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

Three Gift Items on Tri-Toned Blue Hues, Drugstore Items


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Three Gift Items on Tri-Toned Blue Hues, Drugstore Items

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In a classic "Family Ties" episode, Michael J. Fox as Alex P. Keaton hits a 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 a neighboring supermarket for ideas. Sure, these gifts might not be your choice if time was on your side, but in a pinch, they'll do the trick. And if some turn out poorly, at least you've given family and friends another gift: fuel for future teasing.

Related: Cheapism's 2023 Holiday Gift Guides

White Box of Fancy Chocolates, Mixed White, Dark, and Milk Chocolates, Box in the Foreground, Selective Focus
Selection of Stuff Animal Dinosaurs for Sale, Selective Focus of Brown Triceratops, Two Rows of Brown, Grey, and Green, Different Kinds of Dinosaurs

Stuffed Animal

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

Related: Holiday Gifts You Can Find at the Dollar Store

Pile of Gift Cards, Starbucks, iTunes, Target, Home Depot, Subway, and More

Gift Cards

Not especially creative but potentially perfect at the eleventh hour, a gift card isn't just a little piece of plastic — it's a restaurant meal, a tank of gas, a week's worth of lattes, or an iPhone repair.

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Woman's Right Hand Holds a Twist Bottle Opener, Opening a Bottle of Wine, Her Left Hand Holds the Bottle of Wine, Selective Focus, Slight Diagonal

Wine and a Corkscrew

Some fine wine or bubbly — that classic host gift — can be kicked up a notch with the purchase of a fancy corkscrew, often stocked in liquor stores this time of year.

Related: Boozy Gifts Don Draper Would Endorse

A Pile of an Assortment of $1, $2, and $5 Georgia Lottery Scratch-Off Tickets

Lottery Tickets

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

Related: Cheap But Cool Gifts for Guys

Closeup of Blue and Black Wired Earbuds
Olga Popova/shutterstock
Sunlight on a Large White Potted Orchid on a Stone Desk Selective Focus in a Home Office, Bookshelf on the Right, Large Window on the Left
Dmitriy Sidor/istockphoto

Flowers or a 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 — for someone with a green thumb — for a long time. Some grocery stores even carry a selection of beautiful orchids.

Related: The Best Gifts for Plant Lovers and Green Thumbs

Two Toddlers Playing with Finger Paints, Both Are Smiling and Laughing, Male on the Right in Selective Focus, Female Blurred on the Left, Artwork, Paper, and Paints on the Table in the Foreground

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.

Many Different Kinds of Beers Sold in Six Packs in a Store, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Four Rows in an Open Refrigerator Section, Very Colorful Cardboard on Six Pack Packages

Craft Beer

The selection of craft beer carried outside traditional beverage centers and specialty shops has expanded dramatically, making a last-minute purchase for a beer lover an easy gift.

Related: Best Gifts for Beer Lovers

Light Pink Cosmetics Bag Being Zipped By Two Hands of a Woman, on Her Lap, Selective Focus

Cosmetics Bag

This time of year, the selection of cosmetics bags goes beyond the usual, with options in rich velvet and all kinds of sparkle. They're ideal for those who like to touch up on the go, as well.

Related: 40 Gifts for Her Under $50

A Pair of Dark Grey Male Slippers on the Mid to Bottom Right
Aliaksandr Litviniuk/istockphoto


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

Row of Glass Jar Candles, Different Colors, Green Candle on the Left Foreground, Selective Focus, on a White Shelf At a Store


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.

Gray-White Tabby Cat Is Playing with a Cat Feather Toy, Selective Focus, on a Beige Floor

Pet Toys or Treats

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

Shiny Black Flashlight, Slight Diagonal, on a White Background


A flashlight is a wholly practical gift, if not sexy or memorable. But the next time the power goes out and your dull offering turns out to be a lifesaver, they'll think of you fondly.

Two Martini Glasses with Spiked Eggnog, Left One Is Selective Focus, Right One is Somewhat Blurred, a Cinnamon Stick Hangs Out in Each

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.

Closeup of Two Hands in Red Gloves Making a Heart Sign with Sprinkled Snow
Jasper Chamber/istockphoto

Cold-Weather Clothing

People who tend to lose gloves or misplace hats can never have too many, so consider giving some winter accessories to show your warm feelings.

A Purple Hair Straightener, a Round Pink Brush, and a Purple Hair Dryer
Africa Studio/shutterstock

Hair Helpers

Someone obsessed with their coiffure can never have too many specialty products. Pick up a travel blow dryer, a hair straightener, or another fun gadget.

Related: Gifts That Teen Girls Will Actually Like

Six Rows of Colorful Magazines for Sale At a Newsstand

Magazine Subscription

Grab the latest issue of your recipient's favorite magazine, pull out the insert, and order a gift subscription. This way, you have something to wrap up and a gift that reminds them of you every month.

Closeup of Blush-Pink Colors of Round Eye Shadows in a Palette, Selective Focus on Colors in the Foreground

Makeup Kit

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

New Beige Nail Polish Bottle Being Held By Two Female Hands At a Store, Selective Focus, Rows of Several Nail Polish Bottles on the Left, Slight Blur

Nail Polish

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 their favorite hue.

Closeup of Caramel and Buttered Popcorn in a White Porcelain Bowl, on the Right, Three DVDs on the Left

Movie Kit

For a movie night in a bag, grab a holiday classic or family favorite on DVD, some microwave popcorn, and a soda.

