Holiday Gift Shopping Made Easy

four-awesome-gift-ideasThis year, my sister and niece are organizing a new way of exchanging Christmas gifts, and I couldn’t be happier.

Each family member over high school age buys one  gift valued at up to $50.00 and brings it wrapped. Each recipient will be assigned a number. Number one selects first, number two second, and so on. You get the gift associated with that number or you can “steal” a gift that has already been opened. I’m not sure if that would be funny or cause some sore feelings, but I’ll go with the flow.

Our family members in the scheme will range from college age up to, well, me. Boys and girls. We are neither fancy nor cute, mostly suburban working class. And after some retail research, here are some ideas:

  1. The Forenkla backpack from Ikea retails at $37.99.
  2. Foldable, freezable 18-can cooler from The Container Store sells for $29.99. I can see boaters, campers and those with little storage space really appreciating this.
  3. The Packlite 12 Solar Light from The Container Store is $19.99 and available only during the holiday season. It’s pretty unique: it stores flat and twists  open to use. The inventors showed it on the TV show Shark Tank to great success; Mark Cuban became their mentor. Versions of the Packlite are sent to areas of the world that don’t have electricity due to poverty or natural disaster. And it’s just plain clever!courtesy-the-container-store_luminaid-packlite-12_10067110
  4. The Riklig glass teapot from Ikea retails at $14.99. I imagine this as part of a gift bag with different types of tea and a bottle of honey for the inevitable winter sniffles. It’s not available to order online, just in the stores.
  5. Blankets and throws are great for chilly nights and some look great just folded over the back of the couch when not in use.
  6. Fred sells all sorts of fun, unique gift items, my favorite being a plant waterer shaped like a water tower. It’s called City Water and retails for $22.00. They didn’t send me a picture but no hard feelings, it’s still a great gift idea.
  7. How about visiting a local museum or craft show and buying something useful that reflects your hometown? Somebody is getting this tea towel printed with most of the neighborhoods of my home borough.queens-tea-towel-from-the-queens-museum
  8. I can’t say for sure that the Happy Light will boost your mood on those short, cold winter days, but it’s a thoughtful gift. It gets hot, though, and  is bright enough to use as a light to take pictures by. Like the sun. It’s $39.99 at several retailers.happy-light
  9. The iRig microphone connects to a smartphone or tablet for karaoke. I saw it at Urban Outfitters or you can order it here for $39.99, which includes the karaoke app. This looks like loads of fun!
  10. The Men’s Stainless Steel Celtic Dagger and Stainless Steel Triangle necklaces from Loralyn Designs would look great on women too. Each is on a leather cord and sells for $39.99. Fun fact: the black steel version of the triangle necklace appeared on The Vampire Diaries.
  11. Some scarves in the men’s department would look equally nice on women. I’d go with a soft plaid or stripes.
  12. Eddie Bauer sells the Stanley five-piece Happy Hour System for $40.00, which includes a stainless steel shaker, jigger and two tumblers and a plastic citrus reamer. I know Stanley as a tool company; I can only imagine how my outdoorsy people would enjoy this adult-beverage addition to their gear!
  13. For several years now I’ve been giving the nieces and nephews  gift cards to spend when out with with their friends. They don’t care how the gift is presented. But last Christmas I gave my parents a gift card to their favorite chain restaurant, and I packaged the card in a plastic food container to take the leftovers home in. Maybe someone will get a coffee mug containing a gift card to a chain coffee place? Or a box of wingnuts with a card for a home improvement store?
  14. Cash is always welcome but folded cash is even more festive. I once gave my daughter a wallet with dollar bills folded in a chain, attached to the box the wallet was in. I had so much fun giving her that! Folded money instructions are available all over Pinterest.folded-cash
  15. This would work if you all live near each other: The offer of a restaurant dinner together, with you picking up the bill. The recipient opens the gift to find a card, which I made wackier by cutting words from various takeout menus.

Food and fragile gifts make transporting everything more complicated. I once wrapped a bottle of wine in bubble wrap to protect it in transit. It looked nice but took up too much space in my little car. Consider, too, that many of us contribute to the meal so we’re also traveling with trays and bowls of home-cooked food, as well as gifts. And toys: I miss buying toys. I even embraced being in those early-morning queues to buy the hot new plaything.

This list is inspired by my family. I don’t know yet which item I’m buying; I only have to give one this year. I think that more people can relate to us than to celebrities or the wealthy, and hope this helps you buy some gifts that will make your loved ones happy.Christmas Gift Ideas Money towel light restaurant card

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