All I Want for Christmas, for Under $10
Getting By: How Vermonters Are Surviving the Recession
Cutting back on your holiday spending this year? We asked a few of our staffers to suggest gifts they’d like to receive that ring up at $10 or less. Read on...
Nothing would make me happier this winter than a snazzy pair of arm warmers to keep my extremities toasty. They combine the appeal of ’80s-style leg warmers and elbow-length evening gloves to create something practical and a bit sassy. The best part is that they free up your fingers for things like typing at work, messing with your iPod and texting while driving. (Just kidding about that last one.) Urban Outfitters has a bunch on sale for $9.99 and under, but you can find them most anywhere that sells gloves.
Ah, Christmas carols. “Silver Bells,” “O Holy Night” and ... “Christmas at Ground Zero”? Who else but the irreverent “Weird Al” Yankovic could conceive of such a hilarious, yet cringe-worthy, Yuletide classic? It’s not what you might think, though. “Christmas at Ground Zero” was released in 1986, when “ground zero” referred not to the site of the 9/11 terrorist attacks but to the impact zone of a nuclear bomb. And the apocalypse has never sounded so cheery. Backed by jingle bells and brassy horns, Weird Al sings, “It’s Christmas at Ground Zero, and if the radiation level’s OK, I’ll go out with you and see all the new mutations on New Year’s Day.” The jingle appears on “‘Weird Al’ Yankovic — Greatest Hits Volume 2,” a used copy of which is selling for $5.99 at Downtown Discs on College Street in Burlington. The compilation also includes Weird Al greats such as “Smells Like Nirvana,” “Bedrock Anthem” and the always seasonable “Yoda.”
I love traveling. But traveling hates me worse than libraries hate the Kindle. To show its loathing, traveling often makes me sick. I have just as many memories of mad dashes to far-flung café loos as I do of the Louvre and the Rijksmuseum. My most recent bout of travel sickness came in Mali, hundreds of miles from a porcelain john and toilet paper that wasn’t a jug of tainted water. To prevent any more gut-busting trips, I want the $9.95 Travel Medic kit from Adventure Medical Kits. With three different types of stomach soothers, plus moist towelettes and antibiotic ointment, my next trek should be a breeze, intestinally speaking.
I’ve always wanted one of those little birds you stick on top of a pie while it’s baking. Supposedly it sings — tweets? — when the hot air escapes the pie, though I couldn’t swear to it because I’ve never heard one. Well, it’s time to find out, not to mention bake some pies. Kiss the Cook in Burlington carries pie birds for $4.49 apiece. Which means, of course, that I could get two and still be under 10 bucks.
I may have 300 cookbooks and the Internet at my fingertips, but I always love it when people share their favorite recipes with me. The best thing is, it’s practically free for the givers: They can handwrite the recipes on pretty cards, bind them into a miniature book or gussy them up in a computer program and print ’em out. I can’t promise not to tweak your grandma’s famous toffee when I whip up a batch, but I swear I’ll think about you when I’m doing it.
I want a $10 gift certificate to Crow Books. I spend so much time consuming disposable information — on Facebook, on Twitter, etc. — that it’s a real treat to wander through rows of bookshelves, scanning titles and reading back-cover summaries, trying to decide what to read. This Burlington secondhand bookstore is a particularly satisfying place to browse. Its brainy, eclectic selection makes me feel smarter, somehow, even when I don’t buy anything. Or maybe it’s the creaky wooden floorboards.
Is there anything better than found money? While grudgingly digging out my winter apparel a couple weeks ago, I stuck my hands into the pockets of a wool overcoat and discovered a crumpled fiver. I’m not even sure what I bought with it — coffee, most likely. But it made my day. You could spend hours fruitlessly searching for a cheap gift, and no matter what you buy, you’ll likely never match the small, simple pleasure you feel when you find cash you didn’t know you had. So here’s what I want: someone to stick a crisp bill in something I won’t wear for several months (shorts, a raincoat, etc.) and maybe pin a little note on it so I know who it was. Because there’s only one thing better than found money, and that’s Christmas in July.
This year I am hoping for a Red Bungee Card Case ($5.99 at Homeport). For far too long now, I have carried around my business cards loosely in various pockets and wrapped “professionally” with a rubber band. Because I hand out so many cards (most people I interview on camera want to know where to see the final video), this case seems like an important addition to my camera bag. I look forward to the days when I will not have to search frantically through all my pockets, pulling up balls of lint and old tissues until I discover the jackpot, a crumpled mess of cards. So, hey, you there, can I ask you some questions on camera? I’ll give you one of my pristine, crisp business cards if you’ll talk!