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#59266 - 11/20/02 12:49 PM Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
sunflwrpdx
Ching Shih


Registered: 09/23/01
Posts: 330
Loc: Portland, OR

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I was wondering how people are going to celebrate Christmas this year when a lot of people have shaky job/financial situations. I know the holiday season is ideally supposed to be about family, friends, and all that, but in this culture, it's also about money and presents, presents, presents. Sad, but unfortunately true.

This year, I have eight people I want/need to buy for: my boyfriend, my mom and her husband, my dad and his wife and kid, and my brother and his girlfriend. I'm worrying about how I'm going to buy everyone a gift. I've heard from several people that I should spend no more than $20 on each person, but if I do that, it means I spend $160, which is more than I can afford.

I've thought about giving each couple/family a single gift, but I'd also like to give my both of my parents something personal. (Like a book they'd enjoy, etc.) Most of all, I'm afraid of looking cheap if I give each family/couple only one gift to share amongst themselves, or if I buy my parents and brother their own gifts, and then give their spouses/SO's/kid something smaller.
So, I'm really not sure how I'm going to do this.

How are other people planning on getting by this Christmas?
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If you don't risk anything you risk even more. -- Erica Jong

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#59267 - 11/20/02 01:19 PM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
giabow
Ching Shih


Registered: 09/05/02
Posts: 79
Loc: NH

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This year is going to be hard for me, too. Besides Christmas, I have two November birthdays and a January birthday to buy for. Money is tight enough as it is.
My siblings and I (there are four of us) decided to do something different this year. Instead of each of us buying something for everyone, we drew names out of a hat. This way, we only have to buy one present instead of three. However, I still have to buy for that sibling, both of my parents, my fiance and his parents.
I'm leaning toward hand-made presents this year. I made my mother a scarf, and she really wants someone to clean the pantry and all the "junk drawers" in the house (there's about four of them). So that's what I'm doing while I'm there for the week. I'm making my fiance a pair of mittens and a book of poetry. He might get a little something else, but nothing really expensive. Everyone else is going to cost money though, which isn't good. Plus, about 25 Christmas cards to be mailed out to other family and friends. Although, I might just make those up on the computer and then copy them at Staples or something. Still, I'll be spending a small fortune in stamps (damn US postal service!).
Anyone else have any good money saving ideas for this Christmas?

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#59268 - 11/20/02 02:15 PM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
goovie
Ching Shih


Registered: 11/14/01
Posts: 808
Loc: chicago, il

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Yeah, this is gonna be a hard holiday season for me, too. At least the last time I was poor at Christmas, I was paying the bills with a job at Waldenbooks (in other words, employee discount). But everybody knows that I'm struggling right now with unemployment and moving and everything, and many of my loved ones are in similar situations. I figure there are about 5 presents I *really* need to buy, and everyone else will get homemade cards and fun little things that don't cost too much but will make them smile.
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#59269 - 11/20/02 02:42 PM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
deborah Administrator
Chief Bibliofreak
Ching Shih


Registered: 05/27/00
Posts: 3901
Loc: Funkytown

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sunflwrpdx, I don't have a lot of bright suggestions -- Frink and I usually end up overspending, between Christmas with my family and all our friends, Ramadan with his, Festivus between the two of us, gifts/cards/whatever for all his clients, and the little tokens of appreciation I send my moderators. At least the stuff we send his clients is a tax deduction...

But if you have people on your list who love books, perhaps they'd be content with used copies of books they want? I personally don't need or require brand new copies of all my books; I will usually only buy new if I can't get used. I've even interspersed my Amazon wish list with notes that I am happy with secondhand copies of books, just so people know. As long as the book's in decent readable condition and in one piece, I'm pretty darn happy. My philosophy is, the less spent on books, the more of them you can have. And I'm all about the greed.

The other thing that can make people very happy is if you track down a beloved/long-lost/out-of-print book...it doesn't have to be expensive -- the gift is really in the effort you've put into finding it and the thought/research it took to think of it.

ETA some other ideas:

I always think that gifts of effort are wildly underrated. Believe me, if someone gave me the gift of cleaning out my eavestroughs, I'd weep on their shoulder. I think the trick is to offer effort the person is ready, willing, and able to accept: for instance, someone's messy closets may drive you insane, but if they're not bothered by them, they're not going to be overjoyed by an offer to straighten them. Whereas they might be thrilled if you'd babysit a couple of times, or offer to come over and cook dinner a couple of times when things are particularly hectic for them. People are always offering to help me paint but frankly, unless I knew they were as fussy about it as I am, I don't think I'd let them. Or I'd be micromanaging them right into a fit. So for me, an offer to paint isn't necessarily exciting. Mow my lawn? Now you have my attention. Etc.

Another excellent gift is digging up a special picture they've never seen, never gotten around to framing, whatever, and putting it in a nice (but not expensive) frame. One of my most treasured gifts was from my sister, who dug up a 1973 picture of her and my late mother at my Dad's office Christmas party, and blew it up from the print since the negative was lost, and gave it to me -- unframed, even. In a manila envelope. But I was a blubbering mess. She probably spent less than $10 on it. And it's still the best gift she ever gave me.

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#59270 - 11/20/02 07:19 PM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
naomism
Ching Shih


Registered: 11/18/02
Posts: 757
Loc: Iraq

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I set aside money every month for gifts so that we have enough during the crunch time around the holidays (6 birthdays as well as Christmas presents in the Nov-early Jan time frame).

This is one of the cheapest gifts I've ever given, but it's also the one with the most touching responses: I get a box or a basket, something with a lid. You could even use a shoe box that you decorate yourself. On slips of colored paper (I used origami paper because I had some neat looking packets on hand) I write positive things about the person I'm giving the box to, like "...a great mom" or "...beautiful," "...sexy," etc. Then, when I give it to the person, I tell them it's an "I am..." box. Every time they open it, they should say, "I am..." and then read one of the slips of paper.

I've given this gift four times and all of my friends were very touched, to the point of tears. One of them likes to read a lot of the slips at one time when she's feeling down. Another one likes to read one each day for a little lift.

This is just one idea, but things of this sort are easy to do, cheap, and are still great gifts that are really appreciated.

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#59271 - 11/21/02 01:57 PM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
devilbrat1
Ching Shih


Registered: 02/19/02
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Loc: New York

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As a variation on the "I am" box you could maybe for a person who loves quotes, put some on strips and place them in a jar of some sort.

I was thinking maybe a coupon book with things such as babysitting on a Sat. night, shoveling snow, an offer to organize anything in the house (not specific enough to offend and also this way it can be used for whatever is needed. Just do strips of paper and bind it together with a ribbon. You can even have ones that have spending time together as the theme, here's a coupon for a movie night, a girls night, a cookie making afternoon, whatever.

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#59272 - 11/21/02 03:51 PM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
sunflwrpdx
Ching Shih


Registered: 09/23/01
Posts: 330
Loc: Portland, OR

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There's some really good ideas on this thread, like the gift of time, used books (of course), and the "I Am" jars. I'll have to remember the jar idea for my boyfriend's birthday and/or Valentine's Day. I'm sure he'd love it.

I think more than anything, I'm afraid of looking cheap this Christmas. Like if I spend less that $20 on each person, they're going to think I'm Scrooge, or get pissed off that I didn't get them something fancy & expensive when they bought me something really swell. My family tends to spend a lot of $$$ (probably too much) on Christmas and I've always felt guilty for getting a lot of gifts from certain people (Hello, Mom & Dad) when I can't afford to do the same for them. I know deep down that they probably understand, but I can't help but feel guilty anyway.

I do think handmade gifts, etc. can be more meaningful than store-bought ones. For example, the past two Christmases, when my SO and I had more money, we bought each other a lot of stuff, but now we can barely remember what we gave one another. But last year, I did a cross stitch piece for my boyfriend and he loved it--he actually got teary-eyed when he opened it and it now sits proudly on his desk.

I am doing the handmade thing again for him this year (another cross stitch piece), and I am also making several felt applique snowman ornaments that I could give to special people (like my parents and grandparents). But, that stills leaves the problem of what to do for my dad's kid, my brother, etc, and at this point, there's not enough time for me to do something crafty for everyone. (Argh!)

So what I'm thinking of doing is buying everyone a single Christmas tree ornament. I've been looking at tree ornaments like crazy lately and I'm amazed at what's out there. You can just about get any type of ornament you could imagine and depending on where you shop and what you pick out, the ornaments could be only a few dollars each or more than $20. I figured this would work because: everyone gets something; it'll be something that reflects their personalities, tastes, and interests (like a car for my dad, something cute for his kid, etc); and it'll be something they can take out year after year and treasure.

Maybe it's a hokey idea, but it might help me solve my Christmas gift problem.
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If you don't risk anything you risk even more. -- Erica Jong

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#59273 - 11/21/02 07:09 PM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
Kivrin
Ching Shih


Registered: 06/01/00
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Loc: Santa Cruz, CA, USA

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sunflwrpdx--I like the ornament idea a lot. One year I spent an entire afternoon baking 3 or 4 different kinds of Christmas-y cookies, put them into various colorful tins and gave them to all the family members for presents. One year, I did the same with homemade granola. Another year, I bought everyone remaindered hardcovers. This year, I'm buying presents. Lots and lots of presents. Going into debt amounts of presents. My siblings and our significant others have decided to draw names for each other, but we still have all our own children, spouses, nieces and nephews, mothers and others to buy for. I like to shop for people, but I hate the panic feeling I get over it until it's finished. As far as the actual cost/amount of gifts-- I no longer have the guilt thing. I mean, really. Do what you can, what comes from your heart. It's not a contest. I know that feeling well though. I grew up in a huge gift-giving family too. I still feel like it's a competition between us at times, but I try to relax and breathe a lot through-out the opening-of-presents time, and make myself busy.
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#59274 - 11/21/02 07:21 PM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
voiceofreason
Ching Shih


Registered: 04/27/02
Posts: 1257
Loc: Brookline, MA, USA

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My family (at least, my mother's family -- my dad's not so much) spends A Lot of money at Christmas. I definitely feel that they spend too much, and that the amount of expenditure becomes more important than the amount of effort. It kinda makes me sad. My mom often gives me cash for Christmas and birthdays, and gift certificates too, and I'd really much rather have something she spent a lot of time choosing or making. And I know that one of the big reasons that my mom gives cash is because she's afraid of getting the wrong thing, and I wish I could convince her that instead of giving me a packet of cash she really can't afford, she could just give me something small and nice that she really thought about. So, there, take it from me: expensive gifts are not always the best. (Oh, and to get back at my mom for giving me the cash, I take it and spend it on a present for her birthday, which is in February).

I give mostly handmade gifts (except for my mom's birthday -- see above); mostly this is because I love doing crafty/artsy things. Also because, though again this is more about the benefit to the giver than to the receiver, when you make something for someone (especially something big that takes a long time) you think about that person while you make it, and you feel all warm and fuzzy towards them. It's nice. I know I appreciate the effort that goes into making something specifically for me, especially when there's also a lot of thought behind it.

I really didn't enjoy gift-giving very much until I started making gifts; so much stress! Now I feel much more immersed in the holiday season because of the time and effort I take, and the aformentioned spending time thinking about people while I knit, stitch, print, carve stamps, or whatever. That reminds me, I need to start making my Christmas cards! My strategy for cheap Christmas cards: use postcards. They're cheaper to buy and the postage is less besides. I'm making my own -- metallic red card, gold stamp, total expenditure for 100 cards(which I will not use even half of, sadly): $13.

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#59275 - 11/22/02 03:20 AM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
TG73
Gráinne ni Mhaille


Registered: 11/22/02
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Newbie here. Hi.

My two sisters and I work out a deal each year about buying for kids. One of my sisters has 3 kids, one has two, and I have two. We each buy for one sister's kids and not the other sister. This year, though, one sister has bowed out due to financial woe's (messy divorce and all) so my one sister and I are buying for each other's kids.

As far as parents... when my sibs and I are broke, we tend to all go in together one one nice gift for my parents to share. This year we're making them a calendar from photos of all their grandkids from one of the photo ordering websites.

