10 Last-Minute, Budget-Friendly Gift Ideas

Online shoppers only have a few more shopping days left to guarantee timely delivery.


If you’re still hunting for the perfect gift for your mom, boyfriend, or niece, these fun but affordable options will help you. While you might think you have plenty of time left, you don’t, especially if you’re shopping online. And if you want to score free shipping deals, which usually means ground shipping, then you only have a few days left to guarantee an on-time delivery.

[In Pictures: 10 Kitchen Tools That Will Save You Money]

Here are ten gift ideas to round out your shopping list:

1) Slow cooker: Best for a young person still settling into their first home, this gift will keep on giving all year long, by saving money on meals. The recipient will be less tempted by take-out, which means a healthier and cheaper grocery list. Be sure to pass on a few of your favorite recipes with the gift. Cost: $30 to $100, depending on how fancy you want to get.

2) Justin Bieber dolls: Consider giving the kids in your life a 12-inch doll of their idol, Justin Bieber. The fancier version even sings. Cost: $20 to $40.

3) Stocks: Also great for children, ING Direct's Sharebuilder makes it easy to give stocks as an educational tool. The company is offering a package that includes a $50 gift card for a new account, investment credits, and the Motley Fool video series on how to buy stocks. Cost: Starts at $45.

4) Herb garden: This gift works even for people without a backyard, because they can care for it inside. More hands-on givers can create the garden from seedlings and present the final product. If you’re giving it to a crafty person, then you can provide all of the supplies and let them do the dirty work. Again, you’ll be helping them save money throughout the year, since herbs are expensive. Cost: $20 to $30.

5) Deodorant: It’s not the most romantic gift, and probably best for a close family member, but it’s a loving one. Since mainstream deodorants include potentially dangerous ingredients such as triclosan, talc, and propylene glycol, Siobhan O'Connor and Alexandra Spunt, authors of No More Dirty Looks, recommend an alternative, Lavanila's The Healthy Deodorant. While one stick of it runs $18, the authors promise that it's worth every penny, and it lasts for longer than the average anti-perspirant. Cost: $18.

[For more money-saving tips, visit the U.S. News Alpha Consumer blog.]

6) Shampoo and Conditioner: As with deodorant, O’Connor and Spunt recommend skipping traditional shampoos, which contain potentially harmful ingredients. Their recommended alternative, Alaffia Shea Butter Daily Shampoo, makes a great stocking stuffer. Cost: $10.

7) Samsung Intercept smartphone: While the initial purchase is a big one ($250), the monthly costs is where you’ll save. With monthly rates starting at $25, this phone is leading the field in terms of affordability. For anyone who doesn’t yet have a smartphone, this might be the best option. Cost: $550 for phone plus one year of service.

8) Hand-held blenders: This essential kitchen tool is easier to clean than a traditional blender and makes it simple to create soup, smoothies, and baby food in minutes. Cost: $30.

9) Cookbooks: Barefoot Contessa’s most recent bestseller, How Easy Is That?, offers tips on cooking, presentation, and keeping things simple, as the title suggests. Perfect for beginning cooks as well as more advanced ones. Cost: $20 to $30.

10) Susan G. Komen gear: When you shop directly on the Susan G. Komen for the Cure site, 25 percent of the purchase price goes directly to the fight against cancer. You can get a pink hoodie for $38 or a running “skort” for $50. Cost: $10 and up.

Kimberly Palmer is the author of the new book Generation Earn: The Young Professional’s Guide to Spending, Investing, and Giving Back.