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Gift Ideas

13 last-minute gifts you can buy on Christmas Day

Avoid the excruciating pain of having to admit you forgot to buy someone a present – your secret's safe with these last-minute Christmas gift ideas.

father Christmas looking surprised and calendar

Yes, you now officially have a reason to panic. It's Christmas Day, you've missed all the last minute delivery dates and you've forgotten to get your mum a gift. Eek!

Not to worry though – as always, the world wide web's got your back, and there are a fair few options both online and off that you can sort in a matter of seconds to avoid any awkward gift-less situations.

You can purchase these last-minute gifts from the comfort of your own ho-ho-home before your nearest and dearest have even realised there's something missing under the Christmas tree.

If you're on a serious budget this year, we've also got a great guide on thoughtful gifts for £5 or less for you to check out.

Last-minute Christmas gifts

Here's the ultimate guide to saving your bacon – a list of great last-minute Christmas gifts you can buy on the day:

  1. Experience days

    people parachuting

    The aptly named lastminute.com is a good first port of call when buying a gift for someone on Christmas Day. You'll find everything here – from weekends away to skydiving and spa treatments.

    You'll likely be too late to get your voucher in the post, but you can opt for an online voucher instead. Then simply print off the confirmation, or just get creative and make your own voucher.

    Some other sites worth scoping out for experience days include:

    The Damage: £10 – £50+ (depending on how guilty you're feeling!)

  2. Magazine subscription

    A magazine subscription is a favourite of ours. Not only is it a perfect last-minute gift that takes next to no effort, but it's the gift that keeps on giving.

    Think about it. Grab a 12-month subscription and the gift receiver will be reminded of how amazing and generous you are every single month.

    Best magazine subscriptions

    The Damage: £10 – £60

  3. Film streaming subscription

    Who doesn't love streaming movies? That's why you can't really go wrong with an Amazon Prime Video, NOW, Disney+ or Netflix subscription (unless they already have one, of course).

    You can offer to buy them a subscription for as many months as you want, and some of the super money-savers among you will notice that Amazon and NOW both offer free trials too.

    Plus, if you're opting for Netflix, you can buy a gift voucher to cover the subscription. You can look for one on eBay or CDKeys, where unwanted cards are sometimes sold for up to 20% less than their retail value. They're not always available, but it's worth having a look!

    The Damage: £5+ per month

  4. Music streaming subscription

    spotify on phone on a table with earpods

    Credit: Yalcin Sonat - Shutterstock

    If films aren't their (or your) thing, then you might want to delve into some tunes instead.

    Head over to the likes of Amazon Music or good ol' iTunes, buy an album and then give it as a last-minute Christmas gift... simple!

    A Spotify subscription is another great idea – and it's 50% off for students, working out at around £6 a month. And again, there are plenty of free trials for music streaming services, so you can save a chunk on the first month.

    The Damage: £5 – £10

  5. Do-something-nice cheques

    Make up some cheques (handcrafted or printed, depending on how creative you're feeling) for your services to be redeemed at a future date.

    For example, offer to make them breakfast in bed, or do some household chores while you run them a hot bath.

    Write the following on your do-something-nice cheque:

    To: [their name]

    From: [your name]

    This cheque entitles you to...

    Hand it to your friend/family member (maybe even with some flowers if you're feeling particularly generous) and they can enlist your services when they like.

    However, if this is for a partner or a parent, prepare yourself for the 'you should be doing these things anyway' digs.

    The Damage: less than £1

  6. Gift cards

    True, gift cards can seem like a bit of a cop-out. Why not just stump up the cash instead of forcing them to shop at the store you have chosen?

    But nevertheless, there's at least some thought gone into this one.

    If you had a gift in mind that you didn't quite get round to shopping for, you could even include a note with the card saying "this is to buy that [insert item] you said you wanted".

    You can pick up gift cards all over the place nowadays, including supermarkets, petrol stations and even online. Some brands even do text gift cards!

