Riley Rates: Last minute gift ideas

All low-effort gifts can be improved by coming from under a beautiful tree.

Photo by Riley Jordan

All low-effort gifts can be improved by coming from under a beautiful tree.

The holiday season—a time of gratitude, mindfulness, and compassion—is fully underway. What better way to show your loved ones how much they mean to you than by buying stuff? Whether it’s a Playstation 5, an air fryer, or that $1,500 Lululemon mirror, the more stuff you buy, the more you love your family… right? 

Wrong! I’m here to put a stop to this mindless consumerism. December isn’t all about shelling out unholy amounts of cash. It’s about going to mass with Grandpa on a Thursday, or seeing Uncut Gems with your Zzayde, or eating non-yellow corn. So don’t worry about emptying your bank account to impress anyone when you can instead give an inexpensive, time-tested last-minute gift. And by analysing classic ideas with the Riley Rates 5-Star-System™, I’ve created a definitive guide to buying late. 

Scratch-Offs: What better way to say “here, this is probably worthless” than the Scratch-Off lottery ticket. Usually received by a younger person from an elder, the Scratch-Off is not only extremely cheap, but also the perfect gateway into crippling gambling addiction. Rubbing a piece of paper with a penny for the possibility of $5 is a thrill that will have your grandchild chasing the dragon for the rest of their lives. With the Scratch-Off, it’s either worthless or life-ruining. 1 star.

Card Games: Though cheap to manufacture, a good card game can bring people together and make hours fly by in an instant. Uno, Cards Against Humanity and Exploding Kittens are fun options, though the versatility of a solid deck of playing cards shouldn’t go unmentioned. Because of the potential longevity of these gifts, they are well worth their cost. The only downside is that if the gift recipient is lame, they may not want to play. 4 stars.

The Regift: It happens to all of us. We receive a gift, express our appreciation, but then never find a way to integrate that gift into our lives. But now, there is a use for these future paperweights: the regift. Literally just give it to someone else, and act like you picked it out yourself!. Don’t act like it’s unethical, ever heard of reduce, reuse, recycle? Karl Marx’s work? Buddist rebirth doctrine? Sears gift cards are not to be spent, they are to be endlessly passed from person to person until bankruptcy. Same goes for candles, kitchen appliances, or anything from Bed Bath & Beyond. Though considered immoral by many, regifting is the ultimate acceptance of the cycle of life. 3 stars.

How about straight up money: We buy, sell, and save it. People need it, and definitely like to have it. So why should something so valuable be considered so taboo? A popular reason to write off money as a gift is because it isn’t “personable.” Wouldn’t the same be true for Amazon or Target gift cards? Call me crazy, but I think Big Gift has manufactured this societal rule in order to bring more money into big corporations and less money into the hands of small businesses. So when you hand your Bubbe a cool stack of $20s with a cute little bow on top and call it a gift, hold your head high knowing that Jeff Bezos is down a few bucks. And let’s not pretend that you’d be disappointed to receive free money. 5 stars.