By Sha Phillips

Dos and don’ts Ever wonder if the old saying “Tis better to give than to receive” originated from people like your friends (who you gave a singing bass last year for Christmas)? If you suffer from bad gift-giver syndrome take note, or if you’re fed up with receiving lousy gifts, casually place this column near someone’s shopping list.

While we all know the spirit of the season doesn’t magically appear out of a shiny package, getting cool stuff can always brighten anyone’s day. So this year, before you buy another crummy gift, take a look at these holiday fashion gift-giving “must dos” and “please don’ts.”

Must dos for gift-giving

If you want to give a fashionable gift to the matchingly fashionable friend on your list give leg warmers. Yes, I said leg warmers — the kind we wore in the ‘80s. They’re fun, nostalgic and cozy. If you’re having a hard time finding these Cyndi Lauper-accessories get online and go to www.foo-ttraffic.com. They have a variety of leg warmers for around $10.

Now, if your friend wouldn’t enjoy a gift that far out, then try a subscription to a fashion magazine. This can work for guys as well as gals. Just make sure you wrap the little card that announces the subscription and hand deliver it, otherwise your friend might think you forgot about him or her on Christmas morning. Magazines like Vogue and GQ are sure to give your fashion-friendly friends pleasure every month or give advice to your fashion-challenged friends.

A patriotic Christmas

For a gift that has a stronger meaning behind it, give a patriotic item. There are flag-donning accessories and clothing out there that also donate some proceeds to various organizations relating to the Sept. 11 attacks. Just make sure you check out the company and know it’s honest before making a purchase that claims to donate money. Your gift receiver will be in style and making a statement with an American look. Tommy Hilfiger has always provided these type of clothes with a classic look. Look to his line for inspiration when shopping for a patriotic gift that’s not too cheesy.

As for the more traditional gift ideas, here are two gifts you should never buy without consulting the gift receiver first: pants and shoes. With so many lengths and sizes at every store, pants are hard enough to buy for yourself. Why do you think you can buy the perfect-fitting pants for anyone on your shopping list? (Think about those jeans you’ve tried on that were “supposed” to fit and looked like your second skin.) As for shoes, as humans our feet are all unique. No arches, high arches, narrow and wide are only a few problems with the things we walk on. So, finding a perfect-fitting shoe,that doesn’t rub the back of your heel off, for someone else is another almost impossible task.

Five golden rings

For gifts that will please practically anyone on your list, try giving items that are in style, but also match that person’s personality. Here are some gift ideas you can take to the extreme or leave classic. Jewelry is a great gift and easy to pick out. The trick is to scope out what the person you’re buying for already wears. If she only wears silver and owns tons of bracelets, make her happy and buy another. We are creatures of habit and love certain pieces of jewelry. Look to see what he or she wears the most and buy it in a new style.

Belts are usually a crowd pleaser also. And since belts come in all colors and materials this season, there’s no limit in how creative you can get. Just make sure you buy the one you think won’t be too tight. We can always poke a hole in the belt to make it fit if it’s too big, but who doesn’t feel bad about a belt that’s too small?

A taboo do

Now before I say this don’t jump to the wrong conclusion: Lingerie is a good gift idea. Not the kind you see in a Frederick’s of Hollywood catalog (unless you’re that close), but the kind you can find in any department store. Whether it’s flannel, cotton, silk or anything else, pajamas can be fun. Just pick the set that best matches your gift receiver, and he or she will love the special-to-his or her-taste gift.

After this quick gift-giving help everyone (naughty or nice) on your list is bound to have a great holiday. For those who are still scared of shopping, just buy a gift certificate at his or her favorite store. And don’t forget to pick up a little something stylish for yourself while you’re out: You’ve got nothing to lose and fashion to gain.