I don't often start this column talking about an online gift, but I'm making an exception here: You can keep the kindness coming year-round with a gift subscription to Kind News, the magazine from the Humane Society of the United States for children in grades K-6.
This eight-page magazine is filled with profiles of amazing kids, features about rescued animals, pet care tips and how-to's on helping backyard wildlife. A home subscription is $8 per year. A classroom subscription, a great gift idea for teachers, is $30 per year and includes 28 copies of each issue plus a teacher's guide, delivered to schools five times throughout the school year. Learn more and subscribe at humanesociety.org.
Walking to lunch in downtown Belleville, I typically pass through Ben's Crafts & Florals as a shortcut, but also to see what's new in the store. Here are two gift ideas I spied this week: a very attractive selection of glass holiday photo frames is on sale for $5, wintry scenes and more; also, cute miniature red cardinals with glowing LED lights inside. Perfect for a little baseball fan. They're $5.99.
If giving a Christmas gift to your family pet is a tradition, Garden Ridge in O'Fallon has practical and cute Best in Show mats for under your dog or cat's food bowl. Each is $4.99. The dog mat is shaped like a bone and says "Food?" The gray cat mat is shaped like a feline.
If you have a long list of stocking stuffers you need for kids, teens, and yes even adults, visit Five Below in Fairview Heights. Nothing is more than $5 and you can find some great bargains. Teen girls will thank you for the eyes and lips makeup kits in sparkling zippered pouches for under $5. Or, choose some vivid shades of nail polish, three for $5, or a four-pack gift set for the same price. Crafts kits, such as learning to make origami and friendship bracelets, are $5 each. And, check out the variety of smartphone cases.
At Tuesday Morning in O'Fallon, craft kits include a Make Your Own Time Capsule or create trinket boxes that look like dainty desserts. Each is $6.99. Create your own Hello Kitty! kit for girls who want to sew, stuff and dress their own celebrity kitty is $7.99. As with most items at this retailer, supply is limited.
Pier 1 Imports in Fairview Heights has some clever gift items to stuff in adult stockings or give a hostess: Santa Snowglobe Bottle Stoppers are $6.95; earthenware trivets and spoon rests with hand-painted poppies on them are $9.95 each; and oh-so-flirty and fluffy "vintage" printed halter aprons are $19.95.
Without a doubt, the place to go to get guys sweatpants, shirts and hoodies to keep them warm and comfortable this winter is Walmart. Fruit of the Loom fleece zip or pullover hoodies are $10.66, while pants and sweatshirts are $5.96. Big men's sizes are $1 to $2 more.
If you still need to make gingerbread houses, Michaels Crafts in Shiloh has Wilton kits on sale through today for $8.99.
In the giving spirit? You have until Dec. 15 to drop off new unwrapped toys at any Walgreens to benefit Toys for Tots and other local charities.
The felt holiday baskets are so cute at Ulta Beauty in Fairview Heights that you'll want to pick one up and fill it, which is just what the retailer hopes you will do. Still, you'll get the basket (shaped as colorful reindeer, snowman or penguin) free when you choose from the bin near the front door. Five items will set you back $10, with choices ranging from brushes and lip gloss to eye shadow kits and lotion.