Black Friday: Great gifts for her, for a dollar

Dollar stores are good for a lot more than personal and household items. As we head toward Black Friday and holiday shopping, WalletPop's Dollar Store Diva, Marlene Alexander, offers her best gift picks for less.

Dollar stores are treasure trove of gifts for women, letting you give more and spend less. Customize each gift to the person it's intended for and spend as little as three bucks to give an elegant gift that's pretty, practical or yummy.

Candles add romance, tranquility and eye-candy to a room. And they make great gifts paired with the appropriate candle holder. For example, pick a pillar candle and pair it with a glass vase of the appropriate width and height. Look for attractive votive candle holders and pack a set of three with some scented votive candles.

I recently found a pretty heavy-weight glass tea light holder shaped like a flower. One of these, packed with a package of scented tea lights, would make a very nice present for a lady on your list.

Bath gifts are big sellers at Christmas time. When I'm shopping to fill a basket with bath products from the dollar store, I look for matching brands. For instance, if I find some Dove body wash, there may also be Dove body lotion. Your main purchase doesn't have to be a brand name, but your gift will look more polished if it is centered around a couple of items from the same manufacturer.

There are several things you can add to a spa gift, like a bath glove or puff, pumice stone, scented soaps, bubble bath or all of the above. Just pick two or three things to round out the present then add something fun like a scented candle or small picture frame. I recently discovered 2 disc classical music CDs for a buck at my local dollar store. Picture mom relaxing in a tub of bubbles with soothing music playing in the background, well away from the bathtub, of course!

Few women can resist chocolate. Pick a Christmas gift basket and fill it with an assortment of imported and domestic goodies like chocolate covered cookies, hot chocolate, chocolate covered almonds and grownup chocolate bars like Toblerone. After arranging everything in the basket to look pleasing, fill in any bare spots with small wrapped candies or a fun ornament.

It's surprising the size, quality and styles of scarves you can find at the dollar store. For winter warmth, pair a micro fiber or knit scarf with a matching hat and gloves to make a practical Christmas present.

Give Christmas ornaments. I'm not talking about putting three plastic baubles in a bag and passing that off as a gift, but I have noticed ornaments in dollar stores that rival anything you might find in a specialty shop. Last year, I found delicate white ceramic angel ornaments for a buck each. In any other store, you could expect to pay at least three times as much for something very similar. To give as a gift, choose three or four ornaments to give as a set. In the case of the angels, there happened to be three different poses to choose from.

Marlene Alexander is a freelance writer and dollar store diva. Her new e-book will show you how to decorate, entertain and give beautiful gifts using only items from the dollar store.
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