20 Valentine’s Day Gifts Under $20

Ahhh, Valentine’s Day. The pressure-filled holiday of over-priced flowers and chocolates. Alas, never fear. We’ve scoured the internet to find 20 gifts under $20 for your honey.

Love Icon Gummy Candies – $9.

Kate Spade Thermos – $18

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Heart Shaped Twinkle Lights – $12

Men’s I heart you socks – $10

Keeper Trinket Tray – $6

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Snuggle is Real Shirt – $6

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What I Love About You Journal – $12

Heart Print Trunks – 8 fancy Euros

Tie pins – $13

Onward Vegan Key Ring – $18

ColourPop Lip Matte – $6

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Yoda One For Me Mug – $13

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Love You To the Moon Wood Décor – $16

I Pick You, Personalized Guitar Pick -$9

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Compliment Card Set – $13

Honest Love, Customizable V-Day Card – $0

Tub of Now & Laters – $14

Heart Throw Pillow – $15

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Love Struck Candle – $10

Trusty coupon book of favors – $0

Last-minute gifts don’t have to be lame. Unless that’s the idea.

Some people are just hard to buy for. So you wait and wait, until suddenly it’s crunch time. Here are some not-so-lame gift ideas if you find yourself stuck.

Buying for someone who lives to laugh? Raise the everyday humor ante with these titles.

  • You’ll Grow Out of It, by Jessi Klein. The memoir of a tomboy and a late bloomer, from one of Amy Schumer’s head writers.
  • American Housewife, by Helen Ellis. Twelve short stories of women under pressure range from the acerbic to the surreal.
  • I’m Just a Person, by Tig Notaro. The comedian’s personal tale of four months of tragedy has been known to cause laughter through tears.

Need something for that coworker who thinks they’re Wolfgang Puck?

  • Les Moulins Mahjoub Natural Preserved Lemons. Offer to be a taster for new recipes.
  • Nielsen-Massey Vanilla Bean Paste. Made with Madagascar bourbon. For intense flavor and those telltale “real vanilla” specks.
  • An apron with a measuring cheat sheet on it. Because the metric system is for people with funny accents.

Know an old guy who needs nothing? Maybe you call him your boss. Or “Dad.”

  • A wilderness fire starter. He’s not outdoorsy, you say? Doesn’t matter. Males love fire.
  • A scratch-off map of the world. He’ll be able to tell young’uns all his travel stories with a visual aid for a change.
  • Night Vision Driving Glasses. He’ll feel like a Navy SEAL when he’s going out to get milk after dark.

Passive-aggressive gifts for that woman in your life who gives out backhanded compliments, as in: “That outfit really creates the illusion of a waistline.”

  • A cellulite massager. That is all.
  • An illuminated makeup mirror. Tell her, “I think better lighting will just make all the difference.” Practice saying it with a straight face.
  • A succulent garden containing cacti. Because it’s prickly.

For the children in your life, or just people who live their lives as such.

  • Hatchimals. New for 2016, these spotted “eggs” eventually reveal magical creatures inside.
  • Kinetic Sand. Hours of fun and less messy than it sounds, too.
  • A Buddha Board. It uses water as vanishing paint, like Snapchat for doodlers.

Oh, someone fancies themselves an artist, do they?

  • Twistables Slick Stix: Hard to find in stores, these Crayola twist-ups are a dream combo of crayons, pastels and markers.
  • Dylusions Ink Spray: You could spray them, but most people stencil, stamp and paint to create dynamic transparencies with these waterproof acrylics.
  • Washi Tape: It’s like beauty you can unroll. Washi is an obsession on Pinterest, where crafters use it to mark up calendars, wrap presents and take scrapbooking to the next level.

When you’re last-minute shopping, Amazon Prime and other free-shipping sites can be your best friends, but don’t count out locally owned brick-and-mortar stores for inspiration and unique finds. Just make sure you go in with a list and a plan.

You also might be tempted into grabbing a few things for yourself – just admit it now – but make sure that’s built into your holiday budget, too.

 

 

A Frugal Feast: Entertaining for the Holidays

It’s a time of togetherness, of peace and goodwill, and it’s the time of year when many of us are getting together with our families and friends to celebrate. But don’t let party planning get your tinsel in a tangle, you can entertain or feed a houseful of guests without breaking the bank by planning ahead and getting creative in the kitchen.

Décor and More

Once the phone calls are made or the invitations are sent, get to work decorating. Some creative additions to your living room can be found in your backyard. A cut and trimmed bough of a pine or spruce tree tied with ribbon is a jolly welcome on the front door. For your table, branches from the local park can be easily spray-painted and arranged in a vase. Use dollar-store ornaments or photographs from Christmas past to add color to your centerpiece.

For sit-down meals, you can add a special touch with easy-to-make place cards. Simply glue wrapping paper scraps to the lined side of a note card, write your guest’s name and fold. Or, use pinecones to prop up your name cards. It’s special touches like this that make guests feel at home, in your home.

Eat, Drink and Be Merry

Forget about the heavy, traditional meals or intricate appetizers. Aside from the fact that your guests may already be sick of green beans and turkey, reinventing your holiday menu is an imaginative and budget-friendly alternative to the usual party fare. Say ‘Feliz Navidad’ with a taco bar. Ground beef or slow-cooked pork (just don’t tell Hank) is cost-effective and easy to make in the slow cooker. Add some bowls filled with salsa, sour cream and some shells.

What’s a holiday meal without something festive to drink, too? If you want to serve wine, you’re better off buying it by the case. Ask your local grocery store if they have any deals for large orders. Use that purchase to enliven your punch. Mix juice (cranberry or cherry, for instance), white wine and club soda in a bowl and serve with slices of lime for both color and taste.

Lastly, you can stay seasonable and reasonable and throw a “leftovers potluck.” Invite your guests to bring over whatever leftovers are taking up space in their fridge. From mix-matched six-packs to sugar cookies, your guests will be grateful to reclaim their counter tops while you’re able to feed your friends with some home-cooked goodness. It’s a win-win for everyone and a sure-fire way to land yourself on Santa’s nice list for next year.

Year-end savings are a great way to prepare your finances for the months ahead. For more savings advice, get in touch with your MCU personal finance officer. And, from all of us to all of you, we hope that your holidays are merry and bright!