Also, crafts and home-made gifts can be much cheaper and mean even more because of the effort you put into making them.
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#59276 - 11/22/02 08:20 AM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
Lady Di
Ching Shih


Registered: 06/07/02
Posts: 346
Loc: lynn, ma 01902

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What my family does is pick names, that would includes my brothers and sisters & the nieces & nephews that are out of school & working. We pick a name & buy for that family.

Ex: mom & dad = 1 gift for the house, present for each child.

If the family I get has a child over the age of 6, I get them a gift bag (basic essentials plus a book, couple of dodads). But its really relatively cheaper if you have a dollar store or buy 2 for $1.00, or clcearance sale.

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#59277 - 12/01/02 12:48 PM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
Fata Morgana
Ching Shih


Registered: 07/30/02
Posts: 36
Loc: NYC

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There are some great ideas here. I am having a tough time deciding what to do. Mr. FM got laid off after 9/11 and things are way tight. We are going to my parents in Portland, ORfor a week. We only see them once a year and it is alway a big to-do. It is also Mr. FM's birthday on 12/23 and we are doing Hanukah with his family right now. I have about a $1 to my name and I am having a panic attack. I keep making suggestions to my mom (who is the Head Cheese in charge of all things Holiday) about drawing names or imposing some kind of limits and she keeps delaying any decision. My brother is a grad student and is feeling the pain too. I guess I will just have to make a choice and deal with it. This is the most anxiety producing holiday in years.
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#59278 - 12/02/02 12:10 AM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
cloonez
Ching Shih


Registered: 09/22/01
Posts: 71
Loc: Kingston, ON

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I love to go all out for Christmas, birthdays and all other gift-giving opportunities, but being a student means that I have to find ways to do that that don't involve massive amounts of money.

I'm definitely all about giving a family one gift. This year the family that I used to baby-sit for, and am still very close with is getting a Disney movie, microwave popcorn and popcorn seasonings. Instead of spending $20 on each of them ($100 total), I spend about $30, and I know they'll enjoy the movie, they'll spend some time together (even if they are watching the idiot box while they do it), and they'll appreciate the thought. Last year they got sundae toppings (hot fudge and caramel sauce, nuts and sprinkles), a fancy ice cream scoop and some pretty ice cream bowls, all of which added up to about $40. Generally speaking, if you can find a few inexpensive things along a common theme, and package it nicely, it comes off as a great gift, and the receiver knows that you've put in a lot of thought.

Homemade gifts are also great. I learned to knit last Christmas and made several of my friends scarves. The wool was fairly inexpensive, the knitting could be done while watching tv or listening to music, and I learned a new skill. Plus, the scarves turned out really well. Last year my brother made me a 3D checkers game, which remains high on the list of cool gifts I've gotten.

Essentially, the more thought that goes into a gift, the less important the cost becomes. One of the best gifts I've ever gotten was a "warm fuzzy" from my friend Andrea. Similar to the "I Am" box, it was a list of qualities about me she liked, displayed beautifully (she's an art student) and framed. During his own impoverished student years, my brother gave his girlfriend a cookie tin with a promise that it would be full of letters by the next Christmas (they lived in different parts of the country at that point), and wrote her gorgeous letters once a week for the rest of the year. I (obviously) didn't read the letters themselves, but B writes beautifully, and his girlfriend absolutely loved it.

As Deborah noted, photographs are another great way to put a lot of thought, and not too much money into a gift. A plain wooden frame can be found pretty cheaply, and then you can dress it up as you desire, and put a nice picture inside that you know the person would love. The family that I mentioned above gave me a picture of me with the two oldest kids when they were 2 and 3, building sand castles. They're now 8 and 9, and I absolutely love that picture, although I don't like being reminded of how much they're growing up. In my mind I still have to change J's (the eight year old) diaper before he goes to bed. A photo album or a scrapbook is also a really sweet gift. I gave one to my mother last year, and she was all weepy as she looked through it.

Finally, I'm a big fan of Christmas baking. Last year my friend Natalie gave me a 1L glass jar of dry cookie mix, with a recipe enclosed, which I found pretty exciting because it got me baking, and she dressed up the jar so that it was a gorgeous. (I'll love any gift that is wrapped prettily.) You can't go wrong with giving away cookies, brownies, fudge etc., as long as there's no food allergy, plus baking is fun and fairly easy.

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#59279 - 12/05/02 06:16 PM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
EL
Ching Shih


Registered: 12/09/00
Posts: 125
Loc: New York City, NY, USA

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I give out Christmas ornaments all the time, that's basically what all the people in my department in work are getting this year! I just hope that other people enjoy them as much as I do. I just love ornaments because when you put them on the tree each year you can think about who gave them to you or where they came from.
Everybody has put great suggestions in this thread. I might use the cleaning cupboards idea for my mom. And the theme gift for a family is a great idea! I might do that for the family I used to babysit for.
Good luck "gifting" everyone.

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#59280 - 12/06/02 11:18 AM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
NataliAnne
Ching Shih


Registered: 01/08/02
Posts: 113
Loc: Montreal

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I love getting Chrsitmas ornaments as well. Every year a group of my oldest friends get together for a party and it has become tradition for everyone to bring an ornament (price limit $10 Canadian) that is wrapped up. We then play a little game to decide who gets which package (obviously you can't pick your own). Basically everyone picks a number out of a hat that establishes the order people get to choose. Person 1 chooses a package and unwraps it, person 2 then gets to choose a new package OR the one that was already unwrapped forcing person 1 to choose again (who can't take back their original choice), and so on until the last person gets their choice of all the ornaments. Its a lot of fun and everyone ends up with a nice keepsake to add to their own ornament collection that reminds us of our friendship.
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#59281 - 12/06/02 12:19 PM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
sunflwrpdx
Ching Shih


Registered: 09/23/01
Posts: 330
Loc: Portland, OR

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Well, I started my Christmas shopping last night. Luckily, I've been doing some extra work for one of the lawyers in my office, so I can actually afford to buy stuff. I'm allowing myself $80 for presents and I think I can stick with it. I did some of my shopping at Powell's and got three gifts for less than $20. (Brand new "sale" books. Powell's has a lot of them and it's good stuff, like Dr. Seuss books and poetry collections, etc.)

So, the gifts will be small and inexpensive, but they will happen. I just hope people like them.
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If you don't risk anything you risk even more. -- Erica Jong

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#59282 - 12/06/02 07:30 PM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
shrew
Ching Shih


Registered: 08/09/00
Posts: 207

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I'd have to agree on the photo gift idea... my brother and I did that for my dad's 75th birthday with a childhood photo of him and his dog... we had it scanned, touched-up, and enlarged from a beat-up old print and I framed it. It made him cry, he was so touched.

A couple of other things I've done: I've painted terra cotta pots in funky colors and given them with some potting soil and herb seeds to co-workers. If you put the bottom of the pot upside-down on the top of the pot, and tie it up with a pretty ribbon, you don't even have to wrap them... they look festive and gifty just like that.

I don't knit, but I have made scarves by buying really soft fabric and doing a bit of sewing. It doesn't take much, and you can buy fringe to sew into the seams on the ends, to make it look really cool. You can get stuff cheap on the remnant tables in fabric stores. Of course, you need a sewing machine for that...

If you have a natural foods co-op where you live, you might want to check out their bath and body products. The one near me sells fabulous scented bath salts in bulk, and you can get fun-looking jars to put them in for a couple of bucks. Add a ribbon, and you have an inexpensive, pampering-type gift.

I also like to check out the antique shops for oddball items. My brother collects antique beer stuff, and one year I found a whole case of Gettleman beer in its original wooden crate. Not just the bottles, but unopened, with this decades-old beer still in it. It was in the bargain basement of the shop ('cuz who else would actually buy 40-year-old beer?) and my brother thought it was fabulous. You can find all kinds of funky strange stuff for not too much money if you're willing to sift through a lot of junk.

My husband and my niece have taken to exchanging poems each year, which I think is really, really ultra-wonderful.

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#59283 - 12/10/02 12:02 AM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
miercoles
Ching Shih


Registered: 10/29/00
Posts: 877
Loc: Ann Arbor, MI

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I almost burst into tears in Borders tonight when I realized there was simply no way I could afford to buy everyone the gifts I wanted to get them.

I calmed down a bit, realized there were plenty of books that my family members would enjoy that weren't written in the past six months, and would therefore be available in paperback. That helped a little.

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#59284 - 12/10/02 02:11 PM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
Joss
Ching Shih


Registered: 09/13/01
Posts: 329
Loc: southern California

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Christmas is two weeks from today. Oh dear. I seem to have equated thinking about Christmas shopping with actually doing it. I planned on being crafty, but it seems that embroidering in my head is not the same as embroidering in real life.

I am having a hard time with the idea of one gift per person. Growing up, my parents showered us with gifts -- no one thing being very expensive at all, but a couple of stuffed animals, a few books, etc., so I feel horrible and chintzy when I think of just giving someone really dear to me only one gift. This is even though I kind of like receiving just one gift from someone else because it makes that one gift more special. Oh dear again.

I think everyone's ideas here are wonderful, by the way, and I think your family and pals are very lucky indeed.

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#59285 - 12/11/02 09:23 AM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
StephA
Ching Shih


Registered: 06/13/02
Posts: 2744
Loc: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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Just following up on the 'do something nice for someone' gift ideas...

My sister is going to burn me some mixed CDs. I am one of those people who buys CDs for that one song - now I have all these one-song CDs that take up space and that I don't listen to. If you have the technology, this is a great gift.

Or you could organize your family's lying-around photos into a comprehensive album.

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#59286 - 12/11/02 11:43 AM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
NataliAnne
Ching Shih


Registered: 01/08/02
Posts: 113
Loc: Montreal

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I agree with the CD burning. Last year my boyfriend's parents were driving to Florida to visit his sister over Christmas (leaving from Montreal). We burned them a whole bunch of CDs to listen to on the road and a bunch of CDs to give to his sister. They were very appreciative. Plus I baked some goodies for their road trip too...
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#59287 - 12/11/02 02:30 PM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
maggie
Ching Shih


Registered: 06/01/00
Posts: 269
Loc: Canada

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How about writing and making a book? I've done that a few times. I collected a bunch of recipes that were standards in my family and wrote some anecdotes about memorable family dinners and events concerning food (notable recipes that went very wrong), scanned some photos, laid it out in PageMaker and printed it. I designed it as booklet using 8.5 by 11 inch paper, in the 'landscape' format. At that time, I had access to some fabulous paper supplies and excellent printers and copiers. I think you could do it reasonably cheaply at Kinko's or the like. Splurge with a colour photo on a cardstock cover, or go completely black and white. Or, buy binders with a pocket on the front and slip in a colour copy. If you use a binder, then you can just type it up in a word processing program and not worry about design too much.

I've also done personalized calendars with birthdays and anniversaries noted on them as well as birthdays of famous people who share the same day as my family members. I think MS Word even has a calendar generator. I'd advise you to use it and not design each month, as I did. Back then I really did have more time than money. (I don't have that much more money now, but I have absolutely no time). Again, scanning in a few photos adds to the fun.

Another idea is to make a birthday book, which just lists the dates of your family's birthdays along with various fun facts about that day in history, zodiac info, etc.

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#59288 - 12/14/02 11:58 PM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
FishDreamer Administrator
Ching Shih


Registered: 08/27/01
Posts: 2804
Loc: Windy City USA

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I love the recipe book idea! We've got a bunch of family recipes that my mom typed up in the mid-80s on her Apple II+, which format is no longer accessible. I will definitely try that for next year. Maybe for Mr D as well, since I have his mom's recipes. I could create my own! I was just reading in Food and Wine about how community cook books are becoming collectors items, so this is a great tie in. Thanks!
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#59289 - 12/17/02 03:28 AM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
athena98122
Ching Shih


Registered: 10/24/01
Posts: 158
Loc: seattle wa

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*breathes a sigh of relief* thank you, chickliterati!

i had gotten into a bit of a christmas panic these past few days. grad student. unemployed. you get the idea.

for my two oldest friends i had already started the cookie-mix-in-a-jar - but i was expanding it to include a cookie mix, a soup mix, and cocoa.

but i could not think what to do for my parents and my brother. then i came here and saw "mix cds".

i have 500 cds. there must be 70 minutes worth of music for each of them in there.

now i just have to figure out how to use this burner . . .

