Friday, December 23, 2011


Friday Bargain Bin: Free or Almost-Free Gifts

No, we're not giving away free gifts today, but here are a bunch of things you can "get" for people if you've run out of time or money and haven't found presents yet. Actually, give these any time!

Pies are pretty cheap to make, like under $5 if you already have flour and butter in the house. Everyone knows a good pie crust is difficult, so not only will they appreciate the effort, they'll forgive you if it's not totally perfect. Hot tip: instead of scoring the pie with slashes, write a message to your friend in it like I did! (Admittedly, those are apple squares, but you get the idea.)

Master Class
You've got a special talent and you should share it. Give away a piano lesson or a baking lesson or a physics lesson or a scratching records lesson. Just write it in a nice card like "Please join me for an hour long instruction on cat massage. I'm very good at it and meow you will be too."

A Foot Rub
Speaking of massage, foot rubs are easier to give than back rubs since you don't need any fancy furniture. Also, they're not as sexy so you could even give your mom this gift. Maybe you bring her a new, cushy pair of socks to wear for it?

A Poem
Write a poem that is an anagram of their name. Extra points if you make one of those watercolor things where each first letter is all fancy like you can get in Chinatowns across America. Oh, and extra extra points if you recite it to them without looking down at your notes.

Walking Tour
These are usually saved for out-of-town guests, but why? You know you have a favorite hood that you could show me around. Let's spend an afternoon together! I'll probably end up buying the glasses of wine at the end too because that is how all walking tours must end.

Power Point Presentation
Make your friend a cheesy Power Point Presentation about how wonderful they are.

Offer to sit your friend's kids. The hitch with this present is that you have to say "yes" when they cash it in even if you already have plans on every Saturday night. Tell them you need a few days notice maybe? And look at it this way: this is the perfect opportunity to talk on the phone with your crush for hours.

A Makeover From Me to Edith, per her request.

Photos by Jaimie Duplass, AISPIX, nikkytok, Goygel-Sokol Dmitry, and Elnur, via Shutterstock.

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Super Gift:

Go on a walking tour with gift recipient while babysitting for another, after teaching them via Power Point how to, I dunno, cross stitch? Then have wine and homemade pie and tipsily (you are babysitting, after all) give eachother makeovers and foot rubs. Once they've left call your crush to read them the poem you wrote, and talk for hours about how wonderful you are.


I never want to touch anyone's feet and have to look them in the face or have sex with them again :(


@parallel-lines WHY ARE FOOT RUBS A THING?!
Basically the least sexy thing ever. Don't touch my feet.


@gravie I'm way too ticklish. Foot rubs are the WORST.


"Dammit, Gary, this pie crust isn't totally perfect! You know how I feel about inferior pie crusts!"


@figwiggin And don't think you can give me a "masterclass" to make up for it! I know you were actually giving yourself makeovers whenever you were supposed to be studying!


@pterodactgirl "Well, Elaine, that poem you wrote was no Christmas gift extravaganza either. For one thing, although it's sweet that you called me both 'reactionary' and 'regular', 'Gary' is only spelled with one R."


@figwiggin Well that's just another one of your failings, as I will now proceed to outline in this Powerpoint presentation. Slide 1: How our lives would be so much better if your name was "Garry"...


@pterodactgirl "Just for this, Elaine, I'm giving you a foot rub. A PUNISHMENT foot rub."


@figwiggin Oh, they're all punishment foot rubs when they're from you, Gary. I hope you enjoy having to get up close and personal with that case of athlete's foot I developed after all those walking tours you forced me to go on.


@pterodactgirl "Oh, I see how it is, Elaine! If it's vindictive you want--next time that neighbor with the kid who throws up when she's frightened calls, I'll tell her you're free to babysit. Merry Christmas, Elaine!"

Porn Peddler

Sex Toy Care Package to my bff in Germany, courtesy of my boss giving us $100 store credit for the holidays. my boss <3


I just found out that I'm expected to give my sister's new boyfriend a Christmas gift (I've met him once, for about an hour, he spoke approximately 10 words). I pulled a hockey book off my shelf at work for him. Free books always save the day!


@missvancity I do this allllll the time. "Oh, I need a gift for your friend I've never met? Let's see what I can part with on this bookshelf."


Ooooh, gurl. Feet. Uh-uh.

(Exception: Babies. I will munch your feet until I am physically retrained.)

Rookie (not the magazine) (not that there's anything wrong with that)

@JessicaLovejoy But babies' feet also go in THEIR mouths, as well as basically everything in sight.


Ruth Reichl tweeted some recipe for bourbon salted caramel sauce today, I'm totally making that as the other present that I needed for my dad.


@thebestjasmine Those are my four favorite words. Link, please?


I think this makeover should be filmed as an Extra Special Holiday Episode of "How To Be A Girl." Eh? Ladies?


@pterodactgirl Yes, this!


My ex actually did do a power point presentation/song for my bday one year and it was seriously the sweetest thing ever. So, do that!


Everyone gets hot-chocolate-on-a-stick

I am out of scarves


For my mother's 50th birthday, my brother and I made an invite-only blog detailing the 50 reasons why we loved her, and shot a photo to accompany each reason. It went over really well, and it was surprisingly fun to do... so I second the cheesy technology-based ideas!

tea tray in the sky.

Is that man giving his wife a foot massage IN A PUBLIC PLACE BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE UUUUUUUUUGH.


@Twinkle Little Bat That's her dad, and they are in a restaurant.


I really like the powerpoint idea! It seems really cheesy but in a brilliant way.
The Masterclass idea makes me feel bad for not having any skills. But it makes me hope that someone will teach me skills for free?

Here are a few of my own suggestions from my past:

For my sister's birthday years ago (when I was about 17, and she in her early 20s), I made her a mix CD that had a song from every year she has been alive. It sounds terrible, but she really liked it.

One year I wrote a comic about my then-boyfriend as a superhero (based around his band. I was 16.), along with a t-shirt with his superhero name on it. IT WAS AWESOME.

For my now-boyfriend, our first Christmas together one of my gifts to him was a t-shirt that I had painted characters from one of his favourite films on.
I love home-made gifts! It's fun to make things.

Also, yesterday I saw someone on TV suggest a 'take home cake in a jar'. She basically filled a jar with cake mixture, layered in a nice way, and then attached the cooking instructions, rolled up in a ribbon. It looked pretty good and seems like a nice party favour/stocking filler/last minute extra present.

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Friday Bargain Bin: Free or Almost-Free Gifts.


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