Thursday, December 22, 2011

Holiday Post 2011: The Shopping Extravanganza, or "What do you mean you are not done shopping yet?"

Here we go with the next post in my small holiday series. Shopping is a big part of the holiday season. Whether you are in favor or against it, shopping and gifts are a big part of the holiday season. In this post, I would like to share with my three readers a few of the more amusing or unique gift ideas I have seen. Plus, since I am a nice guy, I will also throw in a few extras.

Commentary and advice on holiday shopping

People have all sorts of advice and suggestions on how to shop or how to make shopping easier. Some suggestions may be more helpful than others. Some even suggest maybe you should go easy on the shopping. After all, the season should be more than flashy presents.

  • Via blog, "How to Avoid Online Shopping Fraud." Online shopping is extremely popular this year. So it is important to be savvy, informed, and protect yourself. 
  • Sometimes you get a gift that is less than idea for you, but it may be perfect for somebody else. It may also be the case you are just on a tight budget, and you have some extra item laying about. Whatever the reason,  you have decided to regift. Nothing wrong with regifting; many people do it. At least have the decency to put some thought into it. For the love of the deity of your choice, do not keep regifting that 20-year old fruitcake that was passed down from Nana. Barbara Pachter offers some very good advice and "7 Regifting Guidelines for the Holidays."  As Ms. Pachter says, "you always want the receiver of the gift to feel valued."
  • OK, so you have bought your gifts. Now you need to wrap them up. Unless you pay someone to do it, you have to do it yourself. Need some advice on how to wrap gifts? Via The Next Web, here is a small video on "how to wrap your holiday gifts, perfectly." Now, if they had a video as well for how to wrap oddly-shaped gifts, that would be perfect indeed. 
  • Perhaps you would like to give money to charity during this season. Boing Boing offers a pretty good "Charitable Giving Guide, 2011." It features some good, solid organizations that are deserving of your money, if you are so moved. You won't be seeing the "usual" suspects here. If you have a more progressive tendency, this is a very good list. 
  • Maybe you want to go a different route and avoid the consumerism of the holidays. Leo Babauta, at Zen Habits, proposes the "no new gifts holiday challenge." This may not work for everyone, but it will certainly provoke some thought. And if you must do gifts, there are some alternatives suggested. 
  • The Radical Vixen (warning: this is an adult content blog, but the post itself is not) writes about resisting the Christmas consumption, but if you must, consider a handmade gift, maybe made locally. I am finding interesting the wave of reaction against the consumerism, yet at the same time people do have the urge to shop. Personally, I lean to the middle. We do exchange some gifts, but we certainly do not go out of our budgets. 
  • Whether you exchange gifts or choose some other alternative, the fact is that the Christmas season can be a time where greed and consumerism are at their worst. Bill Maher has a nice message on on just that point (link to YouTube video). It is not new, but it is certainly relevant. A hat tip to Addicting Info.
  • Odds are good you may meet one the "12 Shoppers of Christmas" when you are out and about. Maybe you are one yourself, or you recognize one of them in a gift giver.  Via Work Fails.

Gifts for guys

This is mostly either gifts for men, which more often than not are usual fare for men (at least according to some folks. Really? Tools? No, I do not need nor desire a big set of Craftsman tools. However, a small, sturdy basic set of screwdrivers would be appreciated. See the difference?). Also can include gift lists focused on men (i.e. you are too dumb to figure out what to give your significant other? Let us help you)

  • Maxim magazine has their 2011 Holiday Gift Guide out. Joking aside, this list does feature some interesting choices, a lot of which I probably could not afford on a librarian's salary. So they have some $1 and under gifts too? I would skip those if I were you. There is such a thing as going too cheap. 
  • And speaking of "guys needing help" (because you know your lady will be judging you on the basis of the gift you get), the Free4Him website has a small video on "Inexpensive Gift Ideas for Your Girlfriend." The only somewhat cute idea was the coupon idea, which is not terribly new. And I am guessing if you need an inexpensive idea for your boyfriend (because you are a guy who happens to like boys), you have to go someplace else. Overall, just another little video promoting the typical dating stereotypes. And by the way, I don't consider a Kindle to be particularly inexpensive. 
  • COED Magazine has a "Last Minute Holiday Gift Guide 2011."  C'mon, you know there are going to be some guys who leave things to the very last minute. One of the items on the list are Star Trek Starfleet Robes. Though they are suggesting it for guys (at least a guy is pictured wearing one in the article), I can tell you that if the Better Half got one of these, she would be in heaven. (Light warning: it is COED Magazine, so some site content could be risque for some folks. The post itself is pretty safe). 
  • The Rifle (Paper Company) blog has a nice simple guide of gifts for men.  The parking cards are an intriguing idea, but for me, I would want them with a bit more text than what they offer.

