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It’s holiday shopping season again, and for those of us that love to give life’s little luxuries as gifts, the economic downturn may affecting our plans. But luxurious doesn’t necessarily equal expensive. With a little ingenuity you can give lavish gifts on a limited budget.
Luxuries are the items that go above and beyond the necessities. They make life more comfortable and can take your troubles away, at least for a little bit. Spirits, jewels and personal care items are all wonderful holiday gifts that can fit into even a small giving budget.
Look online or ask the oenophile at your local liquor store for the best wines under $20. Keep your mind open to exploring different varieties of grapes from different (and affordable) regions of the world. Up and coming regions that offer some great wine picks include Chile, Israel, South Africa and Washington State. Remember to check out local wineries for some delicious and reasonably priced pours.
Everything -- dinner, a bath, reading a book -- is better by candlelight. Candles make great gifts, but the high end versions are priced anywhere from $60 to $600. Why pay for a designer candle when you can design your own to fit the style of your gift recipient? Find a gently scented candle in an inexpensive clear or frosted glass container. Embellish the outer glass with beautiful paper, small faux gems or natural items for a one-of-a-kind gift.
Pearls are among the more affordable, and appreciated, holiday jewelry choices. Freshwater pearls are the most versatile of all pearl varieties and come in many shapes and colors such as white, pink, lavender and even black. PearlParadise.com offers freshwater pearl necklaces, bracelets, earrings and sets starting at just $19. For a different look, try cultured akoya pearls. Every woman, no matter what her age or style, should have a beautiful strand of pearls. PearlParadise.com is the first western company in the world to own an akoya pearl farm, enabling them to produce the highest quality pearls. A classic strand of black or white akoya pearls from PearlParadise.com starts at just $170.
What better way to add a pinch of luxury to your everyday dinner than with rich, exotic spices? In the case of spices, less is more and small containers go a long way. Check out local Asian, Indian and African markets for affordable options (as well as recommendations on how to use them) or shop online for great deals. Hot chilies, vibrant yellow saffron, Indian garam masala and sage are all high-impact and versatile spices.
Plenty of designers are lending their names to collections sold at discount retail outlets. So, go ahead and buy a designer jacket as a gift, but make sure it’s from your nearest big box store instead of a pricey boutique. You’ll get the name and the label without spending thousands of dollars.
Boxes of “luxury” soap can cost $50 or more. Visit your local natural foods store and purchase a few bars of creamy goats’ milk soap. Find some beautiful fabric remnants to wrap the soap in and seal up your package with a fleur-de-lis sticker for a low cost replica of boutique soap.
Look for sales at your favorite store and surf around for great deals online. PearlParadise.com, for example, offers pearls up to 80 percent off retail price.
When it comes to luxury, go with quality over quantity. Instead of a leather coat, buy a pair of cashmere lined leather gloves. Instead of a designer satchel bag, scale down with a small designer clutch. And remember, time is the ultimate luxury. A “gift certificate” promising to make a candlelight dinner or to watch the kids so someone can have a relaxing bubble bath is often the best and most heartfelt luxury of them all.
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