Cheap But Awesome Gifts From a Site Where Everything is $5 -- And We Mean Everything

It happens every Christmas:  I look at my bank account. I cry. I decide that, instead of buying real presents, I will instead venture to Michael's Craft supplies, pick up some beads and glue sticks, and make something really special for people instead. Hence, the picture frames with glued-on fortune-cookie fortunes; the beer coozies wrapped in yarn; and the seashell-festooned cigar boxes. (Sorry, family!)

This year, however, I discovered a brilliant

concept that evil multinational corporations discovered a long time ago: outsourcing.

In other words, a very interesting website called Thanks to a whole bunch of fools extremely

creative and very affordable people offering their goods or services for a mere

$5 apiece, this year I'm shopping for a dozen people and spending only $60. is a fascinating online marketplace. Some services are quite formal and businesslike -- anything driving traffic to a website, inflating "likes" on Facebook, or improving SEO seems to be a hot seller -- but there is a treasure trove of weirdness. One guy will tell you "fleamarkets in Rome where to make good business" for $5. Another will "tell you the best things to do with your girlfriend." One lady will write anything on her nails; another will impersonate Michael Jackson and prank call your friends. It goes on. And on.

I sifted through some of the food-related ones so you don't have to -- and even spent some cold, hard (Paypal) cash to see who could deliver on these incredibly great values. Here's what I found.

1. "I will hand-letter your message on my beer gut for $5." 
I told the_beergut_man what to write, and he delivered within a week. See the result, above. You could have him write "Merry Christmas!", "Happy Hannukah", or "Marry me, Jon!" -- whatevs. His belly is your canvas. I heard this guy was featured on some late-night talk shows and I am sure he is making a killing. Note: there are plenty of girls on Fiverr offering to write stuff on other body parts.

2. "I will draw you a cartoon character."
I told this guy to come up with a dinner plate that was licked clean, in honor of our food blog, Clean Plate Charlie. He was super meticulous, gave it a few rounds of back-and-forth, and panicked about getting it to me on time. You could have him draw one of your friends into a character or something holiday-related. Result: Not bad!

3. "I Will take a photo of your message with my cool cactus."

cigarette-smoking, sunglass-wearing cactus charmed me with his

laid-back cool. He looked like the Lou Reed of cactuses (cactii?).

Thought he would make a cool Christmas card, so I hired him.  The

photographer isn't a pro -- didn't capture the best light -- but she

did print out a sign and trek all the way out to a beach (I think it's in New Zealand) by special

request. I only wish I'd had the cactus wear a Santa hat.

4. "I will sing anything you want and dance in  banana costume."
This wimp chickened out and said he couldn't do it, so I cancelled the order.  Don't hire him.  Instead, hire the chick who got the job done:

5. "I will dance to two minutes of any song of your choice in a hot dog costume"
I figured a food-related song would go nicely, so I chose "The Cuppycake Song." Not sure the raver dance moves go with, but hey -- she came through.

6. I will create a food magic money drawing spell"

I was excited that this voodoo would bring me a windfall so that I could actually buy some ding-dangled presents this year, but this chick also flaked and I cancelled the

order. (Sorry, family! Guess you are all getting handles that turn your beer can into a mug!)

7. I will tell you where to eat free on your birthday.
I haven't checked the reliability of this document, but it was emailed to me in less than an hour. Ahh... something useful.  Better than underwear! Free Birthday Stuff

KEEP NEW TIMES BROWARD-PALM BEACH FREE... Since we started New Times Broward-Palm Beach, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of South Florida, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Deirdra Funcheon