Sunday, December 9, 2012

Christmas Shlepping Redux

Money's tight,time is running out and Christmas is fast becoming your least favorite holiday. We often forget the big picture at Christmas time that the real meaning of Christmas is the birth of the savior of the world the baby Jesus. FRG is here to give you your last minute gift ideas.

My favorite gift buying stores is often the ones you may least think of at holiday season.

Drugstores. Drugstore chains are going after the last minute shopper more and more and prices are far more reasonable than you may think. Chains like Walgreens and CVS contain a vast array of gifts for any age or need. The Candy selections are phenom. For family members in hospital or nursing facility how about a table top mini christmas tree complete with decorations and lights for under 15  dollars in their room? A small basket filled with lotions, decorative pin,cologne sugar free or regular snicky snacks candies? Maybe a nice watch,travel nail care set and some magazines or a paperback? Make up your own gift basket. For kids you be suprised to find an array of name brand and character driven toys and videos anywhere from a dollar to 50 dollars on average with many toys in the 20 dollar range. You'll even find great seasonal items like bathrobe and slipper sets,as seen on tv items ,small appliances, gift boxes etc. And mom and dads you'll find sometimes the simplest gifts are the most pleasurable. An inexpensive basketball or football. A pack of new crayons. New cans of playdough. A soft cuddly stuffed animal. A yoyo. A retro pull toy for walking toddlers, large puzzles. Mini games like etch a sketch and battleship. And remember to use the age guidelines listed on the toys as your guide. It usually is on target. And for the under 5 age group you can't go wrong with anything to do with their fav tv shows and characters.

Thrift stores and pawn shops and garage sales. Think vintage. Everything old is new again. Sets of china. Unusual bone china teacups, vintage postcards, brass decorative pieces, artwork,old classic cookbooks, good working manual or electric typewriters. Buy some new inked ribbons and clean the keys with alchohol and a qtip. Kids and adults like these low cost,retro tech quick typing stations. Hard to find old style kitchen tools like flour sifters and rotery eggbeaters, costume jewery. Old magazines from the 1970s and back. Old records. Vintage and designer cloths. etc.

Grocery Stores. Grocery stores are a great place to find interesting gifts and put together great gift bags . How about a new baby gift bag with bibs, food, baby supplies and small toys etc. Or a gourmet food gift bag with cheeses, cured meats,wine,coffee, cookies etc. Or maybe a themed meal gift bag like Italy. Load a recycle bag with some boxes of pasta,pasta sauce,bread sticks,camponata,wine,cheese,Nonni biscotti,instant italian style coffee you get the idea.

Music stores or chains carrying low cost instruments. Think modest or used. Or think small like a harmonica, recorder(small wooden flute), bongo drums or ukelele.

Tourist stores. If you live in a tourist area for your state check out the local tourist section with their assorted gift shops. Great place to fine the unusal and Christmas time is a great time to find bargins. And don't turn your nose up at local tourist mugs,shot glasses, ashtrays,snowglobes, kitchen towels,etc. All this stuff is kichey now and in folks.

Hardware stores,Fish and Game Stores,Army Navy Stores. These are great places for the unusal gifts. Restractable key chains, brass spring clips are also great for key chains and clip on a pant loop. Flashlights, small gardening tools and seeds for the gardener in your family. Small all in one tool kits. patches and hats. Fatigue jackets etc. Swiss Army knifes etc. Great place for both the useful and the unusual. Our local Ace Hardware has a great little gift section.

Craft and Art stores. Budding Artist in your family? You'll find inexpensive student art kits, doll house items, picture frames, decorator items, scrapbook items,small plastic animals, and all manner of neat stuff that can make great gifts at a bargin, blank t shirts, leather kits.

Auto parts stores. Kids toys and trucks with company logos, keychains, steering wheel and seat covers. decals. Fancy pocket tire pressure testers. etc.

Christian Book stores. Often have great gift areas as well as books and dvds.

The Local Animal Shelter. What better way to save a pet and give a companion and pet to you child or friend or relative. Make sure you are giving a pet to someone who wants one and pick the right breed and type for location and person. Throw in some food and supplies .

Local zoos or museum gift stores.
Large hospital gift shops. Hospitals with maternity centers often have great baby gifts.

Gift tips

Fruit or nut trees in your yard, have a garden consider putting together some a vege fruit or nut gift baskit for your family and friends.

Golden Tickets for babysitting,transportation to a christmas church service or production, hated jobs like car washing and waxing,house cleaning,window washing,laundry and ironing, home cooked meal, a homemade cake or cookies or fudge.

And how about a low cost movie night on Redbox or any other kiosk style movie box? Pop some popcorn and make some snacks and watch a dollar movie. Don't have a player? Check out your local hazardous waste disposal site for decks that may have been dumped from people upgrading to blueray. Many sites have recycle centers for just that purpose. Also check out your local pawn shops.

Gift certificates. What I call the great after Christmas gift. Consider treating someone to dinner or breakfast, a tank of gas, phone minutes to call far off friends or relatives, a book of their choice through a bookseller like amazon or barnes and noble etc,a movie at the local franchise,or clothing they won't have to exchange from one of their favorite stores, a pizza, downloadable music. Or give cash or a money order. Money orders are free at Amscot.

If you have a special skill consider gifting that skill. Are you a Hairdresser, own a laundry,a carpenter,artist, crafter, organizer,good at hanging curtains etc.

Remember the word barter. Even in discount stores bartering is possible with the store managers. Overstock is not something stores want for inventory and inventory taxes. Learn the art of the barter ask for discounts on the discounts.

Don't forget to sent flowers. Always a nice way to say Happy Holidays to those you love.

For folks with power problems Bell and Howell is selling an inexpensive solar cell phone and book recharger.

Considering the recent stream of natural disasters consider putting together a bug out kit for a friend or relative.

Or hand crank radios and lights. 

Hope this offers you some ideas and places you haven't thought of . Have a Happy Holiday and don't forget it's not about the gifts or a tree or even a lavish meal it's about the fellowship you share either in person or by phone or even alone with the Christ child praising his name and thanking him for coming here so that we may have the opportunity to go up there to be with him forever. Merry Christmas.