The Rageless Gift

We here at The CuT are agoraphobic…at least from mid-November until January 2nd. We are pretty broke and, therefore, cheap. And we like to procrastinate to boot. This combination makes holiday shopping akin to having 27 root canals in one sitting, while having someone squeeze lemon juice into papercuts. So we’ve developed some serious shopping skillz, and we thought it was our duty to share our expertise with you. So here are some of our best last-minute, cheap, yet good gift ideas that will also keep you clear of malls and the rage that accompanies them. We are also going to steer clear of cheesy homemade gift ideas like cookies and collages. If you’re crafty, you’ve already thought of doing it, and those are never good last minute gifts–waiting for glue to dry on your way to Christmas dinner? No es bueno.

We’re assuming you can navigate the internet so many of these ideas are web-based. So not only do you not have to find a parking space, you don’t even have to shower or get dressed, and the only person you actually have to deal with is the FedEx guy.

Just the Right Book is sort of like a  “book of the month” club month, but better–and is the brainchild of legendary Madison, CT booksellers R.J. Julia’s. There are lots of options for how frequently books are delivered, which means it can actually be sort of affordable. Whether the person you are shopping for is male, female, a baby or an octogenarian, their experts will choose books to be sent to them based on info you provide. Even if you don’t really know the person that well, they can help pick out the right books for them.

If I get one more pair of socks, magic gloves, or ugly pajama pants, I’m going to pour acid in my eyes, and I wouldn’t be surprised if most people feel the same way. Uncommon Goods gives some creative and fun ideas and their shipping is really fast–I ordered things on Monday and they were on my doorstep the next day. They have green gifts, and gifts under $25 that aren’t crap. I loved the paper made of panda or horse poop (okay, I know that’s technically crap, but I know people who will appreciate it) and the message beans. At you can even shop by “personality” and get gifts of all sorts and prices suggested to you. So, if you’ve got a “thinker” or  “devoted dad” in your life and you’re not sure what get him, head on over. They’ve even got a “Last-Minnute Gift Idea” list.

I work in non-profits so I’m all about gifts that benefit others, mainly because I’m convinced (and the Anti-Couric will agree) that we all have enough crap. Places like Heifer International and Oxfam America offer fun ways to make a donation in someone’s honor–you can buy manure, trees, or livestock to benefit those in third world countries. And, who wouldn’t want that? Me, I got tickets for my parents to a show in the Connecticut Public Broadcasting Network’s Red Carpet Series since I knew they would never get them for themselves, and the money benefited our local NPR station.

If you feel like venturing out of the house, my cousin just informed me that many restaurants are doing bonus gift card deals, like last year. Chains like Applebee’s, TGIFriday’s and more have offers, but to make a little less generic, go local and support places with these offers like Grant’s, the Counter, or restaurants part of the Hartford Restaurant Group–Agave, Wood-n-Tap and Vaughn’s. Most are along the lines of “buy a $25 gift card, get a $5 gift card.”

Or perhaps, if you have a little bit of time, you can make a cheese basket out of local goods. Get a basket from your local, wing-nut craft lady, and then head to area farms to get some really good, handcrafted cheese, meat, maple syrup, and whatever else you can find.

If all else fails, dig through the piles of useless crap you never used from last Christmas and see if any of it can be “recycled.”