Gifts That Are Nifty (And Thrifty)

Nathan Turner, a contributing editor at Domino magazine and a style consultant for the Pottery Barn chain, says it's possible to find thoughtful, useful presents that will be appreciated -- but won't ruin your holiday gift budget.

He selected some items that are available at Pottery Barn stores or on the Pottery Barn Web site (www.potterybarn.com).

For wine lovers, Turner has two suggestions:

  • Instead of bringing someone just a bottle of wine, purchase some wine stoppers -- and tie it to a bottle with a red ribbon. (Stoppers from Pottery Barn: Snow Globe Bottle Stoppers $19.00;Bohemian Bottle Stoppers,$39.00).
  • Don't just bring a bottle of champagne, bring a few demi-bottles already chilled and stashed in mini-champagne buckets (Maxfield Mini Champagne Bucket, $14.00).

    For tea lovers:

  • Nathan suggests creating a tea lover's' basket. Buy an inexpensive basket and fill it with some fun-looking mugs -- perfect to perk up a grey afternoon -- and add a selection of teas and jams (Polka Dot mugs, Set of 4, $32.00).

    For the traveler:

  • Luggage tags are nice, but another great gift is a cosmetics bag filled with TSA-approved containers. This is a great gift for those who travel a lot or about to embark. The bag keeps everything neat, but the TSA-sized containers will allow them to carry these on the plane with them. Nathan also suggests adding some travel toothpaste, etc. (Cosmetic Bag $19.00).

    For the hostess:
    These ideas are great if you're planning to stay with someone over the holidays or if you're simply going to a friend's home for a party. These gifts are great for that person who is always playing hostess.

  • Monogrammed soaps: Forget the monogrammed tea towels -- these soaps are practical, but also luxurious. Instead of simply just giving them in the box, Nathan loves the idea of creating a small bathroom basket with two lovely inexpensive hand towels, a soap dish, and the soaps all together. The presentation is beautiful. All of the items are things your friend can use. (Monogrammed soaps: $39.00; Soap Dish: $12.00; Towels: $9.00).
  • A three tier stand stacked with mini cupcakes and or cookies. A fun and delicious gift that is appreciated twice! Cupcakes for now and a great entertaining piece to be used over and over. (3-Tier Stand $45.00).
  • Bringing flowers for the host is a nice, but then they have to drop what they're doing to find a vase. How about bringing your flowers in a beautiful pitcher? This pitcher is a great addition to the entertaining pantry. This is a nice way to bring a holiday arrangement with no fuss for the hostess as it table ready! (Pitcher, $19.00).

    For the pet lover:
    Pets can be so important in people's lives and are a part of the family. Your host will appreciate it when you recognize and bring a gift for their four-legged friend!

  • Treat container: this keeps the treats contained and organized. But don't just give it empty -- Nathan suggests filling it with some delicious doggie treats (Treat Jar $29.00)Use any permanent marker to add a name of your own.
  • Dog bowl: a nice dog bowl is a great gift. Fill the dog bowl with a couple of dog toys (Small Dog Bowl, $14.00; Large Dog Bowl, $19.00)
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