(but it just helped a lot to read this thread, to see that a lot of us are in the same boat, and to be reminded that the thoughtful gift really is appreciated in the end. thanks \:\) )

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#59290 - 11/17/03 12:17 AM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
grapevyne
Ching Shih


Registered: 11/02/01
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It's time to revive this one again. A friend of mine has a problem. Some of her family members are having money concerns this christmas so they have decided to do all homemade gifts this year. She has more money than time right now so she is stressed out. To make things worse she drew her brother's name. He is a hunter/farmer/racefan type of a guy. I've been trying to help her think of gifts she could make but we only came up with two, mixed cd's or a basket full of things like shotgun shells. Any suggestions?
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#59291 - 11/17/03 07:04 AM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
ms.strident
Ching Shih


Registered: 06/01/00
Posts: 515
Loc: Newfoundland, Canada

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My husband is a racefan (rally, F1 and whatever they're calling CART nowadays) and he would probably appreciate a photo of one of his favorite racetracks (or drivers) printed off the computer and mounted or framed. Maybe her brother would like something like that?
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#59292 - 11/17/03 09:48 AM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
Kristin K
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Registered: 03/31/03
Posts: 109
Loc: Durham, NC

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grapevyne,

I did something like this for my father-in-law who is an outdoorsman, and it might work for a farmer or a hunter as well.

You could him an "outdoor survival kit" full of stuff to take with him when he is hunting or working outside. You could include homemade trail mix, chemical handwarmers (you can get them in the sporting goods section of Walmart for about $2.00), instant coffee or cocoa mix, matches (if he camps when hunting), chapstick, and gloves.

It requires buying a few things, but could be considered "homemade."

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#59293 - 11/17/03 10:04 AM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
viva
Ching Shih


Registered: 09/06/03
Posts: 958
Loc: Houston TX

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This is a great post - even if we weren't in a tough economy, I think gifts from the heart are more special than throwing money at people (not that I would turn down diamonds or anything). Things I have done in the past (echoing other suggestions already made!) are:

My sister & I took a bunch of family photos & made our dad a photo scrapbook with funny stories, etc. - Dad was in tears. Along the same line, our dog passed away last year, so the two of us put together a doggie scrapbook with excerpts from children's poetry about little dogs.

Dad had a favorite restaurant pitstop on one of our family roadtrips - so we took a quick drive & got a photo of that, enlarged, matted & framed it.

My mom had a big drawer full of tattered recipe copies - I'm typing them all into Word, indexing & creating a table of contents, and then giving her a printed copy & electronic copy (in case she messes up a page!) You can put the printed copy in a binder decorated with pretty paper, ribbons, gift wrap, etc.

My sister & I took a trip to Europe - I compiled all of our photos into a scrapbook with narrative about our trip & the things we saw together.

The dad also gets geeky books with info about places we've been as a family (e.g. a book about the Puerto Rican rainforest). This way, he can annoy us with little factoids for the rest of our lives, which gives him immense satisfaction.

Friends & colleagues get homemade cookie boxes or other homemade foods - barbeque sauce, margarita mixes, pies, etc.

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#59294 - 11/17/03 03:47 PM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
Ekaterina
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Registered: 11/16/01
Posts: 275
Loc: USA

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So my sister calls me up the other day. She says that now that I'm earning money (I had a summer job and now get $6 for workstudy), we're upping the ante on Christmas gifts. She tells me that I *must* spend at least $35 and preferably upwards of $50 on her.

WTF. I mean, seriously. I'm a college student. It takes me a week to earn $50, and that disappears reaaaallly fast when I've got books, food, school supplies, etc topay for. I told her that I'd be perfectly happy not exchanging gifts with her if she hasn't liked my (admittedly, often homemade or small and inexpensive) gifts in the past. I do put a lot of thought into my gift-buying, but I just don't have any money, or a lot of time, so yeah, people get second-hand books and ornaments from Target, and I always try to not spend more than $20 on people. Still, I'm worried - what do I do? Suck it up and spend the cash I can't afford? Buy a nice present that doesn't cost what she wants me to spend, and face her disappointment on Christmas morning? I don't particularly like my sister, and have never gotten along with her, but she's in the working world now, I'm definitely not - should she be cutting me a little slack, or am I complaining about nothing and being selfish for not spending a week's pay on her gift?

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#59295 - 11/17/03 04:17 PM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
miercoles
Ching Shih


Registered: 10/29/00
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Loc: Ann Arbor, MI

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Ekaterina, you are definitely not being selfish, and I think placing a minimum price on a present is incredibly tacky. (Setting a maximum price, on the other hand, is still kind of tacky, but generally appreciated in most gift exchanges I've seen.)

Wow. I wish I had some advice to offer you.

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#59296 - 11/17/03 04:17 PM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
TraceyB
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Registered: 06/06/00
Posts: 1483
Loc: Minneapolis, MN

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Excuse me for a moment, Ekaterina, I have to pick my jaw up off the floor.

You "must" spend a certain amount on your sister's gift? And what's the weather like on your sister's planet?

If it were me, I'd strike her off my list. If she complained about not getting a present, I'll tell her that I couldn't afford her requirements, and didn't want to get her something she wouldn't appreciate.

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#59297 - 11/17/03 07:43 PM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
viva
Ching Shih


Registered: 09/06/03
Posts: 958
Loc: Houston TX

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Ekaterina - WOW!

Maybe it's worth reminding your sister that it's not the money but the thought & love behind the gift that counts. Write it in a card.... With no money in it (or $50 of Monopoly money!)... Put it in her stocking, and call it her gift for Christmas.

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#59298 - 11/17/03 07:55 PM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
Kivrin
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Registered: 06/01/00
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Ekaterina--I'm with TraceyB and viva. In fact, I was just about to post how maybe you should write her a little poem about the importance of the holiday--family getting together, etc...and leave it at that.

It is terrible to make someone feel guilty about their gift choices. Just ignore her. She's very tactless to even mention it. If she's disappointed on Christmas, that's her deal, not yours. You don't owe her anything. And, you certainly aren't responsible for her happiness.

My people are receiving cheery tins of my homemade granola again this year. One year my sister said "Oh, if you make us that Christmas granola, could you leave the nuts out of mine? I don't like nuts". Hah! Then, don't eat my granola, girlfriend.

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#59299 - 11/17/03 08:31 PM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
klio
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Registered: 10/01/03
Posts: 222
Loc: Houston, Texas

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For your sister to even suggest that you have to buy her a present is being extremely rude. To insist on it being of a certain price level goes beyond rude, it's tacky and, given your financial situation, insensitive.

Perhaps you might find a copy of one of Miss Manners' books and give that to her for Christmas. Sounds like she could use it. Or be a little more subtle about it and give her a copy of George Washington's book on manners and deportment.

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#59300 - 11/17/03 08:38 PM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
PrimulaMary
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Registered: 01/01/02
Posts: 1061
Loc: London, UK

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 Quote:
Originally posted by viva:
Maybe it's worth reminding your sister that it's not the money but the thought & love behind the gift that counts. Write it in a card.... With no money in it (or $50 of Monopoly money!)... Put it in her stocking, and call it her gift for Christmas.
Or, you know, a lump of coal.

I mean... gah. That's tacky, and selfish, and a really brazen flouting of the whole gift ethos. It's a gift. You don't get to set preconditions. If I was ordering something -- like no nuts in my granola -- then, fine. But I'd pay for the materials, and for your time, because it's an order, not a gift. Or, as my mother does with me most years when I write her Christmas letters, messages, with little stories and what-have-you, I'd offer to take you to lunch in exchange

Seriously. This year, I'm earning decent money, but spending upwards of $50 on any one person isn't in my league. I'm always on the lookout for ways to save cash, particularly as I've developed almost a "set" present for my goddaughter, which leaves less cash in the kitty for everyone else.

Mara and I are buying each other tickets to the ballet for Christmas this year -- but as the performance we're seeing isn't until June, the credit card payment won't need to come out until early next year. If there's a film or a play or a whatever you want to see with someone, or that they want to see, that's showing sometime next year, it might ease the financial strain a little to give them a mocked-up "ticket" to the event, and then find the money sometime when you're not buying gifts for a dozen other people.

I'm buying my mother a Gold Class ticket to see Love Actually, for instance. (Mum, if you're reading this -- well, hey there. Merry Christmas.) I don't know what the rest of you call them, but Gold Class cinemas here are basically gorgeous big recliners, champagne, etc, served to your seat at specified times throughout the film. Very swish. We both want to see the film, as she has a real thing for Alan Rickman and I am simply waiting for Colin Firth to come to his senses and realise that I am the only woman for him.

I'm also with deborah on the "gifts of time" thing. A few years back, I had absolutely no money at Christmas time due to a confluence of unemployment due to illness, hospital bills, and a very sick and sorry credit card. So I gave my mother twenty hours' worth of ironing, which she appreciated way more than anything I might have spent $20 on, and it meant one less financial thing for me to worry about.

And kilo beat me to the punch, and at the same time made me giggle with the suggestion of George Washington's book, because it reminded me of a giggle-worthy running gag on a Christmas edition of The West Wing.

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#59301 - 11/17/03 09:37 PM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
Catness
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Registered: 04/02/02
Posts: 1863
Loc: Chicago, Illinois

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 Quote:
Originally posted by klio:
Perhaps you might find a copy of one of Miss Manners' books and give that to her for Christmas. Sounds like she could use it. Or be a little more subtle about it and give her a copy of George Washington's book on manners and deportment.
Word to what everyone else has said: your sister was flat out rude. I love what klio suggested. I'd be hard pressed to choose between Miss Manners and George Washington.

This year, we're making our holiday cards, as we did last year. Actually, the "we" in that is a little misleading. Mr Catness does the artwork and photocopying, and then I fill them out in an evening while imbibing a bottle of wine.

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#59302 - 11/18/03 12:06 AM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
Pflaume
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Registered: 10/30/02
Posts: 451

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I'd second (or third?) the Miss Manners, or possibly Emily Post. Though Emily might actually put you over her budget!

For friends at school, I've done the baked goods thing, packaged in Christmas tins from the dollar store.

I've recently taken up beading, so a few people will be getting necklaces. I'm also going to try to make some ornaments for my mother-maybe four bead angels, for her four girls? lol

I've also been thinking about getting a photograph of the theatre where my parents had their first date, and framing it. (I work at the Archives that happens to hold photos of most theatres in Ontario, so I've got easy access). That might be a fun idea for other people buying presents for couples, if you know where they had their first date, and can get a photo.

Of course, everyone invariably gets books.

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#59303 - 11/18/03 08:19 AM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
jellybiscuit
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Registered: 02/19/02
Posts: 81
Loc: atlanta, ga

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Another variation on the recipe book are recipe cards. One year my sister gave me a lovely wooden recipe box, and when I opened it it was full of family recipes. The poor girl actually followed my Nanny around to translate her whole "I don't know how much -- just add enough milk!" versions of recipes.

I loved this gift so much. It took her oodles of time, and I could tell. It's not easy cooking with Nanny. So, it's a record of family recipes, and I love it.

I'm mentioning this because it might be more functional than a recipe book. I put my recipes in it too, and it's growing yearly. Plus it might be easier to make than a book (for the less handy).

This year my hubby and I are giving one big gift for my family, and it's kicking my ass. We're filming all my family's old Super 8 movies (which we stole from my Mom and Dad's house), and we're going to iMovie it. It is taking forever to film these things. They're in terrible condition (which is one reason we're doing it, so they won't be lost) which makes it really hard to thread them, etc.

The goal is to burn DVDs for each house (one for my Mom and Dad, one each for my siblings, one for my grandma). We're going to design the covers so it looks like a real DVD. So, that's our big gift.

We are so not going to finish on time, though.

