Shopping list: Holidays on a budget

BY DI STAFF | DECEMBER 16, 2009 7:30 AM

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If you found yourself living in a cardboard box on the side of the road after breaking the bank last Christmas, as I did, here are some tips to stay within budget this year. Just remember: You don’t have to sell your soul to the retail devil to give the perfect gift.

• The gift of (board)gaming: Wrap up one of your favorite board games and then plan a big game night with friends — (i.e.: Monopoly turned drinking game) or a family evening of good, clean Pictionary fun.

• Get creative: If you have a penchant for crafts, hunt around at Michael’s or Blick and pick up affordable materials to make homemade candles or a personalized picture frame. For great craft-gift ideas, go to designspongeonline.com.

• Plan a night: The best gifts are the ones that are best planned. Promise your special someone a day of ice skating and cocoa or a night out at a local comedy club, where admission for open mike night is usually as low as $12.

• Give a magazine subscription: If you visit magazine.com, you can save up to 90 percent on yearlong magazine subscriptions. For the music lover, get a subscription to SPIN for under $15, or for the fashion-obsessed, get 12 issues of Marie Claire for only $8. What’s best about this gift? There’s a magazine out there even for the knitting enthusiast in your life.

• Personalize it: Instead of buying dad a tie from a department store, go to zazzle.com and design one for him. For mom, do what everybody is too embarrassed to do: Buy a Snuggie on customizesnuggie.com so she can rock a one-of-a-kind sleeved-fleece blanket on the couch.

• Hunt for treasures: Scoop up cheap pieces of vintage jewelry or used furniture at a local antique store, then polish, and repaint, and make new everything that was once old.

• YouTube yourself: Because most computers now have built-in video cameras, record yourself singing a holiday tune and send it to a long-distance loved one. What’s better than giving a good laugh?

• Other gift-giving websites: Perpetualkid.com has a plethora of quirky gifts, such as a collapsible beer glass and Lego-shaped USB flash drives. Urbanoutfitters.com has a whole gift section, categorized helpfully according to who’s on your list. Some favorites include: a fruit-powered clock for your geeky brother or a pair of trendy convertible mittens for a hip friend.

— by Dee Fabbricatore

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