50 Last-Minute Gifts You Can Pick up at the Drugstore

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CART BLANCHE

In a classic "Family Ties" episode, Michael J. Fox as Alex P. Keaton hit the convenience store for his Christmas shopping. Wondering what we would do in such a last-minute scenario, we went to the local branch of a drugstore chain and neighboring supermarket for ideas. Sure, these gifts might not be your choice if time was on your side, but in a pinch will do the trick. And if some turn out poorly, at least you've given family and friends another gift -- fuel for future teasing. Happy holidays!
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LOTTERY TICKETS

When you really don't know what to select, buy a selection of lottery tickets, especially the scratch-off kind. A gift that at first might seem thoughtless becomes the best gift ever when money is won.
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GIFT CARDS

Not especially creative but potentially perfect at the eleventh hour, presenting a gift card isn't just handing over a little piece of plastic -- but rather a restaurant meal, a tank of gas, a week's worth of lattes, or an iPhone repair.
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EGGNOG KIT

Want a gift that will be enjoyed right away? Grab some grocery-store eggnog and a bottle of the hard stuff and you've got a seasonal toast waiting to be made.
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A BOTTLE AND CORKSCREW

Some fine wine or bubbly, the classic hostess gift, is raised a notch with the purchase of a fancy corkscrew, often stocked in liquor stores this time of year.
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COSMETICS BAG

This time of year, special cosmetic bags also get their moment in the spotlight. The usual selections are kicked up a notch with options in rich velvets and all kinds of sparkle. This thrifty choice is ideal for those who like to touch up on the go, as well.
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FLASHLIGHT

A flashlight is a wholly practical gift, if not sexy or memorable. But the next time the power goes out and your dull selection turns out to be a lifesaver, you will be thought of fondly.
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HAIR HELPERS

Those obsessed with their coiffures can never have too many specialty products. Pick up a travel blow dryer, a hair straightener, or other fun gadget.
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MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION

Grab the latest issue of your recipient's favorite entertainment, news, sports, or fashion magazine, pull out the insert, and order a gift subscription. This way, you have something to hand out and a gift that reminds them of you every month.
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HOT CHOCOLATE KIT

Spend a moment picking out a unique mug, selection of gourmet hot cocoa mixes, and throw in a bag of marshmallows for a hot chocolate kit that will hit the spot on a freezing winter night.
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MAKEUP KIT

Stores have "all-in-one" makeup kits of everything from glitzy eye shadow collections to the full-on makings of a completely new face, from shadow to blush, lipstick to mascara. Teens will go wild.
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SLIPPERS

For him, for her, for everyone. Slippers are another practical choice that can be chosen by theme (such as with favorite characters) for a touch of whimsy.
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NAIL POLISHES

Holiday parties scream out for fancy nails, and those who prefer to do their own manicures will enjoy a kit of a few nail polishes chosen in the recipient's favorite hue.
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COLD-WEATHER CLOTHING

Those who tend to lose gloves or misplace hats can never have too many, so consider a hat, gloves, or scarf to show your warm feelings.
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STUFFED ANIMAL

Who hasn't smiled at a stuffed Santa Claus or a plush version of their favorite animal or cartoon character? This one's an all-ages favorite, though kids will likely be most appreciative.
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MOVIE KIT

For movie night in a bag, grab a holiday classic or family favorite on DVD and some microwave popcorn for a family night in.
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TRAVEL-READY BOARD GAMES

Travel versions of popular board games will be much appreciated on the trip home from the holiday festivities, but can also be played throughout the year.
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CANDLES

Candles never fail -- just be sure to keep the recipient's sensibilities in mind. Don't give a heady floral-scented candle to a no-nonsense type.
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AUTO EMERGENCY KIT

All drivers -- and especially the young -- should have an emergency kit in the car for roadside issues that can be handled before a tow truck arrives.
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THERMOS

Whether camping, ice skating, or watching a football game from the stands, a Thermos makes a welcome companion on a chilly day. It's a classic product that thoughtfully offers a bit of warmth.
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BLENDER

Someone who's been talking about smoothies, protein shakes, or cocktails will appreciate getting a blender. These work-a-day stores don't carry the models with all the bells and whistles -- but they'll certainly do the job.
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PLAYING CARDS

Evenings spent playing cards have fallen out of favor. Encourage the return of the tradition with a pack of cards from a likely amazing range of themed designs.
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AN ICE SCRAPER AND A PROMISE

Hand over an ice scraper and expect a groan. Hand over an ice scraper with an IOU to get up early and scrape the car during the first storm of the season and you'll be a star. (Just keep that promise.)
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MAGNIFYING GLASS

It's not a sign of getting older … well, maybe it is. But a magnifying glass comes in handy more often than you might imagine.
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CHOCOLATE