Top-View of Two Long Light Blue with a White Snowflake Design Mugs Filled with Hot Chocolate and Small Marshmallows, Selective Focus
Marie C Fields/shutterstock

Hot Chocolate Kit

Spend a moment picking out a unique mug and a 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.

A Wooden Box Travel Board Game, Top Is a Checkered Board, Opened to Reveal Six Compartments of Different Pieces and Dice

Travel Board Games

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

A Gold Ornate Picture Frame on a Mantle with Silvery and Snowy Holiday Decorations, in the Foreground Left
Alexander Tolstykh/shutterstock

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.

Related: The Best Gifts for Photographers from Newbies to Pros

Stainless Steel Thermos Mug with Lid, Shadow of It to the Right


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.

Blender Filled with a Light Purple Liquid, Berries, and Spinach, Being Blended, Selective Focus, By a Smiling Woman, Blurred Plant in the Left Foreground
Luna Vandoorne/shutterstock


Someone who's been talking about smoothies, protein shakes, or cocktails will appreciate getting a blender. The models available at work-a-day stores typically don't have all the bells and whistles, but they'll certainly do the job.

Playing Cards, Selective Focus on Four, Rest Blurred, Displayed in a Few Rows of Fans
JR Images/istockphoto

Card Games

Encourage more evenings spent playing cards with a favorite game or two. The stores we visited carried decks of cards in an amazing range of themed designs.

Magnifying Glass on the Left, on a Blue Background

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.

Mother's and Child's Hands Picking Foods on a Trendy Fruit Plate, Kiwis, Granola Bars, Coconut Shavings, and More, on a Round Plate
Christmas Fruitcake with Sugar Icing and Candied Fruits on a White Rectangle Porcelain Serving Plate, Serving Silverware and White Napkins to the Left of It


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

Magenta Glitter Flash Drive with Matching Lid

Flash Drive

This is literally a backup gift. Handy in a crunch, sometimes in clever designs, and always needing replacement because they're too easy to lose or leave behind somewhere, flash drives make good gifts for anyone with a computer.

White Modern Calculator on a Pink Background


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

Dark Orange Umbrella, Opened and Laid on a Road, During a Light Rain
Vladimir Vladimirov/istockphoto


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 a car, desk, or tote bag can prevent a drippy day.

Top-View of Woman's Hands with an Opened Cooking Book, on the Top, Selective Focus, Surrounded By Ingredients and Cooking Utensils, Blurred


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.

Several Modern Commemorative Editions of TIME Magazines in a Pile
Several Modern Commemorative Editions of TIME Magazines in a Pile by Storm Crypt (CC BY-NC-ND)

Commemorative Issues

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 may not have spent that much themselves.

Five Small Glass Bottles in a Gift Box, Light Yellows and Clear, Perfume Sampler

Perfume Sampler

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

Closeup of Female Hands Coloring with a Blue Colored Pencil in an Adult Coloring Book At a Wooden Desk, Selective Focus
Four Small Glasses of Hot Sauce in a Line, From Dark Red to Bright Red
Jiri Hera/shutterstock
Basket of Assorted Keurig Coffee Pods


The prevalence of the Keurig and other coffee-making machines has turned the coffee-pod aisle into a store within a store. Many people tend to buy in bulk depending what's on sale, so treat them to a pricier fancy brand or exotic flavor.

Related: Perk 'Em Up with These Great Gifts for Coffee Lovers

White Blank Wall Calendar on a Light Blue Background


It can be helpful to have more than one calendar, with kids' activities posted in the kitchen, meetings on one in the home office, and so on. An extra calendar will get a workout.

Numerous Colorful Notebooks and Journals on Shelves in a Store
Pink Jeweled Fashion Hair Clip with Small Fake Pearls, Diamonds, and Yellow Gems

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.

Woman Reading a Book While Sitting on a Window Sill, on the Right
Andrii Kobryn/shutterstock

Inspirational Books

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

Several Pieces of Cooked Bacon, Selective Focus to the Foreground Bottom, on a Brown Paper Bag
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.

Smile of a Young Man, Cropped Lower Face and Upper Body, Wearing a White T-Shirt

Teeth Whitening

Give the gift of a new smile with an at-home teeth-whitening kit. True, someone could take offense, but if a family member's been hinting at trying it, consider that a go-ahead.

Ice Scraper Being Used on Snow on the Windshield of a Car, By a Woman, As Seen From Inside the Car

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.)

Assorted Cheeses, Emmental, Blue Cheese, Pecorino, Parmesan and Manchego Among Other Matured Cheeses, on a Wooden Table


Holiday indulgences include cheese boards 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.

Car Emergency Kit Items Spilling Out in a Red Bag on a White Background

Car 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.

Related: Cool Gifts for People Who Love Cars

A Canvas Grocery Bag in the Foreground on the Back of Woman Pushing a Green Cart
Jeff Baumgart/shutterstock

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 the planet — will thank you.

Charcuterie Board with Pork Sausage, Salami and Cheese Plate with Brie, Parmesan Pecorino and Gorgonzola, Served with Olives and Blueberries, Silvery Grey Napkin with Fork and Knife Around It on the Left to Top
Elena Katkova/istockphoto

Sausage and Cheese Set

Have you seen the sausage-and-cheese gift sets at the grocery store? They tend to arrive along with the holidays, for good reason.

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