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 (

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)
  • Featured