Last-Minute Gift Ideas

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.

Comments

  1. Good one about the ‘electricity for substance abusers’ program. Rarely does a blog make me laugh out loud. Before taking this route, however, you may want to make sure that the person isn’t running a hydroponic marijuana lab in his or her closet.:)

  2. Ahh… the lab. I’d forgotten about that. Well, maybe you just buy them postage stamps or something harmless?

    Or, if you want to find discounted merchandise, you could always shop at police auctions.

  3. Similar to the subscriptions, how about a membership to SUWA?

  4. SUWA — The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance?

    I guess there’s the whole idea of membership in or contributions to charitable organizations for Christmas gifts, but George Costanza kind of ruined that for everybody.

  5. My wife gave me a subscription to Dialogue for my b-day two years ago. I still haven’t received a single issue.

  6. Hilarious! Are you serious?

  7. Yes.

  8. If you have elderly relatives, and want to do something meaningful for them, how about buying their prescription medication for a month or two. The current lack of meaningful prescription coverage is often debilitating for seniors on a fixed budget. Go snoop in Grandma’s medicine cabinet, then give her something she’ll really appreciate!

  9. In all seriousness, Karen, it’s not a bad idea.

    One of my common gripes is that people will spend hard-earned money at Christmas for objects that are completely unnecessary/unwanted to their relatives, while what their relatives really need is some cash or some way just to get by. Grandma appreciates that tea cozy, I’m sure, but cozies don’t get you your heart pills at the pharmacy.

  10. I heard a choir called Ephraim’s Harp at the Manhattan stake center a few weeks ago. They perform early American religious music, including the 1840s versions of “A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief” and “How Firm a Foundation.” They have a CD out, available from ephraimsharp.org — not a bad gift for people interested in either music or church history.

  11. As someone who owns the disc, I can tell you that it’s excellent. Good pick, Catherine. I think it might be too late for most people to get it as a Christmas gift, though. A New Year’s present, perhaps?

  12. A great stocking stuffer for any Mormon is the book Breaking the Mormon Code by Matt Paulson.

  13. A great stocking stuffer for any antimormon troll spammer is a literal stocking, stuffed with bars of soap to beat said spammer.

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