More gift ideas abound, some of which arrived from readers. While all are interesting, I never would have thought of some of them when shopping at non-traditional "gift" stores.
* Grocery stores: Buy Asian or other "exotic" teas, combine with an ornamental teapot or an ornamental tin for an afternoon delight. Purchase a magazine your recipient likes and add a note detailing a year's subscription. Dinner for Two consists of a couple of steaks, two baking potatoes, salad fixins' and a bottle of wine; wrap a fancy ribbon around the bag that holds it all. A gourmet cheese tray includes a cutting board, several types of cheese, and a loaf of French bread; combine all in a pretty basket for extra oomph. Tie fresh herbs with a festive ribbon and add kitchen tools and jars of spicy gourmet goodies.
* Drug stores: Pedicure and/or manicure kit; Christmas mug filled with candy or gel pens (preferably red for the holidays); favorite makeup or shaving items; photo albums even if empty. For extra splash, though, add photos of you and the recipient for a reminder of shared memories. Bath powder, lotion, body wash, scented candle, and milled soap for a relaxing spa.
* Homemade gift coupons: The sky's the limit! 1. Babysitting coupons; backrubs; dinner-of-the-month to an overworked friend; car cleaning, inside and out; computer lessons; chauffeuring to someone unable to drive; date time from one spouse to the other or one-on-one time with a child; and my personal favorite -- silver polishing.
Ellen Phillips is a retired English teacher who has written two consumer-oriented books. Her Consumer Watch column appears on Saturdays in the Business section of the paper. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.