Spread joy this holiday season with well-thought-out gifts that won't break your budget.
Movie tickets or a DVD and popcorn
Check your company discounts for movie-ticket discounts.
Buy popcorn on sale or look for coupons online or in your Sunday paper.
An ice cream scoop and a gift card to an ice cream parlor
Ice cream scoop (use a 20-percent-off coupon at Bed Bath & Beyond or a 20-percent discount at Kohl's) or ice cream bowls (from Target, Christmas-tree shops or Wal-Mart)
Gift card to an ice cream store near your giftee's house (You might get a free cone with the purchase of a card.)
If you are buying two $15 cards, Cold Stone Creamery is offering a free bonus $5 eGift with a purchase of $30 or more.
A pizza stone, pizza cutter and apron
Pizza stone and cutter (Use two 20-percent-off coupons from Bed Bath & Beyond or get both items on sale as a set at Macy's with an extra 10 percent off.)
Apron (all under $10 at Target, Chefsuniforms.com and restaurant-supply companies)
Wine from a local winery (Trader Joe's also has delicious, affordable wine.)
Depending on how much of the $25 is left, wine icicles, wine stoppers or wine tags/markers/charms (from Wine.com, Bed Bath & Beyond, Marshalls, T.J.Maxx or a local winery or supermarket)
Candles and a throw blanket
Candles (Yankee Candle is on sale at Bed Bath & Beyond and on clearance at Pottery Barn)
Throw blanket ($13 at Uniqlo and on sale for $15 at West Elm)
Yurbuds ($25-$30 at Best Buy, Target and Amazon)
Leggings (from Old Navy, Target, H&M or Uniqlo), KIND bars (two for $3 on sale at a supermarket) and an iTunes card
Smartwool socks (from Athleta, EMS or REI) and hand warmers (from Wal-Mart, ski shops, REI, EMS or eBay) with a note saying, "To keep you warm..."
A book and something cute to go with it
The Essential Scratch and Sniff Guide to Becoming a Wine Expert (from Overstock.com, Wal-Mart, Amazon or BN.com) with wine stoppers, a bottle of wine or wine charms
The World Cheese Book with cheese cutters (from Worldmarket.com, with a coupon from Real Simple or Martha Stewart Living)
Cupcake recipe book from B&N bargain books (10 percent off if you're a member) with fun cupcake wrappers
Bananagrams (on sale now at Barnes & Noble, with an extra 10 percent off if you're a member)
Various board games (from Kmart, Target or Wal-Mart; look for Hasbro coupons)
Treats for teachers
Local restaurant gift certificates (from Restaurant.com or Groupon)
Massage or spa gift certificates (from Groupon, Amazon Local, Living Social or Tippr)
Volunteering to grade papers (this one is free)
Emergen-C, hand sanitizer and Tylenol or Advil (from CVS, Walgreens or Rite Aid)
Some things to keep in when you're shopping:
Bed Bath & Beyond has 20-percent-off coupons in most women's lifestyle magazines, and they also send coupons when you subscribe to their emails. Some of you might even get $5-off-$15 coupons delivered to your house.
Make sure to check your employee benefits (for example, Plum Benefits or Working Advantage) for further discounts.
Gift cards are nice, but only if you know the person definitely will use them. Otherwise, they become a burden. Look to your local drug store and supermarket for further discounts on them. For example, Gap gift cards were recently on sale in some markets at CVS, which gave $25 ExtraBucks Rewards with the purchase of a $100 card. Some retail stores also offer "shop later" gift cards with a gift-card purchase.
Make a list of your memberships (for example, at Barnes & Noble) so you don't let any discounts go to waste!
Make a note of your credit cards' retail partners so you can maximize your points or miles.
Ebates. No, they don't pay me — they pay you! Before all online purchases, check for promo codes and see how much you can get as cash back from your purchases.