Skip to content
Last-minute gifts that stand out
It arrives most every year, that moment when you realize you need to find another holiday gift -- fast. The less-than-enviable fallback: a lackluster candle from the Hallmark store or a Starbucks gift card you either take out of your wallet or pick up 10 minutes before giving it.
But shopping under pressure doesn't have to mean handing over something that's random or generic. In fact, it's quick and easy to come up with presents that will feel like a welcome (and well-chosen) touch of luxury -- especially if you think cosmetics and grooming.
If you have time for a quick trip to a department store cosmetics counter, you can score points with holiday items that are either limited editions, covered in festive packaging or both. Dior's Black Diamond-Effect powder ($59 at nordstrom.com) is a bejeweled black compact with a shimmery powder inside that's perfect for creating a celebratory glow. Yves Saint Laurent's Bow Collection Duo Lip Color ($65 at nordstrom.com), is a shiny gold bow compact that hangs from a string like a pendant. The bright and cheery red lip color is housed in a case that looks great worn as a chunky necklace.
And all extravagances are not expensive, as a trip to a beauty supply store will reveal. Nars has recently started making a glittery peach nail polish it calls "Orgasm" ($16 at narscosmetics.com), which any woman who knows her beauty products would appreciate. For the guys, Zirh makes a soap line called "Soap Bar" ($15 at Sephora), a collection of scents inspired by, you guessed it, alcohol. There's Long Island Iced Tea, Cucumber Martini, Screwdriver and my personal favorite, Sake Bomb. Thankfully, they don't smell exactly like the real thing, more like just the sweet, sugary part sans the alcohol. At $15 apiece, they're more expensive than a drink but should last a whole lot longer.
A great unisex stocking stuffer is a three-pack of Kiehl's lip balm in pear, cranberry and mint ($25 at Kiehl's stores). It'll be welcome in the colder weather, and the flavors aren't so potent that they'll linger all day long. Or consider Roger & Gallet's set of Jean Marie Farina perfumed soaps ($16 at beautyexclusive.com), which make a beautiful hostess gift. The regal red and gold box is classic and sure to make a stylish addition to any guest bathroom.
With people so focused on necessities these days, the small indulgences you see here will stand out (in a good way). And your friends will think of you every time they're feeling clean or gorgeous.