Giving someone a plant for the holidays: Pretty lame. Giving someone a plant every month? Now you're talking. Those of-the-month clubs -- or "cult," as momma Marie referred to one repeatedly on "Everybody Loves Raymond" after being enrolled in a fruit club for her birthday -- turn an average gift into a sensation.

Cookies? Why not make January maple oatmeal raisin and June lemon butter daisies?

Hot sauce? Bone Suckin' Sauce Hiccuppin' Hot one month, Cholula the next. And monthly clubs cater to everyone: those who love wine, bacon or potato chips. (Even a T-Shirt-of-the-Month club for the clotheshorse on your list.)

Steven J. Florio, an editor at Cargo, has researched lots of monthlies for the magazine: sausage, tools, kitchen gadgets, dinner, beer. There is so much variety out there, he says, but you've gotta do a little research. Are they sending out reputable brands of sauce, meat, chips? "That's the risk of these things," he says. All you need is to have a flop showing up on your friend's doorstep for three, six or 12 months. "Great, you got me a crappy gift and it's gonna keep showing up -- thanks," jokes Florio.

Monthlies aren't cheap -- but it is the gift that keeps on giving. Just when everyone else's present is a distant memory, another goodie arrives in the mail. Because, as with any gift exchange, there is always the joyous feeling of one-upmanship. Florio likes to call friends and rib, " 'So, did you get your gift again?' It's a nice little guilt trip."

-- Janelle Erlichman Diamond

Flower club: Bulb

kits by the month

($125 for three

months to $375 for

one year) and plants

by the month ($140-$450)

at club: Monthly Munchie cookie subscription, $49.95 (three months) to $169.95 (one year) at club: Monthly

three-pound bulk carton

of Utz potato chips, $47.99

(three months) to $183.99 (one year)

at club: Trendsetter

Closet for $19.95 per month,

Princess Closet for $49.95

per month and the Diva

Closet for $99.95 per month,

at club: Southern hickory-smoked ribs, pulled pork, chicken wings and barbecue sauces, $132.97 (three months) to $584.44 (one year) at 800-STICKYS or