I was paid a high honor over the holidays. My head kiddie said that I give the best Christmas gifts, next to my cousin G. G and I have completely different buying strategies however. My strategy is to watch, listen and observe to pick the perfect present at a reasonable
cost. Her strategy is to ask what you want and buy you something similar but ten times better. I will admit I am not that extravagant. I just like to make people happy. Amazingly, only a handful of my family members are blessed with customized gifts. My family is large and who has that kind of time?
My family is also weird. I noticed this when outsiders and newcomers, usually girlfriends arrive. They buy the completely wrong thing. Or worse, give money or gift cards. This is pricey as in our family everyone gets a gift. Yes, everyone, even your third cousin. And our family is sizable. Next we get these peculiar—what could best be described as—stocking stuffer gifts. Boxes or bags filled with useful but random little items. This year, my bag from my cousin Z included a pumice stone, a small pack of tissues, a leopard print pen, a box of tea, a miniature box of chocolates, a personal calendar, hand wipes and a chapstick. (I think she pilfered some of these ideas from me. See below) Yep, nice and random. I love the concept: a wonderful bag of goodies. However, I am a super “J” (Myers Briggs), so I try to give my gifts a bit more structure or a theme.
Here are some ideas for the people in your life that you love, but don’t really want to spend more than $10 or 15 on. Hey, times are tight. But just because times are tight doesn’t mean buying someone a stupid shrunken martini glass as a present. Dollar stores and clearance bins are your best friends. Do not. I repeat. Do not buy someone a stupid and useless cheap gift.
The absolute worst group to buy for on a budget is teenage boys, followed by adult men. Let’s face it: their tastes are too excessive with minimal return. Once I had a cousin complain that his gifts from the family weren’t up to his standards (he never purchased gifts for others). His behind was banished to underwear land, to never part. Here are my themes:
- Game Night – Buy a pack of Uno cards, regular playing cards, poker chips, dice, and a pack of another game cards, such as Would You Rather or SkipBo. These things often go on sale during the holidays for $4 or less and you can stack up. Get it? Stack up.
- Pocket Fun – One year a big hit was a bag with skull earbuds (I honestly didn’t expect them to be as excited as they were), a camouflage water bottle and a unique keychain. The keychain ideas are endless including digital photo ones I once found in a clearance bin, Swiss Army knife ones I found for 50 cents!, or hard leather strap ones
- Get Comfy – PJ bottoms, socks and a nice undershirt or tank top. Hopefully, if you have guys similar in size, you can get a multiple pack of tee-shirts at a big box store and split them up
Adult men are the bane of my existence. They never like anything. If you ask a man for advice on what to get a nice uncle, he will tell you something ridiculous such as a $50 Sears gift card. Not happening. I don’t try to be clever, I just want to get it done.
- Car Kit – A nice travel mug, unscented hand lotion, lip balm and a small pack of tissues. They won’t like it anyway
- Desk Kit – A sensible picture frame, a nice ball point pen and leather bound notebooks. Marshall’s sells really nice notebooks for $6 and they are genuine leather. It’s a bit of a waste of leather but oh well
- Wardrobe Accessories – Handkerchiefs (I had a friend who loved these), black dress socks, a leather belt (I often find these for $2. Seriously!) and/or a simple scarf
Yay! Teenage girls are so much fun.
- Pedicure Set – There are often these pedicure sets at discount stores that include toe dividers, pumice stones, etc. I buy one of these plus a pretty nail file, some foot lotion and some stand-out nail polish
- Bath Set –Body wash, bubble bath, lotion, and cute bath accessories from the dollar store: back brush, a shower poof and a bath mitt. Of course, women get of a lot of these smell goods, so be prudent. And remember never give this to me as I break out in hives. If you want an alternative, give one of those wearable towels in place of bath products. I know these are popular, because I received three in one year once
- Cool at School – I find a pretty tote bag, often on the clearance rack after the back to school run-up. I also add brightly colored hat and glove sets. Oh my goodness, H&M had the cutest hats this year
Women are rather easy, because they like almost anything other women give them. Unfortunately, men this isn’t always true for you.
- Ready for Bed – Big box stores sell cute pajamas in a multitude of colors, add a snarky eye mask (Dollar Store) and cozy, fuzzy socks
- Purse Pack – Buy a nice make-up bag. I got these gorgeous ones at Victoria’s Secret at their sale for $3 one year. Never to be replicated. Stuff with chapstick, a nail file (I like the big Emory boards with fancy designs), hand sanitizer, breath mints, small hand lotion and a small pack of tissues. Z’s pilfering. Her random gift bags started having these items after I gave out purse packs a few years in a row.
- Relax Set – A beautiful mug (I like off the beaten path boutiques for these), gourmet tea and a wonderfully scented candle
Those are some of my tricks. I love a stress-free holiday.