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What $50 will buy 

Convenience shopping for the cheap but chic

So your partner's sister-in-law invites you to holiday dinner four days before the big event. Though she apologizes for the late notice, and though you enthusiastically accept, you're irritated. You can't possibly arrive empty-handed, but how are you going to shop for eight people without cutting into your wallet or your busy holiday schedule, and without sacrificing your stylish integrity?

The trick is to think outside the (gift) box. Here are some nontraditional shopping spots to help stave off the traditional craziness of this time of year. As you'll see, with $50 and a little ingenuity, you can make your holiday style go a long, long way.Party City

You shopped here with raging success at Halloween, so why not now? In the party favors aisle alone there are tons of fun little gifts for Grandma and Little Brother, but there are unexpected picks for the rest of the family, too.

Mom

Wilton cake decorating rolled fondant $2.24

Roll of Wilton baking parchment paper $4.49

Dad

Window glass marker (for tailgating) $3.99

Tiki head curly straw drink cup $2

Sister

Temporary tattoos $2.79

Party City purple fishnet tights $4

Big Brother

Sunglasses $2.49

Little Brother

Glow-in-the-dark lizards $1.79

Cool to Color Space Color

& Activity Book $0.99

Stickers $0.99

Grandma

Great PretendEars butterfly

wing headband $5

Celebration Peace Sign Necklace $.99

Mistress

Rubie's French Maid thigh highs $8

Lucky the Dog

Soft Sport rubber ball $2.99

Uncle

Glitter top hat $4.99

TOTAL: $47.44QuikTrip

You need gas, anyway, so you might as well accomplish some holiday shopping to boot. Though the prices are inflated and the selection is limited, with a little creativity, it's possible to find stuff even here.

Mom

Donkey Kick energy drink $3.96 for four

Dad

Gumout Fuel Injector Cleaner

for large vehicles $3.29

Sister

Cutter backwoods bug repellent $4.29

Big Brother

Copy of Vibe and

Blender $3.99 each/$7.98 for both

Little Brother

Star Wars Movie Trading

Cards $1.99/$5.97 for three packs

Grandma

Nut Harvest honey roasted peanuts $1.99

Ginkgo Biloba (three pills per pack) $1.06

Lucky the Dog

Milk Bone dog treats $2.79

Mistress

Four AdvantEdge carb

control bars $1.49 each/$5.96 total

Uncle

QuikTrip pre-paid gas card $10

TOTAL: $47.29CVS

As far as selection and convenience go, CVS has everyone beat. A little careful planning will result in some real deals, as well. The only drawback is you'll likely have too much to choose from.

Mom

Spa Workshop Sleep Serenity aromatherapy bath set ........................$4.99

Dad

Tiger Balm pain relief patch ........... $5.99

Sister

Wet 'n' Wild liquid lip gloss $1.99

Wet 'n' Wild Mega Eyes

eye-shadow pot $1.99

Big Brother

As Seen on TV CD Clinic $9.99

Little Brother

Blues Clues Joe's Handy

Dandy Shirt Notebook $4.99

Grandma

CVS Milk Thistle

(for liver health; 50 capsules) $6.69

Lucky the Dog

Sergeant's Uncle Sam's

large pork skin roll $2.99

Mistress

Jovan White Musk cologne $4.99

Uncle

Dep Sport all conditions hold $3.39

TOTAL: $48

Staples

It's obvious you could go nuts here for the ultra-organized on your shopping list, but Staples has a lot of other, excellent possibilities, too.

Mom

Gartner assorted thank you cards $4.99

Dad

Rainesport golf umbrella $12.98

Sister

Vintage black medium storage box $8.99

Big Brother

10-pack of Memorex blank CD-Rs $7.98

Little Brother

Colorific Colored Chalk (96 colors) $3.98

Grandma

120 Staples brand pull-and-seal

business envelopes (for all those

letters to Congress) $4.18

Uncle

3M lint roller (pack of two) $5.94

TOTAL: $49.04

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