Gift Ideas for Poor People

If you’re anything like me, you’re poor. The holidays are a really hard time for poor people. Suddenly you’re expected to spend money that doesn’t exist. On other people, no less. Or maybe you have just enough money to buy gifts for your family, but you have friends you know are getting you something, so now you have to get them something (which is the true spirit of the holiday season). Or maybe you had plenty of money but you spent it on yourself.

One thing working in your impoverished favor, is that during the holidays, no one can fault you for a bad gift if it appears that you put thought into it. That is our goal here today: gifts with feigned thought put into them. Gift baskets are great for this purpose.

Now, I know when you think gift basket you’re thinking fancy pears and Boursin cheese, but it doesn’t have to be that way. The beauty of a gift basket is you can make it as expensive or inexpensive as you want, and the fact that you gathered things in a basket gives off the illusion that you put a lot of thought into your gift.

The most important aspect and step one of these gifts is the basket. Look around your basement. If you really are an American, there’s a cheap basket from a yard sale somewhere in your house. If somehow you don’t have a basket, it’s past yard sale season and you’re going to have to buy one. Try a craft store.

So with that, gift basket ideas for those of all varying poverty levels:

1. Movie Night Basket

For the super poor: Look around your house for an old DVD still in its cellophane (this actually points to a greater lesson: always keep your DVDs in cellophane until you’re ready to use- you never know when you can use Legally Blonde 2 for a last minute gift. You won’t miss it). Steal 2 cans of soda, candy, and popcorn from around your house.

For the poor: Go to Walmart and look through the big bin of $5 DVDs. Bonus if you can find something fun like Spice World, but you’ll probably just end up with White Chicks. Look for random candy around your house, maybe buy a box of Goobers. Get two cans of diet coke from the super market vending machine, buy a couple of rum nips, and a box of popcorn.

For the barely employed: Movie passes or a season of something like Breaking Bad. Buy a 6 pack of glass Coke bottles (put two in the basket and keep the rest for yourself), rum nips, assorted boxes of movie candy, a box of popcorn, and those little popcorn flavor shakers. Instead of a basket a cute idea is also getting one of the buckets of popcorn you can get at Blockbuster… if you can find a Blockbuster.

2. Fiesta Basket

For the super poor: Hopefully you have an unopened bottle of tequila or some nips around. If not, you probably wont’t get out of this cheap. If you do, then take a lime from the fridge, steal a bunch of salt packets from McDonald’s, get a bag of tortilla chips and call it a day.

For the poor: Get like, 5 nips of various tequila brands (pass it off as a tequila tasting. I think that sounds pretty legit), buy chips, salsa, and then go to the dollar store and buy some maracas.

For the barely employed: You can get a bottle of Chi-Chi’s light margaritas for 7.99 (don’t spring for some brand name Skinnygirl. You’re not made of money). Get a taco making kit at the super market (they probably have that, right?), and then obviously the maracas so they have something to do after they finish the Chi-Chi’s.

3. Wine Basket

For the super poor: Your options include 3 Buck Chuck or regifting a bottle if you can. Don’t worry, there is no shame in 3 Buck Chuck. It’s still alcohol. Again, steal what you can from the house. Maybe put crackers and cheese on your parent’s grocery list for “yourself.” We must be resourceful in these trying economic times.

For the poor: Do what you can with the bottle of wine. Then head to CVS and get some jerky, a bag of Hershey’s kisses, some generic crackers, and cheese.

For the barely employed: Wine. Then try the Christmas Tree Shop if that is an option for you geographically (and God help you if it isn’t), and look for some festive wine glasses, which usually only go for $1.99, but really up the overall production value of the basket. Then assemble any other wine-y things we’ve discussed based on how much money you have left.

As you can see, there’s a basket for every price range. Only your own creativity can limit you now. Now go forth and spread cheer like you were always meant to do.

Clean Room, Clean Mind

When I turned 23 exactly a month ago today (it seems like just yesterday… plus 29 days) I made a list called “24 by 24” where I have a list of (you guessed it) 24 things I’d like to accomplish before I’m 24. One of those things is to keep my room clean (which I immediately regret writing here because in about 3 days when my mom remembers I have a blog, she’ll read this and be on my butt every day about putting stuff away).

