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23 Last-Minute Gift Ideas for Young Professionals, College Students, Moms and Dads, Too

Gift-giving is surely on everyone’s mind as we head into the final weekend before Christmas. It’s a wonderful holiday tradition—one in which I participate fully because it brings me so much joy.

A group of people sitting at a table

A few days ago, I opened my email box to find a really nice message from a reader looking for help with gift suggestions for her husband’s administrative staff—a group of sharp, young professionals both male and female. He wants to acknowledge each with an appropriate gift—something that won’t be so dorky it shows up in next spring’s garage sale or worse, the trash. And he also wants to stay away from any gift that could be seen as too personal. His budget it about $30 per gift.

I accepted the challenge and went right to work, contacting several of the sharpest, smartest young professionals I know, asking for their opinions, suggestions and help. Together we came up with suggestions of gifts that each of them would thoroughly enjoy receiving from a supervisor, boss—or anyone, for that matter.

While I was in gift-guide mode, it dawned on me that over the past weeks, we’ve hit on gifts for kids, teens and grandparents—even gifts baskets. But what about moms and dads? Read on and you’ll see we’ve got that covered there, too, just in case you’re behind the eight ball and need quick, realiable suggestions. It’s not too late, but you have no time to waste.

If you’re sweating bullets wondering if any of these items will possibly arrive before Christmas, the answer is a qualified yes—only if you use Amazon Prime shipping and place your order before midnight on Tuesday, Dec. 22. Don’t have a Prime membership? You’re in luck! Click HERE to get a free 30-day trial Prime membership. You can use it immediately, and at no cost for a full month, at which time you are free to cancel it. Each of the gifts that follow qualify for Prime shipping at this writing.


A group of items on display

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1. FABULOUS GYM BAG. This Adidas medium-size duffel is exactly that—fabulous. Just the right size, this bag is well-designed with zippers and pockets in all the right places. Comes in 11 colors. Perfect gym bag. Great size, good price.

2. SMARTPHONE CABLE. NomadKey is a cable to charge your smartphone, that fits onto your keychain. It works like your normal cable for charging and syncing your phone. Plug one end into a USB port and the other end into your mobile device. The concept is brilliant. Your keys are always with you when you leave the house so you’ll never leave it behind. Better, you won’t even notice you’re carrying it. For Samsung Galaxy, Htc One, Google Nexus, Motorola, Lg, Sony, Jawbone.

3. PORTABLE PHONE CHARGER. Small as a candy bar, the 2nd Generation Anker Astro is the most powerful high-capacity, portable charger in its category. Charges the iPhone 6 well over two times, Galaxy S6 1.5 times and other smartphones multiple times before it needs to be recharged. Come with a micro USB cable, travel pouch, product guide and an 18-month warranty.

4. BREAKFAST SANDWICH MAKER. This is not a kitchen gadget that will be one and done. No way will this get stuck in the back of a college dorm room or apartment closet. The Hamilton Beach Breakfast Sandwich Maker’s unique design creates a home-cooked breakfast sandwich in just five minutes. Watch the video. It’s great! Can’t think of a more perfect gift for the busy starving student or young professional making his or her way up the corporate ladder.

A group of items on a tabletop

5. LAPTOP BACKPACK.  Fits up to a 15-inch laptop computers, with a zippered speed pocket. Includes a secure place for your cell phone and or boarding pass. Interior expanded to accommodate books, files and folders. This AmazonBasics Laptop Backpack including an organizational panel keeps chargers, cords, pens and small electronics untangled and organized for easy use.

6. ROLLER BALL PEN. The Uni-Ball Jetstream RT Fine Point Retractable Roller Ball Pen was voted best pen by The Wirecutter—the cutting edge site that rates and reviews all kinds of products for its millennial audience. Back to the pen: Unique hybrid ink offers the smoothness of a gel with the quick-drying properties of a ballpoint. Ideal for left-handers because the ink dries so fast, there’s little chance of smudging. Uni Super ink is specially formulated to become trapped in paper, helping prevent criminal check washing and other document alteration. Archival-quality, acid-free ink is fade- and water-resistant. Great gift in the 3-pack option.

7. BLUETOOTH TRACKER. Tile is a tiny Bluetooth tracker and easy-to-use app that finds your phone, keys and anything you don’t want to lose—in mere seconds! Attach a Tile to an item and locate it by sound, by seeing its last known location on am pa or by marking it as “lost” and getting an alert when it’s found. Can’t find your phone? Just press Tile to make your post phone ring, even if it’s on silent. Place a Tile on your key ring and you’ll never misplace them again. Very cool, cutting edge technology. Buy a single Tile or cut the price when you buy a dozen.

8. SLEEP MASK AND EAR PLUGS. What young student or professional doesn’t long for more quality sleep? Here’s the gift that will fulfill that dream. Bedtime Bliss Comfortable Sleep Mask & Ear Plugs comes with a handy travel case. And boy does it work. Made to block out light, its so lightweight your sleepy recipient will not even feel it. Contoured, this mask creates room to open your eyes, yet still relax in darkness. Won’t smudge makeup either, which makes a quick power nap a distinct possibility!

