Last-Minute Gifts that Pamper and Relax

by Sonja on December 15, 2008

Time’s running out! If you want to order gifts online, you’ve got to get moving unless you want to pay for express shipping. And if you’re shipping gifts to friends and family, like I am, head to the post office pronto… but not today. The post office reports that today is the busiest shipping day of the year. You’ve got until Saturday, December 20th, to get to the post office for first-class and priority mail to arrive in time for Christmas.

Last week Jennine wrote about thoughtful, creative gifts for the holidays. I usually make things for close friends and family. But I’ve been downsizing my wide-scale efforts these days. I’ve found that in years past I ended up creating a lot of stress for myself when I tried to make a lot of things. One year I made gobs of homemade lip balms and soaps. People loved them but, by the end, I never wanted to see another double burner again, so these days I strike a balance between making and buying gifts.

With my love of all things beauty and in a world where many people already have just about everything they need, I like to give gifts that help people de-stress and unwind. I find that bath & body treats do just that and that most everyone loves them.

From stocking stuffers and inexpensive gestures of goodwill to goodies that are a bit more expensive, but are very good deals, I have some recommendations that will go over well with just about anyone on your list.

For Bathing Beauties

Baths are wonderful for unwinding and relaxing. Here are four ways to help your friends and family melt away stress.

The Supercute

Bath bombs are delightful, affordable gifts. There are lots of supercute ones that charm, as well as relax.

  • LUSH has the biggest assortment of bath bombs that I know of. And they really do it up for the holidays with offerings like Mr. Butterball ($4.95)  (a snowman who’s vegan and moisturizes with cocoa butter) and Chocolate Santa ($6.95) (he’s made with real cocoa absolute and is also vegan). Check out their stocking stuffers section for oodles of choices.
  • Delish also makes fabulous bath bombs. Their Fizzy Tub Truffles (5 for $3) are like real truffles with a hard outside and a creamy cocoa butter center. You can choose from a seemingly endless number of scents, like chai tea and shortbread cookie snaps. While you’re at it, grab a Soapsicle ($6). These will make friends feel like kids again. They look just like popsicles, but instead they’re made with goat’s milk so they leave skin nice and soft. Everything is made fresh when you order from this Canadian company.

The Gift of Good Health

Another nice option is giving the gift of “nature’s pharmacy.” Kneipp makes a Nature’s Pharmacy Herbal Bath Collection ($22.50) that is perfect this time of year: six wonderfully fragrant, herbal baths: eucalyptus (clears sinuses), lavender (calms and balances), rosemary (a picker upper), juniper (relaxes and soothes sore muscles), and valerian & hops (promotes a good night’s rest). They also have a Relaxation Collection ($22.50). And if you really want to do it up, get the Herbal Bath Collection with 10 herbal baths ($39). It has all the ones listed above, as well as wildflower (re-energizes), orange & linden (for harmony and relaxation), Melissa (relaxes), spruce (energizes), and almond blossom (moisturizes).

An Affordable Spa Gift

While giving a gift certificate for a massage is sweet, that can get expensive. But you can still give a spa gift without breaking the bank. Consider a gift certificate for communal baths. Now, I’m not talking seedy joints. Here in San Francisco, high-end spa Kabuki Springs & Spa offers elegant, Japanese-style communal baths for just $20. Guests can stay as long as they want and leave feeling like happy, blissed-out noodles. On Tuesdays, they have co-ed night, so this a great gift for couples. Through the end of the year, Kabuki has a special where you can get a free communal bath when you buy $100 worth of gift certificates, so treat five friends and then treat yourself!

Heaven Scent

I’ve never gone wrong with giving a fabulous, fragrant candle. Instead of the usual candle, give one that is eco-friendly with a lead-free wick, and made of soy – it burns longer, with much less soot – and essential oils instead of synthetic fragrances.

