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25 Personal Presents in a Pinch

Find the perfect present -- without going to the mall.
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Too late for online shopping? Too sane to go to the mall? With a little creativity, you can find fun, personal gifts without leaving your neighborhood. Just head to your local drugstore or grocery store with your loved one — and these 25 ideas — in mind.

1. Kids' Correspondence Kit
Kids love getting mail (no bills, no junk mail!) — so why not put together a kit to help them keep the mail flowing all year long? Fill a shoebox with stationery, envelopes, stickers, colored pens, and stamps, and a promise to write back! It's a gift that gives back to you — a letter from a little one, amid your pile of bills and junk mail.

2. "Me Time" Set
Know someone who's overworked, overtired, and just over it? (Besides you!) Give her the gift of some quality "me time." Fill a canvas bag with a few great alone-time treats, like a bottle of wine, a box of chocolates, a candle, an eye mask and a journal or paperback novel, all available at a drugstore or market. Of course, there's no such thing as "me time" with the kids around, so you'll also have to include a handmade gift certificate worth a few hours of free babysitting.

3. Favorite Color Basket
Everyone knows somebody who's a bit obsessed with a certain color. Whether it's a boss who wears purple every day, or a friend who still loves his college team colors, you can use their passion for color as a gift-giving inspiration. When you fill a basket with someone's favorite color, ordinary items like a mug, a hairbrush, or a pair of socks all become personal.

4. Animal Adventure
Looking for a wild gift for an adventurous kid? Pick up an adorable stuffed animal, some animals stickers and a box of animal crackers, then attach a homemade gift certificate for a trip to the local zoo. Not only will the child have some fun stuff for Christmas, she'll get some quality time with you after the holidays pass.

5. Car Care Kit
Overwhelmed by all the auto gear out there? Keep it simple by creating a car care kit from items you can find at a dime store. Include Armor-All, window cleaning wipes, a mild air-freshener, tire foam, exterior soap and wax. Toss it all into a bucket with a sponge and a shammy, and you'll have a sparkly gift for your favorite car-lover.

6. Breakfast-in-Bed Set
Give the magical gift of a lazy Sunday morning with a breakfast-in-bed set. Pick up a tray at a drugstore, then hit the market to stock up on some non-perishable breakfast essentials, like biscuit, muffin, or pancake mix, oatmeal, coffee, and tea. To add a little flair, include some authentic maple syrup, a jar of gourmet jam, or a bottle of champagne for mimosas.

7. "Oops!" Kit
Got a friend who always seems to be in crisis? Make her life a little easier by putting together a kit to help her overcome day-to-day drama. Include anything you think will come in handy — from laundry wipes and Band-Aids to a flashlight and a compass. Not only will she appreciate your thoughtfulness at Christmas, she's sure to be grateful the next time she's in a pinch.

8. Arts & Crafts Bucket
You don't have to hit a specialty store to get great art supplies — kids never seem to tire of the ordinary art items most drugstores and grocery stores carry. Get a brightly-colored pail, then fill it to the brim with crayons, markers, colored pencils, water colors, stencils, stickers, scissors, glue, colored paper, and of course, glitter — lots of it!

9. Mama Mia!
Give the joy of cooking a hearty, homemade Italian dinner without the job of shopping. Fill a basket with all the makings for a great meal — a bag of crostini from the grocery store's bakery, a box of noodles, a jar of gourmet sauce, a loaf of bread, a head of garlic, and of course, a nice bottle of wine. Round it out with a red-checkered table cloth, candles, and some biscotti for dessert.

10. Everything Chocolate
Some people don't like chocolate. And then there's the rest of the world. Indulge the cocoa-bean worshipper in your life with a basket overflowing with chocolate, chocolate, and more chocolate. The key to making this gift special is presentation: don't just hand over a box of candy — embrace chocolate in its many forms. Fill a chocolate-colored bag or basket with chocolate bars, chocolate chips, hot cocoa, mocha-flavored coffee, and chocolate-covered pretzels.

11. Fitness Fanatic
Know someone who never misses a workout? Give that person a head start with all the necessary must-haves for exercise days. A variety of energy bars, granola snacks, athletic socks and ponytail holders are just the beginning. Once you add a towel, bottle of Gatorade, makeup remover, and simple pedometer, it'll be impossible for anyone not to be inspired. Find an inexpensive duffel bag at the drugstore, and it's a hit!

12. The Big Beauty Bundle
What woman doesn't love to experiment with makeup? Problem is, most gals aren't always willing to troll the beauty aisle for an hour when the grocery list is half a mile long. So, here's a cheeky surprise: At your local drugstore, pick out a little travel cosmetic bag — or even better, one of those cute plastic makeup organizers — and fill it with all the beauty products that would look great on her skin tone.

