Time and time again I get emails asking for gift ideas. Why, I ask myself, when there are a zillion giftie items on the market? To make things easier on both sexes this (and every) holiday season, here's a list of my favorites. Some are generic, some might seem downright odd, but they're creative and fun, they range widely in price, and odds are no one else will have them on their list or under the tree.
1. American flag. If there were ever a time to be patriotic, it's now. If you buy one from your local state senator or representative's office, it will come with a certificate of authenticity that says it has flown over the state capitol. Under $25.
2. One-hour closet organizer. Who wouldn't want to open the door to order and organization? Hire someone to go to your giftee's house and organize his or her closet. Under $100.
3. Support your local fire station. Every station sells merchandise such as T-shirts and hats, which are great gifts for the entire family. Under $30.
4. Monogrammed note cards. Having a fun stationery wardrobe is key to staying in touch, even in a time of emails and text messages. Available with monograms or one initial, they're at most stationery stores and make great gifts, especially for the young set. Under $50.
5. Colonic treatment. It was a gift for my birthday. Odd, yes, but it was different and cleansed the bod in a unique way. Under $90.
6. Picture frames. As long as they're not from a dollar store, frames make great gifts. If you have a photo to go with one, even better. Under $50.
7. Silicon egg poachers. They come in packs of two and look like chickens. These things are great. Breakfast in 30 seconds or less! Under $20.
8. One-year magazine subscription. You can never have enough. Great for the teen set. Under $20.
9. Jar of homemade preserves or pickles. Especially if they come from your home and your garden. Priceless.
10. Personalized gift tags. These can be used for just about anything, including food and wine, all year long. Under $20.
11. Museum store gifts. Unusual and artistic choices fill museum stores: books, jewelry, toys, home décor gifts. Under $30.
12. Gift cards. Not the ones from department stores, but the ones many use on a daily basis: parking debit cards, car-wash cards and yes, even coffee cards. $20 and up.
13. Travel gifts. Gifts from faraway places are always treasures. Wide price range.
14. Wine holders. Look for the very modern holders for one to two bottles. Terrific for your giftee to take to restaurants for bringing home leftover wine. Under $20.
15. Monetary donations. In our family, anyone who makes it to 80 or above gets a donation to the gift giver's favorite charity. Priceless.
16. Plants. A living gift that keeps on giving. $10 and up.
17. Smartphone holders. If you know what type of smartphone your giftee has, a choice of covers will allow him or her to change them with the seasons. Under $25.
18. Earthquake kit. Available for home and car, an earthquake kit can ensure some peace of mind in earthquake country. Under $100.
19. Tip towels. These come in handy for the powder room, monogrammed or not, and they are available in themes for the holidays. Under $20.
20. Milk frother. Who needs Starbucks? Steam your own milk at home for the perfect latte. Under $20.
Lisa Mirza Grotts is a recognized etiquette expert, an on-air contributor, and the author of A Traveler's Passport to Etiquette. She is a former director of protocol for the city and county of San Francisco and the founder and CEO of The AML Group (www.AMLGroup.com), certified etiquette and protocol consultants. Her clients range from Stanford Hospital to Cornell University and Levi Strauss. She has been quoted by Condé Nast Traveler, InStyle magazine, and the Los Angeles Times. To learn more about Lisa, follow her on www.Twitter.com/LisaGrotts and www.Facebook.com/LisaGrotts.