Lots of talk lately about the recession and how it's putting a damper on most of the world's holiday shopping.
And yes people are spending less this year and some are wondering how they are going to give a worthy gift to everyone on their list. Since gift giving is a reflection of who you are, no one ever wants to feel like they have gifted a lame present.
The truth is you don't have to spend a lot to give a lovely gift and people are not hard to shop for. It just takes some thinking.
I always find it comical when someone says I am hard to shop for. If they say that, then they do not know me well.
Of course there are things I want (we're talking in the materialistic sense here) such as finally building my dream house and really it's just my dream kitchen, the rest of the house can be a box as far as I'm concerned. There's the newer model to my camera that just came out, however it is not equipped with as good a lens as I currently have, then there's that vineyard. But those are all things I have to give myself. And work for...and sacrifice to have. I don't expect these things from anyone.
But if someone were to give me a gift, I would prefer a gift certificate to Marshall's or Ross before the mall. I really would. Do you know what I can do with a $100 from Marshall's? The truth is, the thrill is in the hunt. What you find there is not packaged perfectly, but it's what you do with the items you come across that makes the difference; taking parts and pieces and creating things that go together is well beyond satisfying.
The high end products found at these stores are often far superior to things you can find in other places. Plus, it's fun...you can be creative and the possibilities are endless.
On a recent shopping trip to Marshall's I put together many small gifts most people can afford for the special people on your list. All are things I would be tickled to receive, knowing someone went out of their way to put them together. And no one would ever know they were from Marshall's.
All these items offer simple pleasures. Gone are the days of dream vacations and a new car every year. The truth is, if I didn't have the "little things" every day to look forward to, I couldn't cope. Life would be dull.
I have found more pleasure in simplicity than a week in Hawaii has ever given me. A good glass of wine, a beautiful sunset, a plate of homemade cookies and the smell of the air after a rain is far more satisfying than a new purse.
So let's start with the picture at the top of this page...remember everything was purchased at Marshall's...
French Grey Sea Salt from Pepper Creek Farms (perfect for baking and cooking or for salads) $3.99, a silver, vintage looking star ornament $3.00, D'Amico & Sons rosemary leaves in a silver tin $1.99, one small sparkly votive candle $1.00 and a beautiful light blue plate with raised decorative edges 9-inches in diameter $2.00. Wrap this is cellophane and tie with ribbon or add some homemade treats to the platter. Total cost: $11.98 I would be thrilled if someone brought this to me.
A tower of love....Barbotina ramekins made in Portugal. The white is 5-inches in diameter, the gray is 4-inches in diameter. Both are very sturdy and thick ceramic. Each was $1.99, a total steal. I'm kicking myself for not buying the black one. High quality Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract $5.99, mini powdered sugar sifter $1.00. Wrap in cellophane and tie with a beautiful ribbon or just tie a ribbon around the bottom ramekin. The best part of this gift is that the ramekins don't match, that would be boring. Total cost: $10.97.
Do you have a friend who loves Christmas and has three trees and changes her decorations every year? Marshall's has these absolutely exquisite tree skirts made by the Gingerbread Lane company. They are thick, detail orientated and just beautiful. I could not capture how gorgeous this is by camera. Fold it beautifully and tie with a large red or white bow, maybe add an ornament to the ribbon that matches the skirt. There were so many different ones and all were beautiful. Total cost: $24.99.
When I saw these coffee cups with vintage Tony the Tiger and Frosted Flakes images, I melted. How cute are they? For $2.99 each, they are very cute. I placed them on a handmade serving tray made by Ceriart from Portugal, 14 x 8.5-inches, $7.99. I added candy canes to the cups for the picture but I think I would add homemade chocolate dipped pretzel sticks or peppermint bark to the mugs. I would also place tinsel or peppermint candies around the base of the plate and wrap it all in cellophane. I would be ecstatic with a gift like this, coffee time in the morning would be G-r--reat! Total Cost: $16.96.
The selection of holiday hand soaps was absolutely endless...the possibilities were just mind-boggling. I settled on Candy Cane Foaming Wash and a Cranberry Moisturizing Hand Soap. They both smell ridiculously good. They also had matching hand lotions and candles for the same price of $4.99 each. These are great hostess gifts, and I'm telling you the selection was unbelievable and the packaging was very pretty. Total Cost: $9.98. A small gift basket with the soap, candle and lotion were be a very lovely gift for anyone.
