a christmas post already!? - a post by lacey

image via asa.org.uk
Once Halloween has come and gone, it is, in my opinion, officially acceptable to play Christmas songs on the radio, hang your stockings with care, wear the hand knit candy cane sweater that your auntie made for you, and bake the first fruitcake of the season. (You can't knock fruitcake until you try my Dad's. He soaks it in brandy for about three weeks until it's ready to eat. Mmmmmm).
I am one of those people who tries to squeeze every ounce of Christmas out of November and December that I can. I understand that you may not be one of those people. You may already be angry that I haven't mentioned Thanksgiving. You're saying, "What about Tom Turkey? What about corn pudding?" I'm saying, "I love Tom Turkey, and I LOVE corn pudding, and I LOVE LOVE the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade." I'm not against Thanksgiving at all. The only reason I am writing a post about Christmas is for your benefit. It's to help you get a head start on what some of you may dread about the Christmas season. You see, this post is all about GREAT CHRISTMAS GIFT IDEAS! See? I knew I'd win you back over. You're feeling bad for hoping that I'd choke on cranberry sauce, aren't you? (Speaking of which, how many of you like the stuff from the can and how many like the kind made on the stovetop?)
When it comes to Christmas gifts, if you are a savvy shopper, you know that you have to start shopping early and you have to shop smart. If you don't plan ahead, there is no way you can buy gifts for your family, your friends, and your co-workers AND still have money left over to treat yourself to Peppermint Mochas from Starbucks. (By the way, they have started serving their coffee drinks in their signature red holiday cups!) I have found that the more time I give myself to buy gifts for other people, the more thoughtful and appreciated the gift is. (Except that one year when I thought a little too hard, and I made my brother a baseball themed mobile made from lined paper and dental floss.) When I shop early, I also save money because I don't end up blowing a wad of cash on an expensive gift at the last minute. I always make a list of everyone who I know I will be getting a gift for, and I start jotting down gifts so I can have several ideas to come back to. Here is a list of some of my favorite gifts I have either received or given over the years:

*Gift baskets/Stockings. My favorite thing about opening my stocking on Christmas morning is that I get a million little gifts in one! This idea is not original, but it is so fun and easy to put together for someone. I love to yard sale, and I am always finding the cutest little trinkets that remind me of my mom or one of my girlfriends. These little tokens of my affection make a great gift individually, but imagine a whole BASKET full of these little pressies! You can go with a theme and make, for example, a spa basket, filling it up with nail polish bottles, foot scrubbers, face masks, shampoo bottles, and nail filers, or you can just pull the random card and put in things you know the gift receiver will like. For example, if you were going to give ME a gift basket, I love anything chocolate, anything pink, or anything from Michael's craft store. Fill up a basket or stocking with tiny pressies, and you will make someone happy! You can ALWAYS find great stuff for gift baskets or stockings at dollar stores. Represent the Dollar Tree!
*Magazine subscriptions. I love the magazines domino and Lucky. I ask for them every year, and believe it or not, magazine subscriptions are cheap! Well, maybe the magazines I like are cheap. I can get a year subscription to domino magazine for $7. When you think about it, you're paying $7 for one magazine a month for 12 months. So, you're really getting the person 12 gifts! It's like a cheese of the month club except way cheaper! Believe me, you'll be at the TOP of their gift list next year.

image via etsy.com

*Homemade Sweet Treats. One of my older brother's best friends from high school always brings my family homemade Reindeer Chow during the holidays when she comes to visit. She and her mom make it every year, and it is sweet to know that they always make a batch for my family. They mix Chex Mix cereal, pretzels, and M&M's together with melted white chocolate and package the chow in clear gift bags tied with red string. The Reindeer Chow is delicious and impossible to resist, but they way they bundle it up makes the gift even more special. It's all about the presentation. If you wanted to bake a batch of cookies as a gift, a great way to present them to your lucky recipients would be to put them in a Christmas tin, a glass bowl, or a basket. Never underestimate the power of edible gifts. (Read the the tune of We Wish You a Merry Christmas: Oh bring me some Reindeer Cho-ow! I won't go until I get some, so bring some out here!)

*The World Wide Web. No, I don't mean that you should go buy your family a six month contract with Road Runner high speed Internet. They would probably cry upon opening that envelope. (People love fast Internet. People do not love getting it as their only gift from you on Christmas). I'm talking about the great sites that offer affordable gifts-handmade and otherwise. Check out these two Web sites for some great ideas:
http://www.etsy.com/ is my favorite site for handmade goodies. I think I go there about 8-27 times a day just to see what new items have been posted. People from all over the globe can set up an etsy shop and sell their pottery, original artwork and photography, hand knit scarves and gloves, paper crafts, furniture, etc. You can search by artist or category, and you are guaranteed to get something unique and handmade.

image via eyeslipsface.com

http://www.eyeslipsface.com/ is a great site for makeup products that usually sell for about $1. Nope, not kidding. The same amount that can get you an order of five chicken nuggets at Wendy's can also get you a tube of pretty lip gloss. This site does have some products that are higher priced such as their line of mineral makeup and their sets of professional makeup brushes, but the majority of their products are reasonable and have a tendency of filling up your online shopping cart. (But just think of all the stuff you're getting for $20! or $45! or $73! or whatever your total may be...)

I hope my gift ideas have helped. I know I would LOVE to get ANYTHING from the above mentioned gift ideas...hint*hint...you know where I blog...
Happy beginning of the holiday season and happy shopping! See you back next week!


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