Friday, December 3, 2010

The Holiday season, or, cheaping out on your close friends and loved ones

The holidays always bring me to a strange impasse. I’m not religiously Christian, and neither are 80% of the people on my list (I’ve got Jews and Hindus and atheists, oh my!) but my love of gift-giving is such that I’ll embrace any excuse to shower my friends with pressies. Sadly and in ultimate proof that the beautiful and noble must always suffer, I’m not paid enough to give anyone a gift even half as cool as they are without coaxing my meager finances to stretch, twist, leap and perform amazing feats of agility. This is never easy. Out of curiosity I tried googling “inexpensive Christmas gifts” and the lists that popped up were horribly inadequate- stuff like “garden gloves and a packet of seeds” or “prepaid photo developing envelopes”, stuff that’s not even close to something I would ever want to give, or that anyone would be jazzed about receiving (except for my great friends from the Senior Center Book Club.) So here’s MY list of how-tos on cheaping out on your loved ones while not looking like a tactless bastard.
-Start early. Keep your eyes open all year for cool, unique gifts in stores or online. Oftentimes you’ll find a gorgeous enamel box, an old flask, or funky earrings for less at a garage sale or on sale for cheap at an otherwise expensive boutique. If it’s well-chosen and specific to their needs it doesn’t have to be expensive. One of the best gifts I ever got was three pairs of long, groovy cable-knit socks that can’t have cost more that $10 total. A year later, I saw socks almost exactly like them retailing at American Apparel.
-Got a skill like painting, drawing, or knitting? Use it. One year I crocheted hats and scarves for my friends, the next, I painted plain wooden picture frames with a design specific to each person and put a picture of the two of us in it. This works for the people at the top of your list too. One year I gave my then-boyfriend a picture I had drawn of us based on a cute photo. This approach takes a while so again, start early. Also, be realistic about your crafting abilities- don’t plan to sculpt everyone an art-deco ceramic vase if you know you’ll end up with blobby thumbprint pots.
- Hit up Goodwill, garage sales, or best yet, craft fairs. In fact there’s a craft fair going on today and tomorrow in the Southside- the I Made It! market. I’ll be there tonight looking for fabulous things for the last folks on my list- hope to see you there :)

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