Do you have an ornament exchange to attend? Marshall's has drop-dead gorgeous holiday ornaments. These are all hand-painted, handmade vintage looking ornaments. All strung on red ribbon and are about 3-3.5-inches in length. I was not able to capture their uniqueness on camera, but trust me they are beauties. $5.00 each.
Give someone you love these lovely salad tongs adorned in heart jewels, 12-inches in length. Even the paddles are heart shaped at the end with a sweet heart cutout in the middle, $12.99. Large "Love" coffee mug, hand painted on the inside and out, $1.99. Three peppermint candles, 2.00. Wrap this in cellophane or add to a gift basket with special teas or coffee. It's festive and Valentine's is coming up! Total cost: $16.98.
You can't see them but there are five Christmas kitchen towels wrapped under this ribbon. All are high quality with beautiful holiday patterns of reindeer and snowflakes etc. They were sold as a bundle for $5.99. I added the ornament you see, which is large, about 9-inches long for $3.00 and she is holding an All-Clad whisk for $9.99. Total cost: $18.98. You could also separate these towels and wrap them around bottles of wine and tie with a ribbon for a festive look.
Marshall's has tons of perfume. Just tons. Lots of old school stuff but every year Escada comes out with a new fragrance and discontinue the previous one. "Moon Sparkle" was one of my favorites. I usually pay between $50-80 dollars for this, Marshall's had it for $29.99. This would be wonderful given with these plush, white Spa towels they had, all wrapped in a bow of course!
For the baker in your life...a Mastercraft nonstick baking tray, 13 x 8 inches, perfect for baking brownies or shortbreads, $7.99. A Cuisinart nonstick 9" loaf pan $6.99, Endurance measuring cups ($9.99) and spoons ($5.99). With the red handles these are very festive and overall very high quality. Pumpkin pie spice, apple pie spice and Vietnamese cinnamon, 4.8 ounces each, $3.99 each. Wrap this with a large ribbon or cellophane for a nice presentation. Total cost: $39.93.
Tinted glass Pinecone ornaments, 5-inches in length. Total cost $3.00. These are stunning.
Like I said before, the selection of holiday soaps, lotions and sprays was pretty extensive and all packaged very nicely. Michel "Holiday" hand lotion, $4.99 each. The lovely box in the back with the city scape held the two bars of soap which are stamped with the christmas trees. The soap itself smells like a holiday tree, $4.99. Savon Vegetal Lime Cream soap from Italy, $4.99 and Candy Cane room spray for $4.99 as well. Put these together in a gift basket and bestow them on a lucky recipient. Total Cost: $19.96.
Here is a close-up of the stamping on the soap, pretty huh?
Call me crazy but don't bring me eight matching glasses. I love all mismatched stemware. Add homemade candied or spiced pecans to them and tie with cellophane and a ribbon for the perfect elegant gift. I loved the stems on these glasses and one had detailed sea shell patterns on it. Both were only $3.00 each.
Now, I found this lonely orange creamer on the clearance aisle for $2.00. I loved it's unique markings. I added a set of three rubber spatulas for $5.99 and bit of holiday cheer. I thinks it's unique and since orange is my favorite color...well I just love it. Total cost: $7.99.
These are two sturdy and very well made prep bowls, about 7-inches in diameter each for $2.99 each. I added a jar of Vidalia Georgia Peach Salsa for $3.99 and wrapped it in a bow. I would love to pour this over some cream cheese. Or add homemade crackers to the bowls for a homemade touch. Total cost: $9.97.
These bathroom hand towels are thick, high quality towels, unlike the flimsy ones often made. They are decorative and all have a cute stripe at the bottom for $3.99 each. Fold nicely and wrap with a large bow for a hostess gift. Total cost: $15.96.
I love these large soup or salad bowls. It's hard to see the raised detail pattern on each one. They are sturdy and would be perfect to use for meals, prep or ice cream for $1.99 each. The salad tossers are handmade from bamboo and are very nice as well, $7.99. Total cost: $11.97.
I could go on and on...there is just so much more. My point is, beautiful, thoughtful gifts can be given for very little money.
With so many people on your list, how can you not afford to go to Marshall's? And no, I do not own stock in Marshall's nor am I paid by them. I just like to shop there for fun items like these.
These are all gifts you have to put together yourself and adding any homemade goodies to any of them will only make your gift more special.
Of course I have a bazillion more ideas if you need any help!