Monday, December 14, 2009

Gift Ten

Ten Gifts That Won't Cost You Much to Give

1,500 Gifts under $14.99: I keep getting mail-order catalogs from Collections Etc., a gift company that boasts it sells over 1,500 items for $14.99 or less. Turns out they have a web site and a sales section with 700+ items starting as low as $1.97 (a lot of this stuff is on the kitsch-y side, but I went through about ten pages of the sales section, and found these: Tabletop Letter Organizer for $10.97, Adjustable Table for $12.97, and Sunflower Veggie Bin for $10.97 which I thought were fairly neat.)

Baked Goods: If you've got a specialty cookie or candy, whip up a batch and put in a pretty tin. Breakfast breads, coffee cakes or some other brunch-type item are also good, and if you bake them in a disposable pan you can just let them cool, wrap them in cello and stick a ribbon on top (I like to share great recipes, so this year I'm giving apple strudel and print copies of the issue of Cooking Light that contains the super easy, delicious recipe I used to make it.)

Books: Give a gift bag filled with books you've enjoyed from your shelves, or a CD with downloads of free reads from Suvudu Free Library or (like my own free library of stories, which has 33 freebies.) Note 9/3/10: Since instituted an access fee scam to charge people for downloading e-books, including those I have provided for free for the last ten years, I no longer recommend using their service, and have removed my library of free reads from their site. See my post about this scam here. Currently my free reads can be read online or downloaded for free from Google Docs; see my freebies and free reads page to get the links.

CD Designer Mix: Raid your music and compile a collection of tunes your recipient would enjoy, then burn them a customized CD. If you have a label-maker program, print out a label with their photo on it. If you need a source for free, legal downloads of new music, check out

Dollar Store Dare: This is fun to do with a friend who has a sense of humor. Decide on a specific dollar amount for your gift ($1, $3, or $5) and dare each other to find a gift or gifts by shopping only at your local dollar store. While most dollar stores carry a lot of junk, you can also find some pretty neat little items in them that are fun, useful or really different (once I found 11 brand-new copies of a famous SF author's award-winning hardcover novel at my dollar store, so you never know.)

Freeware: For your computer geek friends who are low on cash, pick up some freeware dowload links at sites like and to send them (and if you really want to be a pal, test out the programs first and let your friend know how you liked them.)

Gift Card Pass: This is the only form of regifting I do, and it's only when someone gives me a gift card that I know I'm not going to use -- I pass it along to someone I know who will. Generally it's a gift card to a department store where I don't shop, or restaurants we don't care for or that don't serve anything I can eat on my diet (if you do this first make sure that the gift card you're passing along hasn't expired.)

Green Gifts: For someone who loves to garden as much as you do, share the fruits of your labors -- pot one of your nicest plants, put together some cuttings or a basket of home-grown goodies to share (if you like to grow roses and want to share them, check out this article on how to grow roses from tip cuttings.)

Movie Swap: Start a swap tradition with a friend every holiday -- agree to send each other one of your favorite movies from your DVD collection or make them from one of the top ten free full-length movie sites on the internet (one friend and I swap TV series every year this way, which is how I discovered Lost and Battlestar Galactica and he got hooked on Spooks and Torchwood.)

Their Day Gift: Give your friend or loved one the gift of a day in which they can do whatever they like. You make this happen by filling in for them, i.e. babysitting their kids, cooking dinner for their spouse, taking care of their pets or being their chauffeur. It's also cool to do a meal variation of this -- give your friend a home-cooked meal of their choice and either have them over to eat with you or deliver it to their house.


  1. Ive done lots of movie swaps already this year for Christmas, lol, I love doing that. Ive also bought books ... One of my friends got me two of yours.

  2. I think we all broke the Collections site. :) I keep getting a message to try again later.

    I've done the roses. Wonderful way to grow more of your own too and so much less expensive.

    You find the coolest stuff. :)

  3. These are great ideas. I really like the last one.


  4. Thanks for this! I have a list of Christmas gifts for writers on my creative writing blog, but these are some more awesome ideas. I like the Dollar Store Dare idea.