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Last-Minute, Down-To-The-Wire Holiday Gift Guide

I love my mother with all my heart and soul, but over the years I was the recipient of some very unrequested Christmas gifts. If the goal was to break me of my belief in Santa Claus, "Mission accomplished, Mom!"

My most painful and glaring memory:
One Christmas, the ONLY thing I wanted a TCR Racing Set, lovingly referred to as, "TOTAL CONTROL RACING!" (you had to say it in the announcer's voice from the television commercial). I drooled over the commercials and daydreamed of being a race car driver whenever I saw the box in store. No different than a little kid who daydreamed of being Davey Crockett with his bb gun in A Christmas Story
What did I get? Some battery operated nonsense with miserable little cars that didn't stay on the track, then died after two laps, and some wool pants and sweaters. 
Why did I get it? The only reason I know is because someone (my mother) loudly lamented that they waited until CHRISTMAS EVE TO BUY THE MOST POPULAR RACING SET KNOWN TO HUMANKIND. (But wait, I thought Santa gave gifts?)
Clearly I'm still scarred by this specific incident although age and time has taught me my attitude around the whole thing was pretty lousy. I didn't have to get anything, right?

At the time, I honestly would've preferred nothing.

My father wasn't much better. We didn't have a chimney on our house, at least not one a human of any size could enter. So instead of simply suggesting that Santa somehow had magical access to the front door of our home, my father said he came through the vents. Keep in mind, most residential vent registers aren't even the size of an 8.5" x 11" sheet of paper.


What I've learned from this particular incident is that it may not be wise to be hard at work on your Ph.D. while your child still has an imagination. Because clearly, this man's focus was elsewhere.

There was no way a jolly, white-bearded man (refashioned and popularized by Coca-Cola) who gifted seemingly everyone with what they wanted could be real based on how catastrophically unread my Christmas lists went. One last thing: running through the house first thing in the morning with presents crackling the whole way down the stairs when you should be well aware of the fact that your kid is barely sleeping just killed the idea that Santa was real and alerted me to the notion that shopping strategically or for kids just isn't something in my either of my parents' skill set.

In honor of their Last-Minute, Down-To-The-Wire shopping I humbly present my Last-Minute, Down-To-The-Wire holiday gift guide for the man in your life:

1. Sonos. Hi-Fidelity sound system at it's finest that runs off your home Wi-Fi and that you control from your phone, tablet or desktop. If you recall, I tested one (twice) earlier in the year. The tester passed with flying colors and I have one of these guys permanently in my house along with some new Play:1 speakers that I'm currently testing (and not being paid to test). Music just flows and flows through my house. Different songs for different rooms, just like in this video:

And here's the thing: I believe that Sonos has something priced for everyone. But because it doesn't have the household name recognition as say, a TCR racing set, you can still pick one up today from Best Buy or Target. If you bring one of these babies home (be sure to purchase a BRIDGE to go along with it - the Bridge is the component that truly makes the speaker(s) work in conjunction with one another) your man will be overjoyed on Christmas morning.

2. (Power) Tools. Every man isn't handy but things happen around the house and every man will at some point want to be able to go into a draw and find something that will get the job done in five minutes or less (especially on a Sunday when repairmen are off). Stores like Target and Walmart cater to your weekend/emergency home project guy. The guy who doesn't care what it is but just needs to get the job done. For the guy who does know what he's doing and has an affinity for tools: I won't call out any names so as to not insult any brands, but you will insult your man if you come home with anything black and orange unless it's a power screwdriver for you to use around the house, which ultimately isn't a gift for him. Check out Lowes and Home Depot, particularly their impulse areas. A lot of higher end brands are slashing their $200+ products down into $99.99 to $150 range to clear out inventory for 2014. And if you're getting a power tool be sure to get an extra battery of the same voltage. Your man will give you props for setting him up to be able to use his gift long after the product and associated battery is rendered obsolete by the brand.

3. Liquor. That's right I said it. LIQUOR. For the man that imbibes this will be honored more than a tie or fancy shaving cream will. We know we are hard to shop for. And we know we are last on the list. The key is finding something he normally wouldn't (not couldn't) get for himself. This means staying completely clear of the grooming aisle of any convenience store. What's his favorite beer, rum, scotch, vodka or wine. A week before New Year's Eve, liquor and package stores are stocked full of high end spirits. Steer clear of the gift sets that offer velvet bags, pretty shot glasses and a somewhat smallish bottle of alcohol. Look for your man's favorite brand to be boxed and placed on a rather high shelf (thus the term, "top shelf") if he's worth it and if you know you're worth it to him, then I say go for it. It will be the gift that keeps on giving, through moderation of course that he will only pull out for special occasions that will hopefully be shared with you.

So you've read my list and maybe checked it twice. Hopefully the ideas are now flowing. Now, go! You've only got a few hours before stores close.

Merry Christmas!

photo credit: unloveablesteve via photopin cc

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