Shopping Tips

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It’s that time of year when the list of things to do begins to overwhelm: holiday parties, family gatherings, and the shopping — the endless shopping. So many gifts to buy for neighbors and teachers, moms and dads, kids, best friends, godchildren and more. The stress can turn anyone into a Grinch!

We asked our writers to help you (and us) with ideas for gift giving by sharing their favorite inexpensive gifts to give and to get. Look for more shopping news over Thanksgiving weekend.

 

FROM ASSOCIATE EDITOR RACHEL MONROE:

To Give – Last year, I made my own chai tea mix — it just involves getting some spices, grinding them up, and putting the mix in a pretty tin. It’s more special than buying a box of tea at the store and it smells great…plus tea is a generic enough gift that you can give it to most anyone.

To Get – I loooove tights from We Love Colors. They have 51 different vibrantly colored tights, each pair is only $10.

 

 

FROM “BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY” COLUMNIST MARION WINIK:

To Give – Sideshow, at the AVAM and Pier One always have everything you need for one-stop shopping.

To Get – I love bath salts or bubble bath.

 

FROM “HOT HOUSE” WRITER CYNTHIA MCINTYRE:

To Give – I always give a book. hardback or paperback, either one. Once in awhile, I will see a great design item (last year, it was Japanese florist scissors) and stock up on them for giving.

To Get – Books, flowers and wine.

 

FROM REAL ESTATE AND LIFESTYLE WRITER KRISTA SMITH:

To Give – I love to do flowers so I make a little arrangement. I get flowers from Trader Joe’s and mix in things from my yard.  God, that sounds so affected/Martha Stewart, but it’s true.

To Get – Those funny retro-housewife cocktail napkins. (See our gift guide on the culture page.) In one week I received the same ones from three different people. They read: “She was one drink away from proving her mother-in-law right.” What do you think that says about me?

 

FROM EDITOR AND PUBLISHER SUSAN G. DUNN:

To Give – No one is ever disappointed to receive an orchid and the ones from Whole Foods in Mt. Washington are affordable ($20) and beautiful.  The amaryllis at Watson’s Garden Center are also a sure thing ($17).

To Get – I always love getting a Le Pen from Pleasure of Your Company in Green Spring Station. It cannot be found at Target or Staples and I rarely have time to make a special trip in search of a single pen, so whenever I receive one, I am thrilled. They are a steal at $1.95.

 

 

 FROM STAFF WRITER BOB O’BRIEN:

To Give – If I have enough time, I might cruise etsy.com for something unique and inoffensively “nice.” If they’re from outside of Baltimore, I might get them a bag from Squidfire on Thames, something I can only get one place.

To Get – Rodenbach Grand Cru. By far the best beer I’ve ever tasted. It’s a Flanders red ale, well-balanced and sour. Used to be, you couldn’t find it anywhere in Maryland, but now it’s available at just about any serious liquor store. A 25 oz. bottle is around $10.

 

FROM “GETTING IN” COLUMNIST ELIZABETH FREDERICK:

To Give –  A candle from House Downtown in Belvedere Square or small (tiny) vase and flower arrangement from Dutch Connection – really beautiful.

To Get – Chocolates — never wrong — but can get pricey (absolute faves from Kirchmayr… Shame they moved.Nine truffles for $11 or bottle of wine (and yes, I’ll happily drink cheap wine 🙂  like Woop Woop – under $10/bottle.

 

FROM INTERN AND COLLEGE STUDENT ARLO SHAKUR:

To Give – A DVD from Best Buy has been my cop-out gift for a long time. But no one really watches DVDs anymore so I wouldn’t do this now. I don’t know what I’ll do.

To Get – A good, cheap welcome gift would be a bottle of liquor. 

 

FROM SENIOR EDITOR BETSY BOYD:

To Give – Anything by Kiehl’s — thick, rich moisturizers and therapeutic shampoos, etc., for men and women, and nothing’s too perfumed in case people are allergic or anxious about scents. My current fave: Decadent & soothing avocado eye cream, which is under $30; small container lasts two months. (Nordstrom features a Kiehl’s station.)

To Get – I love to receive earrings I wouldn’t have thought to pick out for myself — the bigger and funkier the better. Cheap and wacky: fine by me. If a good friend sees me in them, I’m sold.

 

FROM CONTRIBUTOR MICHAEL YOCKEL:

To Give – The Magic 8-Ball, the psychic toy in the form of its namesake billiard ball. Ask the Magic 8-Ball a question, turn it over in your hand, and up pops one of 20 different answers in its teeny view screen, ranging from the upbeat (“you may rely on it”) to the ambivalent (“reply hazy, try again later”) and to the ixnayed (“outlook not so good”).

To Get – I like to receive outre pop-cultural items such as board games based on ancient TV shows (“Lost in Space”) and buttons bearing the images of innately un-cool bands (New Kids on the Block).

From writer Holly Morse-Ellington

To Give – My go-to gift is assorted chocolates from Ma Petite Shoe. If it’s for a closer friend, I throw in a pair of their funky socks.

To Get – My favorite gift to receive is a book (or two!) from The Book Thing. And they’re free. 

What is your go-to gift when you are stumped?  And what inexpensive gift are you always happy to receive?  Tell us in the comments below.

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