shoppers is Amazon’s announcement it has extended free Prime shipping. That means you can order as late as Dec. 22 for two-day shipping and the 23rd for one-day shipping and still get orders in time for Christmas. (Tuesday, Dec. 18, was the last day for free holiday delivery for non-members.) But note that this doesn’t apply to all items on Amazon. When you’re shopping, be sure to note the delivery information included in each description.
For anyone who is interested in improving their fitness and overall health, a Fitbit bracelet will make a great gift. While the company now makes watch-like models, the Fitbit Flex 2 is close to the original in design (no screen) and is exceptionally easy to use. It’s waterproof and has all the basic tracking features, including a sleep monitor. At $60, it’s quite a bit of tech for the money.
Last but not least are gift cards. Most large grocery stores offer a huge variety of cards in a number of denominations. For adventurers on your list, consider an Airbnb card, which can be used for accommodations and activities. Recipients add the card value to their Airbnb account and then the funds are automatically applied at the next booking. This one is on my list, but I’ve had trouble finding these cards in-store. Luckily, Amazon is offering the physical gift cards on free same-day delivery. Another useful gift card is Uber for anyone who uses this ride service or UberEATS food delivery. You can check which stores near you carry Uber gift cards by visiting https://www.uber.com/gift-cards/store-finder. They are just about everywhere, including 7-Eleven.
You can also save on gift cards if you do your homework. Kroger is running a Christmas deal-a-day special where you can save up to 15 percent on cards so far and previous deals are good through the holiday. Visit https://giftcards.kroger.com/promotions. Other retailers are offering bonus cards with purchase, but read the fine print on these deals. Bonus cards usually must be redeemed within about a month, so don’t forget!