WARNING: This is a repeat from last year, but 'tis the season and I need some holiday inspiration. ;)

I'm always the one picking up magazines with "Ten Gifts Under $10" or "50 Gifts for $5 or Less" headline shouting at me from the cover. How can a woman resist? Great gifts? Under $5 or $10? Sign me up!

Alas, most of said gifts aren't suitable... or take so long to create that I wouldn't get them done until Valentine's Day. So I've compiled a list of my own that has helped me maintain my sanity and bank balance over holidays gone by:

1. Three hours of something
One of the bests gifts we ever received was the gift of three hours from each of my creepy cousins, who were flat broke because they were probably spending all of their money on beer and rock 'n roll. ;) The DH and I took them up on their offer and had some much-needed help in building the shed in our back yard.

2. Christmas tree cookies
Make butter cookies and add green food colouring to the dough. Cut out into tree shapes and bake as directed. Once cooled, drizzle icing from a tube (or a mixture of icing sugar and water) over the cookie in a zigzag pattern, then immediately sprinkle the cookie with colourful edible decorations like sprinkles, stars and those silver balls that really hurt if you bite them the wrong way.

If you're giving these cookies to creative types, leave them undecorated and provide the icing and decorations so they can make them pretty in their own way.

3. Song parody
For the writers out there, nothing says "you're fabulous" more than a parody of a loved one's favourite song. Turn Avril's "Girlfriend" into "Rear End," for example. It's even better if you perform it. Or not.

4. Box of wishes
Now this one's fun! Find the fanciest box you can at the dollar store (go all out, spend $2!) and some coloured sheets of paper (printer-friendly if your handwriting is horrible like mine). Write out as many great things that you think that person would wish for, and then add a heap more. Print them out, cut them into individual wishes, fold them up and place inside the nice box for the coolest gift ever.

5. Kodak moment
If you have photo-retouching skills (or not, by using cut-outs) why not make someone's dream come true by putting them in a photo with their favourite celebrity? Then print out your masterpiece and put it in a red-carpet-worthy frame (that you picked up at, you guessed it, the dollar store)!

6. Get out of _____ free card
This one's perfect for spouses or other people who have chores to do. Make a certificate that allows the holder to get out of a particularly heinous task (dishes, laundry, draining the septic system, watching I Wanna Work for Diddy) so that they may do whatever they want to do instead.

7. "Ten great things about you" list
Print up a list of the top ten things you love about your loved one. Dress it up with photos or cutouts from magazines to make it even more groovy and have all members of the family sign it so it looks official.

8. Letter from Santa
Everyone encourages kids to write to Santa and they get a letter back, but what about us older kids? Shouldn't we get a letter, even if we've been kind of bad and our wish lists (pay off my mortgage, help me drop 200 pounds) get more and more ridiculous every year? Why not surprise someone with a letter from Saint Nick and have him tell them something good before he gets to the part about not coming through on the wishes.

9. A car
Small box #1: car key. Small box #2 (in garage): Hot Wheels version of dream car.

10. Create their own soundtrack
Compile a collection of songs that represents all the cool things about that certain someone. It's up to you whether you include their favourite songs or not, but I do recommend including some great indie tracks that they might not be aware of, or a mash-up or two.

Give it a great title and be sure to do up a cover--one that folds out with liner notes takes it to a new level. And, if you're willing to spend the extra cash, you can even get CDs that look like record albums for those who remember playing them. ;)

Have fun!

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