Monday, December 18, 2017

Holiday Post 2017: Gifts, strange things, and other shopping

Welcome back to The Itinerant Librarian and the annual series of holiday posts for 2017. Today I am focusing on gifts, strange things, and other tidbits about shopping during the holiday season. If you had some foresight and planned ahead, odds may be good you are done with your shopping by now. I am certainly done with  mine, and boy am I glad. I cannot recommend it enough to get your shopping, be it in person or online, done on the early side so you can relax on the few days before Christmas. Heck, this year I had to order from that big online behemoth everyone loves to hate, and since I did it early, got the free delivery, and the stuff  is wrapped and ready to go. Seriously, consider taking some stress away from your life.

However, if you are still shopping, either because you did not plan ahead, or you are just one of those people who get the thrill of doing it last minute, some of these links may give you some gift ideas. For me, I look at these in large part because they are interesting, or I find them some ridiculous, I need a laugh or two. So let's have a look.

Gift giving etiquette and advice

You can't just randomly give gifts or do so without thought. There are rules and some etiquette involved.  Plus some additional advice.

  • Here are some bits of gift giving etiquette basics via Wise Bread. For example, can your regift? Probably but there are things to keep in mind.
  • Via Living Well, Spending Less, here are some big holiday problems solved. Did that one relative bring extra guests you were not expecting? What about that one relative with the dietary restrictions? Or again, your crazy drunken RWNJ uncle who will not STFU about politics?  Here are some ideas on how to deal with that and some more.
  • Consider this a PSA: do not give animals/pets as gifts. That is usually something you should let the person decide if they want a pet or not. So please do not give a life sentence. Via AlterNet.

Lists of general gifts
  •  If you like pens and stationery, the Goulet Pens blog has a few gift ideas under $20. Personally, if they were not so high maintenance, I'd use a fountain pen more. 
  • USA Today claims they have "10 gifts for men that they'll actually love." These kind of lists often remind me that I do not really fit into the prototypical manly man. Either that, or those manly men are just ridiculous hipsters and guys with way too much money and idle time. Because fancy pears and Amish beard balm are not the first things that come to mind when I want a holiday gift. Having said that, the idea of gifting a good reliable chef's knife (because yes, men cook at home too) is a good one. 
  • The Advocate also has their 2017 holiday gift list (warning: it is a slide show). Do gay people (the magazine's main demographic) really go for some of this stuff? Those Tagame men's swimming briefs, which retail for $58 bucks by the way, look more disturbing than flattering for example (seriously, they make you look like some guy is biting your dick off). Now, the portable power jump starter I think is a practical thing, and  I think everyone with a car should have one or something similar to it. And I actually like that bamboo laptop organizer; I'd get two (one for my home office and one for work), so this list is not as bad as it appears initially. 
  • ProPublica has a somewhat eclectic gift guide for 2017
  • Now this I found interesting and useful. The title of the article is "Christmas Gifts That Will Save You Money." It is not about cheap stuff for you to buy. It is about practical things to give someone that will save them money down the road. For example, socks. Sure, as a kid you hated getting stuff like that. I know I did. I had plenty of socks, which I got year round anyhow. I wanted the toys and luxuries I could not get otherwise outside of Christmas. But as a grown up, well, socks do cost money, and I do not always have said money or time to get them. For guys who wear suits, dress socks are a must. Athletes need athletic socks. The Better Half loves getting those warm socks to wear around the house to keep the feet toasty. You get the idea. So Lifehacker has a list of a few things that may seem mundane but you could be helping someone save a little money by gifting them these kind of things. 
  • Finally for this  category, some things to treat yourself via GQ. Personally, I am not sure about some of these; I do not need a $600 blender for example. However, I did already treat myself to some new Tarot and oracle decks, which I will using later in 2018. Stay tuned for reviews of those in this blog.

