Make a donation. This gift will be emailed to the recipient instantly (if you want it to be) and most people love to have something donated in their honor. Many nonprofit organizations are hosting their end of the year holiday campaigns to get funds, so get in on it and you’ll probably even get them something free out of the deal, too, like a stuffed animal, tee shirt, or tote bag. Find out what his or her favorite organization is (checking Facebook is a good way to do this—or ask a friend) and make the donation, and you’re done.
Bring food. Everybody loves the gift of food, so if you’re arriving in person, assemble a delicious goody basket—include wine, cheese, fancy spreads, the works. Put it in a picnic basket with utensils if you can. If you’re not arriving in person, consider signing your friends or family up for a food of the month gift, such as the fruit of the month club from Harry and David’s or a savory cheese of the month club membership.
Get a gift card. At this point, your friends and family have received most of their gifts (except for yours, of course) and they know what they wanted that they didn’t get. Give them a retail gift card, an e-gift card (such as one to Amazon.com), or one to a place you know they love but don’t get to shop from often. For foodies, give a restaurant card, and for movie lovers, buy a movie gift card that can be used for tickets or concessions. (This last thing was one of my favorite gifts this year, by the way; thanks, sis!)
Give services. Either do some cleaning yourself—the car, the house, the dog, whatever—or hire a company that can provide these services for your loved one. If your mom hates to grocery shop, give her a homemade coupon that entitles her to a no-go shopping trip each month where you will go for her instead. If your grandpa doesn’t like taking the dog to the groomer, do that (and pay for it) for Christmas. If your brother is having a yard sale but is overwhelmed with all of his stuff, offer to give him some help.