Okay, so I’m a huge magazine freak.  I like gossip mags.  I like Glamour.  I’m a huge fan of Family Circle though I have no kids of my own, and I won’t lie, I’ve even been known to pick up a Reader’s Digest when it presents itself in my dad’s bathroom.  And I especially love magazines around the holidays!  But I about came unglued when I got my new Real Simple magazine.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the mag and was all geared up to read it because the cover was gorgeous and toting fabulous holiday gifts under $50.  I know some people hate gift-buying.  Some because they don’t like to spend money on others and some because they want a perfect gift for an important person in their lives and would like to leave an impression. But being a personal shopper is my forte so I am all over gift-buying.

Like a mouse to cheese, I hopped on my elliptical where I do all my high-quality reading.  I started at the cover and worked my way back, being the anal retentive type that can’t just start with the article that caught my eye, but having to read it in its entirety, which was all well and good because the first ad was a flashy one using an all-white tree with all white Christmas presents that must belong to a family that dusts much more frequently than me, but I digress.  So I make it to the presents section that the editor promised me I’d be dying to buy.  Um…yeah, I don’t think so.  If I bought the suggestions given, I’m pretty sure none of my family members would be speaking to me. 

First stop after Christmas:  Hello, Goodwill Industries.  I have a donation for you.

No one I know would be thrilled if I bought their cat a 4 pack of booties for $45 and they got jackshit.  And let’s talk about the fact that everyone I know desperately needs snake earrings (true story – page 96).  I think we all know how I feel about snakes, let alone purchasing something god-awful tacky that I’d have to actually watch slithering down your neck on a regular basis.  No thank you! 

Don’t even get me started on the beer and wine diaries (p 102).  Seriously?  I can’t even find time to write down what happened today and I’m a writer, I’m sure not going to take notes on the wine I tasted, nor would I be in any condition to write down my feelings after tasting all that wine, it would be more for blackmail than anything.  I can only imagine the drunken-stupor-induced tales I’d tell.  Plus, I don’t know a lot of beer drinkers that think to themselves, “Gosh, I wish I had a journal right about now so I could say how much I love this Schlitz beer and it’s so much better than Keystone Light.  You know what would be really cool?  If I made a pyramid of every different kind of beer and super-glued them together in my garage.  That would be kick ass!”  Yeah, I see that going well.  Oh, and maybe they could use the cat-head-shaped crayons on page 104 to express their deepest barley pop feelings in their diary.  Wouldn’t that make it more special?  Hey, Schut, guess what you’re getting this Christmas! 

Okay, so I know I’m being harsh.  The good folks at Real Simple maybe have a few things that would be kinda cool if you were completely clueless as to what to get someone who has absolutely everything else in the world, but I think you could do better at the dollar store.  I mean it.  My dad would be thrilled with a $1 pack of pencils and $1 Sudoku puzzle books long before he’d want a canteen decoupaged with the alphabet that costs $49.50. 

Trust me, I can solve all your gift-buying needs.  And because I’m that kind of person, this will be a three-part series.  In the following weeks, I will share my must-haves for holiday gifts under $50, my best homemade/handmade –I’m-a-cheap-ass gifts list, and if you’re one of those bitchy people that hates gift-buying, I have decided to offer up a deal.  Donate at least $5 to any cause such as the Salvation Army kettle collection, the food pantry in your hometown, or if you know me personally, donate to my sister’s Shoebox Angels program.  If you do so, email me at ebcarley@gmail.com, tell me who you donated to and I will, in the spirit of the holidays, email you back a questionnaire about your “difficult person to buy for” and upon receiving your answers, I will recommend 5 possible gift suggestions for that person. Will they be good suggestions?  Hopefully.  I’d like to think so. 

Why am I doing this?  Because I can.  (and maybe to see if anybody actually reads my commentary – lol)  Am I crazy?  In a word: YES!  Do I have a credible record?  Yes.  But I also love the holidays and if I can make one person’s life easier and happier this holiday season, then all the better.  Just promise you won’t go around telling anybody I’m a good person.  I have a rep to protect.