Looking to spice up your holiday gift ideas? Not sure what to get the electronically inclined family member? Below are some simple gift ideas and ways to personalize that everyone is sure to love. iPods (or other MP3 Players) iPods are great gifts. They’re relatively inexpensive and nearly everyone can find a use for one. Unfortunately it’s an easy gift to screw up. If they just received an iPod within the last couple of years that’s still working great, getting them another would just be a waste. The “new” features aren’t worth the money when things are working great. Upgrading to gain more space, however, would be a reasonable premise. If they don’t have an iPod, consider their needs before picking one up. Would they rather have a small one for running, or a large capacity for long trips? Do they have a strong need to browse the internet or play games? What sort of color would suit them best? I don’t recommend spending money on expensive docks or iTunes gift cards. Docking stations and radios are often incredibly over priced and it’s hard to tell whether one would be worth it for a recipient. As for iTunes gift cards, I’m partial against music that comes with DRM, and music that doesn’t come without a physical copy. That’s just me. If you’re giving to someone who loves those cards, then I’m all for it. Remember that most new iPod users will run out to pick up a case or better pair of headphones afterwards. These make great stocking stuffers.
If you’re unsure, consider getting them something on hard copy. Instead of a few CD’s get them a compilation set. Or, if they really love music, get them a record player and a few albums on vinyl. (Or playing into the later gift card section, a record exchange shop so they can have the pleasure of rifling through stacks looking for hidden gems.)
(I have nothing against Creative’s offerings or the Zune, but I hardly know anything about them, not enough to make a recommendation unfortunately)
XBox 360 or Nintendo Wii
One of the easiest gift ideas for the young and young at heart are game systems. This year the systems to get are either the Xbox 360 or the Nintendo Wii. While there are many good things to be said about Sony’s PlayStation 3, the deals just aren’t nearly as sweet as its competition. If you keep your eyes and ears open you can find a Wii or 360, complete with accessories and games, for close to the price of the console itself.
If you’re not sure whether to get someone a Wii or a 360 take into consideration their age and gaming commitment. The Wii is great for casual gamers of all ages and even families (last Christmas I got owned by my 76 year old grandmother in Wii Bowling). The 360 is better suited for someone who loves to play online and prefers more mature and action-oriented games.
Instead of purchasing games consider getting them a GameFly membership. It’s cheaper than purchasing new releases and you don’t have to worry about the late fees with renting. Besides, who doesn’t want an excuse never to visit a GameStop ever again?
Movies make great stocking stuffers. Unfortunately they’re the gift most likely to be duplicated on Christmas morning. If you want to spice things up try gifting movies that you won’t find in Wal-Mart’s cashier isle. Try exploring older classics or lesser known movies that might be just outside of their palette.
If you want to get creative get them a NetFlix membership. For those who don’t know, NetFlix is just like renting but without the late fees and trouble of having to leave home. They just send you a movie and you send it back when you’re done. While this might sound like a boring gift it’s easy to personalize. If you create the account ahead of time you can fill the movie queue with films you feel they might be interested in. Gag films, helping them recall embarrassing moments in their life, are always a good addition.
Portable hard drives are a must for nearly any family with a computer. Very few people realize that at any day all of their personal files, photos and music could simply cease to exist. By getting someone an external hard drive you both provide a very practical gift and provide the chance to help protect precious memories (assuming they actually use the drive)
In additional to their practicality external drives are also fairly inexpensive. Just recently Staples had a 400GB WD Portable drive for only $100 shipped. If the recipient has a lot of data, and you don’t foresee them traveling with it in the future, then non-portable drive will work just fine and are often less expensive.
Should you be giving to a computer geek, getting a drive enclosure would a great gift idea as well. Drive enclosures allow the user to enter their own hard drive and use it as an external one. Great for accessing information during a hardware failure or utilizing old drives. The only caveat would be whether they could get more use out of an internal IDE or SATA connection, and USB or Firewire connections externally.
If all else fails, consider getting a gift card. A card purchased from the right place can mean more than simply handing over cash, yet be more flexible than playing the gift roulette. Here are a few things to consider if taking the gift card route...
Buy a couple gift cards from different locations that tie into each other. For example, if you're buying for someone who enjoys coffee consider a card to a place that sells coffee makers and smaller one to a place which sells grounds/beans. Consider gifting more than one card to the bean place so they're encouraged to try different blends.
Don't waste your money on "creative" card containers. Spending $5 on a tin case to hold a piece of plastic, neither of which will be used ever again a month from now? Awful. Try putting a creative and personal spin on things. Since I'm full of awesome ideas, here's another example…
Visit a craft store and pick up a photo frame and items to decorate with (make sure to decorate with respect to the taste and interests of who you're giving to). Place the gift card in the frame and wrap. Have a few photos of friends or family printed as well but enclose those along with a holiday card. Now when they open the frame, the gift card is presented in an unique way, while the holiday card & photos help add a personal touch and tie in with the previous gift.
Use your imagination and please post your ideas here! I’d like you ‘borrow’ them for later use. :)
Of course, make sure to consider cards which expire or come with fees *coughvisacough*
Other Great Ideas
Regifting is a tradition a lot of friends and family share together. A particularly bad gift one year can become a great gag gift year after year. Try lightening up the morning hours by giving someone else that bloody Santa sweater everyone refuses to wear.
Another simple way to make gifts more personal is by adding touches to the wallpaper. Try photo-shopping a relatives’ face into a common Christmas movie and applying it to the outside of a gift.
Accessories to new and preexisting items always make good stocking stuffers. Cases, portable mice, screen cleaners, deodorant, etc are all great functional ideas that will be appreciated.
Beer. Everyone loves beer. As long as it’s not made by Anheuser-Busch or Miller.
Bargain hunt for ideas, not just deals. Great sites like Slickdeals.net have a wide variety of deals, sometimes unexpected items. You’re bound to find product ideas you may not have considered.
Don’t let store employees push you around. Nothing makes a BestBuy employee salivate like a parent with a clueless look on their face. Head in knowing what you’re looking for, having already read reviews and comparisons online, and confident in the fact that you don’t want extended warranties. Most are useless and a lot of tech warranties last just as long.
Hopefully these ideas will be of use, even if they only spark some greater ideas. If you have any further suggestions or opinions regarding my ideas please let me know! Remember, this holiday should be about spending time with family and friends regardless of religious affiliation!
Note – I have no financial connections to any of the products I have recommended. All store/company references are opinion based.