A few years ago I saw Janeane Garofalo (if you don’t know who that is just google it. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do with you if you can’t keep up with my 90’s pop culture references) perform as the monologist at the improvised show Asssscat at the Upright Citizens Brigade theatre in NYC. She did a 10 minute or so monologue on the spot based on a word from the audience, and she ended up talking about how messy her room was, and if she could just clean her room she’s sure everything else would fall into place (I’m paraphrasing. This happened 2 years ago, and I’m not a stenographer. If you’re reading this Janeane, please feel free to correct me if you don’t feel what I said is entirely accurate).

Anyway, I believe that’s kind of true. I always feel a lot better when my room is picked up, which it usually is not. My bed even works as a mood ring of sorts. If you want to know what mental state I’m in, just creep into my bedroom while I sleep (ewww that’s weird! Just kidding, I look like an angel when I sleep, so I don’t want to deprive you of seeing that. Come one, come all! Watch me sleep!) and look at my bed:

If the bed is made and tidy: I’m on top of the world right now. My mind is sharp. You might want to give me a math problem to do in the morning. Nothing above third grade level, please. A clean bed just predicts my mental state, it doesn’t work miracles.

If the covers are askew, but otherwise fine: This would be my base level. It’s rare that I’ll make the bed two days in a row, so I might have just come off a neat and tidy bed high. I’m probably capable enough to watch  Are you Smarter than a Fifth Grader? and shout answers at the screen with a 45% accuracy rate.

If I’m sleeping to the right of a pile of clothes or amongst various electronics: If I didn’t even have the ware-with-all to throw the clothes or my laptop on the floor, we’re dealing with one of two things: Sh*t just got real. I’m not a happy camper. Other possibility: I had myself a little wine time.

If I’m sleeping in my clothes: Not that strange, it’s probably nothing.

Last night I slept in a clean bed with some wayward sheets, but the room around it is looking pretty good, so that’s a bonus. An even bigger bonus is when my desk space is clean.  This is what it looks like right now:

Normally I hate it when people decorate with empty booze bottles, and I think even an empty of Dom is tap dancing on the state line of Tacky Town, but it matched my room’s color scheme and looks nice with the JCrew purse my friend Lindsey got me for graduation. If I can direct your eyes to the blurry bulletin board (I was having some fun with Instagram) you’ll notice my vision board! Why, yes, I am that girl.

Making my desk space tidy and colorful definitely helps with my productivity and creativity. I also did my best to feng shui my room, which is probably embarrassing, but I choose to think of it as impossibly charming.

I guess the key is to just put clothes away as you take them off (I’m introducing some ground breaking stuff here, people. Try to keep up). In general, I didn’t realize how much nicer it is to have clean floor space until I really experienced it. Who knew?

{Little Henry has a place to sleep while I blog now.}

Picker Sisters

Here’s a lazy little labor day post (and some snappy alliteration) about my new favorite design show, The Picker Sisters on Lifetime.

My first impression of this show when I saw the trailer for it was that it would be about these two women, Tanya and Tracy who buy ugly chairs and work a lil’ DIY magic. Maybe reupholster an ottoman or two. In actuality, T&T drive around the rural south and buy industrial meat cutters to turn into a bathroom sink. I would say about 85% of what they actually end up making (and by making, I mean designing and then forcing their contractor and friend, Alan, to figure out how to make a table out of 1,500 pounds of metal chain) is something that only eccentric millionaires from LA would buy.

Since you’re not going to pick up any useful design tips, the fun of this show is watching the beautiful Tanya and Tracy flirt with 70 year-old southern men to get a good price on a rusted gate they plan to turn into a headboard (it’s also important to note that they will always leave the rust on everything they make. Apparently, rich weirdos are not concerned about tetanus).

Tracy and Tanya also have some great clothes that are fun to look at, usually consisting of some combination of boots, daisy dukes, a flow-y top, and some weird head-piece that make 70 year-old southern men nervous. Also, the picture above is very misleading. Tracy and Tanya hardly ever wear pants to pick through piles of rust in snake ridden junkyards.

Here’s a chair made out of an old radiator that the ladies are just so darn proud of. I don’t get it, but it’s just precious to see them get so excited. The show is worth checking out.

Picker Sisters is on Lifetime, Tuesday’s at 10pm.

Cluster Frames

Since I moved back home after college, I decided I wanted to redo my room since my old room was so pink it was hard to sleep in (and embarrassing to bring my imaginary boyfriends home to). I’ve also been watching too much of Nate Berkus’ show and reading too many design blogs in my ample time off that I wanted to use my inspiration towards my room.

