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Being Unique Without Going Broke

Unique gifts

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Christmastime: a time of happiness, a time of togetherness with those closest to us, a time when families get together to spend some invaluable time with each other, which is usually enough to last till the following year. It's the time of year when we all go into debt and take out second and third mortgages on our homes just so our kids can have the brand-new flavor-of-the-month toy that they will no longer be interested in the day after Christmas. Yes, what a great time of year!

It doesn't have to be this way, though. This year, don't max out those credit cards, but don't short-change your friends and family either. Instead of spending a fortune on run-of-the-mill gifts, be a little creative. There are some really clever ways to get amazing gifts at even more amazing prices. We've done some research and come up with a number of gifts that won't bankrupt you that will also set your gift just that much above what someone else is likely to give. It's always nice to give someone a gift; it's absolutely great, though, to give someone an unforgettable gift without serving time in bankruptcy court. So choose your price range, and get shopping! And remember, as the song says, "It's the most wonderful time of the year."

Wine & Beer Kits from The Brew Stop
Wine & Beer Kits from The Brew Stop
Fleurage perfume available at Facade, Uptown Park
Fleurage perfume available at Facade, Uptown Park

Now, for those who may not be worried about any type of budget, may we suggest you visit Vespa of Texas, 713-787-9455. Vespa is a company steeped in history, as its primary product is its own namesake: a scooter. It's not just any ordinary scooter, however. The first Vespa was designed and built in 1946 after the second world war and has since inspired many to attempt to copy its design. But the knockoffs are simply that. They lack the heart of the original. If you have the money, the gift of a Vespa signifies elegance and class at once.

Under $100

If you're on a budget, though, one failsafe gift idea that you should always have tucked away is a gift certificate to Uptown Day Spa and Salon, 713-961-0952. This gift can accommodate any price range, and it can be given to both women and men. At Uptown Day Spa and Salon, their mission is to "create the image you have always envisioned for yourself within a tranquil environment that showers you with love and impeccable service." With that as their goal, this is definitely a can't-miss gift idea.

The gift of aromatic delight is often one of the most romantically inspired choices of the holidays. This year, though, add to the novelty of the gift by choosing one thats not available at every department store in town. In fact, Facade, 713-552-1545, is the first high-end makeup boutique in Houston. Here, the finest quality skin care and cosmetic lines such as ILONA, Vincent Longo, Body & Soul, LeClerc Powders and others are available in an exquisite, luxurious surrounding unparalleled in this city. For $75, you can give a gift box of Fleurage perfume, or you can choose to give the bottle of perfume alone for $65. The Fleurage bottle is a unique work of art in itself, hand-cut and polished in France.

By now, most of us have had the opportunity to see at least some of the Houston Cows that have been parading all over town. Well, Silver Bead, 713-623-0328, has Cow Parade merchandise for sale now through the end of the year, and holy cow are they affordable! Each piece is guaranteed to moo-ve you to complete and udder euphoria as you marvel at the exquisite detail and creativity with which each was made. A gift like this will un-doubtedly be talked about for quite some time, and that's no bull!

For the woman who loves to accessorize, Veneto Collection, 713-622-4244, is simply heaven on earth. Veneto Col-lection is an upscale women's boutique bringing the best and latest in designer clothing and accessories from around the world to its clients. Their wide selection of handbags, jewelry, tops and belts, as well as more than 15 different lines of clothing, makes them stand out above the rest. Whether the occasion is formal, business casual, or anything in between, Veneto Collection offers distinctive options for every wardrobe.

Pure Bliss... The name speaks for itself, as it is here that you can find the truly decadent indulgences of life. Pure Bliss, 713-622-2771, is a natural bath, body and soul shop set in a turn-of-the-century Covent Garden marketplace. For something genuinely unique, give a Kama Sutra "Tin of Earthly Delights" for only $66.

If jewelry is what the lady desires, then I.W. Marks is the place you need to go. I.W. Marks, 713-668-5000, is the largest independent jeweler in greater Houston. The legendary store surpasses local and national diamond jewelry sales averages for a single store and does as much business as a 15-store chain.

For the athletic, fitness-minded people out there, Sun & Ski Sports is the top-of-the-line provider of clothing and accessories. At Sun & Ski Sports, merchandise is stocked in only four categories: ski (snow and water), bicycling, in-line skating and camping. This specialization allows the customer to receive more of what they want in a specialty store. Stop by one of their five Houston locations, or call 713-783-8180 to locate the store nearest you.

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