Eek! Last-Minute Gifts

No matter how hard you plan or how many times you check your holiday gift-buying list, there are bound to be some deserving recipients who just slipped your mind. Here are some easy-to-obtain, crowd-pleasing, last-minute gifts:

Gift Cards to the Rescue

Gift cards have been a godsend for those who are terminally late shoppers ... and they're great if you're a little lazy, too.

Gift cards for stores that sell a variety of items, like Target or Wal-Mart, or for electronics or music and movie stores are especially useful when you need a gift on the fly that will have broad appeal.

Retail Web sites like also offer gift cards that let your recipient choose literally anything he or she wants.

Don't know which store to get a gift card for? You could always get a MasterCard, Visa or American Express gift card, which give your gift recipient more leeway.

Remember: many stores reduce the value of a gift card after a period of time. When you pick out a store for your recipient, make sure it's somewhere he or she will go in a hurry.

Give Them a Movie Night

Who doesn’t like a night out at the movies? Major movie theater chains sell gift cards in various increments on their Web sites, and some sell them right at the theater. With this gift, you can show your movie-buff friend or relative you care while letting him or her pick the flick.

Dinner's on You

Is there a nice restaurant your buddy’s been eyeing or even a chain restaurant that your last-minute recipient frequents? Complement a free movie night with a free dinner. College students especially appreciate a free evening out.

From the Teachers' Pets

For a child’s teacher, gift cards to office or school supply stores are always a big hit. Most teachers will love gift cards to bookstores like Borders or Barnes and Noble.

Getting More Personal

If you aren’t keen on the idea of gift cards, food can come through in a pinch. Think universal favorites: a nice bottle of wine, gourmet coffee or some fancy chocolate.

For some chocolate creations, take a look at, or Warning: pretty chocolate causes severe salivation. Prepare to buy some for yourself as well as the recipient you have in mind.

Wine is probably best purchased at a local outlet, but there's always a Web site:, for instance, offers an array of wine gift baskets and wine-related gifts. For food-related gift baskets, try or

Also a hit for guys and gals: nice stationery. This is incredibly easy to pick out and generic enough that if you pick it out ahead of time, you can stock up on last-minute gifts for when they truly are last-minute.

While there are bound to be some stationery specialty stores in your neighborhood, you can also take care of your stationery needs online. Check out Kate's Paperie at for high-quality paper goods and several quirky stationery sets or for stationery staples.

And with nice stationery, they'll be able to write you a really nice thank you note for your thoughtful gift.