Easy Last Minute Christmas Ideas

In this post: Easy last minute Christmas ideas that you can do by using things you already have on hand…or things you can get at any grocery store! 

easy last minute christmas ideas dough bowl centerpiece

*This post was originally published in 2018. It’s been updated with more ideas and inspiration!

I’m hoping this finds you in good shape for the upcoming holiday, but just in case you need a bit of last minute inspiration, I’ve got you covered. All of the last minute Christmas ideas I’m sharing below can be accomplished with things you already have on hand, or things that can be easily picked up at the grocery store.

*Affiliate links included. Click HERE for my disclosure statement.

last minute christmas ideas centerpiece with pomegranates

Last Minute Christmas Ideas: Centerpieces & A Place Setting

The easiest centerpiece ever is simply to layer fresh pine in a bowl, and add something festive. Use any bowl or tray you have on hand. If you don’t have any pine you can clip from your yard, pick some up at the grocery. Most pine will last at least a few days indoors, so there is no need to use any water. Some suggestions for the festive part:

  • pomegranates
  • red and green Anjou pears
  • red and green apples
  • clove oranges
  • Christmas ball ornaments
  • pine cones

The best thing about a low centerpiece is that your guests will be able to see each other across the table! (Click HERE for the long dough bowl.)

last minute christmas ideas easy place setting

If you want to dress up your place settings, all you need is twine and fresh greenery. Simply lay the greenery on your napkin and finish with a piece of twine tied in a bow. It’s optional to string on a tiny ornament, but it only takes an extra few seconds. If you are serving a buffet, wrap each flatware set with a napkin, tie it all together with a piece of twine, and tuck in a small piece of greenery. Put the flatware sets in a basket or on a tray at the front of your buffet line.

Related: DIY No Sew Linen Napkins

fresh greenery in white pitcher

One more easy centerpiece idea is to put fresh greens in a pitcher or vase that’s been filled with water. Something like this would be perfect for the beginning or end of a buffet line, or if your table is small. Make sure to give the pine pieces a fresh snip on the ends before placing them in the vessel.

drinks in glasses floating cranberries

Cranberry Christmas Non-Alcoholic Cocktail

Need an easy, but oh so refreshing non-alcoholic drink idea? Mix equal parts of cranberry juice, ginger ale, and orange juice. You can make as much or as little as you want. Float some fresh cranberries in the glasses and if you have an extra orange, slice it to use as a garnish. Want an alcoholic drink? Just add a shot of vodka or gin to each glass.

Did you know you can freeze cranberries?

You can! Cranberries freeze very well, but make sure to wrap them properly. Simply place an unopened bag of fresh cranberries in a resealable freezer bag, and place it in the freezer. Make sure to mark the date. The cranberries will retain their taste and texture for up to six months.


  • You can use any kind of cranberry juice you want…the real thing or the cocktail version. I used Diet Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice Drink.
  • Tonic can be substituted for the ginger ale. To save even more calories, I used diet ginger ale.
  • Fresh orange juice is amazing, but feel free to use whatever is easiest. I used Tropicana Trop50.
  • If you have time, make flavored ice cubes. Flavored ice cubes are a great way to keep your drinks from becoming watered down by regular ice. Add one or two cranberries to each vessel of an ice cube tray. Pour in cranberry juice or ginger ale, and freeze until solid.
  • To serve this drink when cranberries are out of season, substitute cherry juice and use fresh cherries for garnish.

cranberry ice cubes on plate

last minute christmas ideas drinks in glasses floating cranberries

Cranberry Christmas Cocktail

This cranberry Christmas cocktail is an easy and refreshing drink for your holiday gatherings. It's low calorie and can be alcoholic or non-alcoholic.
Rate this Recipe Print Recipe Pin Recipe
5 from 2 votes
Servings: 4 servings
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
Refrigeration Time 1 hour


  • 2 cups cranberry juice cocktail
  • 2 cups ginger ale diet or regular
  • 2 cups orange juice
  • cranberries and orange slices for garnish


  • Mix the cranberry juice cocktail, ginger ale, and orange juice together in a pitcher or container.
  • Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.


