You’ve made your list and checked it twice and are starting to feel pretty good about yourself this holiday season. That is, until one of your kids comes home and casually mentions they need a Secret Santa gift. By tomorrow. Maybe you have neighbors who come out of the woodwork and stop by with a thoughtful tin of cookies and inquire after each of your family members by name as you struggle to place theirs. Or maybe you’re like me and nowhere near done because you’re human your regular life leaves you with just enough energy to watch Netflix after the kids are asleep and think about your to-do list.


I’m fairly certain that even the unicorns among us who profess to be done with their shopping and preparations get hit with at least one unexpected gifting need (who are these people, anyway? I hear they exist but maybe they’re all away at day spas with the extra time they’ve earned and not sweating bullets in line at Target on a Monday night looking for mittens, pipe cleaners, and tri-fold boards for book projects).


We’ve got your back here at PlanHero. We’ve come up with some  ideas for those uh-oh moments, last-minute adds to the Christmas brunch, and your college kid’s new significant other (Wine. We suggest wine for this one. Not for them, for you).


But before we begin, I feel the need to point out we still have two weeks until Christmas. I know, I know. The “Last-Chance-Sale-for-Procrastinating-Losers” ads have been running since December 1. It’s hard to imagine there was a time not too long ago when the vast majority of people did not put up their Christmas tree – or any Christmas decorations – until Christmas Eve. This year? There were Christmas aisles set up and stocked when I bought our Halloween candy. By the time I’m a grandparent, I fully expect retailers will have dropped any pretenses and have a permanent section for Christmas trees and menorahs, like they do for linens and hardware.


While You’re Out Living Your Life…

  • Filling up your car? Of course you are. You practically live in it. Grab a few gas gift cards to have on hand for the young and broke drivers in your life. Tie a festive ribbon around a few and you’re done.
  • Getting coffee? Yes, that was rhetorical. You have a few options here, whether you go the gift card route or a bag of holiday blend beans. Very few people don’t drink coffee. Maybe the unicorns, but you’re not at that spa, are you?
  • Grocery shopping? Most grocers carry a great selection of holiday treats and gifts. Throw a pair (or two) of warm mittens into your cart. Trader Joe’s always has boxed sets of teas, chocolates, cookies, and candies. I tend to overdo it with the Trader Joe’s gift boxes, but the upside is we always have extra snacks on hand for Christmas day. If you don’t use the mittens for a school gift exchange, you’ll be glad for the extra pair.
  • Mailing packages? Go for a bit of old-school whimsy and pick up some holiday stamps. Actual handwritten letters are such a rarity these days they are coming back in style (check out Pinterest if you doubt me).


A Magical Place Where You Can Literally Do All Your Shopping 

Whether it’s online or your favorite brick and mortar bookstore, you can find an inexpensive gift for practically anybody. Personalize it with an inscription, toss it in a gift bag (or have the Internet elves do it for you) and you are done.

Team PlanHero loves books, so much so that some of our contributors and founding members are authors who have written books we want to pass on to you. BONUS! The first three people who like this post and create a free PlanHero account win a copy of one of the following books:


Peanut Butter & Naan: Stories of an American Mom in the Far East by PlanHero Managing Editor Jennifer Hillman-Magnuson. Take a trip with this fast-paced travel memoir about a mama who moved her family of seven from their cushy gated Nashville community to the south of India. Because traveling with kids is easy. So she and her husband moved to a developing world with five of them.


She-Ology: The Definitive Guide to Women’s Intimate Health. Period. by PlanHero contributing expert Sherry A. Ross, MD. Leading ob-gyn, educator, and women’s health advocate Dr. Ross addresses every urgent, confounding, culturally taboo or embarrassing question women have about vaginas, with the goal of healthier, happier lives for all.



How to Eat Paleo: (When You Don’t Live in a Cave) by PlanHero contributing expert Cynthia Spivey. This unique illustrated guide is the first book of its kind, covering all you need to know about Paleo in clear, digestible language with whimsical graphics.

Free books and free PlanHero for 30 days!



For Busy People Like You

Ah, the last weeks of school before winter break. Where there’s never enough time between the after-school rush of homework and evening choir performance to plan, shop for, and cook a fabulous, healthy meal. Need a last-minute gift that will save someone’s sanity? Head over to Sun Basket and select a gift card you can print out for instant giving. What are you having for dinner on an average Tuesday night? Crazy December weeknights mean we see a lot of grilled cheese and soup. With the click of your mouse you or someone you love can make a 20-minute(!) dinner of roasted salmon with black lentil salad and diablo sauce. Or whip up walnut-crusted chicken diavola with lemon-roasted cauliflower. Someone else to do the planning, shopping, and food-prep? Yes, please.


Something to Keep the Kids Busy at a Family Gathering

Solvang Bakery is famous for their custom gingerbread houses, but if you don’t have time for a custom order, you can purchase a pre-made Hanukkah or Christmas gingerbread house kit to bring to the next family party. Little (and not so little) hands will keep busy with these gorgeous kits that look and smell just as the holidays should.