Throughout the holiday season, the Dairy Store has special ice cream flavors and cheese gift boxes; the Meat Lab has gift packs for a variety of price ranges; memberships at the Bell Museum and Minnesota Landscape Arboretum also are on sale and make great gifts. For decorating help, the Forestry Club's annual Christmas tree sale begins the day after Thanksgiving.
The holidays have always been synonymous with handmade gifts. For those who enjoy arts and craft, it's easy to knit a pair of gloves, bead a necklace, or paint a knick-knack. For those less crafty, there are many simple projects you could try. Browse through your snapshots from 2009. Select a favorite, enlarge, and pop your original photo in an inexpensive frame. Compile CDs of your holiday favorites, hits from your youth, or hits from a favorite artist. Compile and bind a book of your favorite poems, short stories, family memories, or artwork. Personalize stationary by printing a friend's name and address on resume paper and matching envelopes. Fill a jar with 365 inspiring sayings. Top the jar with a bow and instructions to take one a day for a year's worth of inspiration.
Rather than spending money on gifts, think of things that you could DO for those on your gift list. You can cover gifts for an entire family by giving the grownups a night out while you have a movie night with the kids. If you have a specific skill, give a few hours of your time. If you are handy, give help with a home repair project. If you are mechanical, give a free oil change or tire rotation. If you are crafty, offer to mend torn clothes, make a scrapbook of someone else's vacation, or provide knitting lessons. Even if you don't have a specific skill, you could clean a house or prepare a meal.