Valentine's Day is right around the corner and you're looking for that perfect gift for the man or men in your life. But finances are lean. No worries.
You needn't break the bank to find fun, useful or unique gifts for a special someone - or someones. Here are a few suggestions that cost $10 or less.
For the Gadget Lover
There are gadgets and then there are ultra-cool gizmos that will make even the geek who has everything drool with delight.
Ultimate 5-in-1 pen ($9.99) - features replaceable ballpoint pen, red laser pointer, bright light LED flashlight, stylus (fits older PDAs and hand-held games) and a UV light. Uses button batteries (included) and fits easily into any pocket protector.
Folding iPhone stand ($4.99) - fits in your wallet and offers hands-free iPhone usage. Perfect for desktop, travel, kitchen or anywhere your guy wants to tune in to his favorite TV show or movie. Features tiny rubber nubs to prevent sliding on surfaces and accommodates most model devices.
For the Chef
Forget the "Kiss the Cook" apron. Researchers have found that more men, especially Generation X'ers, are spending lots of time in the kitchen. Studies show that what was once the domain of women only has become the shared realm of their male counterparts. This may also account for an increase in reality TV shows focusing on food and cooking. So, think tools - kitchen tools, that is.
Burger press ($4.49) - forms perfectly shaped 4-inch burgers and comes apart easily for quick clean-up.
Other ideas for the outdoor chef include brushes (for basting on the barbecue grill), oversized tongs and spatulas, meat thermometers, extra-long mitts, skewers - all of which are available for $10 or less at your favorite cooking store. These are useful items that he can call his own.
Visit your local supermarket and make a small basket of his preferred condiments, such as barbecue sauce, salsa, steak sauce, mustards and marinades to enhance his one-of-a-kind recipes.
For the Office
Every office worker needs a few items to show off on his desk. Here a few unique and budget-friendly office item ideas:
Wall Street Bull Giant Eraser ($8.97) - looks like the iconic Wall Street Bull statue.
Mini Glass Sand Timer ($9.95) - red, white or rust sand measures out five minutes. This is ideal for timing speakers, ending meetings, or just taking a short break.
Other office favorites include mugs, business card holders and small frames, which are an especially nice reminder of life outside the workplace.
Is your man is a cartoon, superhero or action movie fan? Mini vinyl bobblehead dolls come in a wide range of characters from comic books and films. Who wouldn't strike a commanding presence with a Yoda figurine on his desk? Five-inch dolls run about $10 each. Villains and bad guys also included in the mix.
Let's face it - guys love chocolate too. Buy a sampler box at the local market or corner store, wrap with a single rose and enjoy the moment.
Would your guy rather nosh on chips than sit down to a healthy meal? Fill a gift bag with his favorite guilty pleasures, like chips, nuts, candy and soda. After all, the fastest way to a man's heart is through the snack aisle.
Books and Music
Several holiday seasons ago, book sellers designed pop-up stores specifically geared for male audiences. These "man-cave" mini departments focused on subjects that men usually look for: sports, how-to, humor, graphic novels and hobbies. Chain bookstores or online sellers frequently offer inexpensive prices, including discount tables of books galore.
Music CDs, mp3 downloads and vintage LPs make fabulous gifts for the music lover. Many can be found in the $10 range. Better yet, make a CD of his favorite tunes by downloading tracks from low-fee Internet sites. Create a customized cover and voila, a personalized and timeless gift that will keep on giving. Amazon.com is a great place to start when looking for books and music online, but there are many alternatives to Amazon as well.
The Bottom Line
You don't need to empty your wallet when searching for that perfect "man" gift. With a little ingenuity and creativity, you can spend less while giving more.