Specific and niche gifts

These are gifts for that very specific fan or nitpicky gift recipient. Do they have it all already? Try some of these.
  • Do you have a trekkie/trekker/hardcore Star Trek fan you need to buy for? Wired has a list of logical gifts for them. 
  • Do they like music? Well, the Lexington Herald Leader has what they consider some great album suggestions for 2017
  • Maybe you really are cutting it close in the shopping, or your recipient may like something different. Maybe a subscription gift, such as one of those box subscriptions, might be a good idea. Here are five ideas from Money Talks News
  • For the gamer, game consoles and games are popular, and here is The New York Times guide for those. If your gamer goes for nostalgia, well, Atari games are making a comeback. 
  • Speaking of nostalgia, Salon has a guide of nostalgia-based gifts for kids (and the kid in us all). Some of these are basically old time toys and gadgets given a digital or electronic makeover.  For example, there is a VR Viewmaster available. 
  • For readers and writers, The Millions has their 2017 Gift Guide, which even features the apparently mandatory "overpriced candle." 
  • Boing Boing has a gift guide too, heavy on stuff for geeks and technophiles.
  • If you need your gifts to be ethical, environmentally friendly, so on, here is a list for under $100 bucks (that right there means I probably will not be getting many if any of these). Via AlterNet.
  • Do people still wear watches? Well, if they do, GQ offers a list of "Affordable" watches. That word, affordable, I do not think it means what they think it means. 
  • Some folks have a tradition of giving teachers some small holiday gift at end of school year. Book Riot has some ideas for literary gifts for teachers
  • Do you want to do a DIY gift? Well, you should have started making them already. Still, here are some books to give you some ideas. Via Shelf Talk. Here are a few more DIY ideas from Wallet Hacks.
  • If you like alcohol and spirits, Drinkhacker has their 2017 Holiday Guide
  • Have a grad student in your life? Here are some gift suggestions from grad students themselves. A little short on money? Well, your grad student may appreciate one or more of these gifts that do not cost a penny. Via Inside Higher Ed
  • Some people apparently like the Williams-Sonoma store and catalog, not sure why. If you have a fan of W-S in your life, and  you kinda hate W-S, well, here is your hater's guide to help you find something. Via Adequate Man.
  • Gotta do one of those white elephant give exchanges or such? Here are some ideas. I personally like the Millennium Falcon ice molds (just saying, in case anyone feels generous out there). On the other hand, that Guzzle Buddy wine bottle attachment may be a bit of overkill. Via Boing Boing.

For many folks, a new calendar makes a nice gift. These days you can find a calendar for just about any theme, taste, concept, etc. Then there are calendars like these:

Gifts we can call "interesting" 

  • This one may be for that one alcoholic relative who can't just drink one bottle of beer at a time. If he has a six pack, he needs to open them all at once, and now, thanks to this gizmo, he can open them all at once. Via Foodiggity.
  • I know a lady or two who would appreciate these dainty insult teacups and saucers. Via Dangerous Minds
  • For the bong and pipe enthusiast, here are some Christmas themed bongs and pipes. Via Dangerous Minds
  • For that one relative on your shit list. Via Worst Things for Sale.
A small bit of NSFW stuff

Self-explanatory. (If this offends you, just skip to the next category)

  • Looking for something a bit frisky or just to warm things up? Joanna Angel has some sex toy and item suggestions. There are two erotica books included in the list, Asarotica and Night Shift, which I recently received review copies for, and I will be reviewing them on the blog soon. Stay tuned. Via FHM magazine. 

And for those of you unfortunate enough to have a Pendejo In Chief supporter and fan in your life be it friend, relative, etc.

Odds are good some of you know such a person or are related to one, and you have or feel the need to get them a gift. I have no idea why you feel that, but here is some help.

  • If  you are feeling mean and want to get to the point, get them this festive Trump figurine. Via Dangerous Minds.
  • On the other hand, if you feel more like trying to make the peace (futile, I know, but let's say you are feeling generous and full of the whole holiday spirit thing), you could get them a cuddly Trumpy bear. Via Dangerous Minds too. 
  • And finally for this category, if he is a gun fetishist (oops, enthusiast), and you have some  money to burn, there is always a Trump .45. Yes, this is actually a real pistol. Via Forbes. Hat tip to Christian Nightmares.

Other holiday shopping tips and overall advice

Some final pieces of advice. 
  •  Some folks decided to give gift cards. For some, they can be a good gift. However, there are some things you need to consider. Via USA Today.
  • Here are some last minute money tips to help you during this season. Via Mint Life. Keeping a budget and sticking to it is important; I know I find that tidbit helpful. 
  • Perhaps you are considering or getting ready to give to charity. Here is an ethical guide to do so, via The Conversation.
  • Do you bake cookies? Do you want to send some to relatives? Here is some advice on how to ship cookies safely. Via Lifehacker.
  • So, the holidays are over. There are a few things you are better off buying right after Christmas such as wrapping paper and Christmas decorations. But you already knew that. In addition to those, here are some more ideas of things that are way cheaper right after Christmas. Via She Budgets.
  • After the holidays, at the start of the new year, you may feel a need to resolve to save more money. You may consider doing the Penny Challenge or the 52 week challenge. Details here via Wallet Hack.

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