Holidays

Five Great Gifts that Cost Less Than $5

During the holiday season, like Christmas and the New Year holiday, and in fact, during any other occasions that give cause for celebration, like birthdays, finding a gift can be quite the task, especially when you consider the different considerations of what the person may actually want or like. Apart from this, in today’s difficult economic climate, or if you are a prudent person regarding spending, you might want to be interested in something that is tasteful but also still cost-effective.

Here are some suggestions that just might fit the bill.

SE Mini 45X Brass Microscope w/Illuminator

This toy is ideal for children between the ages of six and ten, especially those with a scientific leaning of sorts. At just $3.18, it can be used to examine plants, devices and anything your young aspiring son might be interested in. It has proven to be a particularly popular toy, especially with boys that age that typically, always want to take a closer look at the world around them.

Coffee Mug with an Imprint

A coffee mug with a name or an image that represents the person or something important to the person is a great gift, especially for an adult. If it is a special occasion, like a graduation or something similar, this would carry even greater weight if an insignia representing this is printed onto the mug. The cost you can expect for something of good quality? About $4.10.

A Picture Frame

A picture frame is always a great gift, especially for a female recipient. Retailing for about $4.50, picture frames vary, and you can make some excellent selections depending on the age of the person receiving the gift. Go with something bright and fun for a female child, something trendy and zany for a teenager, something urbane and sophisticated for a young female adult and something ornamental for anyone older.

A Classic Book

Some of the older classics, especially from the thrift stores make delightful gifts, especially for young adults interested in reading and who have not been exposed to some of this great work. Luckily, one has a great selection to choose from, from Lord of the Flies, the works of William Shakespeare, Lord of the Rings, Charles Dickens, Ernest Hemingway, the list is endless. Retailing at just under $5, these make a really great and thoughtful gift.

Oven Mitts or any Kitchen Accessory

Oven mitts make a great holiday gift and are also great for birthdays or celebrations like Mother’s Day. Indeed, kitchen accessories can be a touching fit of sorts especially if your intended target is a dab hand around the kitchen. They combine practicality with elegance and have the benefit of being available in festive colors as well. Other kitchen accessories that would work quite well include kitchen towels. All these retail at just under $5 as well.

How to Pick Charities to Donate To

The decision to donate to a charity is not just a noble one; it is a reflection of empathy on one’s part and an understanding that where one has been blessed by fate, others have been less fortunate. So for those seeking to improve the lot of humanity, to give back, for those seeking to “be the change they seek”, there are a number of pointers that can ensure that their gestures actually have the impact they have in mind and reach their intended target.

Choose a charity

The method of choosing which charity to donate to that are outlined below are not perfect methods but they will offer a guideline that can help one make an informed decision on how to impact the world around them.

(Credibility. Efficacy. Community Neighborhood. Immediacy. Passion. Anonymity)

Credibility

It is important that you choose a charity that has gone through a vetting process of some sort. This process varies from one area to another but certain aspects of the vetting process are fairly easy to spot: the charity should be registered, and have a recognizable board and patronage of standing within the community; it’s activities and how it puts it’s resources to use should be transparent, and easily accessible financial records play an important role in this; it’s impact should be visible, and not simply at a PR level but intrinsically, in line with it’s stated vision and goals.

Efficacy

The charity should be able to actually effect change in the individual lives and communities it works with. It is all very well to provide shelter for the homeless, but alongside this, those sheltered should find a system that helps them better themselves so that they move on to a way of life that helps them earn a living and provide for themselves so the shelter can help another lost cause.

Community

The charity should be impacting directly on the community it exists in. Global charities naturally have global reach, but to actually work, charities need to experience the reality of the people whose lives they are seeking to have an impact on.

Immediacy

There are sometimes situations that demand an instant response from the community, whether local, nationwide, or even globally. These often occur during natural disasters like earthquakes, outbreaks of disease and tsunamis. In this particularly situation, creditable organizations like the United Nations make impromptu calls for immediate help and these are calls that one should respond to when seeking to donate. In this particular scenario, every dollar counts, and the immediacy of the situation also validates it.

Passion

One should also find a charity that appeals to one’s passions, or beliefs. It is easier to relate to a cancer charity, for example, if you have suffered from the disease or have known somebody who has been ravaged by it. The things we are passionate about are often the ones we are also most effective with.

Anonymity

As much as possible, do seek a charity that ensures the donor remains anonymous. It gives real meaning to your offer; the reward is in you yourself knowing.