    The choice of brands is equally vast, including iTunes, Amazon, Pizza Express and thousands more, so this option could be a perfect last-minute saviour.

    The Damage: £10+

  7. DIY gift

    handmade gift and pine trees

    Credit: NT_Studio - Shutterstock

    There's a lot to be said for getting creative and taking a minute to rustle something up by hand for a loved one.

    You should only need an hour or so to make something nice at 4am on Christmas morning without anyone even noticing.

    If you're looking for some inspiration of what to make, check out our homemade Christmas present ideas as well as our guide on how to upcycle old clothes into something brand-spanking-new. You're welcome.

    The Damage: about £5

  8. Petrol station treats

    You can always count on petrol stations being open, even on Christmas Day (people have places to go and need fuel to get there, right?).

    A bunch of flowers can look great, but if other last-minute shoppers have already snapped them all up, don't sweat.

    Have a look for alternatives such as boxes of Liquorice Allsorts, Wine Gums or the classic festive Toblerone (although we still haven't forgiven them for mutilating the shape to cut costs).

    If sweet treats aren't really their thing, a bottle of wine, Bailey's or brandy always hits the spot – making Christmas Day extra merry!

    The Damage: about £8

  9. Event tickets

    You can pick up tickets for concerts, comedy gigs, sports events and more in a flash by jumping over to sites like Ticketmaster.

    Ok, you won't have the physical tickets to give them on Christmas Day, but you can draft up a couple of dummy tickets or print the receipt and pop it in a cute little homemade card.

    The Damage: £30+

  10. Cook up some treats

    person hand pressing shapes into doughnut dough

    Credit: szmuli – Shutterstock

    If you have more than just the basic cooking skills, why not cook up some treats? Plus, if you're at home for Christmas, you can use all their fancy grown-up kitchen gadgets and even get away with using your parents' food if you're feeling super cheeky.

    For a really cheap and simple idea, why not try our chocolate truffle recipe.

    The Damage: about £3

  11. Plant a tree

    If you're buying a present for one of your environmentally-conscious friends or family members, or want to nudge them in that direction, why not plant a tree on their behalf? For a donation of as little as £5, the National Trust will plant a tree and send you a digital certificate which you can use as your last-minute Christmas gift.

    Ecologi is another website where you can give the gift of long-lasting climate action in the form of planting trees or offsetting someone's carbon footprint for a number of months. Here at Save the Student, we use Ecologi to ensure our website and workforce are carbon positive, and we couldn't recommend it more!

    The Damage: £5 – £60

    Most wrapping paper contains plastic and has a big carbon footprint. Wrap beautiful presents using brown or recyclable paper, sealed with brown paper tape or twine. Or, go for reusable gift bags!
  12. Charity donation

    Christmas is a time for giving and what's a better gift than helping those less fortunate? There are quite a few options in terms of making a charity donation on someone's behalf, and UNICEF lets you choose what the money is being spent on. Some of them include:

    You can dedicate this gift to a friend or family member and UNICEF will send out a postcard to thank you (they'll also email it, so you can print it if you're buying it on Christmas Day!).

    The Damage: £9 – £50+

  13. I.O.U.

    As a last resort, you can play the I.O.U. card.

    We love a bit of money-saving, and we're guessing you do too! So, why not tell your friends and family that you want to buy them something in the Boxing Day/January sales because you know they (well, you) can get more bang for your buck?

    Let them know that you didn't forget to buy them something, that you already know what you're getting them and that it was a conscious, money-saving decision to hold off. Genius!

If all else fails then you can just claim you've become disillusioned by the commercialisation of Christmas, and choose to no longer buy Christmas presents for anyone out of principle. Don't be surprised if you don't get any presents back, though.

We're guessing your bank account might feel the Christmas crunch after splashing out on those pressies – take a look at our New Year's money-saving resolutions to get back on track.

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