* One-price stores narrow the price down for you. Gallo's One Price Clothing Stores ($10) carry an array of budget gifts. Small velvet and gold embroidered evening shoulder bags are $6; socks with a holly or tree pattern are two pairs for $5. Bright red or black tights with lace ankle trim also cost two for $5. And they come in plus sizes. The many dollar stores around town narrow stocking-stuffer prices to rock bottom. Dollar Bill's has cards of girls barrettes, play jewelry and cute socks. There are hats, mittens and socks for boys.
* Don't be intimidated by antique stores. Dealers often buy lots to get an investment item and sell the less costly trinkets -- stick pins, buttons and laces -- for very little. At flea market and collectibles stores, serious rooting is bound to turn up costume jewelry or cuff-links from the '60s. You may also be inspired to turn out your old jewelry boxes for gift possibilities after discovering the stuff is now selling in shops.
* Don't discount church or school bazaars. Handmade gifts have a special charm.
* Shop with a buddy: A two-for sale could be a bargain that you share.