How to Curate a Killer Birthday Gift From the Drugstore

Your friends will be impressed with your craftiness.

7 min read

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We’ve all been there: It’s the night before someone’s birthday, and you completely spaced on getting them a gift. This means it’s too late for next-day shipping to save you, so it’s down to a gift card or whatever you can scrounge up from a nearby store. But there’s good news: You can put together a thoughtful, personal gift from the drugstore, all delivered to you from DoorDash. 

Convenience stores have way more than just supplements and Band Aids, if you know where to search. There are plenty of unexpectedly great gift items, too, like satin pillowcases and Gua Sha stones. In order to curate the best drugstore birthday gift, though, I’d recommend ordering an assortment of items that fit a certain theme, which you can speak to in the card (“New skincare ’cause you’re the glowiest girl I know!” but I don’t want to put words in your mouth) and will make the gift feel more thoughtful. 

While you’re at it, order a gift bag, some tissue paper, and the least cheesy greeting card you can find. You’ll do more than solve your slip-up: You’ll score points for knowing your loved one so well. Below are my favorite ideas for putting together the perfect last-minute gift from the drugstore.

For the Viral Makeup Girlie  


If you’ve got a Gen Z niece — or anyone, for that matter — who’s always up on the latest viral TikTok beauty trends, they’ll be impressed that you did your research on this one. Some are dupes for much pricier items, and some are long-standing cult faves of influencers and makeup artists, like the perfectly dewy Maybelline FitMe Concealer. Grab two, three, or all of the below to impress any beauty guru in your life. 

  • Elf Halo Glow Contour Wand 

  • NYX Fat Oil Lip Drip 

  • Maybelline FitMe Concealer

  • L’oréal Lash Paradise  

  • NYX Brow Glue 

For Your Skincare-Obsessed Friend 


Trying out new skincare is always a bit of a risk, but your friend who wouldn’t dream of going to bed without a five-step skincare routine would appreciate a free trial on these items. The La Roche Posay Effaclar Duo gets effusive reviews (and millions of views) on TikTok.  

  • CeraVe Moisturizing Cream (more favorite body lotions here!)

  • La Roche Posay Effaclar Duo 

  • Elf Suntouchable! Whoa Glow SPF 30

  • Gua Sha stone 

  • Aquaphor Healing Balm Stick 

For Someone Who Needs a Good Night’s Sleep


Even if you’re blessed with the ability to fall right to sleep, many people — and who knows, probably the b-day person — are not. Get the insomniac in your life the fixings for the “sleepy girl mocktail” recipe you may have seen all over social media, which includes tart cherry juice, magnesium glycinate, and a seltzer or probiotic soda of your choice. Throw in some tried-and-true melatonin gummies or a box of sleepytime tea, plus a satin pillowcase or brightening eye mask for good measure. 

  • Tart cherry juice 

  • Magnesium Glycinate

  • Seltzer / probiotic soda 

  • Kitsch Satin Pillowcase 

  • Olly Restful Sleep Gummies 

  • Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime Tea 

  • Pop-arazzi Energize & Brighten Eye Mask

For the Total Gym Rat (Or New Fitness Fanatic)


Lucky for you, there’s a lot to find at the drugstore for someone who actually likes the gym. A container of Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides is a great place to start, since it’s flavorless and an easy way to add protein to just about anything. From there, throw in some Liquid IV packets, blister care supplies if they’re into lifting, or one of the coolest water bottles on the block, the Owala FreeSip.

  • Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides 

  • Liquid IV 

  • Blister Band Aids 

  • Moleskin padding 

  • Owala FreeSip Water Bottle (more favorite water bottles here!)

  • Antibacterial Hand Wipes

For the Person on a Hair Journey  


This past year I was stunned to learn (from the internet, of course) that my hair has been wavy all along, I just haven’t been using the right products or doing a proper routine. If you know someone who’s recently had a hair texture revelation or just wants to coddle their mane a bit, a basket full of hair care supplies is never a bad option. Think: a Kitsch Heatless Curling Set for overnight styling without the heat damage, Biotin Gummies to get things on the right track from the root, and a reconstructing mask to smooth parched strands. 

  • Kitsch Heatless Curling Set 

  • Biotin Gummies

  • Kitsch Satin Scrunchies 

  • Kristin Ess Reconstructive Mask

  • Living Proof Dry Shampoo  

  • Creaseless clips 

  • GSQ by Glamsquad Scalp Massager 

For Your Friend Who Quit the Nail Salon 


Let’s face it: Getting your nails done every 2-3 weeks is a drain on your wallet, and we could all benefit from improving our DIY manicure skills. So if the birthday king or queen has recently given up this luxury in the name of budgeting, bring some joy back with a manicure kit that covers all the basics: nippers, remover, and oil to deal with pesky cuticles, a set of Essie Gel Couture polishes that miraculously last much longer than regular polish, and perhaps an acrylic kit if you anticipate them taking their skills to the next level. 

  • Cuticle remover 

  • Cuticle oil 

  • Crystal Nail File

  • Essie Gel Couture polishes 

  • Kiss Salon Acrylic Kit 

  • Cuticle Nippers

Bonus Items to Get the Party Started 

It never hurts to come with a bouquet of flowers, and if you’re arriving for a party or gathering at a restaurant, a set of playing cards keeps things lively, balloons set the celebratory vibe, and a pack of birthday candles comes in handy to plop into any desert of the honoree’s choosing. 

  • Playing cards 

  • YAY Balloons

  • Birthday candles 


  • Photographer: Paul Quitoriano

  • Art Direction: Sarah Ceniceros Gomez