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Findng the Perfect Holiday Gift for Everyone on Your List

Updated on October 21, 2008

GIFTS FOR EVERYONE: Finding a gift for everyone without going broke is a tall order. For some folks the list contains only a few people, while for others the list reaches the floor.

I worked in an office that had a tradition that I started following at home. We exchanged Christmas ornaments. I cherish my "Garfield" with a telephone ornament, and the Ziggy tangled up in a string of Christmas tree lights. It was fun trying to find the perfect ornament for each person using their interests as a theme. One co-worker collected antique kitchen utensils, the ones with the green and cream painted handles. I actually found some tiny ornaments like those at an antique store for only five dollars! I could hardly wait for her to open them. Some of our co-workers were single and didn't have a tree, but loved their ornaments and bought little free-standing holders for them and displayed them on their desk or hung them on their parent's tree.

Another way to find great gifts and save a lot of money is to shop all year round. I have a special large drawer where I keep my ‘finds'. Last year, at the end of the summer, several stores had beautiful bird houses (ceramic and copper), garden ornaments and camp chairs on sale for seventy-percent off. Not only were the gifts a hit, but everyone was surprised that I managed to find gardening gifts in Michigan in December. I always buy next years holiday theme gifts on sale after Christmas for the next year. You can find solid red candles, red glass vases and other goodies on sale after Valentine's day. I cruise the bargain book stores for books that friends and family will enjoy. Just keep your ‘peeps' in mind when you shop and quite often you'll find the perfect Christmas gift at a great price in July or March.

If you are giving gifts to people who don't know each other (friends, co-workers, family and neighbors for instance) you can sometimes buy items on sale (like gloves, ornaments, scarves, journals, books, etc.) on clearance. It might seem tacky to give all of your relatives the same gift, but it's fine to buy up that group of whatever-they-are on clearance and spread them around in your different gift groups.

One year we decided to donate our money to charity. I don't recommend this unless you're all dedicated to the same charity and have no children on your list. It took us weeks and some hurt feelings to decide on a charity. Not a good year. Just give to charity too, on your own.

I grow heirloom and unique plants and save the seeds for my gardening friends. I have some antique seed packets and scanned them in and printed them out, then covered small gift boxes with the printouts and put little envelopes of seeds in them.

Christmas DVD's or CD's can often be found at bargain prices and are fun. Everyone should have at least one copy of Chevy Chase's "Christmas Vacation" or a CD of classic carols. (they should too!)

It helps if you can all agree on a set amount to spend and stick with it. Several of my friends and I love garage sales and thrift stores and try to see who can find the ‘best' gift for the lowest price. We leave the tags on of course. My friend won last year when she gave a vintage metal decorative lawn chair from the fifties that she found by the side of the road on trash day. She sanded it and painted it to match her friend's other outdoor furniture. I won one year by finding a small wicker porch rocking chair for three dollars at a flea market.

Many of us have older adults on our list who have more ‘stuff' than they know what to do with. Most of them are trying to bail out not take on more. So give them gifts that are practical and will be used up. Pretty postage stamps are a good idea. You can find hundreds of designs on This may sound strange, but my neighbor's mother loves a particular scent of fabric softener, but doesn't buy it because it's ‘too expensive'. So, her grandkids bought her an extra large bottle of it! She was thrilled. No, really, she was! An assortment fancy teas, some cookies, and a jar of honey in a decorative basket will make an elderly person smile.

My friend buys her mother bird seed for her feeders and also fills them for her. Buy a large photo album and spend time with them filling it with all those photos laying around the house. You'll learn more about your great aunts and other relatives and have fun too.

My best advice is to shop all year round and keep an open mind about what you find on sale that might be a good gift for that special person on your lest. It then becomes more of a fun challenge and less of a Christmas Eve panic attack.


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