Buy them a couple tickets to a great event or show as a little test. Will they give the extra ticket to you? You just gave them this very thoughtful gift, after all. Or do they keep them both. In which case, maybe they just get a box of chocolates from the drug store next time.
Leaving gift shopping till the last minute is part of human nature it seems. Everyone does it, so don’t feel bad. The trick is finding something that doesn’t look like a last minute attempt. Luckily there are a ton of great subscription services you can order online right now, like a weekly delivery of fresh, locally grown produce. You’ll be doing them a favor in more ways than one, and each time a new delivery arrives they’ll think of you, and how you always give the most amazing gifts. You’re welcome.
Back in the old days you were really rolling the dice when you chose a hotel. Either you called blindly after skimming the phone book or simply drove all night and hoped you saw a vacancy sign before you ran out of gas and got murdered by a vagrant. A hotels.com gift card is not just a way of picking up the tab for a night’s stay; it’s also the priceless gift of peace of mind.
Don’t rush to buy them a present they’ll almost never use. Let’s be honest, no one likes to be on the receiving end of those. Instead, get them a present that they’ll be rushing out of the door to use. Treat them to a night out in one of their top local restaurants. Who wouldn’t love an evening of gourmet food, fine wine and absolutely no dishes to do afterwards?
Standard hotels are convenient and something of a social institution, but when it comes down to it they’re all the same, except that in the cheaper ones the desk clerks are a little creepier and the maids are drunker. Airbnb takes the predictability out of travel lodging and replaces it with an endless variety of unique experiences. For people who appreciate the human touch.
Help someone get away and recharge in a faraway place where nobody knows them and they can act however they want with virtually no longstanding social repercussions. Because when things get tough, evacuation is usually the only solution.
Need an idea that you can actually do later instead? Set up a day to be their personal butler and take care of them the way that they think they deserve. Buttle them good, go all out on this one. For one day, your name is Jeeves and you’re willing to perform any task they desire with the greatest candor and professionalism.
If you’re out of ideas and out of time, there’s always the one thing that never rarely fails - booze. Run over to your local ABC store and grab something nice. Extra points if you can find a bottle as old as they are. One could argue that a cheap bottle of Aristocrat is actually more of a punishment than a gift, so keep your eyes off that bottom shelf.
When you're down to the very last minute and considering just giving cash, consider a iStock gift card instead. You can buy them actual fractional shares of top companies like Apple, Google and Facebook. It may jumpstart them on a path to wise investment strategy. You can get iStock as an electronic gift card immediately (if you're actually down to the last seconds) or as a physical gift card if you have a couple days for shipping.