By Shannon Roxborough
Gatherings to host and attend, spaces to decorate, trips to plan, family and friends to spend time with, and gifts to buy, wrap and send followed by year-end deadlines to meet. The holiday season can be a stressful time.
To help make shopping easy this holiday season, here are some gift ideas for the home bodies and DIYers on your list. With prices starting at under $5, there’s something for even the tightest budget.
Raise a Glass
A hundred years before Dom Perignon, there was Saint-Hilaire’s Blanquette de Limoux. The sparkling wine may not bear the “Champagne” name, but this bubbly is much better than most that do. The best-selling Brut gets high praise (a Wine Spectator 89 rating), the extra-dry is less overpowering, and the semi-sweet is light on the palate. And with a price tag hovering between $15 and $20 (sometimes, you can catch it on sale for as little as $9.99), if you decide to pop one too many corks over the holidays, you won’t break the bank in the process. Inquire at your favorite wine retailer.
Drink and Be Merry
Born in medieval England and popularized in colonial America, eggnog, the holiday beverage made from eggs, cream, sugar, vanilla and nutmeg—often spiked with alcohol—is one of those things that sounds better than it often is. Most store-bought nog is too sweet (because of high-fructose corn syrup); and too thick, due to dairy companies’ attempts to mimic the texture of whipped eggs with additive-laced heavy cream. For a refreshing alternative, consider eggnog made by farmers co-op Organic Valley. With lower fat, fewer calories and less sweetness than most store-bought brands, it naturally blends organic ingredients with fair trade flavorings. The result: a pure and clean commercial eggnog with a smooth finish that’s the next best thing to homemade. About $4 a quart; available at Wegmans.
A warm, comfy throw is one of those little things that can make holiday travel bearable. It also happens to come in handy if the farthest you’re going is from the bedroom to the sofa. Warm and soft, JCPenney Home’s Velvet Plush Solid Blanket provides luxurious comfort on a modest price tag. Available in ten colors and three sizes (twin, full/queen and king), the polyester microfiber blanket is also tough as nails, resisting shrinkage and fraying even after several machine washes. $40; jcpenney.com.
Let It Snow!
Just because Western New Yorkers are accustomed to ice and snow doesn’t mean they necessarily always love it. But since it comes with the territory, why not have an ergonomic tool to make snow removal from your vehicle less of a chore? The company, which built an empire on its Good Grips kitchen gadgets with rubberized handles, has brought handy comfort to the OXO Extendable Twister Snow Brush. With a durable blade that promises to break through the toughest build-up without scratching the glass, the pivotable, extending ice scraper’s retractable brush extends up to 11 inches and pivots 90 degrees, making easy work of digging out. About $19.99; OXO.com.
Keep It Pretty in Pink
Not everyone likes girly-girl hand tools, but those who do will appreciate Apollo Precision Tools 135-Piece Household Tool Kit is fun and ideal for a variety of small, light-duty projects around the house. Plus, $1 of the purchase price goes to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. The cased kit includes a 100-piece fastener set, a 4.8 volt cordless screwdriver with charger, a utility knife, 10 screwdriver bits in various sizes, a pair of scissors, an 8-ounce claw hammer, four precision screwdrivers, a roll of electrical tape, a pair of long-nose pliers, a 9-inch magnetic level, a 12-foot-long measuring tape, a 6-inch adjustable wrench, and a putty knife. All in all, a good buy (though the cordless screwdriver’s torque leaves something to be desired). $32.49; amazon.com.
Make Multitasking a Snap
When it comes to multi-purpose tools, most jack-of-all-trades products tend to suffer from master-of-none performance. Rigid hopes to change that perception of multi-tools with its JobMax Oscillating Tool. Unlike other oscillating tools, Rigid’s version does much more than just cut, scrape and sand. It allows you to upgrade the starter kit with additional quick-change attachments, like the right-angle drill/driver head, ratchet head, right-angle impact head, auto hammer head, jig saw head and reciprocating saw head. It literally is the type of gift that keeps on giving. $99 and up; homedepot.com.
A Gift to Grow Something
The Garda Dibble, a homegrown invention (conceived in Rochester, N.Y.), is a tough plastic planting tool with removable, evenly-spaced pegs that takes the guesswork out of seed spacing. Gardeners like its ability to keep plants in neat rows and the bright red color that makes it easy to keep up with in natural and manmade settings. $19.99; gardadibble.com.
Shannon Roxborough is a widely published freelance writer and editor whose work has appeared in numerous national magazines, newspapers and websites. An avid home improvement enthusiast, he has more than a decade of DIY experience and previously ran a property maintenance business.