BCC being the last respite of the hopeless members of the Bloggernacle, it seemed fitting to provide some sort of slacker’s guide to Christmas gifts. There’s not a lot of hope for you if, on Dec. 22nd, you still don’t have gifts for your loved ones for Christmas. Never fear — there are things you can do, that are better-looking than cash and better ideas than Macy’s Gift Cards. Below I list a few ideas, as well as some web resources; feel free to add your own.
Here are my bright ideas. If you live near the people you’re giving to, then why worry? There’s plenty of time to hit the stores. However, for those far distant, things get a little trickier.
1. Gift certificates. There’s only one thing worse than getting straight-up cash for Christmas, and that’s gift certificates. They lack the flexibility of cash, and yet still fail to provide the satisfaction of gift-giving like traditional gifts. However, with some tailored certificates you can still give something meaningful in limited contexts: a few years ago, I gave my dad a gift certificate for a round of golf. This year, we’ve given certificates for people to take their families out to eat at a nice restaurant (I hope I haven’t spoiled anything here for family members who know how to use the internet!). In general, if you want to give gift certificates, give them for services, not products. But try to find local services that they like — gyms, movie theaters, restaurants are all good bets. A gift certificate to use at Bliss Spas is a lot better than a gift card for Mervyn’s.
2. Services. Related to the first category, you can give services to people. Think of paying for someone’s cable bill for a month, or their TiVo service for a year. Some utility companies will let you pay someone’s bills for them. This is a creative way of helping people out with expenses that they may be unable to support on their own. It’s a tad utilitarian, I think, but I wouldn’t object if someone wanted to buy me a year of blog hosting for Christmas. Again, it’s all in how you tailor the object to the person. This category is also handy for those members of the family with substance abuse problems — you can’t send cash, and any gifts you send will end up in the pawn shop. Well, you can’t hock a month’s worth of electricity, suckah!
3. Subscriptions. A year of Dialogue? Sunstone, perhaps? FARMS materials? All of those can be had quickly and easily, with a phone call. Or, you could get them subscriptions to magazines they might actually enjoy: Premiere magazine, Gourmet… the possibilities are endless. They won’t have the magazine for Christmas, but at least they’ll get a notification.
4. Boxing Day Specials. If you are truly a horrible person, you can buy a Christmas present after Christmas. Wait for the sales then try to make up for dissing Christmas with an overabundance of discounted merchandise. One family I knew in Canada would give gifts at Christmas and say to the kids, "you’d better not scuff up the boxes ’cause those are going back to the store tomorrow to exchange!" Merry Christmas, young’uns! But in all seriousness, you could use this for siblings, maybe, or friends in limited circumstances — show them the ad for the present. You will firmly establish yourself as the cheapest cheapo on the planet. I don’t recommend it.
By the way, let me clue you in to a couple of websites I use for deals. First is Froogle, the Google catalog search engine. It works fairly well, at least as good as Pricewatch.com or pricegrabber.com. I also like techbargains.com for computer and tech items, but my current favorite is Cheap Stingy Bastard, a blog of bargains. Feel free to share your insights as well.