Five Stress-Free, Last Minute Gift Ideas That Don’t Involve “Stuff”

Christmas is 10 days away. If you’re still looking for the perfect gift but feeling overwhelmed (like me), here are a few ideas that don’t require a visit to the shopping mall, paying for expedited shipping or will amount to clutter at home.

Make a donation in your family members name to a charity of your choice. 

After a tumultuous election cycle, many people are feeling helpless and want to know what they can do. The ACLU has received more than $15 million dollars since November 12th, as compared to just $27,806 after election day in 2008. Some of these are being labeled as “rage” donations, made by voters upset by the election results. Whether you choose a charity of your or your recipient’s choice, it’s sure to make a statement. Check out this site to make sure you choose a vetted charity that donates most funds towards making a difference and not mostly admin and fundraising expenses. I also like GiveWell’s picks which have nothing to do with politics! These are the charities according to vox.com where your money will do the most good.

It’s also a sneaky way to get a tax deduction right before the end of the year!

Write a check to a 529 College Savings Fund for your niece or nephew.



If you don’t want to get political, a 529 contribution is always a wise investment. It might not be tax deductible for you but it’s one of the most useful gifts you can give a child. Every bit helps go towards financing a college education. To do this, ask the parents where their child’s 529 has been set up. You can write them a check and they will need to sign it over to the investment company or you can also open an account for a niece/nephew yourself.

Also, at Fidelity you can contribute through their online college gifting feature.

Gift an experience or class. 

Fashion trends come and go but the memory of an experience stays forever. I love the idea of giving someone a cooking or photography class. Here in Boston there are plenty of ways to do this like giving a gift certificate to the BCAE. Let your loved one choose a class and time. If you want to give a gift to a new parent, you can gift them a series of classes at a place like the Little Lovage Club, Baby Wiggles or pass to the Children’s Museum.

Little Lovage Club
If you’re short on cash, offer to babysit so Mom and Dad can have a night out on the town.

This gift is obviously limited to friends who have kids, usually pay for sitters, and don’t have family to fall back on. I literally told my sister-in-law that this is what I want. Babysitters are expensive and we will save more money and value that time to ourselves more than a scarf and pair of gloves. In reality, I just want to try a new restaurant without having to worry about Tommy and his sleep schedule. If you already are the free babysitter on a regular basis, add in a gift card to their favorite restaurant.

Grab your mom or sibling for a day of IOUs.

This might sound silly, but all you need is a card and inside share your plans (that you WILL stick to) for a day out on the town. For example the inside might read, “This card is good for one dinner and movie ticket. Must be redeemed with favorite sibling.” No expiration, no awkward $2.50 left on a gift card, and no advance purchase necessary on your end. This could also be you getting your nails done and then having lunch after on your dime or maybe even a painting class with wine. My sister and I both have kids now and it’s hard to get to spend time just the two of us. For her birthday this year, Nick watched the kiddos and I took her to go get our nails done. We got to spend quality time together without distractions.

Have a great gift idea to add to this list? Let me know down below.

If you’re interested in learning more about MEFA 529 College Savings Plans, visit the MEFA or Fidelity website.

I partnered with Fidelity and MEFA in support of the U.Fund Dreams Tour. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

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