Four Great Graduation Gifts

Graduation is right around the corner and that means the parade of graduation parties have only just begun. For many of you, this also means time to begin picking out graduation presents. Here are a few no fail gift ideas that are sure to help make your graduates first year of college a little easier.

Graduation Gifts

1) Gift Cards

Though this may not seem like an exciting gift, gift cards actually can be one of the best gifts for a busy college student. Going off to college opens up a new world of expenses for the student. Anything from rent to gas money can take a huge chunk out of anyone’s income, let alone a student. Grocery store gift cards, gas gift cards, restraunt gift cards, target gift cards, and more allow students to get what they need, when they need it, and not having to worry about the whether they will have enough money for rent at the end of the month.

2) Dorm Room Accessories

Dorm life can be one of the hardest things to get used to in the transition from high school to college. A good gift idea for a graduate is anything that can make life a little easier, such as accessories for their dorm room. Printers, mini fridges, microwaves, towels, toiletries, lamps, even stock piling the student with granola bars, water bottles, chips, soup, and ramen noodles will always be much appreciated and very important.

3) How To Books

This may seem like a boring gift that will get you a fake smile and forced thank you, and at the time, this may be true. But a how to book on resume writing, essay writing, or scholarships could become invaluable to a college student. Many students will begin applying for jobs, internships, and scholarships all that will require resumes, essays, or both. All the help available on topics such as these comes in handy.

4) Alarm Clock/Watch

When Mom is not in your dorm room waking you up every day, an alarm clock can be the difference between making it to class or failing. Get an alarm clock with the biggest and brightest digital screen possible and tell the graduate to plug it in across the room from their bed. They’ll have to get up and get in and, in the process, wake up! Watches can be a great gift as well. Nowadays, students check the time on their cell phones. College professors, however, do not allow cell phones in their classes and will often times ask a student to excuse themselves when they see them paying more attention to their cell phones and not the class. Watches are a much easier and college approved way to go.

Take some time to look into these gifts before you begin hiking through the mountain like pile of graduation parties that are sure to be heading your way. These gifts are guaranteed to help make the first year of college life successful. Your graduate will thank you!

Holiday Shopping: The Season Comes Around Again!

It’s that time of the year again, a time when all is good cheer and free spending. It is, of course, a time that retailers look forward to, and for possibly slightly different reasons, shoppers as well. Spending and general expenditure goes up considerably during the holiday period, and the inevitable January slump is almost typically predictable as disposable incomes have had a bite taken out of them by that point.

Holiday Gifts

The question we are attempting to answer, is, what makes for reasonable spending during the holidays? What would be the wise thing to do with regards to one’s budget and finances, while at the same time ensuring that one gets to enjoy the holiday as well?

Before letting the bewildering frenzy of advertising, sales and seemingly amazing store deals get you into buying what you did not necessarily need in the first place, take stock on your situation and think through it carefully. Certain aspects need to be examined:

1. What do you really need, in the medium and long term? You will usually have a list of these items anyway. Are they part of the current sales promotions? Then getting them at discounted prices may be worthwhile.

2. What will actually be needed for the holiday season? Certain items, like gifts and food and drink are a no-brainer, as are decorations (or the children will never forgive you!) but these should be itemized specifically in an itemized list, to avoid impulse spending.

3. What can wait till after the holiday season? There are a number of obvious reasons for this perspective. One is that it will free-up some cash flow so that the sending that is necessary is actually done for the holidays. Another is the inevitable sizable discount process that happens in retail outlets across the country after the holidays are over. It certainly makes budgeting sense to wait until prices sky-dive before deciding to spend on that wide-screen TV you had been hankering after.

4. What can be bought in bulk? A lot of bulk sales actually go on during the holiday season, and these, as well as coupon sales, are often ignored or overshadowed by the retail sales blitz. Soft drinks, clothes, dry food items as well as fresh foods that require cold storage can easily be found at really competitive prices if one bothers to look carefully. And after the last two years, one lesson learnt is that it does pay to be careful with your money.

5. More importantly, holiday requirements rarely change drastically. A plan where you controlled or managed your spending from last year will, with a few alterations, fit into what you have this year, assuming of course, that your income has not fluctuated drastically. Thus, a good spending plan is like a good habit. If it worked the last time round, pull it out, dust it off and give it another go. That will have you actually looking forward to the traditionally lean periods after the holidays.

Most importantly, be wise with your spending, as cautious with your money as you have been all year. The holidays are simply no excuse to let your guard down.

Happy holidays!