Tenth Day of Flat Broke Christmas: Hygiene product baskets

23 Nov

I don't care how poor you are. This is totally unacceptable and unattractive.

On the tenth day of Christmas, Flat Broke Blog gave to me: Stuff to help me stay clean (literally)!

“My kids were poor, but they were never dirty — never!”

— My paternal grandmother

Nothing takes away your self-confidence quite like poverty. Don’t make the situation worse by being a skank.

No matter how poor you become, you have to stay clean. A perfect example is your possible search for a better job, or a job, period. Do you really want to show up looking like you just crawled out of a coal mine or mud wrestling pit? Are you going to show up in clothes so nasty that the federal government wants to conduct tests on them somewhere in a New Mexico desert? Absolutely not.

Staying clean is not a luxury. It’s a necessity. Give people what they need — but do not be hasty about it.

Bath sets and the like are very common Christmas presents, particularly for women. The stores generally sell them in a bin for about $5 each, and some people will just grab a stack of them for all female relatives. Sure, this is a quick fix when you’re running your holiday guts out and want to get out of insane holiday shopping atmosphere ASAP.

But as I wrote in the Third Day of Flat Broke Christmas, you waste money if you buy items someone isn’t going to like. You run a high risk of doing that with “quick fixes”. When it comes to scents or any kind of hygiene products, people tend to have very specific tastes and needs. For example, I’m allergic to about 70 percent of the soaps/body washes/bubble baths under the sun.

While you’re thinking in the right direction with these bath sets or large cologne/perfume sets, you need to be just a little more specific. You’ll probably save money AND find something you’re sure your recipient will love. It’s a total win-win situation.

So, what are some items you can buy without breaking the bank? I’m going to offer numerous suggestions, but keep in mind that you don’t have to buy ALL of these items! If you do that, the costs will more than add up.

Assemble your goods in something attractive:

If you roll with a gift set (that you have carefully picked out), you don’t need to worry about this step. You’re done. Otherwise, try to get somewhat creative with the packaging. Don’t just throw someone a Wal-Mart bag with shampoo and deodorant in it when you can be creative with your presentation — for practically nothing.

The best and most practical thing to do is find a small plastic bin at a dollar store that will hold whatever you buy. Some of them have little basket handles that make transportation easier. Try to match the person’s bathroom or pick a color your person likes. When in doubt, white is a neutral color. Put your goods in the basket, and you’ve accomplished two things: Your recipient stays clean, and has a little item to keep goods organized in the bathroom even when everything is all gone.

Shampoo, conditioner and other hair goods

Stick with your traditional drug store brands, and you should be OK. Even Pantene, one of the somewhat pricier ones, costs about $5 for a bottle of shampoo and $5 for a bottle of conditioner.

Hair product manufacturers are realizing how great of a gift their products are. I went to Wal-Mart late last week and found Garnier Fructis shampoo, conditioner and two styling products in a gift bag for $9. I recall Sunsilk doing something similar during one Christmas season.

The only problem is hair products have evolved from simple stuff to clean your hair and make it look halfway decent to a highly, highly specialized selection. There’s dandruff shampoos, stuff for dry or oily hair, fruit-scented stuff, leave-in conditioners… That’s only the cleaning/moisturizing products. Styling products’ assortments are even more blinding.

So, here’s what you do to get on target here. First, you could always just ask people what they would like. If they don’t give up what they want, you have to be sneaky about it. You could always try asking friends or family members who regularly visit your recipient’s home or go shopping with him/her. Also, you could always pay your friend a visit, ask to visit the little boys’/little girls’ room and take note of any hair products you see. Just don’t go plundering through the medicine cabinet, under the sink, etc. That’s a little TOO nosy, most of the time. There’s often a reason why things are behind doors. Respect your recipient’s privacy — to some degree.

You could also have someone complete online surveys like this one from Garnier and this other from Pantene. These surveys basically ask people what their needs/concerns/wants are for hair care products. They then recommend a selection of shampoos, conditioners and styling products that would come in handy. Note that some of these surveys come out with a plethora of products to buy. You don’t have to buy all of them, but I would recommend always buying conditioner with shampoo and vice-versa!

(Have you ever spent the night with a guy friend? Yeah, most guys need to be recommended about buying that conditioner.)

For shopping help, here’s also a list of top drugstore shampoos from TotalBeauty.com.

Think about brushes, combs and other styling tools. Some of these also come in relatively cheap gift sets, too. Just make note of whatever styling goods you see on the person’s counter or just use some common sense. For example, don’t buy a tiny comb for someone with extremely long, extremely thick, curly hair.

