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What to buy?

December 7, 2010
Christmas gifts.

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For those of us slackers who don’t start and finish their Christmas shopping by Halloween (which is exactly what my Aunt Paula does) here are some ideas as we get closer to the December 24 deadline. We start out kind of pricey, but there’s plenty of inexpensive in here too.

Gifts for Tech lovers, but not early adopters

Apple iPad:

I don’t know a single person who would turn up their nose at one. Well, yes I do, but he works for Microsoft and he has a chip in his head that will literally make him turn up his nose. Is it a cost prohibitive purchase? Absolutely. However, if you really want to show your love or if you have one heck of an apology to unload, there’s no better gift. I recommend you go for the WiFi+3G model, it’s more expensive, but no one wants to be tied to a WiFi only situation with this toy. Cost: $499-$829.

Apple iPod Touch:

The poor man’s iPhone and iPad. But it really is remarkably good, essentially an iPhone without the phone or monthly calling plan. All the awesome apps are at your finger tips, along with the slick Apple operating system, HD video recording and the much heralded FaceTime video calling feature. WiFi only. Cost: $229-399

An Internet-connected Blu-Ray player:

Why? Because it isn’t about the Blu-Ray, it’s about the Internet. With a connected Blu-Ray device, you get the option of watching Netflix movies directly, accessing Pandora radio and viewing YouTube clips, all without booting up your hard drive. And yes, you also get to see great Blu-Ray movies or have your old standard definition DVD upconverted to 1080p for your HDTV set. All the major manufacturers have Blu-Ray players with these options available, for a variety of prices. The cheaper ones need to be connected directly with ethernet cable or an optional WiFi adapter. The more expensive models have WiFi built-in. The really expensive ones are 3D ready. Cost: $90 to $430.

E-book readers:

You can throw the iPad in here, but if you’re looking for a simple one trick pony there are a few e-readers on the market that offer a lot. Amazon’s Kindle and Barnes & Noble’s Nook are probably the best around, with access to millions of books and publications. The Nook may have a slight edge, since it’s available in black & white and color. Both e-book readers are available with WiFi or WiFi+3G. Cost: Kindle $139, with 3G $189 or $379 for the large screen DX. Nook B&W $149, with 3G $199, Nook Color $249. Bonus: You can choose from 33,000 free public-domain titles at the Project Guttenberg website.

Cheap (and not so cheap) gifts for Geeks

Just a heads-up, I’m pulling each of these ideas from the awesome Think Geek catalog. I highly recommend its perusal.

Electronic Music Synthesizer Shirt

It’s a working keyboard – ON YOUR CHEST! I’ve seen the drum version in action, worth every penny. This will be a favorite for the geeks and musicians in your tribe. Cost: $29.99

Big Bang Theory and pop culture T-shirts

Who doesn’t want to sport Sheldon’s “Bazinga!” catchphrase on his or her chest? If the CBS sitcom isn’t in your wheelhouse (and it really should be) there’s always more generic fair to choose from “Oceanic Airlines Safety Chart,” “meh,” “resistance is futile,” “Knights Who Formerly Said Ni” crest. Cost: $6.99 to $29.99

Survival Kit in a Tin Can

Medical supplies, nourishment and navigation aids, all in a tin can! Cost: $9.99.

Tiny USB Car Adapter

We all have gadgets that charge via USB cords now, but why buy expensive car charging adapters for them, here’s a little doohicky that fits right in you car’s power port. Cost: $7.99

Star Trek Enterprise Pizza Cutter

Because who doesn’t need one? Cost: $24.99

Unicorn Meat

Tell me you wouldn’t eat it. I bet it tastes just like magic pork. $11.99.

Political Apparel and Stuff

These items are all from Cafe Press, another great site for find the weird, wacky and awesome.

Don’t Tread on Me

Show your libertarian colors with this early American flag for the 13 colonies.  Get the “Don’t Tread on Me” image emblazoned on stickers, mugs, license plate holders, buttons and shirts. Cost:$2.50 to $31.

President Obama, pro and con

While the seal of the President is illegal to reproduce, his face is fair game. Whether you love him or hate him, Cafe Press has a ton of items to show just which way you lean. Cost: $2.50 to $35.


Have an opinion about Sarah Palin, just can’t bring yourself not to share your opinion with the rest of the world? There are a few items here that might catch your fancy. Cost: $2.50 to $35.

Tea Party Time

Want to show you’re a real political independent with a conservative lean? Check out the Tea Party options. Most of them seem to have been properly spell checked. Cost: $2.50 t0 $35.

If you want another option for political apparel, swing by Zazzle for their offerings.

Giving Gifts to Girls

This is never an easy one. And let’s face it, you ladies never make it easy on us men. In my household, my only hope is to eavesdrop on my wife when she’s watching QVC. Damn you Dooney & Bourke!

A Bouquet a Month

It’s a little pricey, but it’s a one time purchase that will come around 12 times a year. And I assure you, guys, that you will screw up at least a dozen times this year, in which case, money well spent. Cost: $499 (or $41.66 a month).

Say Love, Literally, with Chocolate

Chocolates as a gift is a little played out, but I haven’t met the woman yet who has refused the gift. Make it unique with a personalized chocolate. Cost: about $12.

Handmade Jewelry

Anybody can grab a necklace from Macy’s, but how about a handmade creation? And the best part, very unlikely your gift is going to be returned. It is a (mostly) one of a kind after all. The jewelry is unisex, so good for guys too. Cost: $120 to $880.

Giving Gifts to Guys

Of course, the only gift any boyfriend, husband or father ever really wants is to not be hassled. Seriously, all we want is a day without being reminded we’re layabouts, lushes or lumpy. However, most of us are resigned to never see that day, so how about just buy us some cool stuff.

Pretty much anything from the first two sections of this article will do, but here are a few other ideas.


If the guy in your life doesn’t already have a standalone model or one built in to a smartphone, this is a great guy gift. Why? So no one ever needs to have the “asking for directions/you don’t know where you’re going” argument. Cost: $70 to $499.

Leatherman Multi-tool

Most guys don’t realize how much they need this, until they actually do. My Leatherman now resides somewhere the bowels of the TSA office in LAX. My own fault of course for forgetting to check it. Cost: $63.


If the guy in your life is a drinker, the easy gift is spirits. Stay away from beer, it’s not as good a gift when unwrapped warm. Like many things in life, liquor is an acquired taste and everyone has a different preference, so you may need to do a little leg work, but if you can figure out your fella’s drink of choice, then a little Oban, Knob Creek, Belvedere or Don Julio makes for a good gift. Cost: $40 to $140.

If you have any other gift ideas, feel free to share them in the comment section below!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Erin hensh permalink
    December 7, 2010 5:04 PM

    Check out “Uncommon Goods” for unusual gifts that aren’t tacky… Some things can be a bit pricey but most prices are reasonable on the average… Nice job by you on the gift list Mike!!


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