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The Ultimate Procrastinator's Guide To Gifts


OK, we are not here to judge you this Christmas Day. It happens. We know. Sometimes you buy holiday gifts early, or at least on time. And sometimes, it's Christmas morning and you have got nothing. NPR's Alina Selyukh has put together a guide to the last-minute present.

ALINA SELYUKH, BYLINE: First thing I want to say is whatever reason brought you to this gift list moment, I get it. To prove that, I also procrastinated as long as possible to report the story. So we're in this together. Here we go. Like with any crisis, step one is to assess the situation. To help me with that, I reached Marie Driscoll from the retail firm Coresight Research.

MARIE DRISCOLL: The very last thing is the drugstore in the neighborhood. You might be able to pick up some perfume, some Burt's Bees something - right? - a six pack.

SELYUKH: (Laughter).

DRISCOLL: It's not fun gifts, right?

SELYUKH: Good news is pharmacies are actually open on Christmas Day, along with places like Starbucks, convenience stores, some of the dollar stores and gas stations.

OK, here's option two. It's a classic - subscriptions...


TOM HANKS: Because knowing empowers us.

SELYUKH: ...Like The Washington Post or Wired magazine in the old-school meaning of subscription, or your 21st century stuff, like audio books, video streaming. Honestly, there is a subscription for everything - makeup, snacks, hot sauce, survival gear, mushroom cultures.

DRISCOLL: You could give a gift of a cake a month.

SELYUKH: A cake subscription.

DRISCOLL: I always think about giving it to me.

SELYUKH: As in to yourself?

DRISCOLL: Yeah, yeah.

SELYUKH: You deserve it.

Driscoll also suggested a new kind of online service, like GiftNow, where you can select something specific and pay for it without getting it shipped yet. It arrives as an email or a text message.

DRISCOLL: It says, you know, I found this red sweater, and it's perfect for you. Nobody gets the stress point of, oh, gosh, you bought me the wrong size. I've got to return it.

SELYUKH: Everybody wins. You get the points for the personal touch. The receiver doesn't have to pretend to love it. The stores don't have to deal with wasteful returns. Except, OK, I actually did a version of this one year - not on purpose, but I'd ordered a jacket for my husband that did not arrive on time, so I gave him a greeting card with a printout of the model wearing this jacket with a picture of my husband's face glued on top.

BRIAN: It was slightly lame.

SELYUKH: That's my husband, Brian, when I called him up for this story.

BRIAN: However, the picture was so funny that I was a little tickled by the concept.

SELYUKH: Would you have rather had a jacket instead of the card?

BRIAN: Of course, yeah.

SELYUKH: It wasn't my fault.

BRIAN: I know.


SELYUKH: Which brings us to the ultimate option.

DRISCOLL: This is one of the things that I did to my three nephews. You know, I Venmo them money.

SELYUKH: There is always cold, hard cash, or the slightly less cold alternative, gift cards. And to make you feel better, just remember gift cards are the No. 1 thing that most people say they actually want to receive as a gift.

Alina Selyukh, NPR News.


KELLY CLARKSON: (Singing) Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Alina Selyukh
Alina Selyukh is a business correspondent at NPR, where she covers retail, low-wage work, big brands and other aspects of the consumer economy. Her work has been recognized by the Gracie Awards, the National Headliner Award and the Society of American Business Editors and Writers.