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#59304 - 11/18/03 09:35 AM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
klio
Ching Shih


Registered: 10/01/03
Posts: 222
Loc: Houston, Texas

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Putting your home movies on DVD is such a beautiful gift, jellybiscuit! My sister-in-law, who is much more creative than I am, gave each of the brothers in my husband's family a scrapbook with family photos in it. It took her forever to finish, because she had to get copies of all the old photos and then set up all the pages.

My sweetie and I have taken to getting one larger Christmas present for us, rather than going out and buying each other gifts. That's pretty much fine with me because he's hard to shop for and he hates shopping, so it spares him the hassle of trying to figure out what I want (even if I do have a mile-long wish list on Amazon that he knows about). This year will be a treadmill. Exciting, eh? I was hoping for TiVo, but I may have to wait for that. \:\(

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#59305 - 11/18/03 11:42 AM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
fayzer
Ching Shih


Registered: 01/20/03
Posts: 128
Loc: Toronto

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 Quote:
That might be a fun idea for other people buying presents for couples, if you know where they had their first date, and can get a photo.
That is such a neat idea! Hmmm, my parents met at Oktoberfest...do you think they'd want a picture of Uncle Hans??

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#59306 - 11/18/03 12:28 PM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
cat
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Registered: 06/02/00
Posts: 1754
Loc: Northern California

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Kivrin, bless you for mentioning your granola! I've just devised a fantastic honey-almond granola recipe, and you gave me the idea that I could do that as my homemade gift for people. I had been worrying about that.

Of course, I'm still not sure what to get for other presents, but I'm quite pleased because my Christmas list shrank by five people this year, due to my father's divorce from my ex-stepmother, and the fact that I now no longer feel I need to get presents for my four stepsiblings who a) never got me anything and b) never thanked me for the things I got them. So, no more worrying about that.

For my grandfather, who is elderly and lives alone, last year I made up and froze Mason jars of nice soups, for him to have for dinners. This year, I think he'll get an extra-big jar of the granola, plus some other food gifts. So many people I know, especially older people, protest that they have too much stuff already, so I'm trying to get gifts that people will use up.

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#59307 - 11/18/03 12:34 PM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
viva
Ching Shih


Registered: 09/06/03
Posts: 958
Loc: Houston TX

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 Quote:
Originally posted by jellybiscuit:
Another variation on the recipe book are recipe cards. One year my sister gave me a lovely wooden recipe box, and when I opened it it was full of family recipes. The poor girl actually followed my Nanny around to translate her whole "I don't know how much -- just add enough milk!" versions of recipes.
Hee... Grandma was the same way. She wrote up her "mental" recipes for me, and if you followed them, somehow a pie would show up in the oven without you assembling it or putting it there (much less what temp to bake it at). Jellybiscuit, your sister must be a very patient person. Gotta watch those grandmas... they are very proprietary about their recipes.

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#59308 - 11/18/03 01:19 PM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
LaSalleUGirl
Ching Shih


Registered: 06/25/01
Posts: 1895
Loc: Philadelphia, PA, USA

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I'm a compulsive present buyer, and often spend more than I reasonably should, but only when I stumble across something that I know the recipient will absolutely love. I find it much easier to splurge on others than on myself. However, I also have good discount karma, and often find something perfect for less than I planned to spend in the first place, so probably everything evens itself out in the end.

I almost never buy people presents (Christmas or otherwise) because it's expected of me. My mom believes in finding the perfect present for people, which is difficult (and basically pointless) unless you're giving to someone you know well and really care about. The perfect present can cost nothing (or the nominal cost of, say, recipe cards and a wooden box) or can be a splurge ~ it varies from person to person, year to year, gift to gift. Some of the most poignant presents I've given, like many of the gifts other posters have described, have been labors of love and time. The best present I ever gave my father was a set of dubbed copies of The West Wing 's first season ~ the person who provided them for me asked only for the cost of the videotapes and shipping. I also printed him out an episode guide with brief synopses of the season. I've never seen him so thrilled.

When I'm being thrifty, I go for photo-oriented projects, mostly because I'm a picture freak. Last Christmas, I made photo albums for my sister and my cousin to chronicle our childhoods together. It took me months to sort, scan, and print pictures, not to mention assemble the albums, but it was totally worth it. I was also able to find a picture of my cousin and our uncle (who was her father figure) that had been missing for several years. I made her a copy and framed it.

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#59309 - 11/18/03 06:48 PM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
Selena
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Registered: 06/29/03
Posts: 720
Loc: Grand Bahama, Bahamas

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 Quote:
Hmmm, my parents met at Oktoberfest...do you think they'd want a picture of Uncle Hans?
If he was holding Frieda's hand or something, it would be kinda sweet.

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#59310 - 11/18/03 07:24 PM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
heyalice
Ching Shih


Registered: 05/27/03
Posts: 211
Loc: Toronto

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cat, you are the bestest grandchild EVER!!!
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#59311 - 11/18/03 10:48 PM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
cat
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Registered: 06/02/00
Posts: 1754
Loc: Northern California

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aw, heyalice, you made me cry! Thanks. He's a pretty great grandfather, actually, so I'm just trying to return the favor. (And, besides, see above, I'm the worst ex-stepdaughter ever.)

I'm drawing up my Christmas-card list tonight (32 names on the list and counting!), and also trying to make a list for gifts. It looks like it's gonna be painful. Luckily a big freelance project just landed in my lap; thank goodness for extra cash.

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#59312 - 11/19/03 09:06 AM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
heyalice
Ching Shih


Registered: 05/27/03
Posts: 211
Loc: Toronto

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cat, you are so not the worst stepdaughter, believe me. I too am working on my Christmas card list. Professional and family and friends. Those near and dear are getting baked goods and I took up knitting and am addicted so SCARVES FOR EVERYBODY. The boy, my son, is getting the PS2 he asked for. I am soo reigning it in this year..Good luck to everybody! \:\)
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#59313 - 11/24/03 02:32 AM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
grapevyne
Ching Shih


Registered: 11/02/01
Posts: 230

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Thanks for all your great suggestions on homemade gifts for guys. They gave my friend some ideas. Sorry it took me so long to reply.

Ekaterina, sometimes I try buying something original, so that the recipient will have a hard time pricing the gift. Craft fairs and flea markets are a good place to look.

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#59314 - 11/24/03 10:34 AM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
Kirsten Thompson
Gráinne ni Mhaille


Registered: 06/30/03
Posts: 4
Loc: Edinburgh

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this thread is a lifesaver! I am so broke this year, and am cutting back on all spending on presents and the like, but the idea of quotes in boxes is an excellent one. I've started collecting already, but if anyone has some kick ass ideas, let me know! I'm usually crap at baking but I'm going to give it a go nearer the time - my Gran is always good to get recipes from and they nearly always work in my hands, which is quite astonishing really.
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#59315 - 11/24/03 02:09 PM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
Ekaterina
Ching Shih


Registered: 11/16/01
Posts: 275
Loc: USA

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Mugs. I'm getting my sister mugs, and if she asks, they came from the super-expensive artist's cooperative, not building 19 or Marshalls. As for my friends, they're getting New Year's gifts. This will cut the pressure to get everything done before the Big Day, and it'll solve the problem of giving everybody but one a Christmas present and then one person their Hannukah gift. I can then bake over break.

My own family? Well, I got my dad a book at the Christmas Tree Shop. I'll pick up some junky mugs for MeanSis at some point, but the ten/twelve other people I must buy for by Christmas? No idea. And am not worrying about it right now - will worry after Thanksgiving.

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#59316 - 11/25/03 12:49 PM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
zinemama
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Registered: 03/04/02
Posts: 131

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We're living on one (modest) income and as the at-home parent of 2 small children I have neither the time, money nor inclination to run around shopping for the holidays. A few years ago I decided that what worked for me was to pick one thing to make and give that to everyone. The rest of my family is more able to afford spending $$ on holiday gifts, but they understand my situation, so it's never been an issue at all.

One year I made everyone polarfleece scarves ($34.50 for 9 scarves!), last year it was biscotti, and this year I'm making chocolate-dipped macaroons and a jar of cocoa for each person. The macs are surprisingly easy to make, and it's been fun testing out recipes!
_________________________
Miranda: a zine about motherhood and other adventures www.mirandazine.com

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#59317 - 11/25/03 03:04 PM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
klio
Ching Shih


Registered: 10/01/03
Posts: 222
Loc: Houston, Texas

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 Quote:
this year I'm making chocolate-dipped macaroons and a jar of cocoa for each person.
zinemama, will you adopt me?

I was at one of those Christmas craft market/festival things last weekend. One of the many, many food/drink samples I got was some white chocolate cocoa. It was soooooo good. And then there was the raspberry cocoa. *sigh* To think there was once a time when I didn't like hot cocoa.

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#59318 - 11/26/03 09:56 AM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
marykmac
Ching Shih


Registered: 08/15/00
Posts: 440
Loc: York, UK

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*looks around and hopes best friend isn't reading*

I'm doing a fairly cheap Christmas this year. My best friend got her First Proper Job two months ago, and has her First Proper Job. It's remarkably bare at the moment, so me and another of our friends are going to make a New Office Kit. It's going to have
  • a tray
  • two or three nice mugs
  • nice glass jars of instant coffee and teabags
  • jar of sugar
  • lots of UHT milk things(she doesn't have a fridge, although she has a kettle)
  • a jar of chupachups lollipops or a tin of biscuits
  • a picture for the wall
  • a list of funny URLs for boring days.
  • possibly a jar of homemade hot chocolate as well, but that would require experiments with powdered milk and I'm not sure I'm up to that.

Can anyone think of anything else? This is, of course, an entirely selfish present, because she works on the campus where I'm studying and whenever I go around for coffee she has two rather manky mugs and a jar of Cadbury's Instant Break. But I think it'll be nice, and it'll cost us about £10 each.
(I really, really hope she doesn't read Chicklit any more! I don't think she does, but she might.)
I'm getting my mum some photo albums and the promise to spend a couple of days after Christmas sorting out the past 20 years-worth of photos. And I've found a website with screenshots from the remarkably ancient Atari console that my brothers and I had when we were younger, so I'm going to get some computer transfer paper and print screenshots from Pacman and Space Invaders onto T-shirts.

My dad and my grandma are the sticky ones. Hmph.

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#59319 - 11/26/03 08:16 PM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
zinemama
Ching Shih


Registered: 03/04/02
Posts: 131

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QUOTE]zinemama, will you adopt me? QB][/QUOTE]

Klio - do you sleep through the night?
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#59320 - 11/26/03 11:23 PM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
klio
Ching Shih


Registered: 10/01/03
Posts: 222
Loc: Houston, Texas

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Most nights, zinemama. And I'm pretty good, by now, about not disturbing others if I wake up. But I do breathe through my mouth when I'm asleep (weird nose problem), so when I'm congested, my sweetie says I sound like Darth Vader. But that's about it, really. \:\)
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#59321 - 11/29/03 12:36 PM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
cocojosie
Ching Shih


Registered: 10/07/03
Posts: 391
Loc: Stockholm/Oxford

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My suggestions would be either a) tell it like it is, ie that your finanicial situation does not allow for any extravagant gifts this Christmas - I mean, it's just stuff anyway, it's not like the gift-reciever has any rigth to criticize your gift!
Or, b) go home-made as much as possible. Knit, sew, cook, bake, write, paint - cookie-mixes-in-jars, personalized stories or poems, home-made cards, beaded jewellry... second-hand books, perhaps? Cookies and chocolates, your own jam, rainchecks for roadtrips?
There are no ends to the possibilities... ;\)

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#59322 - 11/30/03 01:30 PM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
sunflwrpdx
Ching Shih


Registered: 09/23/01
Posts: 330
Loc: Portland, OR

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I'm almost done with my Christmas shopping; I just have one more gift to buy. (For my brother who's hard to buy for--he always wants video games or something else as expensive.) I spent less than $15 per person, which means in total, I spent less than $100.00. I'm also making handmade gifts for everyone, which I hope they'll like. One of the things I'm making are tree ornaments. I bought some clear glass balls and some paint, and I hope to create stained glass ornaments with them. Also, I'm making a Christmas CD, which involved compiling a bunch of Christmas songs that people in my family love, burning them on to a CD, and then creating liner notes and cover art. This is turning out really good so far--I'm quite proud of the cover art I've created.

