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Ask An Expert: Last Minute Holiday Gift Ideas

Despite plenty of planning, you might find that you need to purchase a few gifts at the last minute this holiday season. What do you do? While you could purchase the first item you see in your local gas station and call it a day, consider taking the advice of a Chicago-based expert. With some creativity, you can purchase and create a thoughtful present in no time.
Marc J. Sievers
Marc Sievers of Marc-Ryan Group. (Photo provided by Marc J. Sievers)

Marc J. Sievers
Marc-Ryan Group
(312) 344-3710

Marc J. Sievers is a cooking and entertainment expert, and is the co-owner of Marc-Ryan Group. Sievers provides consulting services for entertaining and retailers, and also provides wedding planning registry services. When it comes to giving gifts, focus on quality over quantity. "The best rule of thumb is to give something very specific that you know the recipient will truly love and enjoy. Don't get caught up in getting multiple gifts for someone," Sievers advised. When it comes to purchasing gifts at the last minute, having a few ideas on hand can make a difference.

Purchase Gifts The Entire Family Will Love

Picking up a gift for an entire family can be tricky, especially when you account for different personalities and interests. If you need to give a family gift, then consider tapping into nostalgia. "Give classic games that people may not generally purchase nowadays. For instance, Monopoly sparks memories for people," Sievers said. "Another great gift is movie tickets. I love the idea of a gift that's an experience." he added.

Get Something Tasty For A Foodie

When it comes getting a gift for a foodie, think beyond a gift certificate to a favorite restaurant. "I love to give a foodie pure vanilla extract. It's a fun gift to give," Sievers said, and recommended extracts from Nielsen-Massey based in the Chicago suburb of Waukegan. If you plan to give a cookbook, Sievers recommended taking a look at some of the recipes to make sure the recipient will love it. He also recommended including some shelf-stable ingredients for a particular recipe along with the cookbook.

Don't Dread Office Gifts

There are four words that can fill an office worker with fear: Secret Santa gift exchange. However, participating in the gift exchange doesn't mean you have to give yet another coffee mug or gift card. If you're not sure what to purchase, Sievers suggested relying on your senses. "Maybe you've seen [the coworker] wearing bow-ties or silk scarves. You have to jog your memory and take notice of their appearances. If you see them drinking coffee or tea every morning, go to local coffee shops for gift cards. Put them together in a gift bag. There are so many resources these days, so you do have the opportunity to get something, even if it's just $10. You just have to find it," he said.

Related: Digital Christmas — The Coolest Electronics To Gift In 2015

Use Caution When Purchasing A Gift Online

Sure, you can purchase pretty much any gift online. But if time is of the essence, Sievers cautioned against going online to purchase an item that will need to be shipped. "Things can get lost in transit or won't show up in time," Sievers said. Instead, he advised shopping locally for a last-minute gift. "If I'm going to someone's home for a party, I sometimes go a bit early and try to shop local in their particular neighborhood," he advised.

Get Creative With Gifts For A Host Or Hostess

You'll likely attend a few holiday parties in the next few weeks. What should you purchase? Sievers shared a few ideas for last-minute gift ideas that can be presented with style. "You don't want to burden the host or hostess by bringing something that needs to be served that evening," he advised. "Rosemary topiary trees are great gifts, and if they [the host or hostess] love to cook, they can cut rosemary from the tree." Sievers also recommended purchasing a bouquet of flowers. "Go to your local grocery store for flowers, wrap the flowers in recycled brown butcher paper and tie with a ribbon. It won't look like you just bought
them at a grocery store on the way to the party," he said.

Need a last-minute gift for the host or hostess of a party? Wrap a bouquet of flowers in butcher paper, then using a festive ribbon to tie it all together. (Photo courtesy of Marc J. Sievers.)

Make A Last-Minute Gift Look Great

Just because you picked up a gift at the last minute doesn't mean the gift has to look like you picked it up at the last minute. Sievers noted he keeps an assortment of fabric wine bags on hand. "The wine bags can make a last-minute bottle of wine look like you remembered to purchase the bottle of wine specifically for the person," he noted. Add some pizzazz to gift cards and certificates, too. "Wrap printed gift certificates inside a fabulous box. It's more interesting than folding the gift certificate in a card," he said.

Related: Best Places To Buy Vintage Video Games & Accessories

Megan Horst-Hatch is a runner, reader, baker, gardener, knitter, and other words that end in "-er." She is also the president of Megan Writes, LLC. Her work can be found at

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