Everyone may grumble, "Oh, you shouldn't have," but you can bet a generously sized box of chocolates won't go to waste.
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CAKE

Pick up the biggest cake at the store -- whether it be a brunch-worthy coffee cake, a traditional fruitcake, or something utterly decadent -- and saved someone the trouble of having to make dessert.
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CRAFT BEER

The selection of craft beer carried outside traditional beverage centers and specialty shops has expanded dramatically, making a last-minute purchase for beer lovers an easy transaction.
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NUTS OR FRUIT TRAYS

Selections of mixed nuts and dried-fruit trays add a thoughtful touch to any holiday party.
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PHOTO FRAME OR ALBUM

Despite the popularity of all things digital, an old-fashioned family photo or vacation snap displayed proudly in the living room is still welcome, and requires a pretty frame or photo album.
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FLASH DRIVES

This is literally a backup gift. Handy in a crunch, sometimes in clever designs, and always too easy to lose or leave behind somewhere, flash drives make a good gift for anyone with a computer.
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HEADPHONES OR EARBUDS

Those who use headphones or earbuds often also often lose them, and multiple sets are always welcome.
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CALCULATOR

Make recalculating the budget after a generous holiday season, or any serious bout of math, less painful with a real calculator. Not everything should be done with a phone app.
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COOKBOOKS

Seasonal and themed cookbooks remain a handy staple of the checkout lane and reading-material aisles at the grocery store. Grab a title for your favorite baker or chef.
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PET TOYS OR TREATS

Pet lovers love their pets. Give pet lovers anything for the pets, and they'll love you too. Think toys, treats, and more.
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KEEPSAKE EDITIONS

The occasional commemorative magazine has become a constant, booming business. We spotted keepsake editions devoted to John Wayne, Barbra Streisand, and the local MLB team. These tend to top $10, making them a welcome gift for fans who would never consider spending that.
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UMBRELLA

We probably all have an umbrella -- but quick, where is it? Is it convenient for the next sudden downpour? Or was it left behind in a cafe? An extra umbrella for the car, desk, or tote bag can prevent a drippy day.
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PERFUME SAMPLER

For those who wear a different fragrance every day, holiday gift samplers make a fun choice and could lead to the discovery of a new favorite.
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COLORING BOOKS

The novelty of coloring books for adults may have worn off, but people are still de-stressing with them, often with themed editions. Pick up a book and colored pencils to spread a little serenity.
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JOURNAL

A journal can be someone's diet companion, day planner, or where they let their dreams loose. Now that's a gift with versatility.
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CALENDAR

Calendars have become something you have more than one of, with kids' activities on the kitchen edition, meetings on the one in the home office, and so on. An extra calendar will get a workout.
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ART SUPPLIES OR CRAFT KITS

Stock up on art supplies for kids and let their creativity run wild -- or decide on a craft kit that yields a specific project.
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COFFEE

The prevalence of the Keurig and other coffee-making machines has turned the coffee-pod aisle into a store within a store. Most of us tend to buy in bulk for whatever's on sale, so treat someone to a pricier fancy brand or exotic flavor.
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FLOWERS OR PLANT

Don't just grab a cheap bunch of flowers. Pick a small arrangement in a keepsake vase or, even better, a plant that will last -- if they have a green thumb -- for a long time. Some grocery stores even carry a selection of beautiful orchids.
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SAUCE SELECTION

Barbecue fans like to sample sauces, so pick out a few. It's possible to put together a gift set of hot sauces that will really wake up the taste buds.
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SAUSAGE AND CHEESE SETS

Have you seen the sausage-and-cheese gift sets? The holidays and these packages arrive together.
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INSPIRATIONAL BOOKS

There are a surprising number of inexpensive inspirational books that can offer a little lift to someone with a spiritual outlook. Steer clear of anything overly religious if you're not sure where the recipient stands.
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BACON

Fully cooked bacon -- no refrigeration needed -- brings the makings of a great sandwich or, when the game's on, a party in a cardboard box.
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TEETH WHITENING

Give the gift of a new smile with an at-home teeth-whitening kit. It's a touchy gift unless you're certain it's wanted -- but if a family member's been hinting at trying one, consider that a go-ahead.
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HAIR ACCESSORIES

We were amazed to find a rhinestone-studded hair clip at the grocery store -- a salon-quality accessory just waiting to add the finishing touch to a holiday hairstyle.
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CHEESE

Holiday indulgences include a cheese board filled with exotic selections. Add to the mix by buying from the gourmet section of the grocery store, and they'll think you made a special trip to the cheesemonger.
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REUSABLE GROCERY BAGS

Help someone commit to reusing grocery bags by buying a handful of the good canvas or insulated ones to keep in their car. The recipient -- and planet -- will thank you.