The last-minute Christmas gift guide: 14 great ideas for late buyers

It’s no use lamenting the fact that summer only feels like it was yesterday, or asking in despair: “How is it possibly December already?” It’s the most wonderful time of the year and you’ve done it again, haven’t you? Left all your Christmas shopping to the last minute?

Well, put down the three-for-two tomato soup gift sets and step away from the ill-fitting knitwear. You might be a last-minute present buyer but you can still be a great gifter. Scroll through our suggestions for thoughtful, fun and unique experiential gifts and subscriptions, as well as a roundup of the last order dates for some of your online and high street favourites.

Experiential

Give an eco-friendly experience

Excellent experiential gifts with excellent vibes, Tinggly offers a slew of around-the-world experiences, from sunset sails and skydiving to white water rafting and whisky-tasting, offsetting any CO2 generated by 200% and donating profits to plastic-clearing projects.

From £69, tinggly.com

Help them master their passion

Photographer David Levene contemplates his camera whilst photographing a subject in a photographic studio. Jessops photography shop has posted a £50m loss. Commissioned

From the inside word on founding a food business with the brains behind super-tasting Pin & Nut and Club Mexicana to gardening with our very own Alys Fowler, via scriptwriting, filmmaking and nailing that first novel, channel your inner fairy godmother and make their dreams come true with a Guardian Masterclass.

From £49, theguardian.com/guardian-masterclasses

Scent-sational fragrance classes

A uniquely fragrant gift from the aroma experts at Neal’s Yard Remedies, these clever courses teach the basics of essential oil blending, therapeutic use and massage – choose from IRL classes across the country, an interactive online intro or specialist sessions in aromatherapy for sleep or stress.

From £50, nealsyardremedies.com

Foraging fun in the great outdoors

Can you dig it? Yes you can. You can also pick it from trees, find it flowering on hedgerows and spot it growing by woodland walkways. A top pick for outdoorsy types and foodies alike, send them on a foraging trip with the funghis at Wild Food UK to teach them how to find and cook wild-growing delicacies.

From £50, UK-wide locations from Edinburgh to Surrey, wildfooduk.com

Show them the bigger picture this Christmas

A classy gift for arty types, give them unbridled access to more than 240 art galleries, museums and historic houses across the country, plus 50% off major exhibitions from the Tates to the Hayward Gallery and a subscription to the smart Art Quarterly mag.

£70, artfund.org

Foodie fanatic? Become a top chef at home

making pasta

A private lesson with a top chef in the comfort of your own kitchen, Chef’s Compliments come with all the ingredients, top tips and cheffing secrets to rustle up a full-blown, pro-level feast. Perfect for the domestically godly in your life. Might want to clean the oven first, though.

POA, chefscompliments.co.uk

Put them centre stage this festive season

As all good Hamlets and high-brow types know, the play really is the thing. Upstage the others and give the gift of culture, daahling, with Theatre Tokens: redeemable in more than 260 theatres across the UK.

From £5, theatretokens.com

Subscriptions


Give the gift of green fingers

Help them reach botanical bliss with a Bloombox Club plant subscription, which sends a spectacular statement plant with a perfectly paired pot and printed care card each month.

From £35 a month, bloomboxclub.com

Bring the news to them

Subscribe to the Guardian Weekly to send a carefully curated collection of our best reporting and writing from around the world each week – and support independent journalism. Win.

From £6 for six issues, subscribe.theguardian.com

Grape expectations: a vine of their own

Adopt a vine in their honour with Cuvée Privée and they’ll receive regular personalised bottles of their very own vintage, straight from an eminent French estate – a wonderful way to give them a little piece of France, and a lot of great French wine. Santé!

From £120, cuvee-privee.co.uk

Look good with a vegan pick-me-up

Bespoke beauty edits of vegan and cruelty-free goodies, themed each month with at least five top picks, from face masks and make-up to cleansing balm and bath salts, worth up to £70 – the perfect mid-month pick-me-up for beauty inside and out.

From £20, thepipbox.co.uk

Unleash their mini mad scientist

Make burping yeast, learn morse code, assemble a bee B&B … Curiosity Box’s superb sciences subscription sends a monthly box of hands-on science experiments and engineering activities to delight curious minds, teach new skills and give everyone a good dose of quality time.

From £11.95 a month, curiosity-box.com

Briefs encounters of the ethical kind

A monthly hit of lovely little black pants, made in Brixton from organic cotton and bamboo and wrapped in a sassy zine. When the pants wear out, simply send them back for a revival or recycle – so nothing ends up in a landfill – and each “everyday pants” delivery earns credit towards the totally bespoke “sex pants” range. Genius.

From £6.50 a month, lbpclub.co.uk

Let them get lost in a good book

A brilliantly bookish subscription service that shines a light on underrepresented writers in a monthly short story anthology. Past editions have included writing from the deaf community, as well as Afro-futurist shorts, and a collection of feminist fairytales.

From £14.95 a month, headymix.co.uk

Last orders: get them signed, sealed and delivered just in time

So you didn’t get the memo that Christmas was coming. Now it’s practically here, but your gifts, well, are not. Don’t worry, this is a judgment-free zone, we’ve rounded up the last delivery dates for a range of shops so you can still ensure Santa pays your loved ones a visit.

John Lewis
8pm 22 December for next-day delivery.
20 December for in-store collection.
7pm 19 December for standard delivery.


Selfridges
22 December for next-day delivery.
18 December for standard delivery.

Debenhams
7pm 23 December for next-day delivery and click and collect.
7pm 20 December for standard delivery (brand exclusions apply).

Marks & Spencer
6pm 23 December for collection and next-day delivery.
6pm 18 December for standard delivery.

Boots
23 December for next-day delivery and in-store collection.
19 December for standard delivery.

Net-a-Porter
10am 24 December for premier customers.
3pm 20 December for standard and next-day delivery.

Asos
23 December for next-day delivery.
19 December for standard delivery.

Currys
2pm 24 December for collection.
9pm 22 December for next-day delivery (or by 7pm for larger items).
19 December for standard delivery.

Argos
12 noon 24 December for same-day fast-track delivery before 6pm. Delivery slots are booked on a first-come-first-served basis.