Gifts for gals

As the title says, these are gifts for women or list more focused on ladies. 
  • It is a sad reality that women often need protection when going out. It is a harsh world out there, so whether they choose to carry a firearm or some spray like Mace, it does not mean they have to look drab doing it. Give the lady in your life a thoughtful gift that says you care for her safety as well as you care that she looks elegant while being safe with a pepper spray Swarovski crystals. Because nothing says personal protection like pepper spray with bling. Find the story at Jezebel. You can purchase the actual item at Guardian Girls. On a serious note, the Guardian Girls company does donate a portion of their proceeds to the Guardian Girls Foundation which is dedicated to helping end the cycle of violence against women. So, help your lady look good, feel safe, and help stamp out violence against women. 
  • The Rifle (Paper Company) blog has a nice little post with "fail-proof gifts" for ladies

Gifts for those who want to spice things up

This section is also known as the adult section. If you are prude, a bit more conservative, and/or offend easily, you can skip this section. If on the other hand, you enjoy sex and see it as a beautiful part of life, do read on.

  • My Sex Professor gives some advice for buying sex toys as Christmas presents.  From learning about what materials a toy is made of (yes, that makes a difference) to what to buy for a man or a woman to suggestions of reputable stores, this is a very informative post.
  • Fleshbot offers their "Naughty and Non-Denominational Holiday Gift Guide." This is a selection of various adult items from books to toys to plates (yes plates. You will have to click on the link to find out more, if you are still reading this section).

Alcohol and Other Spirits

Want to imbibe this holiday season? Here are some ideas.

  • Want to give booze as a gift? A nice bottle of an alcoholic spirit is a pretty common gift. For the person in your life who enjoys a drink now and then, a good, well chosen bottle is certainly a good gift. Here are some ideas of gifts for booze lovers.  This list from Jezebel has some interesting suggestions; some are certainly things I am not likely to see at the local liquor store one county over (did I mention I live in the "wettest" dry county in East Texas?). The one thing that really caught my eye, besides the Hudson Manhattan Rye, are the whiskey stones. What a brilliant little idea. You can chill your whiskey, or another other spirit for that matter I suppose, and not dilute it.
  • has a holiday gift guide for rum. Not perfect, since it makes no mention of any Puerto Rican rum, but it seems to have some interesting choices. At the risk of being heretical, I would be willing to try out one or two of their choices.They also have a holiday guide for scotch, and another one for tequila. I am not much of a scotch drinker, mostly due to lack of exposure and the fact I prefer wine as my drink of choice, but I would not turn a good bottle away of it if offered. As for tequila, which I do like, I tend to prefer mine at least reposado; añejo would be nicer. They also have a bourbon guide. From the bourbon list, I have tried and liked Woodford Reserve, but a little sip at a time. It is one to enjoy and take your time.
  • Drinkhacker has their "2011 Holiday Gift Guide." I do have to say a couple of the items are a bit on the pricey side, but it is interesting to see what they suggest. 
Stuff for writers

This is basically stationery and other cool things that writers might like. 

  • The Millions offers a list of "12 Holiday Holiday Gifts That Writers Will Actually Use." There are some nice ideas here besides the usual things like a nice blank journal book or a pen. Not that there is anything wrong with those, but once in a while, a little variety is nice. The only item I disagree with is the suggestion of getting the writer a pet. The 7th item on the list I think is very good--booze, coffee, and other stimulants. As they write, "find out what your friend likes to drink and buy a really nice version of that thing."
  • The Pen Addict provides his list of 2011 holiday favorites.
  • Stationery Review has its "Christmas Gift Guide 2011." From this list, the Star Wars limited edition moleskines would make me happy. They are definitely not something I would buy for myself. While I do buy nice journal books for my personal journaling, anything in the $20 dollar range is out of the question. But a guy can still dream. Now, some people would likely put these in some drawer and never open them. Not me. They would not be collector items; they would be put to work, even if for my banal meanderings that never make it to the blog.
  • The Well-Appointed Desk also presents a holiday gift guide
  • Here is a gift guide from Pens, Paper, Ink...Whatever.  Some very nice pens here. 
  • No Pen Intended also has a nice gift guide with some nice pens, conveniently sorted out by price so you can find something in your price range. That glass dip pen looks great, but I would be afraid to break it if I had one. I probably should settle for a more solid pen. 
  • Here is the guide from Pocket Blonde. From this list, I like the Lost Crates subscription idea.

    Expensive stuff

    The section of stuff I could not afford on a librarian's salary. Also for stuff that just makes you go, "holy shit, that costs how much?" You can also consider this section as a gift guide for the 1% folks. 

