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My dad is a last-minute Christmas shopper. I don't remember the worst gift he ever gave, but I do remember the worst way he ever gave his gifts.

That would be the year he decided to wrap them all in aluminum foil.

I was probably about 7 years old at the time, and once I realized those picnic-leftover-looking things under the tree actually were presents, I was quite impressed. Not only did the foil hide each gift entirely, without intricate folding and taping, it also looked so ... shiny. Festive, even. My father, it seemed, had shown me a secret for future Christmases.

And then my mother started yelling.

Our entire last-minute gift guide (beginning on p. 17) is basically an effort to keep you from being yelled at. If you haven't finished, or started, your shopping yet, you've still got options. Good ones, including charitable donations, locally made crafts, unique gift certificates and only-around-the-holidays culinary treats.

The economic situation being what it is, this year's a tough one. But with a little imagination, you can still give gifts that you and your recipients feel good about.

We invite you to take a little time, use a little tape, and have a happy holiday season.

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