So, everyone gets their own store-bought gift, and then each couple/family gets two homemade gifts. I just hope people like them, especially the handmade ones. I'm slightly afraid of looking cheap, I guess, since the gifts I bought are obviously inexpensive (mini calendars, tree ornaments, a paperback, etc.), but I'm going to try not to worry about it. My family is very big on buying expensive presents (and lots of them), but I just don't have the cash to spend $50 or $100 on everyone. Hopefully my family will understand that.
_________________________
If you don't risk anything you risk even more. -- Erica Jong

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#59323 - 11/30/03 05:05 PM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
Kivrin
Ching Shih


Registered: 06/01/00
Posts: 4604
Loc: Santa Cruz, CA, USA

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 Quote:
Kivrin, bless you for mentioning your granola! I've just devised a fantastic honey-almond granola recipe, and you gave me the idea that I could do that as my homemade gift for people. I had been worrying about that.
You're welcome, cat!
Mine is a maple-pecan-cinnamon sort of granola, with dried cherries, and cranberries. Sometimes I'll throw in other assorted fruit bits.

I have a pre-Christmas batch baking in the oven right now. It's raining outside and the kitchen is so cozy, cinnamon-y and delightful.

I'm almost finished with my shopping too, sunflwrpdx. I spent a lot of money on my kids and my husband, and it's homemade for the rest of the relatives.

I know what you mean about being afraid of appearing cheap. I feel a bit like that also. But, most of us are not rich so I feel okay about my gift choices.

It's just not financially possible to buy each individual sibling/their spouse/their children all store-bought gifts. We simply have too much family to do that.

I hate that underlying dread of Is this good enough? around the Christmas gift-buying. It kind of zaps the joy right out of the whole thing.

My heartfelt presents of food and sweets are something I hope my relatives appreciate. I know I always enjoy the homemade goodies my sister-in-law sends us.

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#59324 - 11/30/03 09:54 PM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
amateur
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Registered: 12/25/01
Posts: 587

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My family is mostly doing baked goods for the adults and inexpensive things for the under-25s, so the relatives are all taken care of. That's one advantage to still living with my parents, we give things as a unit and I don't have to worry about gifts for the relatives. Yet. Next year will be another story.

I am getting simple things for my parents... the Coldplay live CD and DVD for my mom and probably new shirts for my dad. My friends, however, are another story. That nightmare breaks down like this:

My oldest friend, who is very broke. We rarely ever exchange any sort of gifts because of this. I'd still like to do a little something for her, though. Mix CD?

A friend from college, who I'm only friends with because she was my other friend's roommate. We rarely see each other and rarely exchanged gifts even in college, but if I run into her this Christmas at a time when I'll be giving gifts to someone else, I'll need something on hand for her. Mix CD probably not a good idea due to her affinity for NSYNC and my Rufus Wainwright-ish tendencies. I gave her hand-decorated stationery/notecards last year. I may not even run into her, but better safe than sorry.

My other college friend, the abovementioned friend's roommate, my first friend from college and the only one I speak to on a regular basis. She got married this May, so even though she and her fiance were a unit before, it wasn't a "joint gift" type deal. Now I have to get them BOTH something. A family gift. Plus they're expecting. But I still want to give HER something, individually. I have no idea what to give them as a "family gift" and what to give her as an individual gift. I don't want her gift to have anything to do with the baby, because expecting/new mothers always get so much stuff for the baby and not a lot just for themselves. Last year I gave her a pashmina scarf.

My best friend. Always difficult. For one thing, he's a guy. For another, due to his job he gets every DVD he'd ever possibly want at cut rate before its day of release so the most obvious gift option is out. Music, the second most obvious option, isn't much of an option because most of the music I like that he'd also like is stuff that he's recommended to me or that he's already bought. So he HAS everything plus he's a fairly extravagant gift-giver even though I have attempted for THREE years to institute a spending cap. Because most if not all of the homemade things I can think of are either "girly" or not on his diet, I'm at a bit of a loss. And he doesn't dress up enough for a tie to be an option.

I have this other friend who's in a tough financial situation after a move and is very stressed out. I want to give her something fun because she can't really afford "fun" these days... but I can't afford to spend tons of money PLUS I don't want her to feel like she has to get me something. She lives far away so I can't just take her to lunch or to a movie or something like that.

Absolutely nothing is straightforward this year, gift-wise. I have NO CLUE what to do for anybody. Add to that the fact that I really, REALLY need to watch my spending and don't have a lot of TIME to make something that takes a lot of time, like an altered book or something crocheted. Sigh.
_________________________
"Whatever you do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness
has genius, power, and magic in it." -- Goethe

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#59325 - 12/01/03 10:48 AM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
maggie
Ching Shih


Registered: 06/01/00
Posts: 269
Loc: Canada

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For reasonably-priced gifts that are not gender-specific, I like to give calendars and map books. There are some really fun and funky calendars out there and you can order them from Chapters or Amazon. If you get something that really suits the person (relates to a hobby, collection, or sense of humour), the receiver will think of you every day. There are tons for under $20.

My husband wants me to remind his family that he needs a new Perly's Guide. They are map books that are published yearly and are really comprehensive. I don't know what the name of an American map book is, but I'm sure they exist for most big cities. Or, there's the Rand McNally Road Atlas which has maps for all of continental USA and Canada. We refer to ours all the time when we aren't in the car.

Maps and calendars are very easy to mail, too. Another gift I like to send through the mail is pairs of funky socks. I know getting socks is for a gift is a bad cliche, but I love getting them, the funkier, the better.

I'm making a few things this year and buying a few things. We're having a toy drive at work and we decided that we will put most of our gift dollars towards that because all of the people we buy for are very well-off, compared to kids living in shelters.

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#59326 - 12/01/03 12:22 PM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
Lady Di
Ching Shih


Registered: 06/07/02
Posts: 346
Loc: lynn, ma 01902

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Amateur:

How about a gift bag. Is there a dollar store in your area. If you can afford it, put a bunch of little things (pens, paper,some silly things), I give my nieces gift bags for Xmas and birthdays.

They know that that's what they're getting from me, unless they tell me otherwise. I put shampoo, conditioner, girlie stuff, a book, (I work at B&N, so I get a discount), I check out the dollar stores, clearance sales (espically after xmas).

It really doesn't cost that much. My sister-in-law even gave me a bunch of gift bags that her kids have received through the years, so sometimes the bags are free or cost a $1.00.

Good Luck
Diane

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#59327 - 12/01/03 12:53 PM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
amateur
Ching Shih


Registered: 12/25/01
Posts: 587

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Oooooh, CALENDARS!!! I never think of those! This year I had a gorgeous classic-movie-posters calendar from the Museum of Modern Art... that would make a PERFECT gift for Mr. Impossible-To-Buy-For. IF the MoMA online store's shopping cart was working :p

I've considered the gift bag option, but I made a resolution not to buy any gifts at Wal-Mart or a dollar store this year. Kind of silly, considering my need to save money, but I personally associate those sort of gifts with being a broke college student or teenager because that's what I used to do... I'm struggling really, really hard right now with my self-image as an adult [which... hmmmm, I might have to start a thread about that] so I'm trying to avoid doing things that have an air of "my mom gave me twenty dollars to buy gifts for my friends" about them. I know it's a dumb limitation to put on myself, but I figured I'd be able to do something homemade... and then I ran up against all the issues I listed above.

WHYYYY does it have to be so difficult to do something nice for the people you care about? :whine:
_________________________
"Whatever you do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness
has genius, power, and magic in it." -- Goethe

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#59328 - 12/01/03 03:35 PM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
maggie
Ching Shih


Registered: 06/01/00
Posts: 269
Loc: Canada

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Just thought of another gift that doesn't have to cost a lot of money: a coaster for the workplace desk. I had to buy mine myself and it was somewhat expensive for just one coaster ($10 for a little piece of slate), but I have to have one on my desk at work because I tend to be sloppy. I got mine at Pier 1. I see them everywhere, some have ptihy sayings or them or images or whatever. I can't be the only person who appreciates them.
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#59329 - 12/01/03 03:51 PM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
TraceyB
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Registered: 06/06/00
Posts: 1483
Loc: Minneapolis, MN

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I've made coasters as gifts before. I get Lucite coasters at the craft store and do small needlework pieces to fill them with (the coasters are designed for this). I've done holiday-themed ones and designs suited to the recipient, like the red fox I cross-stitched for a relative whose condominium complex is named something like "Red Fox Hollow."
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#59330 - 12/01/03 09:59 PM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
Emily
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Registered: 10/01/03
Posts: 206

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This is my best/worst gift to anyone ever: One year for Christmas I got my mother a selection of used novels from Goodwill. They were 25 cents each and I got her $10 worth - 40 books - I cleaned the place out, grabbed everything that wasn't famous (she'd have read it already) or the cheesiest kind of bodice-ripper. She loved it! Read them all, too. I'm sure at least a few of the books were dreck... but she also found some authors that she'd never thought to pick up before. Plus she tells me that she'd forgotten how much she liked science fiction until she had a pile of it in front of her, just waiting to be read. For probably 99.9% of the population a completely random collection of bagain-basement used books is a horrible gift, but if someone gave it to me I'd get such a kick out of it.
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#59331 - 12/01/03 10:26 PM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
viva
Ching Shih


Registered: 09/06/03
Posts: 958
Loc: Houston TX

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 Quote:
Originally posted by amateur:
I have this other friend who's in a tough financial situation after a move and is very stressed out. I want to give her something fun because she can't really afford "fun" these days... but I can't afford to spend tons of money PLUS I don't want her to feel like she has to get me something. She lives far away so I can't just take her to lunch or to a movie or something like that.
Amateur, how about a gift certificate for a manicure or pedicure or other spa treatment? You can get a certificate for a reasonable price, and it's a nice little treat for someone who is too stressed out to take the time to do something nice for themselves.

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#59332 - 12/02/03 11:19 AM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
amateur
Ching Shih


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Considering that it would take me approximately twenty billion years to seek out a spa/manicurist/whatever in West Los Angeles that is reputable and isn't way way way waaaaaaaayyyyyyy over my budget [trying to spend less than $20 here]... unfortunately not an option \:\(
_________________________
"Whatever you do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness
has genius, power, and magic in it." -- Goethe

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#59333 - 12/02/03 12:00 PM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
Lady Di
Ching Shih


Registered: 06/07/02
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Loc: lynn, ma 01902

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How about making up a gift certificate saying you'll clean their apartment/house for the day/shopping for them (provided they give you the money) or something on that idea.

Doesn't cost a thing.

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#59334 - 12/02/03 02:33 PM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
amateur
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Posts: 587

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Considering it would cost me about four hundred dollars to hop a plane to go clean house for them... ummmm... :p
_________________________
"Whatever you do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness
has genius, power, and magic in it." -- Goethe

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#59335 - 12/02/03 03:01 PM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
JetGirl
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Registered: 06/02/00
Posts: 219
Loc: NY, NY USA

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I took care of all my Christmas shopping in one day, people. I am never shopping near the holidays again. I had to take care of everything before Thanksgiving because I'll be on vacation for all of December, and I couldn't believe how much easier and more pleasant it is to buy gifts when you're not clawing your way through crowds of people as desperate as yourself. It was actually nice! And fun! And I got to think through all my gifts!

I did however, get trumped on at least one of my gifts. I tried to convince my parents that they shouldn't buy the chocolates they love at a Manhattan specialty store, but I don't think they believed me when I told them the store had burned down. Oh well.

It probably wouldn't hurt to get a few jic generic gifts too, but I think I'm shopped out. Easy, nice gifts: nail polish/make up/perfume/soap packages; off beat magazine subscriptions; and TOYS! Playdough and a matching playdough barbershop; Twister, paddle ball etc.

I also like the idea of "outing" gifts, though they require more thought. For instance, a kite, blanket and lemonade mix for a picnic, or cards, mini-liquor bottles and poker chips for a cheap night in Vegas.

