Last-minute Christmas gift ideas

Last-minute Christmas gift ideas

author: Adele Kitchen

By Adele Kitchen

Christmas is fast approaching, so if you still have shopping to do, don’t fret, we’ve come up with some last-minute ideas you can buy right now.

It’s that time of year again and Christmas is not far away. If you haven’t made much of a dent in your Christmas shopping, it’s not too late. We have researched the best last-minute gift ideas out there, from experience days to the latest gifting craze, subscription boxes. We’ve also got a rundown of the latest Christmas delivery dates for 15 top retailers in the UK. 

Retail vouchers 

The traditional last-minute gift has to be the voucher. It’s a no-fuss way of selecting something if you’re in a rush and you don't have time to scout out gifts around the shops. It’s also ideal for someone who is awkward to buy for, as they can pick something for themselves, so you know your money is going towards something they really want. 

Vouchers come in especially handy when the Boxing Day sales start straight after Christmas. Your recipient can potentially get more bang for their buck, or even put it towards a bigger ticket item that they’ve always wanted. 

Most big retailers have festive-themed gift cards at the ready. They’re usually positioned by the tills, so they are hard to miss. But also keep an eye out for vouchers at your local supermarket to save yourself extra trips to the big department stores. 

Even better, more and more shops are now selling e-vouchers online, so you don't even have to leave the comfort of your own living room. These are delivered via email instantly, so they’re the ultimate last-second gift. Either email them to your recipient or print them off to put inside a card.

It’s always sensible to bear in mind that all vouchers have expiry dates, and if the shop you bought it from goes bump then they could potentially become invalid

Netflix and restaurant gift cards

There’s a wide variety of gift cards to be had, so you're sure to find something for everyone. It doesn’t just have to be vouchers for shops, even Netflix has a gift card now. You can get this sent directly to the person you are buying for via email with a personal message, so there’s no time wasted. Whether you are already a Netflix member or not, simply enter an amount between £15 and £100 to load money onto the card and gain access to a wide variety of films and TV programmes. 

Popular restaurants do vouchers too. If you’re stuck for choice, you could always opt for The Restaurant Choice card for your foodie friends and family. It can be used at a variety of participating restaurants up and down the country, from Nandos to Yo! Sushi and Zizzis. You simply visit their website and enter any amount that you want to load onto the card, between £10 and £200. Then you can choose whether to post the physical card to yourself, or you could get it posted directly to your recipient to save more time.

Lottery tickets and scratch cards

One cheap and cheerful idea is gifting a lottery ticket from The National Lottery. Providing both you and the recipient are over the age of 16, you can purchase lottery tickets on your doorstep from most convenience stores and supermarkets in the UK. Just check their opening times over Christmas and pop it in a card or buy it online. Scratch cards are another affordable option found at your local shops. Don’t be jealous if you end up gifting a winning ticket though!

Subscription boxes and magazines

What about a magazine subscription? On websites like you can cherry-pick a suitable magazine from a whole range of topics, covering everything from health to celebrities and cars. This website has a specific Christmas gift offer category, but if you go for something from a different section, you need to tick the ‘Christmas gift’ option and select ‘This is a gift. Send next available issue’ or ‘This is a Christmas gift. Deliver after Christmas’. They advise that the first issue will most likely be in the New Year, depending on the publisher, but you can send a physical card or personalised e-card via email from their website in the meantime. 

With magazines, there’s something for everyone and they make thoughtful gifts to encourage your loved ones with their hobbies and interests. But the latest subscription craze to hit the gift industry is subscription boxes. These boxes cover an assortment of gift ideas including perfume, flowers, and chocolate for a special someone in your life. You can usually buy them to be delivered directly to your recipient for a fixed period of time (typically a few weeks or months), or as an ongoing gift that’s delivered on a regular basis (e.g all year). It’s the gift that keeps on giving! There are also more niche subscription boxes out there, suitable for bookworms, comic fans and those looking for a plastic-free life. As with magazine subscriptions, delivery dates and prices can vary depending on the supplier.

Check out our recent blog for more eco-friendly gift ideas.


