Dec. 8, 2009 -- Finding the right holiday gift when you are on a budget is challenging. So we tasked ourselves with finding the very best gifts for under $10. Many of our ideas include limited time offers, so jump now if you want a great gift at a great price.
The holidays are all about kids, so here are some kid-specific gifts:
Temporary tattoo hand puppets from iloveuma.com
These zany animal faces apply onto a child's hand to turn their paw into a puppet. Soap and water washes the tattoo off. A set of eight costs just $7.95. These are fun presents to rip open on Christmas morning, and play with right away. We can imagine a 5-year-old keeping the puppet applied all day and eating Christmas dinner with a bird on their hand.
Book sets from booksamillion.com
Multiple books in a series are great gifts because they provide characters and stories that kids can get into over a long period of time. At booksamillion.com they have a bunch of bundled books in their bargain section. I found a gorgeous Eric Carle board-book set for $10.77 and paperbacks for little kids in the $5 and $10 range, and Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew sets for older kids in the $7 range. The titles will vary with inventory, but you can find book sets and anthologies in bargain bins both online and in your local neighborhood bookstores.
Coupon stacked spa basket
Coupon stacking and drugstore rebates are hugely popular right now. Using Sunday circular coupons and online printable coupons, you combine offers with rebate programs to get products for free or next to nothing.
Rebate programs at drug stores like CVS and Walgreens work like this: you purchase an item but get back a store credit. For example, you buy a tube of toothpaste for $4. The store gives you $3.50 in "Extrabucks" or "Register Rewards." You can then use that credit on almost any purchase the next time you shop at the chain.
Since drug stores sell staples like detergent and cereal, these incentives do actually work. If you combine these offers with manufacturer and store coupons, the savings can be considerable.
These offers are active as of Dec. 7, but many expire within days. You can search coupon blogs for "Walgreens deals" or "CVS deals" to find the most current examples of these incentives and coupon stacking.
Buy 1 Shower Gel (full size) at $4.99 (.99 after $4 back in extrabucks)
Buy 1 Body Mist (full size) at $4.99 (.99 after $4 back in extrabucks)
Buy 1 Loofah Bath Sponge at $1.99 (no coupon or rebate)
Buy 1 Body Lotion (travel size) at $1.99 (no coupon or rebate)
Neosporin Lip Health $5.49 (free) (use printable coupon form the Neosporin website + automatic $2.50 discount at the register)
Buy 2 Merry Brite Mini Ornaments (12 ct): $1.99 (free after Extrabucks rebate)
Merry Brite Plush Santa Hat: $3.99 (free after Extrabucks rebate)
2 Hershey's Bliss Chocolates $1 each (Use Sunday circular coupon from Hershey and printable coupon from target.com)
Total value: $32.81 for $7.96
CD for $2.74 & Digital keychain for $2.22
You can also use ebates or online rebates and discount codes to accomplish similar miraculous deals, although you have to factor in shipping, so it may be worthwhile to aggregate purchases from Web sites to try and qualify for free shipping.
And be sure to search freeshipping.org for free shipping codes to combine with your purchases.
An example of this type of deal would be to buy the new Michael Buble CD, "Crazy Love." The retail price is $9.89, but if you start at Ebates.com, a shopping portal that accesses merchant sites and gives you a portion of the price back, and use the following series of codes you can get the price down to $2.74.
Sign up for a new account at ebates.com and that qualifies you for $5 cash back when you make your first purchase. Search for the Michael Buble CD using ebates.com. You'll find it at Barnes and Noble for $9.89. At check-out use online coupon code to save 15 percent ($1.48).
The whole concept of ebates is that you get a percentage of the purchase back, so in this case you get 8 percent as an ebate ($.67). Final price on the CD is $2.74. Don't forget to factor in shipping: at Barnes and Noble purchase $25 worth of items and they'll give you free shipping.
We also found two deals on digital picture keychains. These are the pocket-sized digital displays that you can load up with your own pictures to give someone a handy keepsake and brag book. We found one for just $10 at Sears, or you could use ebates again.
If you're a first time shopper to Drugstore.com and an Ebates member, you get $5 off an order of $30 or more plus free shipping.
You get 5 percent of your order back in drugstore.com dollars.
You get 6 percent cash back on your order through Ebates.
Personalized Picture Book for Free
Many of the online photo sharing sites are offering holiday deals like 25 percent off at Kodakgallery if you order $50 or more, Shutterfly has 20 percent off calendars, and Snapfish has a 10 personalized photo page flip book that they will send you free when you use the code GMAFREE, you just pay $1.99 for shipping. The offer is good until Dec. 13.
Old Navy has performance fleece long sleeve tops for women at $5 this week. If you still have your Sunday paper, grab the 25 percent-off coupon on any one item and you can get the price down to $3.75.
Godiva at a Discount
Luxury chocolate maker Godiva is recognizing the strapped wallets of shoppers this holiday season. They have a new line of candies called gems that will sell for $10 in Godiva retail locations.
We tried a pair of cute, in-ear earphones from Maxell that look like M&M candies. They cost just $9 at Amazon.com and they fit well. They have buds that go slightly into the ear canal and stay put when exercising or moving around. The sound is good enough, and parents will like the fact that they don't seal out all noises in the world around them. They are not noise canceling. Your teen can hear cars approaching or a parent talking to them while they are wearing the earphones.
Gadget Charger for the Car
Many gadgets can charge off the USB port on your computer, so we found a $4 car charger at Amazon.com that allows you to plug two USB jacks into the cigarette lighter in the car. This is nice for Bluetooth devices or iPods that you use exclusively in the car, since you won't have to buy a separate adapter with a car charger jack.
You love the romantic glow of a fire in the fireplace, but there's one problem; you don't have a fireplace. But if you have a TV and a DVD player, you're in luck. The Fireplace DVD at Sam's club cost just $7 and it has all the virtual Yule log scenes you could ever want.
Through Dec. 12, Amazon is offering yearly subscriptions to the following magazines for only $5: Cosmopolitan, Country Living, Esquire, Good Housekeeping, Harper's Bazaar, House Beautiful, Marie Claire, Popular Mechanics, Redbook, Seventeen, SmartMoney, Town & Country and Veranda.
Buy a subscription to be sent to a friend and they'll think of you all year long.