The Best Last-Minute Gifts You Can Grab From the Grocery Store

Wine bottle with gift boxes in wicker basket on dark background.
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Though we have no shortage of online shopping services at our fingertips, it often happens that we’re in a last-minute bind for getting a gift — with no time to scroll on Amazon. What can we do when this happens? We might want to sprint to the nearest boutique store or shopping mall — which is a perfectly fine idea, unless you simply don’t have time to do so because you’ve still got to run other errands, like swinging by the supermarket (a seemingly constant task). 

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Grocery stores and supermarkets aren’t exactly known for their dazzling collection of giftable products — but consumers should note that there are indeed quite a few items they can purchase for those on their holiday shopping lists. From rich bottles of Beaujolais to kitchen essentials, great gifts — and stellar prices — await. 

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Bakeware

“For the cook or baker in your life, you can pick up brand-name bakeware at the grocery store for a last-minute gift,” said Julie Ramhold, consumer analyst at DealNews.com. “Find things like muffin, donut, mini-loaf and even plain sheet pans and cake pans as well. Prices will vary, but you can expect to pay $12 to $25 for each one.

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“Additionally, you can often find cookie cutter sets — around three-piece sets for $7 or so — so you can pair those with bakeware for a DIY gift any baker will love. You can also pick up baking decorations … so you can wrap up pans, cookie cutters and festive sprinkles for a personalized gift package for the baker on your list.”

Books

“You can pick up a book (or three) for the booklover on your list,” Ramhold said. “Titles will likely vary by store, but you can typically expect to pay $7 to $10 per book and find everything from romances to thrillers to (potentially) true crime. And if you’re buying for younger readers, there’s usually at least a small selection of kids’ books as well. Unless the reader on your list has very specific tastes, odds are good they’ll appreciate getting a stack of books.”

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Gift Cards

“If you’re drawing a total blank, gift cards are carried at most grocery stores as well,” Ramhold said. “You can find them in different denominations, but usually $10-$15 will be the smaller cards and $50 on the higher end of the range. These are great to give because you know the recipient will put the card to good use, whether it’s a Starbucks gift card for their daily caffeine fix, a restaurant gift card to treat themselves to dinner out or something generic like an Amazon gift card.”

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Coffee — Specifically K-Cups 

“As a coffee aficionado, I recommend buying a pack of K-Cups in various interesting flavors if the recipient owns a Keurig coffee maker,” said Tim Sutton, founder of CoffeeGeek TV

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“Since Keurig is the second most popular brewing system in the US, with around 27% of American coffee drinkers using one in 2020, regular grocery stores should be stocked with them. Though the cost depends on the brand that produces the K-Cups and how large the variety pack is, the price of a box should range from $30 to $50.”

Indoor Plants 

“Indoor plants are hugely popular these days, with many choosing to deck their homes with a bonsai, aloe vera or snake plants,” said Saranya Ramanathan, personal finance writer and blog owner at One Fine Wallet. “There are many benefits to having natural indoor plants, like air-purification or providing a calm and relaxed atmosphere at home. Indoor plants make a great last-minute gift idea, and can be bought from $20 and upwards, even at Walmart.”

Learn: The Best Type of Store To Shop for Holiday Gifts by Age Bracket

Wine

“Much like chocolate, giving a bottle of wine or spirits is always going to be a winner,” said Sally Gibson, founder and owner of Someone Sent You a Greeting. “Good wine needn’t be expensive either, you can find really great deals on fantastic wines for comfortably under $20. Grocery stores are some of the best for deals as well so keep your eyes peeled or even if you’re in a rush at the last minute you’ll find an affordable but good bottle for someone as a gift.”

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Jam 

“A lot of grocery stores will stock some really high quality jams — not your run-of-the-mill, everyday type of jam but sweet and savory luxury jams,” Gibson said. “If you know a jam lover or foodie and are still looking for a gift, then you can pick up a luxury pot for under $15. They are often already packaged in a classy way, too, so you don’t have to worry about the presentation or wrapping either.”

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Bouquets

“It depends on the grocery store — some are better stocked than others — but many have a decent selection of flowers” Gibson said. “They are often fairly affordable, too, with a lot of supermarkets actually being cheaper than elsewhere. Bouquets can go as low as $4.99 all the way through to $19.99, roses as cheap as $6.99.”

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Wooden Cutting Board 

“As long as you purchase at a grocery store that carries a broader selection of kitchenware, you should be able to find a fashionable and functional wooden cutting board to gift,” said Haris Bacic, co-founder and CEO of PriceListo. “Even if someone already owns one, having an extra board is always beneficial due to its versatility. Add a couple blocks of cheese or cured meats to the present to transform it into a gourmet snack board.” 

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Chocolates

“Whether you purchase a handcrafted bar made with carefully picked beans or a box of Ferrero Rocher, chocolate is an easy victory,” said Hutch Ashoo, founder and CEO at Pillar Wealth Management, LLC. “Additionally, the variety is limitless, including chocolate-covered fruits, salty additions, creamy truffles and hearty bars.

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Photos

“Many of us do our grocery shopping at big-box stores or wholesale clubs (and) many of these stores have a photo kiosk where you can either order photo gifts online or right there in store,” said Trae Bodge, smart shopping expert. “Gifts like photobooks or calendars can often be made within an hour and are very budget-friendly. Tip: Wait for a photo sale and place your orders then!”

See: 50 Ways To Live the Big Life on a Small Budget

Lottery Tickets

“Who doesn’t love (scratch-offs)?” lifestyle expert Joann Butler said. “They make a fun gift, with some tissue paper and a little baggy.”

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About the Author

Nicole Spector is a writer, editor, and author based in Los Angeles by way of Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in Vogue, the Atlantic, Vice, and The New Yorker. She's a frequent contributor to NBC News and Publishers Weekly. Her 2013 debut novel, "Fifty Shades of Dorian Gray" received laudatory blurbs from the likes of Fred Armisen and Ken Kalfus, and was published in the US, UK, France, and Russia — though nobody knows whatever happened with the Russian edition! She has an affinity for Twitter.

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