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Five Creative (and Last Minute) Christmas Gifts: Thoughtful Presents Sure to Spread Holiday Cheer

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Better Get Shopping! Five Creative Christmas Gifts

Christmas Gifts for Last Minute Shoppers

Christmas GiftsNow that Christmas is upon us, the final shopping frenzy has begun. Malls and stores are crowded with people frantically trying to find the perfect gifts for the last few people on their lists. If you’re feeling a bit panicked and running out of gift ideas, you’re not alone. Here are five gift ideas that might help relieve some of your shopping stress and make the last few days before Christmas a bit merrier.

1. A Donation

The holidays are a time for giving and for thinking of others. Making a donation to a charity on behalf of someone else is a great way to capture the spirit of the season. There are many great organizations out there that support wonderful causes and work hard to help those in need. (Make sure to do some research before donating, as there are unfortunately some scams out there, too.) Organizations that feed the homeless, non-profits that give gently used books to children, foundations that fund medical research, groups that assist with disaster recovery—no matter which cause you choose to support, you’ll contribute to the greater good. Choosing a charity that is particularly meaningful to the individual you are donating on behalf of is a great way to personalize this type of gift.

2. Something you Made Yourself

There’s nothing quite like presenting someone with a gift that you crafted yourself. Making gifts is a particularly good option if you have a small budget. Craft components are usually inexpensive (especially if you have coupons for stores like JoAnn Fabrics and A.C. Moore) and the effort you put into creating a gift yourself increases its value, as does the fact that what you create is one of a kind and can be created with the recipient’s preferences in mind. Although there are only a few days left before Christmas, there is still time to make gifts yourself. Check out Pinterest for inspiration and ideas; the DIY & Crafts category is filled with quick, creative projects. There are also some great blogs out there with craft tutorials for unique and easy homemade holiday gifts.

3. Fair Trade Items and Other Handmade Crafts

Handmade Soap. Photo Courtesy of hearthandhandmadecrafts.comIf you have no idea what to get someone, consider checking out a fair trade fair, craft fair, or farmers market. These shopping venues feature a broad variety of unique, handcrafted goods; depending on where you go, you’ll find everything from jewelry to pottery, paintings to furniture, food to dried bouquets. You’re bound to find something neat for even the toughest person to buy for.

Shopping at craft fairs and farmers markets stimulates the local economy, directly supports local talent, and often gives you the opportunity to meet the artisan that created what you have picked out. In most cases, it gives you the opportunity to purchase something that was handmade carefully rather than mass-produced.   Fair trade markets are centered on the idea that people should be compensated fairly for their work.   Many have a far-reaching impact, featuring products from around the world at reasonable prices and ensuring that the money you spend gets back to the people who earned it.

Many churches and community organizations host craft fairs and fair trade fairs, especially around the holidays, and many farmers markets feature great handcrafted gifts in addition to fresh produce and delicious food. Be sure to check out what’s offered in your area.

4. Tickets

One Christmas when I unwrapped my annual calendar, I noticed that the plastic packaging had been removed. Curious, I flipped through the pages and soon realized that something was scribbled on one date in January: Trip to NYC. What I thought was just a calendar turned out to be tickets to see Phantom of the Opera on Broadway! I was beyond excited.

Tickets to a show, event, or concert make for a great Christmas gift. Buying tickets can be challenging, as scheduling a date without revealing your intentions to the person you are buying for can be tricky. If you are nervous about committing to a date that might not work out but don’t want to ruin the surprise, give an IOU and choose a date together. (Since Christmas is at our doorstep, this is a great option! You don’t have to fight the crowds at the stores or hope that your online order will ship in time. Instead, you can get away with giving someone an IOU—and they will be thrilled!) Tickets can also be expensive, but they don’t have to be. Ticket pricing is often tiered, enabling you to pick which price is best for you. Movie ticket vouchers are very inexpensive and make great stocking stuffers.

Besides being easy to throw together at the last minute and available in any price range, tickets are also a great gift because they give the recipient something to look forward to after the holidays. And, rather than being just another material item wrapped under the Christmas tree, they provide the chance to have a fun and memorable experience. Relatively easy to give and great to receive, tickets are a terrific Christmas gift option.

5.  An Empire Passport 

For people who love the outdoors, this is the perfect gift. The Empire Passport provides unlimited day use vehicle entry to 178 of New York’s state parks and 55 Department of Environmental Conservation forest preserves, as well as to boat launches, arboretums, and park preserves. It costs $65, but since most parks typically charge admission fees of around $7 or $8 per day the Passport quickly pays for itself. With the 2013 Empire Passport in the window of your car, you can bring as many people as your car holds into the parks from now until March 31st, 2014. Empire Passports can be purchased in person at state parks and state park regional offices, online, by phone at 518-474-0458 during business hours, or by mail.  For more information, visit the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation website (

Though these gift ideas might be slightly unconventional, they are practical, thoughtful, and fun. And they are sure to warm the heart of even the “Grinchiest” person on your list.

Happy Holidays!

Jessica Venezia is a Contributor to The Free George

The Free George is the online magazine and visitors’ guide of Upstate NY, covering things from Albany to Lake Placid, including Saratoga, the Lake George region and the Adirondacks. Check out our City Blogs section for our extended coverage areas as well.

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