What To Keep In Your Emergency Gift Stash

What To Keep In Your Emergency Gift Stash

You’ve done all the Christmas shopping weeks in advance — then the neighbour shows up and hands over an unexpected present. Avoid social embarrassment and eventual shunning by making sure you keep an emergency stash of gifts. Here’s what we recommend.

Gifts picture from Shutterstock

The ideas in this list are non-perishable, flexible and generally well-received, but that doesn’t mean you can just grab any old item and hand it over. You still need to consider your audience.

Red gift bags and boxes

Bags and boxes mean you can “instantly” wrap something rather than messing around with paper and tape. The genius of red is that you can use it outside of the Christmas season as well, if there are other emergency gift situations.

Bottles of wine

Yes, it’s a little obvious that you might have just had a bottle of wine sitting around (don’t grab one from the fridge!) But that doesn’t mean it won’t be welcome to most people.

iTunes/Google Play gift cards

If you buy these on special, you’ll save a little. Obviously, you need to target these to the recipient: an Android owner probably doesn’t want iTunes cards.

Classic card games

These can work for a wide variety of recipients. A generic pack of cards looks cheap, but any more specific game is a solid choice.

Small boxes of LEGO

These are always a good emergency gift for small kids.


I favour these rather than chocolate: less likely to melt and less likely to kick off an alergic reaction.

What items would you add to this list? Share your thoughts in the comments.


  • I agree with the wine. Wine or some other kind of booze is always a good fallback, not just as an emergency gift, but as an extra gift to sort of fill out a quota (for example if you’re short one gift for someone). Of course this assumes you’ll be giving it to an adult. Just make sure you get something halfway decent. It doesn’t need to be top shelf stuff, but it does have to be drinkable.

    • and if you don’t know enough about wine to feel confident choosing: buy one with some award stickers on it. It may not blow your mind, but you always end up with something pretty nice.

  • Candles. Photo frames. Gift vouchers, but I don’t know about iTunes or Google Play.. I’d go for a bricks and mortar store, or just a generic VISA one. T2 teas (the bagged ones, not the loose ones, because you don’t know who has utensils).

  • Though gifts cards generally have an expiry date; something to keep in mind when buying them with the intent of stashing it as an emergency gift.

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