*For a very low calorie drink use: 5 Calorie Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice Cocktail, diet ginger ale, and Trop50 orange juice. 
*When fresh cranberries are out of season, substitute cherry juice and garnish with fresh cherries. 


Serving: 12oz. | Calories: 164kcal | Carbohydrates: 40g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 12mg | Potassium: 267mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 36g | Vitamin A: 258IU | Vitamin C: 116mg | Calcium: 21mg | Iron: 1mg
Like this recipe?Follow me at @onsuttonplace

last minute christmas ideas drink in glasses

Last Minute Christmas Ideas: Gifts from the Kitchen

Last minute gifts can be tricky. You don’t want the recipient to think they are an afterthought! When I need a gift at the last minute, I usually head to the kitchen. Here are some ideas of baked goods you can make now, and keep in your freezer for that last minute emergency.

Tip: Pick up some cellophane bags, twine, and ribbon so your packaging is ready to go as well.

eggnog bread with rum glaze fi
Eggnog Bread with Sugar Rum Glaze
Easy eggnog bread with rum glaze is perfect for holiday gift-giving, parties, and family gatherings. Simple to make and so moist!
See this recipe
cranberry citrus bread three mini loaves on cooling rack fi
Cranberry Citrus Bread Recipe
Fresh cranberries and two types of citrus give this Cranberry Citrus Bread a fresh and festive taste. Perfect for holiday gift giving!
See this recipe
loaves and slices of snickerdoodle bread fi
Snickerdoodle Bread Recipe
Snickerdoodle Bread Recipe. The perfect homemade baked good for holiday gift giving. Packaging ideas included along with the recipe.
See this recipe
peanut butter blossom cookies on red plate
Peanut Butter Blossom Cookies
Make this peanut butter blossom cookie recipe for after-school snacks or dessert. Includes from-scratch method and a semi-homemade version.

See this recipe
cake mix quick bread recipe loaves fi
Cake Mix Quick Bread Recipe
A sweet and moist cake mix quick bread recipe that's perfect for family gatherings during the holiday season. Makes a great gift too!
See this recipe
Starbucks Chocolate Cinnamon Bread | On Sutton Place
Starbucks Chocolate Cinnamon Bread
Make this Starbucks Chocolate Cinnamon Bread right in your own kitchen. It's easy and makes enough to eat and freeze too. It's basically a giant brownie!
See this recipe
olive oil granola in ball jar healthy breakfast ideas
Homemade Olive Oil Granola Recipe
Easy & delicious oven-baked homemade olive oil granola recipe. Oatmeal, nuts & craisins makes this a healthy topping for yogurt or cereal.
See this recipe
chocolate snowball cookies stacked fi
Chocolate Snowball Cookies
Chocolate Snowball Cookies Recipe: easy-to-make, moist chocolate cookies that stay fresh in an air-tight container for days!
See this recipe
pecan tassies traditional christmas cookies
Pecan Tassies
Are traditional Christmas cookies part of your holiday celebration? Make these sweet and delicious pecan tassies as a treat for family and friends!
See this recipe

christmas ideas bread with gift tag

No gift from the kitchen would be complete without a custom tag. For my email subscribers, the tags pictured below can be downloaded from the Members Only Library. If you aren’t a subscriber, but would like these tags, just fill out the form at the end of this post, and I’ll send them right away. In addition to instant access to the library, you will receive new blog posts, special offers, and other tidbits I provide just for the readers on my list.

bread in cellophane bags with christmas tag


I hope these last minute Christmas ideas have inspired you to keep things simple, yet festive and welcoming for your family and friends. Christmas really isn’t about the stuff…it’s about the people. By going the less complicated route, you are not only giving yourself the gift of time, you are giving it to your family as well. See you soon…

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  1. Merry Christmas, Ann. Hope you have a wonderful Christmas. I have enjoyed your blog for years.

  2. Thanks for all your tips & tricks Ann !
    Have a Merry Christmas & with God’s blessing a healthy, happy, New Year !
    Looking forward to your posts in 2021 !

