I hope you have a great Christmas. Mine's a work in progress. I'm "on beeper" for my company, trying to put out e-fires at hospitals around the country. I do have the whole series of Arrested Development to keep me company, though.
I may not post much for a week or so, but never fear; like a phoenix or a runny nose, I shall return.
I am talking about LearnVest. I first heard about this on The Nate Show, and I recently saw a little mention in a magazine. An investigation ensued.
This is a website dedicated to uncomplicating our finances. Retirement, taxes, insurance, real estate. It's all there--and more. And it's all free. They even have a daily e-mail. (Check!)
I've only spent about thirty minutes at this point, but so far it is excellent. It's easy to see how this could have an Etsy effect (wherein you start out looking at one thing and find yourself, three hours later, with so much more in your mental inventory).
Confession: The site is targeted at women. Don't care. They break it down, Outkast-style. Ok. That's a bit strong, but for real, it's simple and easy to follow, without condescending to the reader. I really recommend this to everyone, but it would be especially good for younger people who are just graduating and starting to work/save money. Spoiler alert: one of my resolutions for 2011 is to learn more about investing and jump on it.
Ok. So the gifts aren't mini, but this should be a fairly concise guide to finding something for most people on your list, most under $20. Tah der. Remember to buy locally when possible, too, but these are some ideas for those with limited options and/or time. Please bear with me and read on until the end. It's worth it! Promise.
Oh, and the rules I gift-shop by.
1. Shop year-round. (Whoops. Well, this guide is a great place to start, if you're a little behind. And you'll know for next year.) This strategy allows you to constantly browse for items on sale or out of season that could be useful later. Think birthdays as well.
2. Only buy it if you're sure it's something the person will use, read, display, eat, play with, or wear (this can be the trickiest one--see #4).
3. Is this something you'd rather have for yourself? If you answered yes, then get a duplicate. You'll only come to resent your loved one.
4. Consider the person's lifestyle. Are they trying to watch their weight? Well, stay away from Godiva. If she's a T-shirt and jeans person, avoid fancy jewelry or sweaters. She will not wear them. I had to learn this lesson from some of my family members.
5. Only give a gift card if it's a last resort or you just want to help them purchase something they've mentioned that you do not want to spring for. Hehe. Is the person just impossible to buy for? Do they already have everything they could possibly want? Have they dropped no hints throughout the year? You can always donate to a charity in their name. I like St. Jude and Gilda's Club. The organization will usually mail a card to the "in honor of" person, and your donation should be tax deductible. It's a win-win.
Without further ado, here are some ideas that should be crowd pleasers.
2011 Planner from Dozi on Etsy. Confession: I ripped these right off of Freck. She won't mind. They're great and a steal at $11.50 each.
Silver bowls from Jamali Garden. Ina would approve. These are $12 each, and you could present one as-is or fill it with candy. Ghirardelli squares, anyone?!
Aveda's Shampure Candle. This is my new favorite thing. The candle with recycled/reusable glass container is $32 and burns for about 50 hours. The refill candle is $22. It's an earthy scent, so girls and guys should dig this.
Stationery from Rifle Paper Co. I feel that paper is always a good gift. This set would be ideal for dog lovers, but Rifle has an excellent selection for other people in your life. The price is $16 for a set of 8. That's only $2 per card (with envelope), which is not too shabby. For a licensed character at Hallmark, you'll spend twice this. Also consider something like this for children. It's never too early to teach good manners (like sending thank you cards) in this day and age.
How to Be Popular at FredFlare. You cannot go wrong with cheeky books. The cover alone is worth the $13.95.
iPod case from Byrd & Belle. Yes, I blogged about these before, but they warrant a second look. Angie, the designer, makes cases for just about any Apple product your techie's heart could desire. This one is $26, and it will be unlike anything s/he will see in stores.
Hopefully this guide has given you some good ideas. I don't have a promo code or a giveaway or anything except a thank you for taking time out of your day to visit Specs Appeal, throw a little comment love my way, and share part of your lives with me. I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season.
I may have hinted at this before, but if you're not signed up for one or all of Real Simple's free daily e-mails (or the magazine itself), you're missing out. Today's message was no exception. There was a nifty link to several decorating ideas. To wit: