It’s the time of year when you always seem to have an empty wallet.

You have gifts to buy for Yule-Kwanzaa-Christmas-Hanukah, a new dress for the office party, decorations, food and beverages. And the list of potential giftees seems to grow by the day.

Let’s see, there’s Mom and Granny, Sister 1, Sister 2 and Sister-in-law. There's No. 1 Daughter, maybe a Step-daughter, your son’s girlfriend. Your BFF, the girls in your coffee-klatch, your boss, your secretary, the babysitter, your weekly housekeeper, etc.

A gift of beauty doesn’t have to break the bank. Here are some of the best of the season’s offerings from budget-conscious to extravagant. Bonne Bell has multi-packs of their always-popular lip-smackers available at this time of year. These are usually less than $10 for a dozen flavored glosses. This year, they are also offering the Winter Wishes Collection – 12 products including lip smackers and sparkle cosmetics for $12 (www.bonnebell.com).

Your local drugstore or discount department store (Wal-Mart, Target, Zellers) offers huge displays of inexpensive bath products. Reusable baskets, boxes and make-up cases are filled with an array of soaps, bath salts and lotions often with scrubbies, nail brushes and sometimes manicure implements. These are often less than $20.
The major skin-care companies have entered the seasonal gift market with zippered plastic make-up cases containing cleansers, toners and lotions, often full-sized and at a price greatly reduced than buying them separately. Neutrogena, Dove, Olay, Garnier, Nivea and St. Ives all have products available in these kits this year.

Philosophy, Bliss, Fusion and many other high-end skin care lines also make these today at slightly higher prices. Fragrance sets are a holiday-season tradition – soap or shower gel, lotion and (usually) a bottle of eau de toilette come boxed for easy gift giving. These are often accompanied by a miniature of the perfume, a luxe make-up bag or piece of jewelry (like the Jewelry Box Set from Lolita Lempicka – $60 at Sephora). If you don’t know the fragrance taste of the woman (or man) for whom you’re buying, many perfume houses offer miniature sets of their top sellers – Dior, Gauthier, Elizabeth Arden are just a few.

Sephora has scent-sampler boxes for him and her this year. Each box contains 10 samples of the store’s best-selling women’s and 8 for men’s fragrances for $50. Inside is a gift certificate for the recipient to take to their local Sephora to redeem for a full-size bottle of the scent of their choice.
Color makeup kits have become a holiday staple for every major makeup company. MAC has had 2 dozen palettes and gift packs available since the end of October. Consider these offerings too:

Best of Benefit – Eye Bright Pencil, BADgal Mascara, Dallas blush. $46.
Stila Gift of Glow – Sun Bronzer, an eye shadow trio, lip glaze, 2 sample-size smudge pots and a liner brush.
Make Up Forever Diamonds Forever – eye shadow, mascara, liner and lip gloss in a reusable case. $49.
Smashbox Platinum Surge – soft lights blush/highlighter, an eye shadow quad and 2 lip glosses. $59.
Sephora’s Supermodel Kit – a sequined black clutch containing a mini Smashbox primer and O-Glow blush, Make Up Forever eye shadow #307, Stila lip glaze Brown Sugar, Sephora blush Apricot Plaisir and Diorshow mascara in black.
Hard Candy Delinquent Mini Nail Kit – 7 mini-bottles of nail polish with matching jelly rings. $25.
Pop Day to Play Wallet – 12 eye shadows and 12 lip glosses in a silver faux-crocodile clutch. $42.
Bare Escentuals Classic Rock Collection – shimmer powder, blush, mascara, eye shadow, lip gloss and 2 brushes along with a silver-white clutch. $59.
Too Faced Lights, Camera, Glamour Makeup Collection – a lighted case containing 8 eye shadows, 6 lip glosses, powder, bronzer, 4 highlighters, 2 eyeliners, 2 brow powders, 4 blushes and a mini-brush kit. $40.
Lorac Fairytale Life Makeup Collection Kit – 8 eye shadows, 2 blushes, 2 glosses, mini-mascara and eyeliner brush. $52.
If the budget allows, why not a spa day? Better yet – after all that shopping/planning/cooking/cleaning … book that spa day for yourself!

Happy Holidays!