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Shannon Bryan

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Posted: December 19, 2013

Last-minute holiday heroics: DIY gift ideas for the Christmas procrastinator

Written by: Shannon Bryan

Shannon Bryan/ photo


It’s Christmas! Wait. It’s Christmas? Already?!

Wasn’t it just yesterday that you dragged out the ornament box and spent the bulk of an afternoon untangling the twinkle lights? At least, you thought about untangling the twinkle lights, but then that made-for-television holiday romantic comedy came on and, well, there was plenty of time to wrestle with the lights later.

And now, only days before Christmas, the tree remains embarrassingly naked. Except, that’s right, you never got around to getting the tree, either.

It’s not a complete crisis. You can always string lights on the loveseat and the ornaments will look festive enough when dumped into the bathroom sink. And at least you nailed your Christmas shopping list and will certainly blow minds with your gift-giving genius.

Except you didn’t! You haven’t bought a thing! Not even wrapping paper! And the first in a string of holiday parties is tonight! For goodness sake, Santa Claus is coming to town and all you’re prepared to give is a canister of oatmeal and a three-pack of sport socks. And you’ve already worn the sport socks.

Unless you have a bevy of elves at your disposal who can spring to your assistance like some Kris Kringle flash mob, you’ve got some work to do. And fast.

It’s time to pull off some last-minute holiday heroics.

Candied grapefruit peel

Last minute, maybe. Delicious? Absolutely. This easy recipe will wow your friends and have them thinking you’d planned this gift for months.

Maine iPhone case

Just about everyone has a smart phone. And those phones need something to cozy up in this winter, just like people do.

Infinity scarf

This is the scarf that never ends. It just goes on and on my friend. And yet making one won’t go on and on. It’s actually fairly simple. Go figure.

Homemade holiday cards

Free, fast, and perhaps the most thoughtful thing you could give: Your words. Write something funny, kind, or heartwarming on whatever you have at your disposal.

Pom pom socks and gloves

Regular old socks: Bad gift. DIY pom pom socks? Way more lively. In a season when cozy socks are a necessity, shouldn’t we have a little fun with them?

Not-your-usual food gifts

Sure, you could give a bottle of wine or box of chocolates … ho hum. Bring on the ho-ho-hos with one of these six clever ideas from shops in Portland.

These are desperate times, which means the standards for your “gift-giving genius” need to be lowered a smidge. It’s darn near impossible to give the perfect gift to everyone, even when you’ve planned ahead. In a pinch, perfection goes out the window. The revised plan: Just show up with something.

There are some classic go-tos for such situations, most of which you’ve probably received from more than one Secret Santa over the years: Lottery tickets (make that a lottery ticket. Secret Santa can never resist scratching one off herself); a box of chocolates in the shape of a Christmas tree; a coffee mug with a winter theme, usually with a packet or two of instant hot chocolate shoved inside; a variety pack of scented lotion; a jar, tin, or plastic container filled to the brim with mixed nuts from the bulk bins; and a Christmas ornament involving a sled, a Santa hat, and at least one house cat.

The upside to such last-minute gifts: They’re widely available at every grocery store and Rite Aid in the country. They’re inexpensive. And they’re better than nothing. The downside: The person you give them to will also know that. And she’ll know (although she’ll never say it) that you picked that mug up on the way to her party or during your drive into the office, and you probably spent more money on a few bags of groceries and a stick of deodorant for yourself, because hey, you were there anyway.

No one should feel like an afterthought, especially not at Christmas. And besides, that is not how a gift-giving genius like you rolls. You might be a present-buying procrastinator, but you’re a procrastinator who gives a hoot.

More Local holiday gift picks

From Portland Trading Company and Black Parrot to the handmade and unusual at
Pinecone + Chickadee and Portland Flea-For-All, Fore Front Fashion rounds up some unique
gift ideas that can all be purchased locally. And there’s more to come this week!
// See them all

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