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


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Santa Claus grocery shopping with a cart full of items, holding a list and a present
Photo credit: Stokkete/shutterstock

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!

Hand scratching off a lottery ticket
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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.

Wall display of gift cards in a grocery store
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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.

Closeup of glass of eggnog with liquor pouring into it next to Christmas ornaments
Photo credit: Spiked Eggnog by Danny Popov (None)

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.

Woman choosing a bottle of wine in the wine department of a store
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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.

Red cosmetic bag
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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.

Grey metal flashlight
Photo credit: Brittny/shutterstock

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.

A hair dryer, brush, and hair straightener
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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.

Wall of magazines on display
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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.

Snowflake mugs with hot chocolate and marshmallows
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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.

Cosmetic bag full of makeup
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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.

Blue and white design knit slippers
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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.

Hand with polka-dot painted nails holding an assortment of colored nail polish
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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.

A blue knit cap, scarf, and gloves
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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.

A teddy bear wearing a Santa Claus hat and holding a present
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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.

DVDs on a table with a soda, popcorn, and a remote control
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For movie night in a bag, grab a holiday classic or family favorite on DVD and some microwave popcorn for a family night in.

A board game set in a wooden box
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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.

Decorative Christmas candles with a wooden background
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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.

Car emergency kit
Photo credit: Michael Kraus/shutterstock

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.

Two metal thermoses
Photo credit: Pattanapol Soodto/shutterstock

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.

Woman blending a healthy smoothie with spinach
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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.

Hand holding playing cards
Photo credit: Tatiana Popova/shutterstock

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.

Person using an ice scraper to scrape ice off of their car windshield
Photo credit: Ben Schonewille/shutterstock

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.)

Magnifying glass with a brown wooden handle
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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.

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

Iced holiday fruit cake
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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.

A 6-pack of craft beer
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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.

Closeup of a nut try with a variety of mixed nuts
Photo credit: Mixed Nuts by oscarcwilliams (None)

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

Gold ornate picture frame on a mantle with a decorated Christmas tree in the background
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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.

Orange USB flash drive in the shape of a bracelet
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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.

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

Red calculator
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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.

Happy young woman reading a cookbook in the kitchen about to cook
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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.

Happy small dog wearing a Santa costume with a red chew toy in front
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Pet lovers love their pets. Give pet lovers anything for the pets, and they'll love you too. Think toys, treats, and more.

Commemorative edition of People magazine with Carrie Fisher on the front
Photo credit: People Magazine Carrie Fisher Commemorative Edition by FranMoff (None)

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.

Retractable blue umbrella
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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.

Box of small perfume samples
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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.

Closeup of hand coloring in an adult coloring book with colored pencils
Photo credit: Jne Valokuvaus/shutterstock

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.

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

Seasonal calendar by month
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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.

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

Basket of assorted Keurig coffee pods
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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.

Purple orchid in a vase
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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.

Assorted barbecue sauces in glass jars
Photo credit: Jiri Hera/shutterstock

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.

Hickory Farms sausage and cheese set
Photo credit: Courtesy of amazon.com

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

Young woman reading a book and sitting by the window
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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.

Bacon on a piece of brown paper on a table
Photo credit: Nataliya Arzamasova/shutterstock

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.

Crest teeth whitening kit
Photo credit: Courtesy of amazon.com

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.

Jeweled fashion hair clip
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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.

Cheese board
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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.

Woman holding a reusable grocery bag shopping in the supermarket
Photo credit: Jeff Baumgart/shutterstock

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.

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