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#59336 - 12/03/03 11:57 AM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
Albacore
Ching Shih


Registered: 01/19/02
Posts: 152
Loc: Ottawa

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Movie gift certificates are fairly easy to obtain and send; they're usually available from a national chain.

For the homemade route, I like clocks. You can buy the movements for less than $10 CDN. They come in different shaft lengths, so you can use a variety of things for the clock face. I made my dad one out of a Thelonious Monk album this year (hope he doesn't think it's a waste of a good record), and plan to make others from plaque-mounted photos and posters for HMB's office and my desk. You can choose something really suited to the recipient, and use fun stickers or drawings for the numbers.

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#59337 - 12/03/03 12:12 PM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
amateur
Ching Shih


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Oh my God. A gift certificate to the ArcLight theater. Perfect perfect perfect!!!!

::crosses one person off shopping list::
_________________________
"Whatever you do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness
has genius, power, and magic in it." -- Goethe

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#59338 - 12/03/03 12:49 PM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
shrew
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One of the best inexpensive gifts I've given was this stress-reliever-heating-pad pillow I found at the natural foods store. (Can't remember what they called it.) It was basically a long, narrow pillow-type thing with a short cloth handle on each end. It was filled with nice-smelling herbal stuff, and you could microwave it or freeze it to give hot or cold relief for a sore neck or back or whatever. They were about $10 each, and everyone I gave them too *loved* them.

This year I think I'll make hot buttered rum mix for my co-workers. It's basically butter, brown sugar and spices. You put it in a Mason jar, wrap a ribbon with instructions around it, and that's it. Goes great with hot water and rum, of course, but is also very yummy with hot apple cider. If anyone wants the recipe, e-mail me and I'll send it along.

One person I know is making spice mixes for people. She went to a bulk spice place and is making these flavoring mixes herself. Sounds like a great idea to me... I wish I'd thought of it.

This year, I think I'm going to the big used book store to look for old out-of-print cookbooks and stuff like that. Just for something really fun and different that doesn't cost a fortune.

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#59339 - 12/03/03 02:17 PM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
lonebuffs
Ching Shih


Registered: 05/17/02
Posts: 352
Loc: Boston, MA, USA

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Ooh, Shrew, I want the recipe! That sounds delicious, and I have been looking for just that kind of thing to put into a fun little box I decorated!

Sigh. All these gift ideas for families have kinda bummed me out. Don't get me wrong, I am LOVING that everyone is so talented and crafty - and loves their families so much. Me, I come from the typical broken home, with no siblings, and very scattered family. Even my mom and step-father (married for 25+ years) divorced a few years ago, so the small bit of family I did have (shoddy though it was) has dissolved. I wish I could say my family had a bunch of favorite Christmas songs, or a bunch of well-loved recipes. Or even something so mundane as old home videos. Alas, there is nothing of the sort.

Strangely, this has never bothered me much before. Perhaps it's that I'm on the cusp of being a real-live adult (gasp!), nearly 30 and relatively newly married that my lack of stable family background seems a bit more sad than usual. Sigh.

On the upside, the bulk of these handmade gift ideas is GREAT! I am psyched to go home and be all crafty! One idea I have been dying to do for years is homemade liquers, for which I've found recipes online. Stick some fruit and some vodka in a bottle, let it sit for a few weeks, pour it into a pretty jar, decorate with ribbon, et voila! Instant fun gift! Also have a recipe for homemade vanilla extract I'd love to try. What fun, no? Thanks for all the nifty ideas, all - I find I am no longer having giver's block for several people. Happy happy, joy joy!

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#59340 - 12/03/03 02:45 PM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
Kivrin
Ching Shih


Registered: 06/01/00
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Loc: Santa Cruz, CA, USA

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Lonebuffs--another way to look at your life is now you can create your own Holiday traditions. You and your husband have the freedom to start fresh from right where you are.

I mostly wish I were more energetic when it comes to the artsy-craftsy creative thing. It will take a ton of effort for me to make a couple of goodies, pack them, and ship them off to everyone in time for Christmas...

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#59341 - 12/03/03 06:13 PM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
Klowey
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Registered: 04/06/03
Posts: 42
Loc: Ottawa, Ontario

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The new issue of BUST has instructions for a home-made journal.

I was considering going out and getting this anatomical figure heavy wrapping-paper I saw at a cardstore downtown and combining it with some $2 for 25 sheets recycled paper from the local enviro shop for my first-year med student sister. Depending on whether anything seems appropriate for other friends or family, I might make them one too. (Anatomical sketches as festive gifts make up a seriously small audience.)

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#59342 - 12/04/03 11:11 AM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
shrew
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Lonebuffs, I'll get the recipe out and post it when I have some time tonight or tomorrow. I have to pull it out anyway so I know how much unsalted butter, brown sugar, etc. to buy for my own batch.

Of course, then there's the taste-testing process. Mmmmm....

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#59343 - 12/04/03 01:25 PM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
lonebuffs
Ching Shih


Registered: 05/17/02
Posts: 352
Loc: Boston, MA, USA

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Thanks for the advice, Kivrin - you're absolutely right, and Mr. Lonebuffs echoed the same sentiment last night during my (apparently long overdue and much-needed) cry. I am feeling significantly better and more upbeat today. \:\)

And Shrew, I can't wait! Yummy!!

(edited because my eyes are still half-shut from all the crying last night and I couldn't see my blatant misspelling)

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#59344 - 12/04/03 01:58 PM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
megancita
Ching Shih


Registered: 07/01/02
Posts: 126
Loc: texas, usa

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Kirvin and zinemama

Could you post your granola and chocolate-dipped macaroon recipes? Maybe here or in the food thread? Yummy!

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#59345 - 12/04/03 09:07 PM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
Selena
Ching Shih


Registered: 06/29/03
Posts: 720
Loc: Grand Bahama, Bahamas

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Oh, please do, Kivrin. Your posts remind me of the giant batches of granola my dad used to whip up when I was young.
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#59346 - 12/06/03 10:38 PM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
Hypatia
Gráinne ni Mhaille


Registered: 11/22/03
Posts: 26
Loc: St. Louis

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I would like to get an inexpensive diary with a lock for my niece. I have tried using google, but haven't found anything that I think she would like (or that would be cheap). Any hints on websites to try would be appreciated. Thanks!
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#59347 - 12/06/03 11:17 PM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
Kivrin
Ching Shih


Registered: 06/01/00
Posts: 4604
Loc: Santa Cruz, CA, USA

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Kivrin's Christmas Granola

Mix these ingredients:
3 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. salt
1 cup nuts/seeds
(pecans, sliced almonds)

Add:
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup oil
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix well. Spread onto cookie sheet
and bake at 325 for 20 min. then 5 more minutes,
checking Granola after each 10 min.
Total time= 25 min.

When Granola is cool,
add 1 cup dried fruit.
(cherries and cranberries look festive!)

ENJOY!

This is just a basic guideline. In my ancient oven, the granola takes the whole 25 minutes. Just make sure to check it after each ten, turn it a bit with a spatula. It will still seem a bit soft at the end of baking time, but gets crunchy as it cools.

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#59348 - 12/06/03 11:33 PM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
lauriechac
Ching Shih


Registered: 11/16/03
Posts: 192
Loc: Colorado

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Blue Q has this great line of "Dirty Girl" soaps. They are just classic! The packaging is hilarious and they are very affordable.
I picked up my own soap-making kit at Michaels for something like 15.oo. It is super easy (microwave) and you can add your own coloring and scents. I love essential oils and this is great way to make something personal. So many oils have interesting properties - check out your local new age store to see what you can do!
I picked up a "come to me" oil, but that is all for me (sigh, such a lonely girl).
Also, my grandpa used to make talcum powder. I'll find out what the recipe is - it is really good powder and you can use household stuff for it (like corn meal, etc.)
I am a sucker for silly gifts which are also usually quite cheap. Sometimes, head shops and shops that sell magnets and the like have the coolest things. One such find, Nunzilla, is my fave this year - a 4$ wind up nun who shoots sparks out of her mouth while she is coming after you with a ruler. Ah, catholic school. good times. Everyone is getting one this year.
(sorry forgot to add this link for "tainted love" products - also Blue Q) http://www.fridgedoor.com/fridgedoor/tainlovsoaps.html

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#59349 - 12/07/03 12:24 PM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
sunflwrpdx
Ching Shih


Registered: 09/23/01
Posts: 330
Loc: Portland, OR

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I finished up my shopping this weekend. All together, I spent a little over $100.00, not including what I spent on my fiance. (I spent about $80.00 on him, which is okay, because he's my fiance. ;\) ) I think I may have spent too much money on certain people, while skimping on others. For example, I bought my hard-to-buy-for brother a $25.00 book on Amazon that they sell for $15.00, whereas I bought his fiancee a paperback that cost $8.00. So now I'm worried that some people will feel cheated, but I just can't afford to spend $20 or $30 on everyone. Argh!

It'd be so much easier if my family wasn't structured the way it was. My parents are divorced, both are re-married, my brother is engaged, my dad has a new son, etc. (Essentially, my family has more than doubled in size.) I hope that someday I have a job that pays really well, so I can go all out and give my family (especially my parents) the extravagant Christmases they've given me.

I am grateful, however, that I don't have to buy for my relatives in Canada (my parents do that) or my fiance's family. (They draw names out of a hat and Scott's buying that gift.) I don't know how my parents can afford to buy for us kids, their parents, siblings, their spouses' families, etc. Yikes.
_________________________
If you don't risk anything you risk even more. -- Erica Jong

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#59350 - 12/07/03 01:28 PM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
shrew
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Registered: 08/09/00
Posts: 207

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Shrew's Hot Buttered Rum Recipe
(Actually, I got it from my brothers, who got it from a restaurant where we all worked. Anyway.)

1 lb. unsalted butter
2 2/3 cup brown sugar
2 tsp. nutmeg
2 tsp. cinnamon
pinch of ground cloves
2 cups honey

Blend together all ingredients and refrigerate until ready to give/use. This makes quite a bit, so one batch can be divided into a few small jars for gifts.

To Use Hot Buttered Rum Mix::
Put the teakettle on and get some water near boiling. (Like you would for hot tea.) Put one heaping tablespoon of mix into a mug. Add a shot (more or less, to taste) of rum and fill mug with hot water. Stir to dissolve mix and serve.

Dark rum works best for this, but some people like to give it an extra kick and use spiced rum. I tend to go with a bit less than a shot, because I don't want the rum to overpower the flavor of the mix.

For a yummy non-alcoholic alternative, used hot apple cider. Add a cinnamon stick as a stir stick, and it'll be very yummy and look festive too.

Note: be sure to use UNsalted butter... salted butter doesn't taste right for this.

Enjoy!

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#59351 - 12/07/03 02:24 PM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
Catness
Ching Shih


Registered: 04/02/02
Posts: 1863
Loc: Chicago, Illinois

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 Quote:
Originally posted by Hypatia:
I would like to get an inexpensive diary with a lock for my niece. I have tried using google, but haven't found anything that I think she would like (or that would be cheap). Any hints on websites to try would be appreciated. Thanks!
Hypatia, how old is your niece? I found a couple of links, but the age range is a bit low. You might try going (in person) to Toys R Us or FAO Schwartz to look for the old "lock and key" variety of diary. Or check out your local Hot Topic or funky clothing store that sells Paul and Lisa Frank gear, I know that Lisa Frank produced a lock and key diary a couple of years ago. B&N and Borders usually have big sections of blank books, and might carry the sort you're looking for -- I'd even try in the children's section.

From Yahoo shopping Create Your Own Secret Diary . Amazon carries the awesome Emily Strange locking diary, if your niece is like me and likes the Emily Strange stuff. Chronicle Books put out the Go Girl! locking journal.

Hope that helps!

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#59352 - 12/14/03 12:26 PM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
Hypatia
Gráinne ni Mhaille


Registered: 11/22/03
Posts: 26
Loc: St. Louis

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Thanks Catness,
I ended up finding a nice one on ebay (a plain one that she can decorate herself). I figured that I would also include some stickers and some decorative items.

