Affordable holidays

Local stores include unique and interesting gifts for less than $25

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Customers browse at The Uncommon Gift, which has several unique gifts for under $25.

As the number of shopping days before Christmas diminish, some of the procrastinators among us may be frantically wondering what on earth to buy for Grandma, or the hostess who seems to have everything, or the family whose name you drew in the annual gift exchange.

Add in concerns and worry over how to find good quality items for a reasonable price, and you have a recipe for stress.

Stress not. In Camas and Washougal, there are several places one can go to buy unique items for less than $25, or pick from several to create a theme or gift basket.

At the Uncommon Gift in Camas, items less than $25 include Moonstruck chocolate, fused glass earrings, a nut and candy dish with attached spoon, handmade, felt Santas, and hair/clothing clips, candles and body lotions.

“Anything local has gone like crazy,” owner Carrie Schulstad said. “Shopping local is so much in the media that people are very well aware of the importance.”

Schulstad added that multipurpose items, ornaments, hot cocoa and chocolate are selling fast as well.

“These are things that are easy to use and don’t cost a lot,” she said.

For those who are unsure what to buy, Schulstad suggests a collection of gifts with a theme in mind.

“In general, being able to put a few small things together is great,” she said. “Anything that you can personalize is good, and the downtown merchants are all very helpful with this.”

Beth Forsythe, owner of Lizzabeth A in Camas, said jewelry, scarves and ceramic items are hot sellers this season.

“Another big seller is ‘girlfriend’ accessories, like wine bottle openers and stoppers,” she said. “There are things out here that are unique and can fit your budget. We sell great appetizers and mixes, you can put a few together with a small plate or knife, and it makes a perfect hostess gift. Hand lotions and candles are usually safe items for most people because they don’t take up much space, and you don’t need to worry if it goes with their decor.”

Healthier Choices in Washougal carries a wide variety of food and gifts for people and pets.

Specialty foods available for gift baskets include spinach fettuccine, caramel butter rum cheese bake mix, peach marmalade and “pecan pie in-a-jar.” There are also meatball mixes and shrimp scampi pasta sauce blends.

The shop also sells handcrafted Traeger pellet grills, as well as several choices of barbecue pellets, biodegradable outdoor furniture and barbecue cleaner.

Stocking stuffers include socks, handmade soaps, Christmas ornaments, fudge and chocolate sunflower nuts.

“If you have to buy gifts for an entire family, a good idea is to have a gift basket with an item for each person,” owner Wanda McFarlane said.

Heidi Kramer, owner of Main Street Mercantile, said feather accessories are hot sellers this season, along with items made in Nepal such as hats, hoodies and boots.

She also suggested a gift basket for those looking to give something more personalized.

“One of the ideas I suggest is the ‘Happy Hippie’ basket, which include a tie dye shirt, brownie mix and peace sign jewelry,” Kramer said. “There’s also a ‘Tea Lovers Basket,’ with speciality teas and a tea pot.”