    • Stolichnaya Vodka is coming out with a $3,000 bottle of vodka. If you happen to have some extra money laying around, this may be a good idea. Via Drinkhacker.
    • For the nerd or geek in your life, here are "10 Insanely Expensive Nerdy Holiday Gifts." Via Topless Robot.
    • You do not want to displease the god of the lavatory with an inferior toilet. Apparently, in Japan, some people do believe there is a toilet deity. So what better way to go to the bathroom in comfort and luxury while appeasing the gods than with a $130,000 toilet? Via The Next Web
    • Some of these may be very pricey or not, but if you have one of those persnickety people on your list, maybe this selection of "Gifts for your 'Design Snob' Best Friend" might help. Via Jezebel
    • Like stationery and office supplies? Willing to pay top dollar for them, say $300 dollars for a stapler? Barney's is your store then.  Clearly, these are not office supplies for the hoi polloi. They are very nice though. Hat tip to the Shoplet blog
    • This could go with the items on liquor, but I think it belongs here better. has a holiday gift guide for the high roller. It features a $3200 port. Wow!

    Seriously weird  and/or miscellaneous stuff

    This is where I am putting stuff I just can't really put anywhere else.

    • Gifts for Old Folks. Yep, you have an older relative or friend (older here seems to be defined as at least qualified to join AARP), and you need some gift ideas. This list has some interesting selections ranging from neat to predictable to just tongue-in-cheek. By the way, if you are going with their suggestion of a case of wine, please get them something better than Kendall-Jackson. Not saying the old K-J is bad, just that there are better options. Story via Jezebel.
    • And here are some gifts for the kids. These are certainly not the usual things. Some neat things here actually. Via Jezebel
    • This I thought was a nice, thoughtful article that should be shared. Via The New York Times, Mark Bittman offers some ideas on "gifts for non-cooks." I think even folks who can do a little cooking can gain benefit from this.  
    • For the Star Wars geek in your life, these robes are brilliant. Via Failblog, who rates them a "win."  Here is one place you can buy them. If somebody got me one of these, I'd be very happy. 
    • Maybe you wish to give a present to a coworker (or you go stuck having to get something for one of those semi-obligatory exchange rituals). Here are some gift ideas for coworkers. Via Office Supply Geek
    • For some people, the budget may be bad in terms of buying gifts. Your kid may have asked for a brand new X-Box or Playstation, but Santa can't afford it, and neither can you. So maybe you want to consider instead one of these "25 Knock Off Video Consoles for This Holiday Season." Via humor site Holy Taco. Small warning, the site does contain some links to some risque content (tame, but in other words, if a woman in a bikini or lingerie offends you, skip it).
    • Take a trip down memory lane with this list of 90's kid's Christmas presents.Via BuzzFeed.
    • A calendar is always a nice, stable, and safe gift. Just find out what themes, topics, art, etc. a person likes and get them a calendar that features that favorite thing they like. Now, if you want to go a bit off the beaten path, Mental Floss offers a list of "10 Strange and Wonderful 2012 Calendars." From the list, I favor the Ryanair calendar, but that's me.
    • Are you a conspiracy theorist? Do you wish your children would begin learning "the truth" earlier? Or you just have a healthy (somewhat twisted) sense of humor. Then Truther Toys may be for you. A hat tip to Buzz Feed.
    • Is your mom a modern woman who smokes? Give her a Zippo lighter. This is a look at a vintage ad for Zippos targeting mothers. An interesting artifact from the past. Via Boing Boing. Joking aside, Zippo does make some pretty good lighters. If you do want to buy one, you can go here to their official website. By the way, it seems they make more than just their famous lighters. This may also be good for those who collect the lighters (even if they themselves do not smoke).
    • White Whine also has its own holiday gift guide.
    • Here is a list of practical things for college students and recent graduates. Yes, there are some graduations in December. Via The Washington Post. There are some very good ideas here.
    • That California cop who pepper sprayed the peaceful student protesters at UC Davis went on to become a meme. Inspired by that meme, here is a sweater of the cop pepper spraying the Baby Jesus. Buy it for that "ugly sweater" Christmas party, or get it just because. Via Jezebel.
    • Now some folks may be aware that Mattel released a Barbie doll with tattoos. Well, the fine fellows at Donco have come  up with some other famous toys updated for our times. Have a look at The Problem With Young People Today Is. . . .
    • Want something creative? Here is a list of "14 Creative and Clever Soaps." These are practical (everyone needs soap at some point), and they are fun. Via Mental Floss.
    • I am not quite sure what to make of this. I know getting children little cars they can ride in can be popular, but a fork lift? Anyhow, you can get a fork lift for your kid here. Story via Incredible Things.
    • Maybe you are into firearms. Do you want to buy a gun as a gift, or maybe receive a firearm this Christmas season under your tree? C'mon, "Open Your Heart at Christmas and Help a Gun Find a Good Home." Via  International Library blog. 
    • Not weird per se, but interesting. Your local comic book stores have some interesting gift ideas. Hey, when possible, do consider supporting your local comic book shop. 

    Photo credit: "Christmas Shopping--A Present for Everyone." From Flickr user johnmuk. Used by Creative Commons license terms.

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