The Topic: Gift giving—cheapskate-style, by guest blogger Elizabeth Castoria
The Dish: This time of year, money is like a cute puppy you see on the street, there one minute and gone the next. Saving a couple bucks here and there always adds up, and around the holidays it's especially important to add to—not just subtract from—your bank account. There are only a few things that bring out my childlike joy like seeing a towering pile of presents on Christmas morning, but having a checking account that's in the black is definitely one of them. (Especially since the "child" part of that childlike joy was oh so long ago!) Here are a few great gifts that are cheap, easy to find, and fitting for anyone on your list.
1. Books. But wait, you think. Books are definitely expensive, especially if you're buying more than one! That might be true if you happen to be buying the newest hardcover coffee table book, but instead of heading to the bookstore, stay home. That's right—books you already own can easily be gifts! Maybe there's a cookbook in your collection that doesn't get used as often as the others. Gift it to your newly vegan neighbor! Blammo. One recipient down, and your total cost is a big fat $0. If you want to get flashy, hit up your local used bookstore for reduced-price finds.
2. Magazine subscriptions! OK, it's possible that my totally biased love for magazines is showing through here, but amazon.com lists fantastic subscription deals to big titles. Plus, with magazines, whomever you give them to gets an issue every month (or so) for the rest of the year, which basically means that you've given them a dozen presents in one. Great ROI? Check. And, you know, certain magazines (cough, cough, like VegNews!) offer subscription discounts during the holidays.
3. Accessories. The perfect scarf, necklace, enormous cuff, or dashing hat can really take an outfit from blah to brilliant. Stocking up on chic little items at your favorite discount store, or hitting up Savvy Abby's fave, Forever 21, means getting bulk for your buck. And really, who doesn't want to add a little shine to the lives of their giftees? As our super-shiny January+February cover gal Kris Carr says, "Dress your personality and for god's sake, accessorize. A life without trinkets is tragic."
The Final Word: If you want to go even cheaper than these goodies, check out Colleen Holland's highly excellent DIY gift ideas. Remember: shopping in your own home never hurt anyone, magazines keep giving all year long, and smart little accessories add instant shine without costing a mint. If anyone needs me between now and Christmas, I'll be wrapping boxes containing individual earrings (more boxes for the big pile! Same price!) in pages torn out of magazines (instant wrapping paper!). Happy holidays!