This weekend, I was at the grocery store, picking up a last-minute gift for an event, and remembered this little video I made last year. Since this is the week before Christmas, I thought it might come in handy for some of you!
Watch it, then keep the ideas in the back of your mind, and if you suddenly remember you still need a teacher gift, or coach gift, or neighbor gift, or hostess gift you can pick one of these up during a late-night grocery run — or on the way to the party!
Not in the mood for a video? Click through below and you’ll find the 9 recommendations from the video plus notes on why I chose each one.
By the way, how is your shopping coming along? I confess: I’ve barely started mine. Yikes! I feel like our life has been on hold for 11 days while the floors were being redone and we were camping upstairs. We don’t even have our Christmas Tree! I can hardly believe it. We’ve definitely never had a December like this before — we’re going to need to pack in all the holiday magic we can in the next 10 days. I can feel Tim Gunn chanting Make It Work in my ear. : )
1) A Ball Of Twine
Pick cotton, sisal or hemp. Repackage and voila! A hipster gift that looks like you ordered it from an old-school hardware store in Brooklyn.
2) A Good Looking Tool
Find something made of wood or metal. A vegetable scrubber or dustpan. This brush was about $3. It’s gorgeous! Add a bow and buy one for everyone in the neighborhood.
3) Natural Sponge
You’ll probably find this near the car-cleaning supplies. Don’t buy synthetic. Get something natural. Put it in cellophane and give the most useful gift your host will receive.
4) Pretty Cleaning Supplies
Look for a product line with great packaging. This one is French and tres handsome, but when I’m in America, my grocery store favorites are Method, Watkins, and Mrs. Meyers. Pick the scent you swear by and add a bow.
5) A Whole Pineapple
They’re fun to give and fun to receive, and they’re the sort of food item the average consumer rarely buys. We gave these out as party favors one year to gasps of delight.
Look for anything in a round, wood package. Camembert is a safe choice if you’re a cheese novice. Stack two, add a ribbon and it will feel absolutely luxe.
Find a pretty bottle, and pick something unusual and exotic (skip the basil and oregano and cinnamon). Put it in cellophane and it will be glamorous.
Pick 3 BIG boxes of movie candy — like Junior Mints and Milk Duds and Hot Tamales, Or pick out multi-packs of popular candy bars. Stack the candy, and add a ribbon. It doesn’t sound like much. But the big boxes don’t make most people’s grocery lists, so they feel special and unusual.
9) Magazine Subscription
Lastly, for a really thoughtful, almost personalized, gift on the go, I recommend a magazine subscription. Walk by the magazine racks and pick up a title you know they’ll love. Pull out a subscription card that you’ll send in the next day. Roll the issue up and add a bow. It’s a gift they’ll appreciate all year long — and the average subscription is about $10. Not bad!
And that’s it. I keep a spool of ribbon, a pair of scissors and some cellphone bags in my glovebox — and I’m set for last-minute gifts!
P.S. — Want to pick out your own last-minute gifts? Here are my guidelines for Grocery Store Gift Buying.
22 thoughts on “Last Minute (Thoughtful & Stylish!) Gifts You Can Find at the Grocery Store”
I love gifting from the Grocery Store! Spices and finishing salts, olive oil & balsamic vinegar set, condiments (I put fancy ketchups and mustards in my husband’s stocking every year), and special versions of pantry staples like Rancho Gordo Beans (best packaging, easy to use, and could be paired with a cookbook).
Growing up, it was a family tradition to receive a can of olives in our stocking. So I love that you put ketchup and mustard in stockings!
Love this list! The pineapple is interesting to me though – I buy a whole one once a week all winter long, and see tons of fellow shoppers doing so as well. Maybe it’s a regional thing? Do you usually buy them all cut up already, or at least cored?
Perhaps it is regional. Interesting!
Cellophane bags and scissors in the car-brilliant suggestion!
Thanks, Lisette. It has also helped me with buying gifts on the way to the birthday party dozens of times!
This is so clever and helpful – probably the most genuinely helpful gift guide I’ve every seen, actually!
You remind me of one of the nicest and most memorable wedding shower gifts I received: a few bottles of spices, some whole spices and some esoteric ones. Although I received lots of more expensive presents, this one was just plain nice, and I’m reminded of the giver every time I use whole nutmeg or white pepper (included in her selections).
What a wonderful wedding gift! I love that idea.
I’d rather have any of these things than a single mug, candle or bottle of scented lotion that I’ll never use!!
Super brilliant! Love these ideas! I’ve been a bind so many times in the past and this is certainly a good way to go. I’ll just have to remember to keep a little spool of ribbon in the car!
Good luck with your floors and “Make it Work!” !
It amazes me what good packaging can do for everyday items. Brilliant, Gabrielle!
Love this guide so much! Duh, get everything at the grocery store! You are a genius.
I just love this! I love shopping at the grocery store anyway. We just got our tree tonight! We ran into another family we knew getting theirs too! It’s kind of fun being last minute!
One of my favorite gifts was from a grocery store. I’d always wanted a candy thermometer and after a failed attempt to make taffy without one, my sis-in-law had to make a last minute run to the grocery store for something else and surprised me with one the next day which was Christmas. Another favorite last minute gift that we’ve done for birthdays as well is a favorite box of the forbidden cereals (you know the ones that are full of sugar that your mom never lets you have). It’s a great one for kids.
My inlaws live in the UK. When we visit them at Christmas , I always gift them with things from the grocery store in the US . They like when I bring Maple syrup, corn meal, pecans, cashews, American mustard, whole wheat pasta and Trader Joes organic raisins. I love the idea of the big candy bars .
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This is awesome! I always love pineapple! Also, those looks like non-U.S. Kit Kats (aka the best kind). Great gift guide!!
I love the pineapple idea! I know they are a sign of friendship so how perfect is that with a bow??
Where can I find cellophane bags?
There is a beautiful song from the play “Cabaret” called “A Pineapple For Me” about a man who gives one to his lady love.