Bath and body stuff

You should definitely do some digging before you step into this territory. This is probably where allergies come into play more than anything. I have uber-sensitive skin, but I’ve never had allergic reactions to shampoos. I have lost count of the soaps, body washes, lotions, etc. that have left me looking like a pepperoni pizza. Find out EXACTLY WHAT YOUR RECIPIENT WANTS OR USES. If the product is not outrageously out of your price range, go for it.

All in all, a bottle of body wash — something most people use at least once a day — will set you back about $3 most of the time. There are also better selections of this for men and at about the same price. My personal opinion is that guys probably liked the idea of the more sanitary liquid soaps versus grubby pawed-up bars, but they didn’t want to smell like daisies and watermelons. Now, they can smell like the wilderness, the shoreline by a lighthouse or whatever else that boosts their testosterone.

If you go with body wash, throw in one of those poofy things you’ve probably found hanging in a woman’s shower somewhere. Those things will set you back about a buck, and there are more masculine colors of these for guys too. Pick a color your recipient likes and/or matches the person’s bathroom decor.

Toothbrushes/toothpaste/dental items

These are much easier and cheaper to buy than the above-mentioned items, but you still have to take that person’s needs into account. Make sure you won’t need to buy items for sensitive teeth, softer brushes, thicker/thinner floss… Otherwise, you’re all set.

Purchase this only with ABSOLUTE CERTAINTY:

  • Deodorant

This is probably one of the most personal items a person will use. It’s used to keep a person from stinking to the high heavens, so people will generally stick with a brand — in the most loyal way — if they know it works well for them. If the “experiment” fails badly, they’ll want to burn it. Only get someone a stick of deodorant if you absolutely, absolutely know what the other person wants.

  • Makeup

Women’s tastes in this change quite often, and one surefire way to wind up in the doghouse is to buy whatever color a woman isn’t crazy about — at that moment. It can also become pricey. Mineral makeup seems to be the total rage these days. It often costs at or more than $10 just for the foundation.

  • Perfume or cologne

This is as subjective and as personal as it gets. You may absolutely adore the smell of Curious, but your grandmother may hate it. Don’t go there unless you absolutely know what brand and scent your lucky person wants. If you do know, there are several gift sets out there for you. Just be mindful of the price because some perfumes can break your bank much faster than makeup.

Don’t go there!

  • Embarrassing personal products

Do you want to be assembled with your mom, all seven of your siblings, nieces and nephews, etc. and open up a present that contains tampons, pads, condoms, jock itch spray, douche, yeast infection cream….? THEN DON’T DO THIS TO SOMEONE! Even if you absolutely know what the other person needs and uses, getting a gift like this — especially in front of other people — would be horrifying.

Trust me, you’re not going to hear this if you pull that stunt:

“I’ll never forget that Christmas when my sister Jean bought me that basket of Tampax, Vagisil, Summers Eve and FDS. I so felt the Christmas spirit, and I totally ignored my parents’ stares and my 13-year-old nephews acting like Beavis and Butthead.”

  • “Friendly suggestions”

Don’t ever buy anything as a veiled or even blunt way to push someone in a direction with which they are not comfortable and into one only you want for them. For example, don’t buy French prostitute makeup for your college-age niece who’s in a hippie/naturalist phase. Don’t buy your 14-year-old nephew with a pink mohawk a bottle of brown hair color. This can be even more infuriating or humiliating than buying someone tampons or jock itch spray.

I found this on a Web site called “My Crap Christmas”:

“My boyfriend gave me make-up for Christmas and suggested I should wear more of it. He is longer my boyfriend.”

Keeping track:

One name draw and price limit

Two wads of cash

Three people asking me what I’d like

Four gas cards

Five personal assistants

Six warm, cozy things

Seven cheap, fun board games

Eight tools

Nine bags of diapers

Ten anti-skanky products…

Coming tomorrow: The eleventh day of Flat Broke Christmas!

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3 Responses to “Tenth Day of Flat Broke Christmas: Hygiene product baskets”

  1. Amanda November 23, 2009 at 12:18 pm #

    I might have already commented about Eyes Lips Face makeup, but it’s worth a look for a gift basket like this: http://www.eyeslipsface.com/

    They have lots of sets of lipglosses, makeup brushes and makeup cases. ELF stuff is super cheap, too, and great quality.

    Great ideas!

    • flatbrokegirl November 23, 2009 at 10:38 pm #

      Thank you so much!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Twelfth Day of Flat Broke Christmas: Night on the town! « The Flat Broke Blog - November 25, 2009

    […] Ten anti-skanky products […]

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