This article can be found at www.laurel-rose.com Everybody’s looking to save a buck or two these days, and gift giving is one area where we often find ourselves agonizing over the choices we make. You can make a customized gift for someone for far less than you ever thought possible, and you can do it rather easily. All it takes is a little creativity, and some legwork. For the traveler: Make a travel kit for them that they can pack in their suitcase. You can find closable pouches in many different materials at discount stores, craft stores and occasionally, the grocery store (look in the cosmetics section). These have zippers, Velcro or snap closures. Fill the pouch with sample-sized products, which can be purchased at many different drug stores, grocery stores, or discount stores. Items such as tooth paste, a travel toothbrush, mouthwash, dental floss, shampoo, conditioner, a disposable razor, deodorant and hand cream are good items to include. If you know your person’s brand preferences, then use those brands if they’re available. If you don’t, then use your judgment; a man generally wouldn’t appreciate deodorant that smells like baby powder, a toothbrush that’s pink, or a pouch with a rose pattern on it. Likewise with brands; if a brand of deodorant is targeted to men, a woman will wonder why you gave it to her. Movie night: Find a large sized bowl or other container for serving chips and put several packets of microwavable popcorn inside. You can also include some of the following to add to hot popcorn for additional flavor (include a little note telling your person to shake these on hot popcorn): a container of grated parmesan or white cheddar cheese, dry seasoning mixes used for barbecuing, or a dry ranch salad dressing mix (but don’t use with butter-flavored popcorn). You can also make a very easy sweet mix: use equal amounts of granulated sugar and cinnamon, and put in a small jar, and shake until well blended. Consider including a small- sized bag of chips or pretzels. Include a gift card or certificate for a movie rental, or find a movie at a second-hand store or in the clearance bin, and you’re all set! (If you don’t really know their taste in movies, a good comedy is usually appreciated.) For the coffee or tea drinker: Either use a very large mug or a small-sized storage container. Fill with their favorite teas or coffee. If you don’t know their favorites, simply include an assortment. Coffee can be purchased in one-pot sized packages perfect for gifts, and you can give a small variety this way. If someone already has a lot of mugs, then the small-sized storage container is the better option. You can find storage containers (look for canisters and decorative jars) at discount stores, discount retailers (think Wal-Mart), and even at some grocery stores. Or use cocoas instead of coffees or teas, or in addition to them. Cocoa is a guilty pleasure and good to have for serving company. For the sweet lover: If you have a favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe (or use the Chocolate Candy Cookie recipe from this website), make a super-sized cookie. You can shape it (a large heart) or just make it round. Line your cookie sheet with parchment paper so that you can remove it (this is really important). Once the cookie cools, decorate it. You can purchase ready -made frosting in tubes with decorator tips to make customizing your cookie easy. Simply write your message in the middle of the cookie, and put a different color frosting on its edges, and you’ll have a fantastic gift that you made yourself.
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