Saturday, November 02, 2013

Christmas 2013 Part 1: Ten Cheap, sub-$30 gift ideas!

Halloween's done, which means it's time for Thanksgiving and Christmas! Well, unless you're Canadian, then you already did Thanksgiving a month ago.

I started noticing Christmas wares showing up on store shelves back in early October, possibly even late September. Something about it never being too early and giving the customer what it wants. Unless you're planning on gifting your "beloveds" discount Halloween decorations or holiday ornaments, then panic time might be starting to set in. Who's getting what?

An approach to gifting: give up before starting
Not knowing a person is probably better in terms of gifting than knowing a person -- they don't  expect you to know much about them. If you do know the person, there's a sort of expectation that you personalize the gift. This doesn't quite work out though: even putting aside the money thing, we can't all get him or her an iPad, a bimmer, or Call of Duty.

What I do is that I just give up before starting. Lucky for me, those closest to me aren't big with gift swapping, so expectations are very low to begin with. That doesn't mean nothing is gifted or no effort is made, it just means that I avoid trying to get someone something very serious and extremely useful.

Gag gifts and gift cards
The path I take is that of the gag gift or, unfortunately, the gift card. Cash is nice, but it ends up being another dollar in my wallet. A gift card is a more personalized form of cash. When it comes to people I do know very well, I go the gag-ish gift route. The idea is that the gift is supposed to be funny but also thoughtful in that it's personalized to that specific person. It could be based around someone's past, background, something they've done, going on in their life, etc. One additional perk is that a lot of cheap options (<$30) are available. To be honest, maybe I just write the story after I pick the item out...

Since I don't know anything about the person receiving your gift, I'm just going to go through a list of ideas. Hoping it helps jog some creativity!

Ten Gift Ideas (in no particular order)

1. The Gift Card (Cost: any)
Again, this is essentially giving the gift of cash. However, one can choose the store the card is for. In the past, I have been guilty of giving an iTunes gift card to a music lover, Starbucks cards to people I've seen with Starbucks cups, and Amazon gift cards to be as generic as possible. I usually only go the Amazon route if I don't know the person well enough or want to play it safe.

It's also possible to send these by email from certain stores now, so this option scores additional points for convenience and speed. Last I checked, Amazon, iTunes, and Best Buy allow email gift cards. A ton more probably have that option.

2. Space Food (Cost: ~US$ 5.00)
People need to eat and they don't usually go into space. More accurately, people don't usually have dehydrated food that often unless they're campers or part of certain organizations. Astronaut Ice Cream can be bought for about $5 at I've seen it for CA$ 4.00 locally. It's kind of fun, weird, and a change from a box of chocolates.

3. Ikea LUNS Writing/ Magnet Board (Cost: US$ 14.99, CA$ 24.99)
Wall hung whiteboards for markers are very popular where I work for making notes and schedules for personal and inter-office consumption. Just to mix it up, a more traditional chalkboard seems like an interesting gift. One can be had from Ikea for about US$ 15. The website says that the package's weight is 6 lb, so I have no idea if a cubicle wall or hook can handle that. Ikea MALA chalk is US$ 1.99 for a pack of 24.

4. Ikea MALA Easel (Cost: US$ 14.99, CA$ 19.99)
Same deal as above, but in case mounting hardware or capacity is a concern, the MALA easel has its own legs. Yes, I know this is from the kids' section.

5. Ambient WR-089 Crank Radio/ Flashlight (Cost: US$ 24.98)
On the "being prepared" and "you never think you'd need one" front: a crank, emergency flashlight-radio is just weird, cool, and awesome. I've run across a few of these in offices before and can't help but play with them -- potential annoying visitors who never leave issue. Found one at Amazon for just under US$ 25. Check it out: Ambient WR-089 Radio. Note that this model has a number of additional features that I don't mention.

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