If you’re anything like me, you dread the holiday season. No, it’s not because of those awful fruit cakes that you will inevitably receive or the chore of detangling Christmas lights. It’s because of the mental torture that one goes through when trying to think of the perfect gift to give a loved one.
It’s tempting to just go with old-faithful, the standby gift that always fits perfectly and never goes out of style – cold hard cash – but if you want to put a bit more effort in tackling your gift list, I have a few suggestions that might make this holiday season a bit merrier for you and your loved ones:
For those stuck in cell-phone Stone Age
These days, it’s almost embarrassing to be seen with any phone other than a smartphone. If the older person in your life is still struggling to text on a flip phone while you patiently await the new Apple or Android offering, then this is a great time to introduce them to the 21st Century. Here are a few options that might close the digital divide in your household:
Apple iPhone 4s
Starting at $199 for 16GB with two-year contract, plus monthly rate plan and accessory fees
Starting at $649 for 16GB without a contract
Samsung Galaxy Nexus
While Google initially delayed this highly anticipated phone’s U.S. release, the Nexus was finally released to much fanfare December 15th on the Verizon network.
Starting at $299.99 for 32GB with two-year Verizon contract, in addition to a limited-time promotion to double your plan’s monthly data allowance at no charge.
Lower cost options:
Apple iPhone 4
Starting at $99 for 8GB with two-year contract, plus monthly rate plan and accessory fees
Starting at $549 for 8GB without a contract
BlackBerry Curve 3G
$.01 with two-year contract and $29.98 online-only discount from AT&T. Free with two-year contract from other providers.
$379.99 without a contract
Tablet computers: For those looking to read on the go
These days, it’s as easy to find a person reading a book off of a computer screen as it is to see one turning a page. So if your loved one is ready to join the fray of electronic reader-dom or they just want a less weighty alternative to a laptop, then here are a few suggestions:
Starting at $579 for 16GB with no WiFi access or $729 for WiFi ability and 3G, plus additional fees
Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1
Starting at $499 for 16GB “WiFi only,” plus additional fees
Lower Cost options:
Amazon Kindle Fire
Starting at $199 for “WiFi only” version from Amazon.com
Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet
Starting at $249 for 1GB Ram version with the added benefit of free WiFi in all Barnes & Noble stores
Although hard to find, Apple.com is offering a refurbished (used), first-generation iPad with WiFi, 3G,, and 32 GB of storage space from AT&T for $399, plus additional plan fees
Blu-Rays and Video Games
This is a tricky gift option because you should really know the taste of the person you’re shopping for before you start shopping. If the likes and dislikes of the person that you’re shopping for usually lines up with that of the mass public, then here’s a list of the most popular Blu-rays and video games this season according to Rotten Tomatoes and Amazon (with a special asterisk next to the movies that I’ve seen and I love):
Drama/ Action Adventure/ Sci-Fi/ Fantasy
*Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 2 (rated: PG-13)
Winnie the Pooh (rated: G)
*Attack the Block (rated: R)
Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (rated: R)
Video Games and Systems
Just Dance 3 (rated: everyone 10+, available for Wii, Xbox 360, PS3)
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (rated: mature, available for Xbox 360)
Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (rated: mature, available for Xbox 360, PS3, PC)
Kinect Sensor with Kinect Adventures and Gunstringer Token Code – (rated: everyone 10+, available for Xbox 360)
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword with Music CD (rated: everyone, available for Wii)
Mario Kart 7 (rated: everyone, available for Wii)
Kinect Sports Season Two (rated: everyone, available for Xbox 360)
Batman: Arkham City (rated: teen, available for Xbox 360, PS3, PC)
Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception (rated: teen, available for PS3)
Madden NFL 12 (rated: everyone, available for all gaming platforms, iPad, iPod Touch, and Android)
The Gift of a Lifetime
I’m reserving my best suggestion for last. If there is anyone on your gift list who has yet to adopt broadband, there is no better gift than you taking the time and explaining why it’s imperative for them to adopt and then help them on their journey to full digital citizenship. This gift is the most essential tool than anyone can have in their arsenal.
I hope that you’ll find all my suggestions extremely helpful in your gift search. Feel free to add other suggestions in the comments below.
Happy holidays and happy shopping!