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Handmade holiday: Etsy shopping guide-Part I

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I'm dreaming of a tight Christmas
The recession is still with us. The impact is so pronounced that my family, both extended and immediate, has agreed to focus the bulk of our gift-giving on the children of the family.

Other families with whom I am acquainted have likewise devised ways to keep expenses down. My friend Teresa's family has drawn names, allowing each person to spoil a single relative without breaking the bank. And gift-giving among my significant other's family will no doubt be marked by small, thoughtful gifts as well as the occasional handmade present.

Small splurges
Yet, these are still the holidays, and the holidays call for a bit of shopping. Whether you celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah, gift-giving is a wonderful way to show that you care. With this in mind, I've begun browsing for tokens of esteem for the people in my life who help keep me going.

First stop? The grandmothers who babysit my two-year-old son, making spirit-nurturning things like writing, band practice and quality time with my friends possible.

Etsy does it

As always, my go-to shopping destination is Etsy.com, a vast showcase for a burgeoning cottage industry of crafters and re-sellers who are creating and earning from their own homes. There are few things more satisfying that supporting a small business.

If you haven't browsed Etsy, you need to, because the site is packed with useful, lovely and one-of-a-kind goods with reasonable prices. Don't just take my word for it. Martha Stewart's December issue of "Living" features several themed gift-giving guides. Many of these had been gleaned from Etsy.

If Martha can do it, so can I! I am going to continue a tradition that I began last year: the creation of an all-Etsy holiday gift guide. This year, however, I plan to break my guide up into two or three guides for quicker reading. My designation is Los Angeles Health and Beauty Examiner, so I will focus on items in those category. Ready, set, shop!

The Jane Austen nook club
Do you have any friends who are enamored with the world of words? Your favorite bibliophile will love the selection of literature-themed sachets at the Anna's Trunk shop on Etsy.

These lavender-scented muslin sachets—printed with pictures and quotes celebrating classics like "Winnie the Pooh" and "Alice in Wonderland"—are perfect for tucking into nooks and crannies that could use a breath of fresh air, like your drawers, closet or car. Among these is a selection of 33 sachets honoring the Edwardian romances of Jane Austen.

If you know someone who rereads "Pride and Prejudice" every year and lives for the next big-screen Austin adaptation, one of these sachets is the perfect gift.

My favorite features a beautiful handwritten excerpt from Mr. Darcy's letter declaring his love for Elizabeth Bennet in "Pride and Prejudice": "My affections and wishes have not changed, but one word from you will silence me forever. If, however, your feelings have changed, I will have to tell you: you have bewitched me, body and soul, and I love, I love, I love you. I never wish to be parted from you from this day on."

Am I the only one melting? Bookworms need love too! These sachets are $6 each. Domestic shipping is $1.50, $1 if you buy more than one.

Captain Quirk
Do you know someone a little quirky? Have you got one of those friends in the vein of Annie Potts in "Pretty In Pink," Johnny Depp in "Benny and Joon," Thora Birch in "Ghost World" and Joan Cusack in anything? Someone for whom camp is not just a place where they were tormented every summer as a child?

Your playful pal will go gaga over Macaroni and Cheese soap , as offered by LoveLee Soaps on Etsy.com. This item features oodles of noodles in a blue bowl, and it's all soap, 5 ounces in all. This good clean fun is scented with lemon and counts skin-soothing shea butter among its natural ingredients.

Best of all, like all comfort foods, this item is cheap. The soap is $5.50 and U.S. shipping is $2 ($1.50 with another item.) You don't have to stop with the mac, by the way. The LoveLee Soaps shop also offers 200 other sudsy concoctions— facsimiles of everything from bowls of Cheerios to French fries, from pastries to popcorn, and from fortune cookies to pickles.

Shiny, happy people
There's hardly time for a post-Christmas let-down before another holiday arrives. Yes, it's going to be a happy New Year. And your sister or mom or bestie is going to be looking for something glitzy to wear to their New Year's Eve party.

You can help them, starting with their eyelids. Etsy plays host to dozens of mineral makeup venders. One among them is the CandySweetTreats shop. And like the name implies, this vender's eye shadows are too yummy to pass up.

My favorite is the Metals Collection, whose tints—deep red, deep green, bronze and gold—boast eye-safe powders ground from copper and bronze. Each gorgeous color shimmers, shines and comes in its own 5-ounce jar.

If you haven't tried mineral eye shadow, you should. It's easy to apply (just brush on), long-lasting and long on pigment. At $17.50 for this quartet of colors, it's also financially do-able. (US shipping is only 50 cents.) In fact, if you want to, you can break up the set, throwing jars into stockings and purses. (Although personally, I hate to break up a family.) This gift is proof that all that glitters is not gold.

I'll be posting more Etsy shopping ideas soon. In the meantime, let your own fingers do the walking, browsing the affordable riches on Etsy.

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