  • Naturally Green has a lavender soy candle that instantly relaxes. This is great to burn before heading to bed. It’s also a crazy good deal at only $10.50.
  • Casoya specializes in eco-friendly, elegant soy candles ($25). These are especially fragrant and really fill a room with a heavenly scent. They have eight varieties, including delicious Vanilla Bean Mint (my fave), refreshing Black Tea Lemon, and earthy Redwood Myrhh.

Head-to-Toe Treats

If you want to spend a bit more, I recommend going with a gift set that pampers from head to toe. Mario Badescu is a line I love that always has a gorgeous selection of sets for the holidays. They include full-sizes of their best, most popular products. Their line has a long list of adoring fans, including Naomi Campbell and Charlize Theron. I’ve found that these sets go over well with both women and men. All the Mario Badescu sets are good values and come with bonus totes, compact mirrors, and bath sponges. My faves are:

  • Bath & Body Luxuries ($49) with AHA Botanical Body Soap (love this!), Fruit Hand Cream with SPF10, Apricot Super Rich Body Lotion, Lecithin Nourishing Shampoo, Hair Rinsing Conditioner, and lip conditioner.
  • Men’s Grooming Basics ($63) — even though this is called a men’s set, this is great for both sexes. I love to use the shaving products for myself. And the scents don’t have any musky, manly smell. I guess you could call them “gender neutral.” The after shave lotion is minty and the cleanser smells fresh and botanical. This set includes their Enzyme Cleansing Gel, Pre-Shave Conditioner, Shaving Cream (the creamiest I’ve ever tried), Almond & Honey Face Scrub, and Protein After Shave Lotion.

Kiehl’s is another line that appeals to just about anyone, with many wonderful holiday sets. Delights is just $35.50 and includes their greatest hits: Crème de Corps, Ultimate Strength Hand Salve, Original Lip Balm #1, and Olive Fruit Oil Nourishing Shampoo – all richly moisturizing and ideal for winter skin.

Fun, Charitable Gifts

And last, but not least, there are many products out there that are both fun and charitable. I wrote about a few recently. You can find more by stopping by Uptown Liz, a site that will direct you to tons of great stuff that benefit good causes, such as breast cancer and world hunger. You can shop by product or cause.


So tell me, are you ready for the holidays? Do you shop for the holidays all year long or do you wait until the very last minute?

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Frankie - Swell Vintage December 15, 2008 at 6:03 am

That Uptown Liz is a genius site! You have some really great ideas. Nice to see UK-born Lush get a feature!

I’m buying one of these for everyone!


gail December 15, 2008 at 8:09 am

I’ve used Kneipp products off and on for years (only “off” when I forget…)and they are fabulous. They are the true aromas, not perfumey, and some might be a little medicinal for some people, but, oh, do they work! Thanks for the reminder re Kabuki!

jennine December 15, 2008 at 8:22 am

ooh, i’m clueless when it comes to scented candles!

Sonja December 15, 2008 at 6:07 pm

❤ Glad you like the Uptown Liz site, Frankie-Swell Vintage. She’s done a great job with it. And thanks for sharing. I so gotta get me some of those.
❤ Absolutely, Gail. I MUCH prefer a natural fragrance. And you’re welcome about Kabuki. That place is so delightful and SUCH a deal!
❤ Jennine, I read somewhere that it’s hard to go wrong with anything that has vanilla in it, because it evokes memories of Mom (or Dad) baking. Hubby adores vanilla; and I’m sure it’s for just that reason.

K-Line December 15, 2008 at 6:33 pm

I love things that smell good! Bring ‘em on…

Sonja December 15, 2008 at 6:39 pm

❤ I’m right there with you, K-Line!

Imelda Matt December 18, 2008 at 4:57 am

After the horror of the last 3 weeks I need ALL of these and then some.

Darvin @ Inexpensive Gifts for Men December 19, 2009 at 12:14 pm

I think pamper type gifts are perfect gifts for women. My wife would love anyone os these, especially the spa treatments. I really like the affordable spa gifts… The key word being “affordable”… :-)

Sonja December 20, 2009 at 2:27 pm

Glad you found the ideas helpful!

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