13. A Baker's Dozen
Here's a great one for those folks who always find the time to bake from scratch. Raid the bakeware aisle at the grocery store, and put together a smorgasboard of items like mixing bowls, baking sheets, pie tins, cookie cutters, oven mitts, and more. Toss in a charming apron if you see one, along with a new electric mixer for a little extra "wow." Any dedicated baker will thank you for the fresh supplies. And here's hoping you get to taste the results!

14. Say Cheese!
Do a good deed — help someone you love say "no" to yet another night of American cheddar. Variety is the spice of life, and often the furthest you need to go is the gourmet foods section of your local grocery. So why not give the ultimate cheesy gift? Choose several exotic cheeses that are worth an experiment, and bundle them with some tasty crackers, salami, and a decent bottle of wine.

15. Photo Fun
It's simple and quick, yet always appreciated: Hop onto your computer and go through your digital photos. Pick out a few great shots, print them on photo paper, and put them in frames bought at the drugstore. Better yet, many drugstores have special services that can turn your personal photos into unique gifts in a flash. Ask how long it will take to create photo calendar, T-shirt, or mug.

16. Crazy for Coffee
Indulge a caffeine love affair by giving a basket full of java and all the trimmings. Gourmet coffee beans, a nice ground roast, flavored creamers, and a couple of cute mugs can all be found at your local grocery. Plus, don't forget to throw in a few containers of instant — specially meant for those days when they need a pick-up in a pinch.

17. Spa-to-Go
Help your loved one de-stress after the holidays with a collection of bath essentials that are packed and ready to use anywhere. Grab a loofah sponge, a bath brush, fragrant soaps, and a fun bubble bath, and you've just created an evening of less "Pampers" and more pampering. Add a rich lotion or two and a packet of chamomile tea, and you're golden.

18. Magazine Gifts
Here's a down-and-dirty choice for the gift-giver who has completely run out of time, but is still aiming for a home run. The best part is, it's still personal because the subscription can fit whatever suits the person's fancy — and all you have to do is run out to the drugstore, buy one issue, wrap it up with a note, and mail in the subscription card.

19. Movie Night
Bring the movies into someone's living room with a basket of everything they need to enjoy a great flick. Simply run out to your nearest movie rental store, and pick out a couple of DVDs or movie rental gift cards; then add that to a basket or tin with microwaveable popcorn, boxes of candy, hot cocoa, and a fleece blanket. It never fails to delight!

20. Tiny Trinkets
Ordinary items become extraordinary gifts when they're shrunk-down to fit in the palm of a kid's hand. Treat a little girl to a treasure trove of tiny trinkets — an array of travel-sized shampoos and lotions, miniature candy bars, tiny bottles of perfume, miniature playing cards, a little lip gloss, Pez candy dispenser, stickers and any other adorable little thing you happen to spot at the store.

21. Themed Book-Bag
No matter what the person's interest, a collection of books surrounding their favorite topic always makes a great gift and all it takes is a quick trip to the bookstore — or well-stocked drugstore. Tie it together with a good-looking tote, and your gift will be remembered as thoughtful and unique.

22. Get Organized! Kit
Know someone who always seems to be a bit of a mess? Help her start the new year right with a kit to organize her life. Fill a plastic storage box with all the tools for the task: an electronic label maker, a colorful set of permanent markers, brightly-colored file folders, vacuum storage bags, a shoe caddy, and a closet organizer. For a good measure, throw in a homemade certificate for an afternoon of help to make the project more fun.

23. Delightful Drinks
Warm their hearts with the perfect cold-weather companion — a basket filled with mugs and the makings for all the delightful drinks of the season. Include a selection of fine teas, hot cocoa powder, a bag of marshmallows, apple cider, cinnamon sticks, nutmeg, and cloves. If they're up for a hot toddy, throw in a bottle of their favorite winter liqueur.

24. Experiential Gift
Scoured the aisles and still can't think of a single thing to give? Maybe it's time to stop focusing on things, and instead come up with an experience you can share. Give a homemade gift certificate for an afternoon at the spa together, a craft workshop, a cooking class, or sporting event. The time you spend together will truly be priceless.

25. Gift Cards
Some people think giving a gift card is about as warm as handing someone an envelope full of cold, hard cash. But when a gift card is thoughtfully chosen with the recipient in mind, it can actually be one of the best presents to give — and receive. Most drug stores now carry a wide variety of gift cards, so you can pick up a Home Depot card for your favorite handyman and a Starbucks card for the coffee lover in your life, without ever leaving your neighborhood.


Got a great idea for a last-minute gift? Looking for one? Find and share answers in the comments section below.

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