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Last-Minute Gift Ideas for Savvy Shoppers

Kimberly Palmer

Last-minute purchases might tend to cost more, but that doesn't stop procrastinators: Four in 10 shoppers make purchases in the last three days before Christmas, according to a recent PriceGrabber survey. The good news for stragglers is that good deals are still available. Not only are retailers offering last-minute discounts, but some of the best gifts require no shipping at all. Here are eight ideas to help you cross off the rest of your shopping list:

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1. The basic Kindle: Amazon's new Kindle Fire might have grabbed the limelight this year--and justifiably so, as the first tablet under $200--but the basic Kindle, now starting at $79, also makes a great gift. Just be sure the recipient has access to Wi-Fi, because the least-expensive Kindle requires it for downloading. Also, e-books make great related gifts.

2. Cooking apps: Giving apps is easy and immediate, and some of the new, top-notch cooking apps will also help the recipient save money on food in the new year. Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything (or the vegetarian version) both cost $4.99, and they are very easy to use. The new Food52 app, available for $4.99, is also beautiful and useful--perfect for the budding cook.

3. Amazon's daily deals: Amazon features deeply discounted items every day, from electronics to jewelry. The daily deals can provide inspiration for those still looking for gift ideas, even if shoppers end up purchasing them elsewhere. Recent highlights include cameras, watches, and magazine subscriptions.

4. RedEnvelope.com gift suggestions: Even if you don't purchase from the site itself, RedEnvelope.com offers personalized gift suggestions that are surprisingly original, from a beer holster for the man in your life to customized jewelry for moms. If you discover an idea you like, try some quick comparison shopping online before making the final purchase.

5. Savings Spree app: Susan Beacham, creator of the Money Savvy Pig, which helps kids learn about personal finance by helping them divide their money into savings, spending, donating, and investing, recently released a new app for children ages seven and up. The $2.99 app encourages kids to learn how to save through a fun game.

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6. Charitable gifts: The World Vision gift catalogue makes it easy to find a creative donation to make in someone's name, from $30 for five ducks for a family to start a duck farm, to $500 for a dairy cow to help feed a family in a developing country. Family fish kits start at $40 and job training for women starts at $25. You can also sponsor a child for $35 a month.

7. Herb garden: This gift, which starts at around $20, works even for people without a backyard, because they can care for it inside. More hands-on givers can create the garden from seedlings and present the final product. If you're giving it to a crafty person, you can provide all of the supplies and let them do the dirty work. Again, you'll be helping them save money throughout the year, since fresh herbs are expensive.

8. Daily deal sites: Groupon and LivingSocial continue to host daily deals throughout the holiday season. In fact, PriceGrabber's survey found that 27 percent of shoppers will use the daily deal sites for last-minute purchases.

Do you have last-minute gift ideas of your own? Please share them below.

Twitter: @alphaconsumer

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