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The Tribune's 8th annual gift-giving guide

Created date

September 21st, 2009
ERC_1009_Guidesilo
ERC_1009_Guidesilo

One thing we know about our readers you like to shop early for holiday presents and get the best bargains. This year promises to be even more challenging because so many families are living on tight budgets and making every penny count. With that in mind, our 8th annual gift-giving guide focuses on gift-giving that s affordable and personal and sometimes downright yummy! So while this may not be an extravagant year, it will certainly be a memorable one when your loved ones open their special presents from you.

Food

Wine saver Anyone who s ever lost half a bottle of good wine because they had no way of sealing it will loveVacu Vin s Vacuum Wine Saver. This hand-held pump attaches to a reusable rubber stopper and removes the air from the wine bottle, significantly extending its shelf life. Selling for around $15, it s a great gift for even the occasional wine drinker (www.vacuvin.com). Gourmet gifts Delectable delights make great gifts that are always appreciated. And if you re trying to downsize your spending this year, a great family gift instead of individual gifts might help stretch your gift budget. Send someone you love decadent gourmet popcorn fromDale and Thomas Popcorn. Flavors like dark fudge chunk, peanut butter & white chocolate DrizzleCorn, and Southwest cheddar chipotle are sure to wow anyone on your gift list. Gifts start at $30 (www.DaleandThomas.comor call 1-800-767-4444). There s nothing better than giving someone a taste of their youth.Nostalgic Candy offers gift boxes brimming with sweet treats from yester-year Razzles, Atomic Fire Balls, even candy cigarettes! Gifts start at $30 (www.Nostalgiccandy.comor call 414-571-6138). Send your friends and relatives a treat for their taste buds that can be used to feed one whole gathering or split up into many smaller meals.Omaha Steak s Ideal Gift comes packed in its own cooler (with dry ice) and includes filet mignons, top sirloins, stuffed sole fillets with scallops and crabmeat, Omaha Steak Burgers, stuffed baked potatoes, and a Chocolate Lover s Cake for dessert. Regularly priced at $135, Omaha Steaks is offering it for a holiday price of $59.99 (www.omahasteaks.comor call 1-800-960-8400).

Personalized

Stamp of approval Stamps.com sphoto stamps make fun and practical gifts. Printed in full color, you can add pictures of anything you want grandchildren, pets, company logos and use them for First-Class, Priority, or Express Mail (www.photo.stamps.com). Custom family photo books (and more) Shutterfly is a great way to get those photos out of the albums and onto something that will really impress friends and loved ones. In addition to free online photo storage, Shutterfly offers product packages like customized photo books, cards, mugs, stationery, even puzzles that make gift giving a little bit different (www.shutterfly.com). Keep it personal Personal Creationsmakes it easy to find a unique gift for friends and family of all ages. Organized by occasion, recipient age, and season, the expansive catalog of items includes everything from personalized jewelry and clothing to household items and gag gifts (www.personalcreations.com).

Something different

Not your typical summer camp NorthBay is like a Swiss Family Robinson dream come true on Maryland s Chesapeake Bay. Give your grandkids the gift of a summer experience they ll remember forever. Sure they ll swim, sail, hike, and bike. But they ll also learn how to build character and life skills in one of the coolest places on the planet (www.northbaysummer.comor call 1-866-527-3060). World-class travel From Nepal s lowland jungles to New Orleans French Quarter,Elderhostel offers educational vacations to 8,000 destinations annually in the U.S. and 90 countries. Expert lecturers, local cuisine, like-minded travelers, and individual exploration time come standard. While most programs attract adults 50-plus, there are a handful of offerings for grandparents and their grandkids. For those who want to give the gift of travel without breaking the bank, there s even an under $600 category (www.elderhostel.orgor call 800-454-5768). The right touch Give the gift of relaxation. With more than 800 locations in the U.S., there s sure to be aMassage Envynear your giftee. The chain offers an assortment of different massages, including sports massage, Swedish massage, and geriatric massage. Gift cards start at $50 and can be purchased online atwww.massageenvy.com or in person at any Massage Envy location. Something for the house Even if people have the time to clean, it s not how many want to spend their free moments. Wipe the worry off someone you care about s face with a gift card entitling the recipient to a free cleaning service.Merry Maids, a national franchise that has been around for 30 years, offers customizable gift card options (www.merrymaids.com). Envelope, please This Christmas, think outside the box and give an envelope. Most major city theaters now hostBroadway Across Americawhere you can see the most popular Broadway shows without leaving your hometown. Pick your price range, but remember that smaller theaters often mean great seats, no matter where you sit. Gift certificates, single play, and whole season packages are available atwww.broadwayacrossamerica.com. Give sports lovers tickets tominor league baseball games. They ll enjoy great baseball in a family-friendly environment at half the cost of the Big Leagues (www.milb.com).

Toys

It wouldn t be the holidays without great new toys! Here are some affordable and fun options. Find these great gifts at Amazon.com, Toys R Us, and other major toy retailers. Give the special girl in your life a taste of what it s like to be like to bake and design cool cakes like Duff Goldman from the hit show, Ace of Cakes. The celebrity baker collaborated with JAKKS Pacific, Inc., onGirl Gourmet Cake Bakerywhich lets junior bakers create elaborate two-tiered fondant cakes to decorate and devour! For ages 8 and above (about $35). Mindflexis a new game that literally puts mind over matter. Wearing a special headset which reads your brain waves (really!), use your mental powers to move a ball through a mind-bending obstacle course. Concentrate and the ball rises. Relax and it falls. This revolutionary game from Mattel sells for about $80. For ages 8 and above. Insane speed and amazing action describes the coolGX Racersfrom JAKKS Pacific, Inc. These superfast little cars use gyros to achieve speeds of up to 1,000 scale MPH. The individual racers cost about $6 and the Motorized Launcher goes for about $40. For ages 6 and above.

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