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Last minute shopping for practical Christmas gifts

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You have less than ten days left to buy the perfect Christmas gifts for the ones you love. So how are you going to make that happen when you have no idea what you're getting anyone? You can always just pick up whatever is leftover at your local mall the day before. Or you could just give everyone gift cards. That's easy.

But shouldn't Christmas be about creating memories and good tidings and cheer? A stale tin of Christmas cookies or a brick-like fruitcake elicits none of that. If you've waited until now to gather your Christmas gifts, you probably need a little help. So here are some ideas for you to get your Christmas shopping done with no anxiety.

Tips

  • Set a budget and stick to it. Join deal saving sites like Groupon, DealSaver, and LivingSocial.
  • Create a giving list and keep it short. Sometimes a card with a personal message is enough.
  • Buy sentimental gifts that remind the receiver of your relationship with him/her.
  • Do not get caught up in the commercials. Pay more attention to the recipient than a company's marketing.
  • Save money by visiting websites with discount codes like retailmenot.com and coupons.com.
  • Have a theme. If you want everyone to be healthy, for example, buy everyone on your list appropriate gifts within your theme. (e.g., jump ropes for kids, family gym memberships, workout gear, healthy eating recipe books, etc.)
  • Buy in bulk and create gift baskets. You can find really nice baskets and dishes to build from at discount stores like Dollar Tree.

Gift Ideas*

  • For families with small children, give practical gifts that they can use like Squeez'ems reusable food pouches. Sari Davidson-Crevin, owner of BooginHead and creator of the eco-friendly brand, even has recipes for holiday flavored smoothies that become portable snacks in the pouches:

1. Gingerbread Smoothie Recipe
Serves: 2
Ingredients
· 1 cup almond milk
· 2 frozen bananas, peeled, sliced and thawed slightly
· 1 and 1/2 teaspoon fresh, grated ginger
· 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
· 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
· 1 teaspoon molasses
· 1 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions:
Start by adding the liquid to your blender, followed by the soft fruit. Add the greens to your blender last. Blend on high for 30 seconds or until the smoothie is creamy.

2. Peppermint Patty Green Smoothie
Serves: 2
Ingredients
· 3/4 cup almond milk
· 1 cup spinach, about 1 handful
· 1 frozen banana
· 2 tbsp fresh mint leaves, stems removed or 1/8 tsp peppermint extract
· 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
· 1 heaping tbsp chocolate chips

Instructions:

  1. Place all the ingredients, except chocolate chips into your blender
  2. Start on low speed, and increase to high
  3. Blend until smooth, about 1 min
  4. Then add the chocolate chips and blend for a few seconds. Just long enough to break them down into smaller pieces.
  5. Enjoy!

3. Pumpkin Smoothie
Serves: 2
Ingredients

· 1 Cup Pumpkin Puree
· 1 Cup Milk
· 1 Banana, sliced
· 2 tbsp Brown Sugar
· ¼ tsp Ground Cinnamon
· ¼ tsp Vanilla Extract
Instructions:
1. Spoon pumpkin puree into a re-sealable bag and freeze, 8 hours to overnight.
2. Remove pumpkin from freezer and allow to soften at room temperature, 5 – 10 minutes
3. Pour milk into blender, add pumpkin, banana, brown sugar, cinnamon and vanilla extract.
4. Blend until smooth, about 3 minutes

Squeez’ Ems 2-Pack Reusable Food Pouch ($7.99) at your local retailer.

  • If you have teens, it is easy to just buy the latest gadgets or high fashion sneakers, but if you really want a gift that keeps on giving, buy them shares of stock in their favorite brands. You can buy one single share or multiple shares of stock for the teens in your family. It will teach them about ownership vs consumerism.
  • For the ladies in your life, give a gift that gives back. Canadian fashion designer Sonja den Elzen, has an amazing dress called the METAmorph dress that is both versatile and charitable. The dress can be worn in over twenty-five ways and purchases of the fashion forward piece help fund amazing charities like: Free The Children, Kiva, Charity Water, Give Directly, and David Suzuki Foundation. You can also use a jewelry box to fill with a lady's favorite things like gift certificates to spas, boutiques, and salons; photos of you together; jewelry; and a handwritten card.

Keep in mind that buying a lady clothing can be tricky, so in this case a gift card might suffice. You do not want to buy a woman clothing that is either too big or too small. She would be very insulted.

  • For the gentlemen you can never go wrong with his favorite gadgets or things associated with his favorite hobbies. If he's a music buff, old music on vinyl may have him taking out the trash and raking leaves without you having to ask! You can also find great gifts that make your guy feel rather dapper like shaving kits, nice shoes and bow ties. If you insist on buying cologne, buy sample sizes or travel sizes of several and arrange them in a nice cigar box with a handwritten card.

No matter what gifts you decide to give, give them with love, and make sure the sentiment comes through. Happy shopping!

*Boogin Head and Thieves Boutique have supplied samples of their products to the writer.

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