Shopping: Five presents? That'll be a fiver

More dash than cash? Scour the pound shops for presents, says
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Indy Lifestyle Online
Posh and Becks are probably conspicuously consuming as you read, especially since it's the Berardi baby Brooklyn's first Christmas. And no doubt love's latest young dream, Puff Daddy and Jennifer Lopez, are also indulging in some solid platinum diamond-encrusted fabulousness for this season of goodwill. But what if you're skint, a skinflint or just don't feel the seasonal goodwill towards your supposed "loved" ones? Look no further than that high street Aladdin's cave, the pound shop.

Lke a fine wine (or in this case, Thunderbird) the pound shop is an acquired taste. A haven of post-kitsch, sub-kitsch and (if you want honesty without postmodern flim-flam) crap, the pound shop can provide perfect gift solutions for people who have refused to grow out of the Alanis Morisette-like habit of declaring "Isn't it ironic!", or for those of whom you are simply not particularly fond.

Top buys

All these were found in a pound shop on Brixton High Street in south London.

Plastic beakers

Although it might sound boring, some of the best stuff on offer is plastic kitchenware. Brightly coloured polka-dot beakers are an especially good gift for a friend or relative who gets a bit drunk over the Christmas period and smashes all their glasses.

Squirrel house ornament

One of the most bizarre current finds in the pound shop, the plastic squirrel ornament is meant to be attached to outside walls, fences, doors and windows. The festive version features Santa kidnapping a penguin. Good for the animal lover or for Red or Dead designer Wayne Hemmingway who apparently has these plastic rodents all over his house.

Fish clock

The fish-shaped bathroom clock is a multi-purpose bargain (the pound shop is big on multi-purpose) as it doubles as a tray to keep your jewellery on and as a towel holder.

Musical box

The pound shop musical box always has a certain red velveteen charm. This year's version is especially good because it doesn't play the theme from Love Story.

Things to avoid

The imposter fragrance

The Calvin Klein-esque fragrance seems to be very popular this

year - examples found were CO12 (trying to be cK1) and Obelisque by Xavier Laurent (trying to be Obession For Men), although the all-time classic Klein rip-off has to be Obscure Man (Obsession again). A good gift for somebody who would like to smell of old people combined with Pick 'n' Mix and wants a rash.

The pound shop box of chocolates

Fortunately, most packaging will put you off this item, featuring as it often does unappealing yet eerily realistic presentations of the box's contents. After eschewing the "Annabel" chocolates and sampling the "Romantica" box instead, we wish we hadn't. Not even for your worst enemy, this.

The pound shop poster

The pound shop has proved to be the graveyard of the Athena poster, and features roughly five main themes of wall adornment: cute animals, dope smoking aliens and voguish, unlicensed cartoon characters (mostly those from The Simpsons and South Park). Sometimes genres cross-fertilise, producing such gems as Bart Marley, who likes to "Smoke De Herb, Man". Or the ever popular "Take Me To Your Dealer", featuring aliens plus spliff. Or, most strangely of all, the mix of Catholicism and weed in the classic "I love the Pope because the Pope smokes dope" poster. Quite a good gift for a younger, impressionable Protestant boy whose parents you might like to offend.

Underwear

The pound shop is spiritual home of the big pant and anyone who wears knickers this big does not want them thrust in their face as a present. The "full brief" by Atlantis is commonly stocked, although the brand might be re-named "Poseidon" as a tribute to Shelley Winters. Ideal for a dislikeable large lady.

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