Last-Minute Homemade Gift Ideas: Spicy Rub & Hot Cocoa

Because it’s too late for free shipping, and the mall is a madhouse.

It happens every year. No matter how early you start, or how organized your list is, there are always a few gifts that you can't seem to fill until the last-minute. Unfortunately all of your regular online retailers' Christmas delivery guarantees expired days ago, and like hell you're paying $19.99 to ship your Grandma's sweater Next Day Air.

So, as every year before it, you drudge out into the elements of weather and crowded malls filled with panicked holiday shoppers. You're left picking through the scraps – these aren't the gifts no one else wanted to buy, those are all gone as well – no, you're left with the items that show up at places like TJ Maxx a few months later for half price. A holiday flask set. A travel grooming kit. If you're really lucky you might find a calendar with a focus your giftee has a remote interest in.

Do yourself, and those you're last-minute shopping for, a favor and declare, “Not this year.” We've got two super-easy Do It Yourself gift ideas that anyone will love – and you only have to head to the grocery store.

Close up of meat rub

Homemade Spicy Rub

Perfect for every guy on your list, from your grandfather, brother-in-law, or girlfriend's father, every man loves to grill meat. If you're unaware of the incredible taste benefits rubs offer grilled meat, check out our intro to dry and wet rubs. This rub makes awesome chicken, beef, or anything else you can think to throw it on, making it versatile no matter what your giftee's grilling specialty is. (Plus, you'll have a bunch of great spices left over to make your own rubs, win!)

  • 1/2 cup salt (plain, kosher, or sea)
  • 1/3 cup coarse black pepper
  • 1/2 cup paprika
  • 1 tbsp mustard powder
  • 2 tbsp dried onion flakes
  • 1 tbsp cayenne powder
  • 1 tbsp celery salt or ground celery seeds
  • 2 tbsp garlic powder

↓ Instructions

Find an air-tight container or small mason jar at the store (or in the back of your cupboard if you have to). Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and pour them in your container. That. Is. Literally. It.

Closeup of hot cocoa

Homemade Hot Cocoa

You know who loves hot chocolate? Scratch that. Do you know anyone who doesn't like hot chocolate? It's chocolate milk, hot, with marshmallows in it. Thinking of it that way you can give this to anyone. Need another gift for your girlfriend, mom, brother's kids, grandma, whoever? Homemade hot chocolate. The person can make it right after opening it, and it pleases every time. Add 1/4 cup of the finished cocoa mix to hot milk.

  • 2 cups skim-milk powder
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 cups mini marshmallows
  • Optional: candy cane

↓ Instructions

Use a similar air-tight container or mason jar. This recipe creates 1 quart of mix. Combine all powder ingredients, mixing them well. Use a sieve if you know what one is and have one. Finally, mix in mini marshmallows. To take this recipe up a notch, add 3 tablespoons of crushed candy cane to make Peppermint Hot Cocoa.


Now, so the giftee has some idea of what this stuff is, create a simple label out of a file folder. Find some extra twine and ribbon lying around and wrap it around the container, using it to hold the label in place. You may want to mention on the hot chocolate label that one serving is 1/4 cup. Boom. Christmas presents.

last minute gift ideas

Andrew Snavely

Andrew founded Primer in 2008 and brings 15+ years of men's style expertise. Known for his practical, relatable approach to style and self-development, he has been a recognized speaker at conferences and has styled work for top brands. Off-duty, he loves photography & editing, and enjoys road trips with his dog, Leela. Raised in rural Pennsylvania, educated in DC, and living in LA for nearly 20 years, Andrew's diverse experiences shape the relatable and real-world advice that has helped millions through Primer. On Instagram: @andrewsnavely and @primermagazine.