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#59353 - 12/14/03 12:50 PM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
Bureinato
Ching Shih


Registered: 07/19/01
Posts: 140
Loc: Denver

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While it doesn’t have a lock I thought this blue jean journal was cute. Perhaps next year when you’ve got lots of time.
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#59354 - 12/15/03 08:50 AM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
Loz
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Registered: 01/31/03
Posts: 297
Loc: Australia / UK

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I would very much like to thank whoever decided that a lot of retro toys are now back in. It's made my shopping much easier this year, since a recent discussion with a group of my old school friends about what sort of small gifts we were going to exchange produced the startling result that nearly all of us would love to have a new Smurf or two!

It's probably a little odd, but it's cheap, convenient and makes us smile. So we're all buying a couple, putting them in a bag, and picking two each from there. We're buying according to our interests and hobbies, so there shouldn't be too much overlap.

Yes, we're all a bit geeky and/or uncomfortably eager to relive our childhoods when we're only in our twenties, but really, who doesn't like small blue people with white hats, especially when they're only $5.95? Although I've always been a bit disturbed that there's only one Smurfette to goodness knows how many Smurfs...

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#59355 - 12/16/03 04:37 PM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
Pflaume
Ching Shih


Registered: 10/30/02
Posts: 451

Offline
I'm making 'Ice Star' ornaments for everyone at work: http://www.beadandbutton.com/bnb/default.aspx?c=ss&id=50

You have to sign up to get access, but they don't ask for that much information.

I've made the stars out of size 6o seed beads, instead of the recommended 11o, and also used 4mm czech fire-polished crystals. I'd also recommend using Nymo D, since Nymo B kept breaking on me. Because of the size, the stars can be a bit limp, so run a 26 gauge wire through the 'arms' of the star, from one side to the other. Then, run a double length of wire through the top bead of the point between the 'arms' and twist into a hook.

You can also convert it into a Star of David, by starting with six beads instead of five.

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#59356 - 12/17/03 11:29 AM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
shrew
Ching Shih


Registered: 08/09/00
Posts: 207

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Pflaume, thanks for the link! The stars look fun, and I saw a funky vintage bead necklace pattern I might try.
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#59357 - 02/06/04 04:57 PM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
postscript
Ching Shih


Registered: 12/30/02
Posts: 37
Loc: Queens, New York

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Just wanted to report a success story: I read this thread back in December and was inspired by the creative gift ideas that people suggested here. There's an old family story about how my folks met each other: my father saw my mother's photograph in the newspaper and then basically stalked her until he could be introduced and ask her out. I tracked down the article and photo, had it framed, and gave it to them for Christmas. They were both really moved - they hadn't seen the photo for nearly 40 years.
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#59358 - 02/06/04 05:35 PM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
naomism
Ching Shih


Registered: 11/18/02
Posts: 757
Loc: Iraq

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Awww! How sweet, postscript!
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#59359 - 10/28/04 07:45 PM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
Mara2
Ching Shih


Registered: 12/27/03
Posts: 383
Loc: Canberra Australia

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It's getting to that time of year again... the decorations are going up already in the shops and it's only October!

And I've caved and started my Christmas shopping already. Actually, I've been buying a few things for various people throughout the year to lessen the financial hit. I've bought a lot of small boxes of fancy schmancy teas for various people I need to buy small gifts for like work colleagues, flatmates and for those embarrassing instances when people unexpectedly give me a gift when I haven't thought to buy them anything etc.

My major gift outlay is for Mr M - he has been talking all year about buying himself an MP3 player/i-pod thingy or a digital camera so I'm looking at one or the other of these. In pricing these the i-pod is a tonne more exxy than the other MP3 players. I would be forever grateful to anyone more tech-savvy than me who can explain the difference (ie is the i-pod miles better, or is it all just marketing)?

I know it looks a lot sexier! ;\)

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#59360 - 10/28/04 08:11 PM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
PrimulaMary
Ching Shih


Registered: 01/01/02
Posts: 1061
Loc: London, UK

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We in Australia really need a major holiday in the latter part of the year, even if it's only to give greater recognition to Hallowe'en, because I've been seing chocolate Santas in the stores since early this month.

Mara -- I was asking Cricket and Bug (my younger brothers) about the iPod/MP3 player difference the other day. Apparently the iPod has other cool features, but Bug didn't think they were worth the extra outlay. His feeling was if you wanted your MP3 player to also act as a memory stick and a digital dictaphone, you should just buy a memory stick and a digital dictaphone. (Needless to say, Bug has very few needs for either.)

The memory in the iPod is huge -- you can use it to store digital photos, and it has an alarm clock and an organiser. My general feeling is "ooh, pretty!", but even the iPod Mini is way more expensive than a standard MP3 player.

An awful lot of my family are getting gifts this year compared to other years. Mostly I think it's because I'm moving overseas (yay!) in March, but I've seen so many things I love that aren't too expensive, including a "Rock Paper Scissors Strategy Book" for Cricket.

This year I'm really aiming for "I put a lot of thought, if not so much money, into your gift" after quite a few years of feeling I needed to prove that I earned a decent salary by giving expensive gifts.

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#59361 - 10/28/04 10:21 PM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
CaitlinM
Ching Shih


Registered: 07/27/03
Posts: 415
Loc: San Francisco Bay Area

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Mr.M (mine, that is) likes that he can buy and download audiobooks to play on his iPod (plus the huge memory for music, of course).
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#59362 - 10/29/04 07:43 AM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
xenopi
Ching Shih


Registered: 10/06/03
Posts: 254
Loc: Paradise City

Offline
I'm totally biased as we're an Apple household and The Boy and I both have iPods, but according to a programmer friend with a severe disdain for Apple products, the iPod is superior to other mp3 players not only for its yooooge storage capacity but also for its interface. They also come with games, if that's his thing.
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#59363 - 10/29/04 08:32 AM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
klio
Ching Shih


Registered: 10/01/03
Posts: 222
Loc: Houston, Texas

Offline
I (heart) my iPod. I bought it just as the mini iPods were coming out and chose the regular-size over the mini because I didn't like the clickwheel on the mini.

My husband and I were at Costco a couple weeks ago and he magically found a DVD that one of his brothers, traditionally the hardest person on our list to shop for, will love. I made my first real foray into Christmas shopping the other night with an order from Signals . I don't plan to do all my shopping online, but it is so much easier. We're heading back to California for Thanksgiving and I want to be able to take the presents for the people we're going to see then with us so I don't have to ship them. I'm pretty sure I'll be thinking that I was insane for wanting to do that in a couple weeks.

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#59364 - 10/29/04 10:01 AM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
CheshireCat
Ching Shih


Registered: 06/17/02
Posts: 158
Loc: Ponte Vedra Beach, FL USA

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Not that I enjoy being broke, but it does sort of force you to be original. Everyone's getting something I made this year. Last year I was even broker. Didn't get anyone anything. They didn't seem too upset.

Bust magazine always has really excellent crafts, ones that I actually do, and I don't usually make a craft out of a magazine. I've already given several of their crafts as gifts.

And I'll be looking back through this thread for ideas too! I'm gonna try that hot buttered rum for sure when it starts to get cold here (in Florida... it does get fairly cold here but not usually until December/ January. We're still enjoying the beach) Thanks everyone!

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#59365 - 10/29/04 12:01 PM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
Ekaterina
Ching Shih


Registered: 11/16/01
Posts: 275
Loc: USA

Offline
I decided recently that my tiny cousins have plenty of toys. They have plenty of clothes, and if they don't have that one particular book I give them? They'll probably discover it at their well-stocked local libraries some day. So, this year - I'm still buying children's books, and I'm still wrapping them up, but then I'm going to donate them to a family homeless shelter, and say that they're from my cousins. I will then write each a very nice note, explaining that in the spirit of the holiday, I wanted them to know that I love them very much and I want them to grow up in a world where all children are happy and have books to read, etc - so I gave, in their names, books to children who might not have access to them. Or something like that.

I'm thinking of doing something similar for other relatives, or of going really practical. For example, socks, which my father never buys himself, or a nice tie for my brother, who is starting his first job in January.

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#59366 - 11/09/04 01:52 PM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
Meaux
Ching Shih


Registered: 08/23/04
Posts: 35
Loc: Austin

Offline
That's AWESOME, Ekaterina. I've generally given my daughter a single, very inexpensive gift for Christmas and birthdays. My family loads her up with gifts at those times so she doesn't feel deprived and I don't feel like I'm adding to the pile of things she might never play with/wear. She's five now, and up to this point, an expensive set of Leggos and a $1 box of colored chalk have been pretty much the same to her. Well, actually, the chalk has seen a heck of a lot more playtime than the Leggos have.

I gave up on buying Christmas presents in general a few years ago, when my daughter was only a few months old and shopping for or making gifts was beyond my sleep-deprived capabilities. So I made a donation to an organization I really dig ( Heifer Project Intl ) that gives you "Honor Cards" with your donation. Heifer Honor Cards are gift cards that tell your friends and family about the donation you have given in their honor. That did the trick for my family and friends.

Another year, I made a card for each of my gift reciepients that told them that I was going to pray for them every night the week of their birthday. They thought that was pretty cool. Who can't use more prayers, fer Chrissake?

I have to say: not getting all bunged up about gift getting during the holiday season has increased my enjoyment of that time a hundredfold. No standing in long lines, searching for parking, scrounging for wrapping-paper-like materials (I don't buy wrapping paper), or fretting over the recipient's enjoyment of the gift. Whew.

One holiday tradition I will not give up: my daughter's father and I make an event of going to World Market at the same time and buying each other's stocking stuffers while keeping each other from seeing what we are getting. There's a great deal of skulking and looking rapidly in all directions before putting something in the basket, which some of the other shoppers seem to find unsettling. We've actually been divorced the last two years, and it's still a blast. I was undone last season by a loudly voiced price check on a back scratcher, which was held aloft for visual inspection by the price checker person. It was *killing* me! Especially because my favorite ex was actually in line at a neighboring cash register at the time, gloating. We rarely spend more than $20 each on these outings.
_________________________
When the going gets wierd, the wierd turn pro. (Hunter S.)

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#59367 - 11/12/04 10:54 AM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
Meaux
Ching Shih


Registered: 08/23/04
Posts: 35
Loc: Austin

Offline
And here's the organized way to go about unplugging the Christmas machine:

http://www.buynothingchristmas.org
_________________________
When the going gets wierd, the wierd turn pro. (Hunter S.)

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#59368 - 11/12/04 11:26 AM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
VegetarianOnHiatus
Ching Shih


Registered: 07/18/02
Posts: 1089
Loc: Somerville, MA, USA

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Wow, Meaux, that's a great site! I'm totally inspired now.
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#59369 - 11/22/04 03:26 AM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
Sheela-na-gig
Gráinne ni Mhaille


Registered: 11/08/04
Posts: 4
Loc: Bremerton, WA (Puget Sound)

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While I am not the biggest Christmas fan at all, this year I find myself in the position of having the time and energy to summon up my formerly crafty self and make things. Today a friend and I made fruitcake, of all things, and it's not even December yet! I am knitting up a storm -- quick ponchos/shrugs on BIG needles for my wee nieces and sister-in-law (great excuse to make the rounds of all the fab yarn stores around here)...

I do struggle with keeping things low-key -- and have to with a modest income -- mostly I want the things I give to those in my circle to really mean/convey something...I am a packrat when it comes to xeroxing/copying out poems that strike me, and so am thinking of making "poem cards" -- matching up some of my favourites with the appropriate recipient, copying them onto a cool background and doing some collage/art work around them (another great excuse to go to art supply store -- or rather to use up the tons of paper/ art materials spontaneously generating in my art-study...

And I've also been whiling the way on the bus to my office thinking up funny little haikus for my brother that I can similarly collage and bundle...

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#59370 - 11/22/04 07:47 AM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
Selu
Gráinne ni Mhaille


Registered: 11/18/04
Posts: 17
Loc: Ohio

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I am still paying off credit cards from last Christmas .

