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The 21 Best Last-Minute Gift Ideas for 2021


A collection of products from our last minute holiday gift guide.
Enlarge / A handful of picks from our last-minute gift guide.

Jeff Dunn

The holiday season is ticking away, and procrastinators are sweating. Do you still need to find the right gift for the last few people on your shopping list? No problem: We’ve researched and tested countless products and services over the last year to find the gear that’s worth your time, so allow us to help you get across the finish line.

We’ve dug into our Santa bags to round up a handful of last-minute gift ideas below. As we write this, each pick is scheduled to ship in time for Christmas, but that could change as the days roll on, so don’t be surprised if you need to visit a physical store to grab something on time. If you’re all set with your holiday shopping, meanwhile, congratulations on being responsible—and maybe consider participating in our annual Charity Drive to further your giving spirit.

Ars Technica may earn compensation for sales from links on this post through affiliate programs.

An example of Grid's collection, here showing a deconstructed iPhone 4.
Enlarge / An example of Grid’s collection, here showing a deconstructed iPhone 4.

Grid Studio

A classy piece of art that turns old tech into home decor

Grid Studio artwork: From $129 at Grid

Those who appreciate good tech on an aesthetic level may enjoy a framed piece from Grid Studio, which takes apart classic gadgets and elegantly lays out their various bits as works of art.

A handful of options are sold out as of this writing, but Grid’s selection includes various iPhones (from the very first model to the iPhone X), handheld game consoles like the Game Boy or Sony PSP, the original Apple Watch, Nokia’s E71, and a few other well-regarded gadget designs. Though they aren’t cheap, they strike the right balance between nerdy nostalgia trips and tasteful home decor.

The New York City set from LEGO's Architecture series.
Enlarge / The New York City set from LEGO’s Architecture series.

Jeff Dunn

A Lego set with a nice view of the city

Lego Architecture series: $32 at Amazon (London); $47 at Target (Paris); $48 at Amazon, Target (Tokyo); $53 at Amazon (NYC); $100 at Best Buy (White House); $102 at Amazon (Statue of Liberty); $103 at Walmart (Trafalgar Square); $120 at Walmart (Taj Mahal); $130 at Amazon (Empire State Building), et al.

A good Lego set is usually a safe bet this time of year, and the company’s Architecture series should appeal to older kids and adults alike. This collection lets builders replicate real-world landmarks (from the Taj Mahal to the Statue of Liberty) and city skylines (from London to Tokyo). The complexity and cost of these sets can vary, but any model you pick should result in a handsome showpiece when fully snapped into place.

A sampling of calendar images from Trevor Mahlmann.
Enlarge / A sampling of calendar images from Trevor Mahlmann.

Trevor Mahlmann

A wall calendar from our intrepid space photographer

Trevor Mahlmann calendars: From $30 at Trevor Mahlmann

If you’re aiming to spruce up your loved one’s walls in 2022, let us suggest a space-themed calendar filled with beautiful high-res images from Ars space photographer Trevor Mahlmann. If you’ve clicked on any of our space articles over the past few years, you’ve already seen Mahlmann’s amazing work.

Mahlmann has been assembling his best pics into calendars for a couple of years now, and he has a few different things on offer for 2022. Of particular interest to Ars space fans is the general edition wall calendar, which features assorted launches and other rocket-y events, and the Starship edition, focused entirely on SpaceX’s big vehicle. Either way, we’re big fans of Mahlmann’s work here at Ars, and you can look forward to more excellent photography from him around these parts in 2022.



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