9. SUPER SMARTPHONE CAMERA LENS SET. That camera on your smartphone or tablet is passable for most situations. But now and then who doesn’t long for a great fisheye (for selfies, of course!) and a lens that lets you zoom in for extreme close-up viewing. This set of lenses comes with three lenses, lens clips, caps, hooks, cleaning cloth and carrying case. Great reviews, too.


A bunch of items that are on display

10. CLIPLIGHT.  This Clip Strip Powerful Pocket Light is perfect for all of dad’s hobbies—hiking, campig, fishing, car repair, dog walking or any number of emergencies. It’s so bright you’ll have a hard believing it fits in his pocket like a pen! And it clips onto just about anything for hands free lighting. Check those reviews!

11. GEEK DAD. The title of this book alone is going to make Dad smile. Check this description: “Today’s generation of dads grew up more tech-savvy than ever. Rather than joining the Little League team, man grew up playing empire games, Dungeons and Dragons, and watching Star Wars. Now with kids of their own, these digital-age dads are looking for fresh ways to share their love of science and technology and help their kids develop a passion for learning and discovery….”

12. BATHE AND BREW. I have to admit I’m hesitant here, leaning on your good sense of humor. This is a gift box that appears to contain ridiculous products from clueless companies, no actual product is inside or included. And it is so funny. If you’re at wits end for how to prank Dad, this might be it. Of course you need to fill this box with a gift because no one could be that cruel to give Dad an empty, albeit hilarious, box.

13. FOGLESS SHOWER MIRROR. Many men prefer to shave in the shower and that presents a problem: Fog. This shower mirror solves that problem. It’s guaranteed to be fogless for life. Requires no annoying fog sprays. Ever. Fill it with hot shower water and it’s good to go. Easy. Just look at those reviews.

14. GRILL GLOVES. Every guy who proudly handles that BBQ grill (summer is coming, I promise), will be thrilled with these Ekogrips Max Heat Silicone BBQ Grill Oven Gloves, that comes in three sizes. Heat resistant with maximum protection. Waterproof and dishwasher safe, too.

15. LEATHERMAN MICRA TOOL. This multi-tool provides tough tools that all fold up into a tiny package. Includes three screwdrivers, scissors, nail file, ruler, bottle opener, knife and tweezers. I lost one of these to TSA while going through airport security, and it broke my heart. Loved that little thing and used it often. (This is not a “dads-only” gift.)

16. SHREDDER CLAWS. I know what you’re thinking: Backscratchers? The answer would be, No! and don’t even try that. The BBQ Meat Forks are the best thing on earth for pulling brisket from the grill or slow cooker and shredding it. Perfect for pulled pork, pulled chicken and pulled beef, too. Dishwasher safe and appropriately gnarly looking.


A bunch of items that are on a table

17. INFUSER WATER BOTTLE. Not only is this a beautiful water bottle, it has excellent function. The point of the bottle is to load the center chamber with things like strawberries, lemon and cucumber to infuse and flavor the water. Unlike most other infuser bottles, this one is designed to keep seeds and pulp from floating out into the water. It’s fantastic and a cinch to clean. Holds a full 24 ounces of water. The bottle is easy to hold, and it has a snap-on lid that makes it easy to travel with. Dishwasher safe. Gorgeous!

18. TAKE A WINE. This flexible, unbreakable wine bottle is really a travel bag to take wine  camping, hiking or picnicking. Comes with a small funnel which makes filling it, with one’s wine of choice, quite easy. This practical gift for the wine lover is as convenient as it is cute.

19. SILICONE OVEN GLOVES. Finally, silicone oven gloves sized to fit women’s hands, these cute polka dot gloves are fantastic. They’re flexible and easy to put on. And don’t ask me why they don’t melt. They just work the way we’d expect that they should. Nine colors to choose from including Christmas red.

20. CROCHET HOOKS. Excellent beginners set of crochet hooks with comfortable, ergonomic grips that make crocheting a true joy, not a painful endeavor. Beautiful color-coded handles in a rainbow of colors make this a beautifully ideal gift for any craft lover.

21. ESSENTIAL OIL DIFFUSER. This diffuser for aromatherapy, uses non-heat ultrasonic waves to protect the healing and natural properties of the essential oils. Use without oil and it’s a humidifier. Extremely quiet this beautiful diffuser has a therapeutic mood enhancing LED light.

22. ESSENTIAL OIL SET. An excellent starter kit that comes with six bottles of oils: lavender, tea tree, eucalyptus, lemongrass, sweet orange, and peppermint. Each bottle contains 100% pure unadulterated essential oil; without any fillers, additives, bases or carriers. Use with the diffuser above.

23. MOM’S ONE LINE A DAY: A FIVE-YEAR MEMORY BOOK. For the busy mom-on-the-go, this memory keeper offers a quick and easy way to capture the everyday moments of motherhood. With enough space to record a single thought, a family quote, or a special event each day for five years, this beautiful keepsake makes sure those precious memories will last a lifetime. It takes personal discipline to journal every day, month in and month out. But this journal removes all the drudgery because there’s room to write only one line. What a gem.

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