Imagine their surprise when you tell them you're on the way to pick them up, and then roll up in a stretch limo. Rent it for a few hours so they have enough time to make several stops. Do some normal stuff, but in a limo – maybe take them to the drug store or to get groceries. Then go out on the town for dinner and drinks (or just drink in the limo). Take a limo to the mall for a shopping spree and score double points. On any given day there are plenty of limos available to rent immediately in most cities. It'll be fun for you too, and they'll tell stories about it for years.
When traveling, some people really like an element of predictability to anchor their experience in an unfamiliar place. With a recognizable name like Hilton, you know exactly what to expect. Unfortunately, that name and that predictability come at a premium. You can help take the sting out of a vacation’s most expensive element by picking up the tab ahead of time.
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.
In our crazy modern world, who has the patience to wait more than a day for their online purchases, or to watch one episode a week of their favorite series, instead of a 10-hour binge? If they don’t already have a subscription to Amazon Prime, it’s your duty to bring them out of the dark ages. It’s a gift that keeps on giving, and you can get it for them right now. They’ll get free shipping on tons of great stuff from Amazon as well as access to a bizillion movies for free. Whatever their addiction, they can feed it on Amazon. Help them feed it faster and better.
Money is the standard solution for last minute gifts, or last-second-I-totally-forgot gifts. Since money is actually a really great gift, it works out every time. You can disguise the fact that you almost dropped the ball by doing some “quick” origami and making a nice arrangement.
You can order a subscription to Blue Apron right now and have the boxes sent anywhere you want. If they like to cook, or want to learn how, these weekly meal deliveries are amazing. The food is tasty and healthy, and they get to try all sorts of things that they may not have ever heard of. Would you like fennel pollen on that? Of course you would, it’s delicious.
If you decide to do this, go all out. Show up at 5 in the morning dressed impeccably in a tuxedo. Proceed to handle all unpleasantness with quiet grace, never faltering, never betraying any emotion save unswerving loyalty to the person whom it your your honor to serve. Take care of them the way that they think they deserve. Really buttle them good.
If you want a last minute gift that doesn’t seem like one, you can get an instant subscription to the Adobe Creative Suite in their name. It will give them access to the most powerful creative applications on Earth, well, in the cloud actually. They’ll be able to make professional videos, animations, music, websites, graphic artwork and more, and of course, they’ll always have the latest version of Photoshop.
If you’ve got no time for shopping or delivery, it’s time to look in your community and see what options you have. There are likely things to do in your area that you don’t even know exist. Take a cooking class together, try indoor skydiving, maybe even plan a trip together and offer to cover some of the costs as your gift. At the end of it all, people don’t look back and wish they had more things, they reflect on their memories and experiences.