Last-minute gifts from the supermarket
You don’t have to shop way in advance or at a fancy store to get a great holiday gift. You can, if you’re a little creative, just head to your local supermarket. Even a small, local market is likely to have a few items that you can display in a basket or box and perhaps wrap in colorful paper.
Consumer Reports offers some ideas to spark your imagination.
• Gourmet beverages. Grab three or four bags of gourmet coffee and place in a box along with filters, flavored creamers, a variety of teas, hot chocolate and maybe some fancy turbinado sugar. Check in the housewares aisle for a couple of mugs, maybe a nice teapot and some colorful tea towels. If you’re purchasing loose tea, add a tea strainer.
• Pastas and sauces. Who doesn’t like putting together an easy, cozy Italian meal on a weeknight? Gather a couple jars of gourmet pasta sauce, a few different types of pasta (gluten-free, if you must), a hunk of parmagiano-reggiano (parmesan) cheese, a jar of pesto and another of fancy olives, a fancy bottle of extra-virgin olive oil, whole peppercorns (best in a container with a built-in
grinder) and maybe even a hard sausage. In the housewares aisle, pick up a hand grater for the cheese and a metal colander or hefty pasta pot. Arranging the items in the colander or pot makes for a charming display.
• Chocolate. Whether it’s an ingot of fair trade, 72 percent cacao, sustainably farmed from a plantation run by indigenous farmers in Madagascar or your basic, reliable Hershey bar, chocolate of all kinds is a great present in a pinch. A large supermarket may offer deep selections of bar chocolate from Switzerland,
Germany, Belgium and elsewhere. For fun, choose one brand for each of the 12 Nights of Christmas, wrap them in different types of paper, and present them in a single box to savor over time. Or, if the folks you’re celebrating with are game, unwrap them all and do a blind taste test, Consumer Reports style.
• Batteries. When it comes to choosing lastminute gifts, this idea certainly isn’t glamorous. But extra batteries will be appreciated throughout the year. Add flashlights and candles to turn this into a gift home-emergency kit.
• Magazine subscription. Buy a magazine you know
the recipient will read, and wrap with a note saying you’ve arranged for a gift subscription.
• Prepaid cards. They may seem uncreative, but prepaid gift cards are popular items that don’t necessarily scream “last-minute.”
Consumer Reports offers a couple of reminders: If you’re buying last-minute gifts, you may be in a rush.
But with any food gift, take the time to read food labels to ensure you’re mindful of your recipients’ food allergies and preferences. (To be on the safe side, avoid anything with nuts.) Be sure to pick up wrapping paper, ribbon, tape, cards and scissors, if you need them.