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Deals and freebies include free chicken biscuits, cookbooks and potato chips.

By Teresa Mears Dec 23, 2010 1:55PM

Here it is almost Christmas, and we hope you haven't spent your last dollar on gifts and decorations.

 

Just in case, we bring you some holiday freebies.

You can send your kids (or your mother or your co-worker) a personalized phone call from Santa, courtesy of Google Voice. To create the call, you must first answer some questions about the recipient and then you can preview the message, which you can send via telephone, e-mail, Facebook or Twitter.

 

Our friends at Albuquerque on the Cheap have put together a whole list of free holiday music to download.

 

You can get free cooking and entertaining tips and recipes from Martha Stewart and Paula Deen's Holiday Hosting Guide (.pdf file), with downloadable cookbooks online.

 

More than half of all Americans re-gift. The other half? Probably afraid of getting caught.

By Stacy Johnson Dec 23, 2010 12:54PM

This post comes from Michael Kortezky at partner site Money Talks News.

 

Ask most people what their holiday nightmare is, and you'll probably hear something like this: "I don't want anyone to catch me re-gifting."

Nothing is more embarrassing than being caught trying to pass off an old gift you got as a new gift you're giving. Yet studies show that more than half of all Americans re-gift -- at least the ones who admit it to researchers.

 

Tech websites have great gift guides with lots of fun suggestions. Darth Vader clock radio, anyone?

By Karen Datko Dec 23, 2010 11:43AM

This guest post comes from Aaron Crowe at dealnews.

 

Gift guides are great for late shoppers. No need for research: You can flip through a guide and pick up presents for almost anyone left on your list. And we're making eventhateasier for you, sorting through the Web's best gift guides.

While everyone else is frantically hunting for the best tech toys, you'll be coasting to gift-giving greatness by following our list of the best holiday gift guides and the best tech gifts, from those guides, for the budget-conscious shopper.

 

The gifts in the song are almost as bad as fruitcake and those scratchy Christmas sweaters you get for people you don't care about.

By Karen Datko Dec 23, 2010 10:23AM

This guest post comes from Len Penzo at Len Penzo dot Com.

 

Last week in my Black Coffee column I linked to a press release announcing the 2010 PNC Christmas Price Index, which measures the cost of every item mentioned in "The 12 Days of Christmas."

If you were to buy your true love every item mentioned in the final verse of the song, it would cost you $23,439. Then again, if you were really into the Christmas spirit and decided to buy all 364 items mentioned in the entire song, you'd be out a cool $96,824.

 

I'm sorry, but 10 lords a-leaping and 11 pipers piping aren't my concept of great gift ideas.

 

I mean, really. Woe to the husband who lovingly awakens his wife on Christmas morning and tells her to look out the window. I guarantee you that if she saw 10 middle-aged balding guys in skin-tight leotards jumping around and performing "Swan Lake" in her driveway, you'd soon be out there with them, and hopelessly locked out of the house -- regardless of how well the pipers were piping.

 

There are many options for reducing the monthly cost of your phone use.

By Karen Datko Dec 22, 2010 6:50PM

This post comes from Trent Hamm at partner blog The Simple Dollar.

 

Throughout December, I've been posting a series focusing on activities you can do to set the stage for a great 2011. Today we'll focus on reducing your phone bill.

Two episodes in my own life are relevant here. A couple years ago, I canceled my business phone line and moved to Skype. It reduced the monthly cost of my business-related calls by about $30 a month.

 

You don't have to show your receipt before you leave most stores. So why do they get so upset if you refuse?

By Money Staff Dec 22, 2010 6:07PM

This post comes from MSN Money's Liz Pulliam Weston.

 

Liz Pulliam Weston on MSN MoneyReceipt checks -- where store employees review your receipt at the exit to make sure you've paid for everything in your cart or bags -- are typically voluntary.

 

Somebody needs to let the store employees know that.

For a few years now, The Consumerist has been documenting skirmishes between customers and employees who refuse to take "no thank you" for an answer. Shoppers reported being physically detained, having their paid-for items taken away, and being threatened with arrest (although sometimes it was the shopper who called the cops, as one guy did after a manager took his merchandise).

 

Parents have been surprised by large charges on their iTunes account when kids play Smurfs' Village and other games.

By Karen Datko Dec 22, 2010 4:01PM

This post comes from Sara Huffman at partner site ConsumerAffairs.com.

 

Would you pay $99.99 for a wagon of smurfberries?

 

If your answer is "yes," you might be one of the growing numbers of adults addicted to Smurfs' Village, an interactive game featuring the little blue gnomes popularized in the 1970s and '80s.

 

Or you might be a 4-year-old playing on Mom's iPad.

 

Electronics store seeks to compete by easing returns policy. Will customers take advantage?

By Teresa Mears Dec 22, 2010 3:31PM

Best Buy is the latest retailer to try a novel approach to attract customers: Let customers return items without penalty.

 

The big-box electronics store quietly dropped its 15% restocking fee for most items this week, perhaps in response to lackluster sales so far this holiday season.

 

The end to the restocking fee officially came Dec. 18, but The Consumerist reports that store associates have been instructed to refund restocking fees paid between Nov. 17 and Dec. 17 to anyone who asks.

 

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