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20 last-minute (and cheap) gift ideas
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Go to a bookstore and look through the racks for something suitable. For example, you could get Better Homes and Gardens (24 issues for $22) for the neighbor constantly weeding the lawn, or more specifically, Herb Quarterly (4 issues for $20) for the aunt who swears by herbal remedies. The friend constantly quoting films might like Movieline (12 for $10). The high school teacher who dreams of an African adventure would love National Geographic ($34 for 12 issues) and the sister with fashion flair would love Vanity Fair (12 issues for $18).

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Buy the current issue, tear out the gift subscription form and send it in. Then wrap the magazine and include a note saying "I wanted to give you something that would last all year so I got you a subscription."

Or rather than a magazine, you could send something more tangible like a membership to Fruit of the Month available at Harry and David or Gourmet Entrée of the Month from Omaha Steaks -- if you know someone who likes one of those things an awful lot. But be warned, these gifts are easy but not cheap ($50 to $350, depending on the number of months).

Speaking of food
Food is a great holiday gift for families and people who like to entertain. If it's too late to bake, you can still buy chocolates, cookies, cake, wine or a baked ham at the grocery or specialty store for under $20. A box of chocolates or cookies can be wrapped in paper and ribbons. A boxed cake can be given as-is or with a bow, and wine can be put in a wine bag or simply have ribbons tied to it's neck. Slap a bow on a cold -- not frozen -- ham and deliver it.

Picture this
What grandparent wouldn't love framed photos of their family, especially their grandchildren? Grab a cute picture, then head to almost any store -- Target, Hallmark, Wal-Mart, heck, even Walgreens has picture frames. While you're there, grab some candles and ornaments for other people you forgot and for stocking stuffers.

For nongrandparents, you need the right photo. If you have a photo of the recipient's child, spouse or pet, a framed picture is a great gift.

If you have a little time, rush a photo to your local Kinko's. They can turn it into a calendar or ornament in 24 hours for $10 to $25. Call ahead to make sure they can fill your order in time.

Spice of life
Small potted herbs, like basil, thyme, oregano and parsley are easy to maintain and can live in a windowsill. They would be perfect for apartment dwellers or anyone who likes to cook. You can buy them for less than $10 at plant nurseries, stores that carry gardening supplies (like Wal-Mart and Home Depot) and even some grocery stores. Get an attractive pot to put it in -- the plain terra-cotta pots are pretty and cost less than $3.

 
 
Next: The tool of a lifetime ...
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 RESOURCES
Holiday spending work sheet
One holiday tradition to break
Bargain hunting in cyberspace
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