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Great and no-so-great dollar store gifts

Don't Watse Your Money

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Are you pinched for a Christmas gift as the shopping days -- and your budget -- run out?

Sure, you can buy someone a $20 gift card. But there might be a less expensive and more thoughtful option at your local dollar store.

No Crowds, No Hassle

Dave Plumber is regional manager of Family Dollar, where he says you'll find great gifts for $5 and $10, with no crowds or hassle.

He walked around the store, showing off some of his favorite stocking stuffers.

     -For a grandparent, he suggested "this $10 working water fountain display, it's good all year found, not just Christmas."

     -For that car lover, he pointed to "a full kit for washing and waxing the car, a good deal for $10."

     -For kids, he said, "we got a lot of different Disney items, some as little as $5 each."

Many people associate dollar stores with off-brand toys, but that is no longer the case, Plumber says.

Other name brand toys include Nerf, Monster High, and Hot Wheels. Plus, right now, if you buy one, get the second 50 percent off at Family Dollar.

In addition, don't forget a dollar store is a great place to get wrapping paper and holiday gift bags. At $2 for a Christmas gift bag, that's half the price of other stores.

Caution On Some Items

But Consumer Reports Magazine says there are some dollar store gifts to be careful of, because in some cases you don't know what quality you are getting. They include:

    -No-name baby toys, where you don't know what chemicals they may contain.

    -Items with electrical cords, unless you are sure they are U-L listed.

    -No-name electronic gadgets, which may not last.

The Bottom Line

But for stocking stuffers and decorative items, you can't beat the prices. And, yes, you can peel that $5 off so as not to come off looking cheap.

Finally, it's usually a good idea to include a gift receipt with a gift, in case the recipient wants to return it.

But if you worry about being embarrassed by a dollar store receipt, don't include one.

Tell them you will do an exchange personally if the gift doesn't work. That way no one gets embarrassed, and you don't waste your money.

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