At first I had big dreams about buying things at flee markets and taking on big projects like re-upholstering a giant chair, but then I realized if I spent a lot of money and time on my room I’ll never want to leave it and end up living there forever raising two kids (there’s no room for cribs in there, so they can sleep in my open dresser drawers until they grow out of it).

I painted my room a nice grey, which I liked even more than I thought I would, and then started stealing furniture and decoration from around the house. The first project I started was this frames cluster over my desk and facing my bed. I only spent $6 (to decorate the bulletin board and to buy the butterflies) and the rest are just things I stole from my mom or had in my old room.

After getting together everything I wanted, I played tetris on my bed with them for 20 minutes until I figured out a way to make them all fit.

Then I measured the width and height of them all together on my bed and put up painter’s tape in those measurements. My mother maintains that putting up painter’s tape made my job harder than it had to be, but I thought it helped. I’m telling myself it helped because it was an extra 45 minutes of work.

I started putting up the pictures from the outside of the box working in.

This is the almost finished product. There’s a big-ish space under the butterflies and picture that I need to fill with something that I hadn’t accounted for, but other than that I’m really pleased with how it turned out. My favorite it the shadow box I stole from over the living room tv- it’s an antique printer’s drawer with little miniatures in it.

Ya, I’m pretty smug about this DIY project.

PS this is my 100th post! …and I’m not an internet sensation yet… I QUIT.


Here’s a great newish way to spend your time instead of human interaction or reading. Pinterest! You can have a place to collect inspirational pictures to create your own little digital mood boards. Actually writing it down makes it sound way less interesting and way more of a time waster that I originally thought. Ah, well! I have to go check facebook, BYE!

Room Makeover

Ever since I moved back in with my parents I’ve been wanting to redo my room completely. I don’t know how long I’ll be living in my parents house (I’d say a year, my parents would guess give or take the rest of my life. A slight discrepancy, but we’ll just say it’s somewhere in the middle), but even if I only live here another month, my room needs to at least be repainted. I’ll just say that when I first did my room, my interior decorating muse was Bridget from The Girls Next Door, so I ended up with a some pink polka dot walls (don’t judge, at least I was a teenager making this decision and not a grown-ass woman with two masters degrees living in the Playboy mansion with a pink room. Wait, don’t judge Bridget, either! She’s just whimsical!)

Anyway, I’ve decided on this mood board for my color scheme.

I’ll paint the walls something like the pinky-beige colored flowers (I don’t know if that’s even close to being what those colors actually are) and then grey accents, like maybe this bedspread from Anthropologie.

I’d love to have this garland to hang over my bed or desk, but this stuff is straight up made out of tissue paper, and they are asking $130 for it. I could make this! Like, I’m sure I’ll never actually do that, but I refuse to buy anything I can make myself.

Sassy Bookshelves

I’m working on changing up my childhood room (which first includes de-hoarding it) and the first thing I plan on tackling is my bookshelf. I found some inspirational pictures to give me some ideas.

These bookshelves don’t even have that many books on them, but that’s fine because I have a Kindle, anyway, so I don’t see me collecting too many more paper books in the future. Which, let me just say, is okay by me. I can’t stand when people are like “ooooh but I just love to hoooold a book in my hands and turn the paaaages.” No, you don’t. You like doing that as much as you like having a new CD and holding the jewel case in your hand and reading the insert with the song lyrics. You like it so much that you got an iPod.

Let’s all be real: you want people to see you reading a book and/or you want people to read all your book titles on your shelf. I get that, but I like being able to read  Become Your Own Matchmaker by Miss Patti Stanger in public with out anyone knowing. You have to decide your own priorities.


Anthropologie Wine Glasses

I just can’t stress how important fancy stemware is- nothing is more depressing than drinking wine from a solo cup. Worse still is drinking it from a coffee mug. Nothing makes me feel more like I’m living out an episode of Intervention than if I’m drinking wine from a coffee mug, which is why I’ve had a nice set of wine glasses since freshmen year of college. I got them from Anthropologie, and they look kind of like african violets (I say that like my imagination came up with the comparison, but really they were just called ‘african violet wine glasses’), Anthropologie doesn’t have anything quite as cute and quirky as those specific ones, but here are some classy ones that are a little more unique than what you’d usually find.

Antrhopologie Glasses About $18 Each