This holiday season is a little rough for most of us. This presents an interesting life lesson- the one where you get to learn about the real spirit of Christmas, not the monetary value but, the true value of being surrounded by loved ones and giving back. However, does that help squash the expectations that we have to give something? Nope and don't worry, I'm in the same position as you and I'm here to help!
I use these for all sorts of occasions- it's absolutely free right now and you get to pick what you want to put in it. I've done books with coupons for massages, homemade meals, dinners out, baseball tickets, movies, drinks, mixed CDs....you can get creative as you want and your giftee can get presents year-round!
These are SO cool. I found them looking through a Bed, Bath and Beyond catalog where they're on sale for $9.99. It's such a fashionable, personal and fun way to keep your wine fresh instead of trying to jam the cork back in every single time.
This idea fuses two cheap ideas into one, you can do that with just about anything. That is another option- grouping cheaper gifts into one theme. You can get two martini stemless glasses ($2.99/ea at Target) with a martini shaker ($9.99 at Target, though you can find them cheaper!). Total cost: $16 + tax.
I've just discovered these playing cards which have synthetic covers (you know just in case you don't want your cards to get sticky while drinking) AND drink recipes printed on the back. So, while you're waiting for someone to fold on the river, you can learn how to make a mean mojito. Total cost: $6.50 at www.umbra.com
I just love these. You can insert a 2.5"x2.5" photo into the middle of the glass coaster and add some of your personal style to your coffee table or provide conversation starters for your guests. For a set of four, with a black coaster holder, at Bed, Bath and Beyond, the total cost: $5.99.
This really cute keychain holds up to 60 pictures and constantly changes between those photos so that you're never without your fave photos. It has a 1.5" LCD color screen with time and date display AND a USB cable. Total cost: $9.99.
I've always been the artsy fartsy aunt that loves to give the kids fun but, educational toys...yeah, yeah I know but, I'm incredibly clever about it. This Discovery laptop is one of those toys which makes learning fun- it includes 32 games and learning activities all for the price of $19.99.
For the newbie who's having their first Christmas, this is one of those rare gifts that helps with child development AND is fun. It starts by helping a baby find its first steps then, it offers the hard worker a ride around the living room. Total cost: $18.89
Tired of bringing a bottle of wine to a party or want to give a gift to your host/ess in the name of the holidaze? This is a perfect alternative- a pack of 4 appetizer plates, with holiday designs, for the lovely price of $9.99!
Who doesn't love these? Seriously. They're useful, they're personal, they're homemade and from the heart, AND they only take $20 to make. At Target Photo Lab, you can personalize your 12-month calendar with photos, captions, choose which month you want it to start and choose your own backgrounds and designs.
This is a fun option for those that love to entertain on your list. No need to spend $40 on a Wii game, go old skool and buy a board game. My favorites are Cranium ($20), Battle of the Sexes ($15), Fact or Crap ($15), 12-in-1 Wooden Game Set ($20), Quelf ($20) and Apples To Apples ($18). You can all have a blast playing the game when they open their present.
Ah, the most delicious holiday tradition. Every year, I bake a bunch of fudge and give it out to my neighbors and bring it to holiday parties. Click on the title for my no-fail recipe. Total cost: $12.18 from Vons without Walnuts. You can add Peanut Butter Chips, nuts, etc to change up the taste but, I love it just the way it is!
See the full review, "Perfect Holiday Gift for Anyone Left on Your Christmas List!".
You can buy your music lover their fave CD (or buy an iTunes card) OR you can make them a mixed CD of all the songs that remind you of them. I love the latter and cheaper option but, then again, I'm a DJ. You can download songs from Limewire, a free music sharing site. It's much more personal and therefore, much more appreciated. Yes, it takes a LONG time but, in the end, it's worth it!
DVDs- who doesn't love a DVD of their fave movie/TV series they can watch over and over again or a classic that they loved but, can't ever find? BONUS: Blockbuster is closing a bunch of stores and as they say, one's misfortune is another's treasure...or something to that effect. Everything in the store is 70% so you can get classic movies or new hits for $5-$10. That's cheap enough for you to stock up on a couple! Also, Vons/Safeway has a bin of DVDs for $5 and the choices aren't half bad.
The gift that keeps on giving. You can pair it with a booklight ($5-$10) for a great gift combo. Looking for that impossible guy's gift? If you're looking for a fun, unique gift- check out The Rules: A Man's Guide to Life by Esquire ($10) with such gems as Rule No. 346- "A man over 30 shouldn't own a futon or a beanbag chair". Want to get your tween into reading? The Twilight Saga. Each of the books is about $10 and 500 pages, so trust me, one or two is plenty to get them hooked. How about your fave female? Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn ($16.34 on Amazon)- an incredibly inspirational book about the hardships women face and how to overcome them together.
For your favorite femme fashionista: Target: a really cute pair of leather gloves ($17.99), a cute Fedora ($14.99), Hobo bags ($10-$20), Glove and scarf set ($10). Forever 21: metallic wallets ($7.50), fingerless gloves ($3.80-$8.80), cute beanies ($6.80)...for more go to forever21.com, gojane.com or flyjane.com. For a guy that needs to stay warm and wants to look cute doing it: all of the following are $15: fingerless gloves, Peruvian style hats, cable-knit scarves, and other scarves.
Yes, you can still hook your family and friends up with some cute digs that won't dig too deeply into your pockets. The following are examples from Target (my fave one-stop shop) BUT, you should definitely give a look to www.Forever21.com, www.GoJane.com, www.flyjane.com, www.pinkice.com for some FAB fashion finds! Girlfriends, sisters, moms: Warm and cozy microfleece V-necks ($15) or hoodies ($20) Kids, nephews, nieces: Sweaters ($13), fleece hoodies or pants ($7/ea), girls' sweaters or skirts ($10-$15) BF, Dad, Brothers: Striped thermals ($15), Sweaters ($20), Flannel Shirts ($20)
Who doesn't love make-up? The best gift is the one that we need but, we'd never buy ourselves. You can make your own or buy one of the drugstore combos ($5-$20). The best site to check out for make-up deals, you get labels for CHEAP is www.ulta.com. Spa sets are another fun gift to give friends that work way too hard! For the pre-tween: a really cute Hello Kitty one with a bag, lotion, bubble bath, shower gel and body spray ($10). For an older friend or relative: $10 spa sets exist that you can pair up with the make-up set or a manicure set and you are...set ;p