Visions of Discounted Sugar Plums

Author: Alecia Pirulis

My family started a new tradition last year: a secret Santa. The adults draw names and purchase a gift (for under $25) for that person. Since my family is huge and there are literally more than a dozen children among us, not having to worry about buying gifts for all five of my siblings plus their spouses is a huge relief for my wallet.

We drew names at Thanksgiving and (because we are a competitive bunch) we worked for the next month trying to find the most gasp-worthy, interesting, off-the-wall, perfect gifts. This year, to get a leg up on the competition, I am already browsing web sites to see what’s out there.

Unusual or slightly quirky gifts are great, especially if you can find that one perfect item that just fits your recipient to a “T.” I found a crime scene scarf on the Internet, for example, is not only fun and funky, but it is ideal for a certain sister of mine. If I draw her name, I’m all set. And a budget cuts piggy bank? There’s a penny-pincher who would appreciate the humor and the savings.

Pet-lovers will get a kick out of a wall-mounted fishbowl. And if you know someone (as I do) who treats their pets like children, they will love getting tweets from their four-legged “baby” while they are at work.

You can also find gifts for the retro fan or the sports fan. Cling-on art is ideal for apartment dwellers or college students living on campus – they can be pulled off without damaging the walls, sort of like giant Colorforms.

Probably the best budget-friendly gifts are the ones you make yourself.  Wine tags are a great gift and are simple and easy to make. A tabletop tree is also a great idea – use non-traditional colors to match your recipient’s décor and they can leave the tree out all year.

If the season of gift-giving is a little too much for your budget in this difficult economy, skip the latest electronic gadgets and expensive little whatnots and do a little digging for the just-right gift at the perfect price.