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Tuesday, December 8, 2015


Budget Nativity Scene from the Internet

Zero.  Of course, the most thrifty holiday gifts are free: phone call, face time. email, tweet and or a personal visit to a loved one or buddy and some books on Online bookstores are offered free (but you pay the shipping). 

For mom.  College students and deadbeat offspring will please mom with a framed picture of your current cheap self.  Snap a selfie of yourself in a creative setting, especially if you live in a town that has a Notre Dame Cathedral or Museum of Art then scan the image so you can print a hard copy.  Hit the local thrift store for a framed picture of anything.  Remove the image from the frame and replace with your face.  If mom has a sense of humor you might photoshop your selfie self on a wanted poster.  No limits what you can do with a thrift store frame.

For dad: This one is easy.  Golf shops and golf course pro shops sell tee really cheap.  Find an old tea tin in an antique store (get it) and wrap the golf tees inside.   Or, if dad likes martini’s and golf fill a glass martini shaker with golf tees.  And, remember one of the last places on earth to smoke a classic cigar is on the golf course (or maybe the suburbs of Blythe, CA).

Keeps on giving.  A magazine subscription “Embalmer’s Illustrated” is so goth when it comes to creativity, but remember it shows up every month and who doesn’t like getting real mail these days? I once received a subscription to “Strand Magazine,” a monthly for Sherlock Holmes fans.

Grassy Knoll.  No not that grassy knoll.  The one locally is found in Coronado, CA it’s the grassy or beach area near the fishing pier, where the pedestrial ferry crosses San Diego Bay.  The grass is perfect for a picnic where you can watch action on the harbor and catch the planes weaving through the high rises downtown.  Picnics are fun.

O, Holey Wallet--While a young reporter in San Francisco, the “flame” of my life suggested we form a group and go caroling to the homes we knew (parents, Pope John XXIII, landlord, grandmother—you get the idea).  Anyway, I went kicking and screaming because that’s what people do when I sing.  Solved the situation by adding ten more voices to the xmas choir.  We had a blast.  Got fed and sipped on many offered seasonal beverages.   The following YouTube reminded me of that day so long ago on Telegraph Hill.

Dough always works.  A fun gift I received came as part of a keep it cheap (under $20) xmas office gift exchange.  Simply, a gift certificate for a pizza to be delivered with a $5 bill stapled to it for the tip.  It was delicious.

Forest of Red—A buddy, who started a winery in North San Diego County and years later sold it and now lives in the South of France, had a patch of red poinsettia’s growing between an outcropping of granite boulders on his vineyard.  The poinsettia forest started out as a xmas gift.  After that holiday, he tossed it out on a refuse pile behind the barn.  Ho, ho and behold, the following spring he discovered the gift had survived and now had a family.  He decided to cultivate the poinsettias and each holiday for many years potted the red plant and cleverly added a bottle of his excellent white wine to go with his red poinsettia as gifts.  The wine was almost as tasty as the fruitcake loaf we received from Fr. Keller, the then principal at our son’s school.  Never thought that kid would graduate.

Return Proof.  The cartoon at the bottom of this blog reminded me of a time when I was spending a lot of time along the wooded beaches near Jenner CA.  I stopped at a café near there and at the diner’s counter I sat next to a man and his dog (that’s when you could do things like bring in Fido while you dine).  Short story: he was given the dog by a friend, who thought a man living alone should have a companion.  The giftgiver had gone to the county pound and picked out a loving buddy, wrapped a bow around the collar and knocked on the cabin door:  ho, ho, ho.  How can you return a gift like that?  He didn’t.

Meanwhile back at the thrift store.  There’s always someone who is number one in your life, who is important to you (but not that important): I once received a rather ornate thrift store recycled trophy with a brand new inscription, which read: #1 pain in the ass.  It came from a colleague at a competing magazine to the one I was employed at. You could have given me gold and I wouldn’t have appreciated it more at the time in my career.

Sena leather holder for Apple iphone 6.

Not so cheap. The last item is stretching the “inexpensive” limits to our gift guide this season, but it is so darn practical that we had to add it regardless of the $65 price.  See image on this posting.  Available at Apple outlets and online.

The original non-refundable gift

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