See what was in this issue of Real Simple.
Credit: Lucas Allen

On the Cover

50 Gifts Under $50, pg. 59
An annual holiday tradition continues: Real Simple’s carefully vetted, thoroughly tested, lovingly tasted, frugal-yet-frivolous gift guide.

Low-Fat Weeknight Dinners, pg. 311
Take a break from all the festivities and cook up these simple, extra-healthy weeknight meals.

How to Handle Difficult Relatives, pg. 153
Brothers and sisters can still get your goat―especially at holiday time. Learn how to play nice, adult-style.

The Organized Pantry, pg. 207
For one avid cook, the larder was never large enough. Here’s how Real Simple turned her overstuffed pantry into a chef’s best friend.

Holiday Tipping: Who? How Much?, pg. 141
Your fail-safe source for showing gratitude this season, to everyone from hairstylists to newspaper carriers.

Holiday Decorating Booklet, pg. 250
Out with the boughs of holly, in with the…toothpicks and ribbon? Use this pullout section to transform everyday items into holiday finery.

In Every Issue

Thoughts, pg. 10

Why Not?, pg. 18

Contributors, pg. 36

Editor’s Note, pg. 41

Real Inspiration, pg. 43
Spruce up your home―without the spruce. Pinecone wreaths can be a festive alternative to greenery with these eight easy ideas.

Your Words, pg. 49
What is the most meaningful gift you’ve ever received?

Life Lessons, pg. 110
First came the windfall. Then came the reality check. A writer realizes how emotionally invested she was in having money―and the things in life that are worth far more.

The Motivator, pg. 241
Yes, you’re right. Again. But do you want to start a fight about it? Life coach Gail Blanke explains why letting it go is the best (right) choice.

Sacred Ground, pg. 298
After a lifetime of creating temporary spaces to express her spirituality, a woman builds a lasting sanctuary.

Credits, pg. 336

Real Life, pg. 344
Meet Ali Sell.

Real Simple To Go, pg. 346

The Guide


  • From ruby to fire engine, festive red lipsticks anyone―yes, anyone―can wear, p. 119
  • Hair accessories that dress up your look in seconds, pg. 125
  • Pigs in a blanket or a mini quiche? Candy canes or kisses? How to make healthy holiday-party choices, pg. 133
  • Nine beds for overnight guests, pg. 179
  • The care and feeding of wood furniture, pg. 187
  • Tech made simple: HDTVs, digital cameras, and more, pg. 195

Road Test

  • Hand creams, pg. 231
  • Party dresses, pg. 217
  • Pillows, pg. 225
  • Instant oatmeal, pg. 237


  • Perfect beginnings and endings to any party, pg. 288
  • Fake It: Beef Stroganoff, pg. 307
  • One dough, six cookies, pg. 323
  • Shopping List/Recipe Index, pg. 333