  3. Koni Billings says:

    5 stars
    21 loaves (mini) of Eggnog bread w/ Rum glaze made this month. I had made 12 loaves of the Cranberry Citrus loaves in November and put them in the freezer. Just wrapping and going to deliver this week end, but wanted you to know that I love this site, and especially your archive system for printable’s, recipes, and TAGS! Your photo ideas are a “don’t live without” must for making and doing. I love to use them as a base, then tweak the ideas to fit into my Southwestern decor. Thank you and thank you for our Saturday emails♥
    From the Heart of the Great State of Texas- YeeHaw and Merry Christmas to ya’ll!!

  4. Judy Chastain says:

    I LOVE Virgin River – I’ve read the whole series by Robyn Carr. I never knew someone had made a video series; I’d love to watch it. Thanks for sharing!
    Definitely will make some eggnog bread. Merry Christmas, Ann.

    1. Ann Drake says:

      I finished Virgin River in two days! There are 10 episodes in the first season, and Netflix is making season 2 right now. I have not read the books, but from what I have read online about the series, there are some differences between the books and the series. That happens most of the time when a book is made into a movie. I hope you get to watch it!

  5. Cindy Hall says:

    Merry Christmas, Ann! I hope you have moments of restful bliss scattered through your busy days.

  6. Ann,
    Happy Holidays to you and your family! Enjoy some relaxing time!
    Thank you for all you do!
    Love your Blog! I look forward to reading it always!

  7. LOVE all your Elegant & Simple Ideas! Your posts always brighten our days. Merry Christmas to You and Your Family, Ann!

  8. Karen K from Buffalo says:

    Merry Christmas Ann & to your family. Thank you for all your beautiful inspiration for this season!

  9. Merry Christmas, Ann, to you & your family. You’re my favorite blog; I really do mean that!
    Thank you for giving me something to look forward to. Oh, I must tell you that I love seeing Kelly in your pictures. She’s always in order just like your beautiful house.

  10. Terri Barton says:

    Thanks for all your ideas, thoughts and beautiful decorating. I’m looking forward to 2019 and all you will share! Have a wonderful Christmas and New Year!

  11. Thank you and Merry Christmas!

  12. Christina says:

    Thank you, Ann! Wonderful ideas!♥️

  13. Charlotte B Farley says:

    I always enjoy your posts and lovely inspirations. Thanks for sharing your simple and beautiful ideas, and your home with us this year.
    Have yourselves a “Merry Little Christmas” this year, and a happy and healthy New Year.

  14. Merry Christmas. Thanks for all your uplifting posts. Evelyn

  15. Thanks for being there Ann. I appreciate each and every post. Merry Christmas to you and yours!

  16. Nan, Odessa, DE says:

    What is the narrow wooden type tray you are using with the pomagrants?
    Where would I obtain this iitem? Can you tell I like it? HA! HA!

  17. A Christmas Story is a favorite of mine. I watch it every year.

  18. All your ideas are very simple and festive,I love the pomegranates and greens.Merry Christmas to you and your family.

  19. Carol@BlueskyatHome says:

    Great, simple ideas, Ann. Those are the best kind. Especially love the bowl of greenery and pomegranates ~ they are huge this year. Merry Christmas.

  20. Anabel Luna says:

    Beautiful place to be and read every morning,thank you.

  21. Gael Fawley says:

    Just wanted to let you know that I love your site and all your lovely ideas. I look forward to it!
    Happy Holidays and thanks for making mine much better with your ideas.

  22. Holiday Inn is one of my all time favorite movies! Merry Christmas!

  23. Charmaine Boggs says:

    So many simply elegant ideas! Love them all and will definitely be serving that cranberry mocktail at my family gathering on Sunday.
    Thanks for another year of inspiration…and the printable calendar for 2019!
    Hope your Christmas is merry and bright!

  24. Kathy Menold says:

    Than you Ann for a wonderful year of writing that has been not only beautiful,informative, delicious but also like getting to have a new friend every time I open your blog.
    Looking forward to more in 2019.
    Merry Christmas and a healthy New Year filed with good times. Kathy