Years ago, my friends and I decided to do a secret Santa gift exchange for the holidays, rather than trying to find the perfect gift for each person we spent time with. We had it all planned out with forms to fill out, and price limits, and everything to turn it into an easier gift giving experience for all involved. That year, one of my tribe had fallen on hard times and confessed to me that buying the gifts was going to wipe out much of his spending money through January, but he still wanted to participate. What he didn’t know was that I had drawn his name, and I had been struggling with what to buy for him. Suddenly it became clear and I was able to get him gift cards for the things that he would be sacrificing in order to take part. Being able to hand him those cards was the only time I have ever been able to feel what the Gift of the Magi story was about, and I will always treasure that memory.

With that story in mind, I present a few ideas as last-minute gifts for your loved ones. There are many people that spend beyond their means while trying to bring joy to others. Why not remove some of their financial stress for the next few weeks?

We are just about to start getting more light in Alaska, but we are not there yet. Coffee is still a necessity for so many, and I know for me personally when I make budget cuts the quality of my coffee is one of the first things to go. A gift card to a great shop like Uncle Leroy’s (www.uncleleroyscoffee.com) or Black Cup Coffee (www.blackcupak.com) could be great for that Tinder addicted friend that always needs a place for a first date, or for the college student in your life that needs just a couple more hours awake to write that paper. Stop by Metro Cooks (www.metrocooks.com) for a great reusable cup with a lid and straw and help your caffeinated friend stop using so much disposable plastic, or maybe a Nespresso machine so that they don’t have to leave the house at all on colder days.

While you are at Metro, grab a Shower Beer Holder for that person that enjoys this simple pleasure. When you are trying to save money dropping even one beer can be a tragedy. Speaking of imbibing, 49th State Brewing Company (ww.49statebrewing.com) is offering a fantastic deal on gift cards where you can 20% of what you spend or more when purchasing. If your friends are anything like mine, they aren’t really drinkers, but they enjoy the high that can only come from Alaskan THC products. Denali Dispensaries (www.denalidispensaries.com) and Satori (www.satorialaska.com) are the closest shops to my house, and I will be making sure that certain people in my life do not run out of their favorite strains. They are just nicer after they consume. (You know who you are.)

Another thing that goes quickly when people cannot afford to spoil themselves is time in the salon. The next thing you know people are buying boxes of hair dye and creating extra work and frustration for their stylists down the line. Save your friends hair, take care of their next appointment. I know that for clients of Salon da Vinci (www.salondavinciak.com) the friendly staff would have no problem helping you find a gift certificate in just the right amount for someone’s full service. While you are there, get your eyebrows done. With the season’s madness and hectic schedule, you have neglected them — I saw you.

With self-care and beauty regimens in mind, I am going to be making some organic face scrubs and bath salts for many of my friends as gifts (surprise!) and I will be doing some shopping at Natural Pantry for oils and supplies. If you do not have the desire to make your house as messy as mine will be, stop by Lush (www.lush.com) or Bath and Body Works (www.bathandbodyworks.com) in the 5th Avenue Mall. Both places have products far beyond the typical scented candle and bubble bath package that you are thinking. With nerves and anxiety on high alert these days, the gift of relaxation could be just the thing.

The secret to gift-giving is just listening for the little hints. For some folks the situation could be more serious, and you could really help someone out by paying one of their bills. I know that a month off from taking care of my cell-phone would be amazing. For someone else, their house may have sustained some damage from the quake, and they might be trying to save up some funds for a small repair or maybe trying to replace a broken tv. Think about ways your gift could show kindness, and it may end up being the favorite thing they receive.

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