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Last minute gift suggestions

Kiehl's Creme de Corp Collection gift set
Kiehl's Creme de Corp Collection gift set

If you're looking for a few last minute gifts for your friends and family, you have probably figured out by now that there are plenty of retailers looking to take your money. But the choices can be overwhelming. Many times, it just seems easier to give a gift card or cash--which is fine, and will most definitely be appreciated by the recipient, However, there is also a definite, shall we say, recipient anticipation, that can be somewhat dampened when receiving a gift card (or cash), especially from that special someone. Not that we aren't appreciative--it's just kind of like getting a white wine spritzer when you were hoping for champagne.

So, if you want to make that extra little effort tomorrow, take that extra little oomph, and get yourself out of the house and brave the madding crowds, here are my suggestions how to best optimize your time and get some great things without spending a fortune:

Nordstrom: (Mission Viejo or Costa Mesa in the OC) For men or women, purchase Kiehl's since 1851 products. This 150-year old apothecary brand has great, unisex products that are natural, homeopathic, and unscented (unless otherwise noted).

Nordstrom currently has a great little intro boxed set of some of their classic formulations that makes for a delightful introduction of Kiehl's products for a friend or loved one: Creme de Corps (4.2 oz.), Ultimate Strength Hand Salve (2.5 oz.), Lip Balm #1 (0.5 oz.) and Amino Acid Shampoo Deluxe (2.2 oz.) in a custom box. Normally $38, this set is just $29. Another fab choice is their iconic Creme de Corps set: includes Creme de Corps (8.4 oz.), Creme de Corps Soy Milk and Honey Body Polish (6.8 oz.), Creme de Corps Nurturing Body Washing Cream (6.8 oz.) and Lip Balm #1 (0.5 oz.) in a large red gift box--all for $54, normally $78.

Juicy Couture: for women and girls, this is the place to get great clothing, obviously; but you can also pick up chic accessories at terrific sale prices on Christmas eve at their boutiques (in the OC go to Fashion Island in Newport Beach). Check out their homepage for sale items just to get an idea. Of course, the traditional jogging suit is always appreciated and is on sale tomorrow--and now they will personalize it right there in store. A great option for the special girls in your life.

Tommy Bahama: for men of all ages, this is the specialty boutique that has the casual wear for your guys, plus lots of it on sale at great prices tomorrow. And can you say cool dude?  Try the "Rumforgiven" tee-shirt in 100% cotton--sure to be a conversation starter. Located in Newport Beach.

Crate & Barrel: while Williams & Sonoma is certainly a wonderful store, Crate & Barrel is a great option for many great basics & lots of fun stuff, too, at significantly lower prices. Check out the fun Christmas sweets, like the bag of coal and delicious reindeer treats. (You will want to get some of these for yourself!)

If, after all these suggestions, you still decide to get a few gift cards, hey--it's cool. If you choose a fabulous boutique store for those gift cards, like Chanel, Prada, or Louis Vuitton--well, any girl would be very happy with that. Here's a hint though, fellas: don't get your girl anything electronic or appliance-wise, even if she asks for it--small packages are always better. If you give her a  breadbox-sized box, be sure it contains a handbag or shoes.

Trust me.