If you are short on time but want to splash a bit more cash and buy a present with the wow factor, why not go for an experience package? Virgin Experience Days and Red Letter Days offer different delivery options to suit you, depending on how much time you have left to buy your Christmas gifts. They cover everything from photoshoots, to short breaks, afternoon tea, spa days, shows and even driving experiences, to mention a few. 

Both Virgin and Red Letter Days offer instant e-vouchers via email, so you can have the gift within seconds. Either send it straight away to your recipient or print it off to put inside of a card. Otherwise, simply add the experience you want to buy to your basket and check out as normal to get it sent in the post. 

If you are worried that it won’t turn up in time, Virgin provides printable gift certificates so you aren’t empty-handed. They can deliver by First Class or Recorded Delivery, which takes an estimated 2-4 working days to arrive (allow up to 5). But with Christmas fast approaching, it could be worth spending more on Special Delivery which delivers the next working day up to 8pm. Please note that these dates are estimated and are dependant on orders being made before 2pm Monday to Friday in the UK. Also, with Virgin, you can pay by part payment via their accepted payment methods (excluding PayPal and Apple Pay).

Red Letter Days can also deliver by standard delivery. Their website states that it costs £1.99 and your gift will arrive in the post in 3-5 working days. If you are very short on time and don't want to risk it, then next day delivery at £7.50 could be worth the extra expense. Orders placed before 4pm will be delivered the next day (excluding Sundays and Bank Holidays). Any orders placed after 4pm on a Friday will be delivered the following Tuesday.

Once that’s all done and dusted, all your recipient needs to do is activate the voucher online to redeem their gift and choose the best time and place to suit them. They just need to make sure it’s within the expiry date, and some activities depend on availability. Virgin and Red Letter Days do free exchanges, so there’s always the option for them to swap (or refund) the experience.

Online orders

If you prefer giving physical presents that people can open up in front of you, but don’t have time to traipse around the shops, consider making online purchases instead. We’ve done some research into delivery dates for 15 top retailers in the UK who you can still get pre-Christmas delivery from.

Bear in mind that the longer you leave it, the more likely you’ll have to dish out on delivery charges. These dates are a guide as there are no guarantees your delivery will be made in time for Christmas day, due to unforeseen circumstances. We’ve provided links to each store below so you can visit their websites for the full terms and conditions. 

So to avoid disappointment (and to prevent turning up at the relatives unexpectedly empty-handed), make sure you double the delivery schedule for the shops you are using. If you’re going to click and collect, it’s best to note the store closing times as they can close early over the Christmas period. 



UK Standard Delivery Date to order by

UK Next Day Delivery Date to order by

Click and Collect by






They do same day delivery 24/12/19 for Prime customers.




22/12/19 for next day








22/12/19 (9pm)

24/12/19 (2pm)

For larger items like TVs over 40 inches and white goods, next day delivery is 22/12/19 (7pm)



23/12/19 (7pm)

23/12/19 (7pm)

*brand exclusions apply


20/12/19 (12pm)


John Lewis & Waitrose

Smaller items 19/12/19 (7pm)

22/12/19 (8pm)

22/12/2019 (8pm)

For larger items such as furniture and appliances, see product web pages for details.

M&S Clothing & Home


23/12/19 (6pm)

23/12/19 (6pm)

View website for food, flowers, wine, furniture & gift card dates.


21/12/19 (11:59pm)

22/12/19 (6pm)

20/12/19 (11:59pm)*

*UK mainland


22/12/19 (midnight)


23/12/19 (6pm)

Different dates apply for furniture, and it can vary depending on your location. Check the website for more information.

Pretty Little Thing


23/12/19 (10pm)



23/12/19 (10pm)*


*applies to most small in-stock items



20/12/2019 (2pm) first class


UK courier is up to 23/12/19 (2pm)


Royal Mail Christmas post dates 

If you plan to send Christmas cards, cash, vouchers or lottery tickets in the post, be sure to send them off by 18th December if they’re going second class. First-class post has to be sent by 20th December at the latest to avoid disappointment. For more information visit the Royal Mail website.

Ever wondered what the Christmas returns policies are for big UK retailers? Read on to find out more.


Disclaimer: All information and links are correct at the time of publishing.

author: Adele Kitchen

By Adele Kitchen

Last-minute Christmas gift ideas Last-minute Christmas gift ideas