This year I am doing my famous apple cake. Last year I did not make it for any of the potlucks and all I heard was "where's the f'ing apple cake!" There will be copious amounts this year.

I love the idea of a family or community recipe book. I may try to do that next year.

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#59371 - 12/02/04 04:39 PM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
megancita
Ching Shih


Registered: 07/01/02
Posts: 126
Loc: texas, usa

Offline
I've been doing homemade/handmade Christmas for the last few years, and here are some of this year's plans:

Gift jars for family and friends, mostly pulled from Mason Jar Soup to Nuts Cookbook , including a recipe for baked doggie treats for the family dog.

For my best friend, I'm doing an etched glass project with colored wine glasses and pre-made stencils, which are pretty inexpensive.

For my office mates, I'm giving out homemade lemon poundcake in disposable tins from a large batch recipe printed in this month's Simple Living magazine and some sugared pecan treats that were very successful last year. Here's the recipe:

Candied Pecans

1 lb. pecans
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. water
1 egg white

In one bowl combine sugar, cinammon and salt. In second bowl, beat water and egg white to a creamy froth. Add pecans to egg white mixture and stir until coated. Then add the sugar mixture and gently turn pecans until sugar is evenly distributed. Spread pecans on two cookie sheets and bake at 300º for approximately 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

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#59372 - 12/03/04 11:50 AM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
lonebuffs
Ching Shih


Registered: 05/17/02
Posts: 352
Loc: Boston, MA, USA

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I was thinking of doing the jar thing, too - my first idea was a jar of nice homemade stew, and along with it a loaf of crusty bread and possibly an inexpensive red wine. Not sure how stew might go over, though, so my next idea was jars of homemade salsa.

megancita that recipe for candied pecans makes me drool a little bit. I am SO going to try it!

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#59373 - 12/03/04 02:38 PM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
CaitlinM
Ching Shih


Registered: 07/27/03
Posts: 415
Loc: San Francisco Bay Area

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I'm not as crafty as I'd like to be, but I always make homemade food gifts. last year I canned cranberry conserve and persimmon chutney, and made liqueurs. This year, I'm canning tomato chutney, apple butter, and pear-vanilla butter, and I also plan to make granola. I've done spicy-sweet mixed nuts before (which I, personally, find addictive), and some fruitcake variations, as well. I usually send some cookies; this year I'm reprising the Christmas fruit florentines everyone raved about, and trying out rosemary shortbread.

The only question is when I'm going to accomplish all of this, since so far I've only made the tomato chutney!

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#59374 - 12/18/04 12:11 AM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
Decca the Red
Ching Shih


Registered: 01/03/03
Posts: 89

Offline
My sister is going to study in America for a semester next year and so I was thinking of getting her a US survival kit. Which sounds cool, but I'm not exactly sure what I want to put into it (except some food-stuffs that she can't get there, and the phone number of ACLU and planned parenthood). I was hoping some people would have some brilliant ideas here. What do you think a 20 year old from New Zealand needs to live in California?
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#59375 - 12/18/04 10:43 AM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
cat
Ching Shih


Registered: 06/02/00
Posts: 1754
Loc: Northern California

Offline
Decca the Red, what part of California is she going to live in? My answers would be very different for LA than for San Francisco, and other smaller cities would be different as well. But you might look for a good guidebook for the place where she's living (there are a lot of them now that have a hip, young tone). Other than that, what does she like to do? I recently did a survival kit for a friend moving to Chicago. She had expressed interest in finding mom-and-baby yoga there, so I searched online and found a studio that specialized in pre- and post-natal yoga. I called them and was able to buy her a gift certificate for a couple of classes there. That kind of thing might me more difficult from the distance you're at, but you might be able to think of something good.

Anyway, if your sister is going to live in northern California, where I live, I might have more specific recommendations!

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#59376 - 12/22/04 12:24 PM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
CheshireCat
Ching Shih


Registered: 06/17/02
Posts: 158
Loc: Ponte Vedra Beach, FL USA

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Shrew, you totally rule for putting that recipe for Hot Buttered Rum up. I bought half pint mason jars to put the mix in and mini bottles of rum from the liquor store, and I also hand drew some tags and cut them in shapes like a steaming mug or a stocking or a fire over logs, with the directions for use. I got remnants of Christmas-y fabric to put over the lids of the jars, and I attached the tags and the little bottle of rum with burlap string. I estimate the whole thing cost me about $6-$7 per person, and it's really a neat and personalized gift. I bought bigger bottles of rum for certain people to make a bit of a nicer gift. Thanks again Shrew!

PS Shrew's recipe fills up about 6 half-pint mason jars.


I'm editing this to add that everyone really loved the hot buttered rum. I was able to give some to all my friends and family members even though I am short on cash as always. And I had enough left over for me and CheshireTomCat to snuggle up with. Oh, how I got spoiled this year too- but that's another discussion!

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#59377 - 12/23/04 10:47 AM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
LaSalleUGirl
Ching Shih


Registered: 06/25/01
Posts: 1895
Loc: Philadelphia, PA, USA

Offline
I'm with CheshireCat ~ Shrew, that recipe rocks. I just finished printing out cute little gift tags, and I'm on my way out to get some little mason jars and baby bottles of rum. (Um, not baby bottles, per se. That would be very wrong of me.)

I also made Kivrin's granola recipe, and I'll be lucky if I make it through the next two days without snacking my way through it.

Thanks for all the good ideas!

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#59378 - 10/20/06 08:19 PM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
LaSalleUGirl
Ching Shih


Registered: 06/25/01
Posts: 1895
Loc: Philadelphia, PA, USA

Offline
Hmm. Looks like this thread didn't get resurrected last year...

Anyway, I know it's only mid-October, but I'm trying to get a jump on my Christmas shopping. I get increasingly frustrated with shopping for LaSalleUBoy's family. I feel like my family understands when we're having a tight-budget year -- I am always able to find personal and/or personalized gifts for them without having to spend tons of money. For instance, last year, I took pictures of a local park that they had spent a lot of time in as children/teenagers, and gave them framed enlargements as presents. They were a huge hit!

But I feel like the goal in LaSalleUBoy's family is always on the number and size of the presents, not on how much thought you put into them. I'd like to get my mother-in-law a pretty piece of jewelry, for instance, but I hesitate to do that because I feel like our one small box will pale in comparison to the microwaves and DVD players that my sibs-in-law (who, in fairness, all have lucrative jobs) will be giving. It's probably not fair to feel that way, and I might even be wrong...but I don't think so.

What do you-all do when you have to buy presents and you know prestige is a factor?

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#59379 - 10/20/06 08:56 PM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
apparently
Gráinne ni Mhaille


Registered: 12/04/02
Posts: 12
Loc: hoboken, nj

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First of all, I know it's hard, but don't try to compete with your LSUBoy's family; it's a recipe for unhappiness. You can give very "prestigious" gifts for not a lot of money if you can figure out what kind of prestige the giftee craves.

Wants to be considered a gourmet: superpremium food item. Depending on your budget, this could be grey sea salt ($9), estate aged balsamic vinegar ($30+), one very nice bottle of wine ($50+), or Wagyu steaks ($100 for 2). The nice thing about giving this sort of item to uppity people is that they HAVE to appear to be over the moon about the gift, lest they appear to be tasteless boors, which they in no way want to seem.

Wants to be considered cultured: museum membership, NPR membership. ("I saw that they were having a show on washi paper/delft pottery/persian miniatures this season and thought immediately of you.")

Just wants something flashy to flash around: Tiffany, Horchow or Kate Spade stationery and a selection of beautiful stamps (easy to get at usps.com). This may not get oohs and aahs when opened, but rest assured the giftee will get off on sending around letters showing how terribly fashionable she is, and you, the giver, will be warmly regarded for this.

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#59380 - 10/21/06 10:14 AM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
AlchemyGirl
Ching Shih


Registered: 04/10/05
Posts: 175

Offline
Excellent suggestions, apparently!

If the size of the gift is a factor, try a gift tower -- 3 or 4 boxes stacked according to size and tied together with a fat, elegant ribbon. The larger boxes can be things like gourmet chocolate, a box of Williams-Sonoma muffin mix, a scarf, or other relatively inexpensive things, and you could put the nice jewelry in the smallest box on top.

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#59381 - 10/28/06 01:03 PM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy
Libby
Ching Shih


Registered: 06/06/02
Posts: 292
Loc: UK

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I like to give bouquets at Christmas and if you make them up yourself it's cheaper than buying ready-made from a florist. Red tulips with holly and ivy tied with tartan ribbon are always popular.
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#85030 - 12/04/07 11:18 AM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy [Re: Libby]
LaSalleUGirl
Ching Shih


Registered: 06/25/01
Posts: 1895
Loc: Philadelphia, PA, USA

Offline
I saw a commercial the other day (for Burlington Coat Factory, I think) in which a woman at a fancy Christmas party asks a little girl if she believes in Santa. The girl, who is maybe 8 or 9, replies, "I believe in cashmere." Ugh. So much for the true spirit of Christmas.

So, what do you give people for Christmas when you don't have the $$ for cashmere? We're making a bunch of donations to various charity organizations (Heifer International, World Vision, Make-a-Wish, Southwest Indian Foundation) rather than presents for some people. LaSalleUBoy also got bitten by the fair trade bug big time this year, so we're doing a lot of shopping at Ten Thousand Villages. I think I've sort of reached the point where I don't care so much what people expect as presents. I still try to get something they'll appreciate (e.g., trying to match up a donation to something they care about).

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#85058 - 12/09/07 06:45 PM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy [Re: LaSalleUGirl]
vanillabean
Ching Shih


Registered: 04/12/06
Posts: 123

Offline
Christmas shopping should be fun and easy, but it turns into a nightmare for me by the time exams are finally over and I actually muster the energy to look for gifts. I want to give unique gifts. There are some great options on CafePress that I'm going to look into this year. Typing in Jane Austen generates hundreds of fun t-shirts, coffee mugs, etc. I'm tempted to get something for myself!
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#86856 - 10/24/08 07:36 AM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy [Re: vanillabean]
LaSalleUGirl
Ching Shih


Registered: 06/25/01
Posts: 1895
Loc: Philadelphia, PA, USA

Offline
So, I'm thinking that this thread has never been more relevant than it is right now. We're planning a host of time-consuming, but relatively cash-neutral presents for our families. In particular, I'm going to be spending the next few months scanning LaSalleUBoy's family's completely disorganized photo collection (I'm already mostly through the 1980s, but I see no end in sight...). Every member of his immediate family will get a DVD slide show of the entire collection (complete with tear-jerking music, 'cause we're like that), plus digital copies of every photo. Each of his sibs will get a smaller DVD featuring their own children (I figure since I'm doing all this scanning anyway, it's hardly an inconvenience to pull out a subset of the pix).

I'm also planning to organize the piles and piles of photos into inexpensive albums after I scan them, to help preserve them and to allow people to actually enjoy them in hard copy.

We've got lots of little nieces and nephews, and homemade presents aren't going fly there, sadly, but we set a budget and we're sticking to it. Each kid will get a book (for which I've already comparison-shopped) and a small toy/game. I probably won't win the coolest aunt and best present-giver in the world award this year, but what are you gonna do?

We'll also make some donations as gifts again this year, but we'll have to give somewhat less than we managed last year.

I'm looking forward to browsing through this thread for additional ideas. What are you all planning to do about the holidays this year?

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#86878 - 10/28/08 12:05 PM Re: Christmas shopping in this @#$%^&* economy [Re: LaSalleUGirl]
VegetarianOnHiatus
Ching Shih


Registered: 07/18/02
Posts: 1089
Loc: Somerville, MA, USA

Offline
My plan is to start early and spread out the pain. My generation usually doesn't do much about presents for each other, but I want to give something to my mom, and also my sister and her two kids, since they always struggle financially.

As for inexpensive gifts, one year I took some leftover empty jars and put mixed nuts and dried fruits, and covered the tops with tissue paper and wrapped ribbons around them. That was easy and looked festive.

My co-workers usually hand out small things at holiday time as well. I'll have to get a-thinking about what to do for that. I think a small baked good would be ideal.

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