It's fun to give one of the season's hot gifts, but not if it burns a hole in your pocket. "Today" financial editor Jean Chatzky went shopping for the most wanted gifts, and then found a lower-price alternative. Here's more on the gifts she discusses on "Today."
You’re probably hearing a lot about (Product) Red this holiday season. It’s a project developed by Bono and Bobby Shriver to help fight aids in Africa. They’ve got some of the world’s biggest brands launching RED products. Buy one and some of the money you spend will be used to buy and distribute anti-retroviral medicine to those dying of AIDS in Africa.
- High: MOTORAZR V3m by Motorola (RED). Available from Sprint PCS for $304.99 or $64.99 with a two-year agreement and a mail-in rebate. It includes a 1.3 megapixel digital camera with 4X digital zoom and video capture, playback and streaming; GPS enabled; Bluetooth wireless technology; speakerphone and MicroSD memory card slot.
- Low: Converse RED: Converse RED Chuck Taylor $47. These may be our low, but they’re high-tops. Available at converse.com.
We all know — particularly if you have a teenage boy in the house — that video game systems have never been hotter.
- High: PS3: 20GB $499; 60GB $599. Allows the user to play video games and view movies in high-definition with a compatible TV. Also delivers “always-on” online connectivity, offering possibilities like multiplayer gaming, text and video messaging, voice chatting, downloading content and surfing the Internet. For stores in your area, visit: us.playstation.com/stores.
- Low: How about a low-tech option instead? I love the idea of a family game night and you could buy all of these games Monopoly Here & Now: $29.99 Twister Dance DVD Edition: $29.99; Cosmic Catch: $24.99 for about one-sixth of what the PS3 would cost you.
One of the things we noticed as men hit the stores after Thanksgiving were that satellite radios started flying off the shelves. (I’m partial to XM because that’s where my show is based). Many people don’t realize they too come in lots of different pricepoints.
- High: Pioneer Inno: $299; $249.99 with $50 mail-in rebate for new subscribers. Next generation portable XM radio and MP3 player allows you to store your favorite XM channels so you can listen to them at home, in the car, or at the gym.
- Low: AGT Sportscaster: $59.99. Comes complete with two-line backlight display; 100-channel wireless FM transmitter; 30 favorite channels with sports presets; vehicle kit and remote. Both are available at xmradio.com.
Wrap dresses for women are hotter now than they ever were in the seventies when Diane Von Furstenberg invented them. She’s back in full force and so are lots and lots of copycats.
- High: Diane von Furstenberg Jeanne wrap dress: $298. 100% silk jersey. Available at: dvf.com and bloomingdales.com.
- Low: Express printed wrap dress: $69.50. Polyester/spandex blend, available in sizes XS - L. Available at Express stores, not online.
If you don’t know what sort of jewelry to give the woman in your life, you can’t go wrong with drop dead earrings. These are equally at home with blue jeans and on New Year’s Eve.
- High: Erickson Beamon earrings: $395. Antiqued double drop earrings feature Swarovski crystals. Available at barneys.com.
- Low: Laila Rowe earrings: $15. Filigree fan earrings with Czech crystal detailing in crystal/jet have hypoallergenic post backings and hang three inches long. Available at lailarowe.com.
Okay, here’s the lowdown. If you’re thinking about giving a puppy this holiday season make doubly sure the recipient wants one (too many precious pups end up in shelters each year) and don’t even think about putting the poor thing in a box with holes. They too come in high and low price points.
- High: Designer dog. Cockapoos from Mulberry Farm (mulberryfarm.com) are $1,250 and up. Cockapoos are the hybrid of an American Cocker Spaniel and a Poodle. They are non-shedding and non-allergenic, with a softly curling coat. They tend to have above average intelligence and spunky behavior.
- Low: For about one tenth the price you can get a shelter puppy from North Shore Animal League of America (nsalamerica.org): $135/mix breed; $275/pure breed. Screening and application process applies. Northshore says that it is important to carefully consider whether the person that you are shopping for will be able to take on the responsibility of a pet, but if you decide to purchase from a shelter, you can take comfort in the fact that you are saving a life.
Of-the-month clubs have never been hotter. That’s because they’re now available for everything from organic produce (from Harry and David) to bacon (really!) My picks:
- High:Cellars 90 Plus Point Wine Club: $79.95/month (billed until cancelled) includes shipping. Allows the recipient to sample from the world’s finest wines, including both well-known and yet to be discovered vineyards. Includes two bottles of ultra-premium, highly-rated wines each month. Available online at cellarswineclub.com.
- Low: Another beverage, far cheaper. Grateful Palate Coffee of the Month Club: $149.95/year plus shipping was actually designed by great winemakers. Experience one pound of fresh roasted coffee of a custom blend each month. Available at gratefulpalate.com.
For the man in your life:
How about a new look for your guy? Well, cult blue jeans have finally made it to the men’s market. Pair them with a great leather jacket.
- High: Earnest Sewn Fulton in Maz Dark: $198. Low-waist, zip fly, straight leg, five-pocket jeans. Available online at: earnestsewn.com.
- Andrew Marc Lambskin Motorcross Jacket: $695. Italian lambskin with slight fill for added warmth. Available at: saksfifthavenue.com.
- Low: Logan Nuevo Verde jeans: $24.99. Five-pocket, relaxed fit, straight leg, zip fly. Available at Target stores and target.com.
- Merona leather zip-front motorcycle jacket in brown: $99.99 (XX Large is $109.99). 100% leather with a nylon/acetate quilted lining. Available at Target stores and target.com.
Lately, everyone has a life coach — or a business coach, financial coach, relationship coach.. They too come in a wide array of prices.
- High: Real life coach: The average fee for individual life coaching is approximately $100, according to the International Coach Federation. The recommendation is to buy a month of coaching, consisting of about three or four one-hour sessions. The ICF web site, internationalcoachfederation.com, offers a free searchable directory of its members with information to match you up with the appropriate coach to meet your needs.
- Low: If what you just need are some coaching pointers. Life coach in a box: $19. Designed by Carol Stanton. Forty-eight cards on spirituality, work, relationships, finances, recreation and health. Available at uncommongoods.com.
Have you noticed? Galoshes are everywhere. I like them best on little girls.
- High: Burberry Sport Rain Boot: $80. These clear sporty rain boots in the classic Burberry pattern will keep your kids’ feet dry. Classic check lining, black leather trip, and black rubber sole. Buy them online at burberryusaonline.com.\
- Low: Mary Jane boots: $28. These rubber Mary Jane golashes come in pink or white “tights” so your little girl can dress up even on rainy days. Available at uncommongoods.com.