Bargain gifts for the house proud

Add quick panache to a dresser, give your walls a thrifty makeover and play with your food -- in a sophisticated way.

Published December 2, 2008 7:01PM (EST)

Many of our most trusted financial institutions may have failed in recent months, but experts urge us not to hide money under the mattress. Instead, how about giving the gift of thrift with this Das Kapital Bank ($18.95)? It's a faux edition of the Karl Marx classic with a combination lock, designed to tuck away worldly goods with an ironic wink.

But there are, of course, other ways to save cash. Home improvement no longer requires endless trips to Home Depot or fiddling with drywall, so if you're buying gifts for someone crafty, you can make them happy with "Stencil 101" ($16.47), a portfolio of 25 stylish -- and reusable -- stencils ranging from the natural (deer and trees) to the ultra-urban (cars and boomboxes) that can add quick panache to an old wall or dresser. Another easy way to teach an old home new tricks: decals. The design world is teeming with stickers such as the removable EZ Stick Blackboard ($20) that resembles a mirror, an imaginary chandelier ($25) or a touch of wrought iron ($60).

For those who like to play with their food, these handmade porcelain bowls and cups ($18-$60), with funky motifs such as Vespa scooters, bikes, knitting needles and vintage cameras, add a sense of wonder to dinnertime, while these striking Invasive Species Plates ($16) offer plenty of food for thought.

By Joy Press

Joy Press is a former culture editor at Salon.


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