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How to Handle Christmas Shopping Panic

Holiday Gifts

Christmas is Sunday and you have the recurring nightmare that you wake up and realize that it is Christmas day and you have purchased or planned nothing for your entire family and group of friends. More importantly they are all coming over to exchange gifts at your house! You do not even have a tree. You forgot to shop for food. You’re in serious trouble.

Then you wake up in a sweat. Suddenly you realize that it’s all true!

Then you wake up again and get to work. You realize it’s Wednesday.

So what can you do at the last minute if you need to buy some gifts for your computer using pals? I have a routine laundry list that always works.

The blank DVD. After years of giving away blank DVD’s I realized that it would be much cooler to give away a set of 10 to 20 blank DVD’s onto which you printed a cool artsy label. Something that is nifty but can be filled in later. Anyone with an Epson printer can do this if the printer is equipped with a disk printing accessory. You just need to buy the white printable disks. But do not do this if you have no artistic sense. Also consider giving away blank DVD-RW (re-writeable) optical disks. Nobody ever buys those and they are very handy.

Anything You Make In my household I try and emphasize people producing handmade or hand customized gifts rather than yet another T-shirt from a big box store.

Thoughtful apps Read the PCMag reviews and elsewhere to find cool apps. Then make a list of the best with instructions on how to find them and enclose a check for the total cost of the apps. Photography buffs should include a copy of Camera+ from photographer Lisa Bettany. It’s one of the coolest things I’ve seen this year, with all you need to be a great photographer for 99 cents.

Old Computers If your pal is a computer nut, he or she might appreciate some old time computer memorabilia. This means you go into the closet and find something you should have thrown away 20 years ago. It might be an old Texas Instruments computer, for example. Or even a classic old calculator.

Now you just can’t package up crummy junk and give it to friends. You have to make it look like some effort was put into the idea. Oh, the irony. In this case research the product and write a long history of the item in small book form and then include the document with the item. This way you can glamorize the old clunker.

Be careful that you do not convince yourself that this is a great thing to have and then keep it. “Wow, this thing is valuable.” I can assure you that unless it is an unopened Apple 1 computer, it’s not worth much and won’t be until the year 2200. And that’s still questionable. (No letters from computer collectors, please.)

Buy A Real Product Since you are reading this column midweek and you have a few days to still shop, I’d recommend actually getting out of the house to Best Buy or some other modern computer store and finding some gifts that are perfect for the computer user. This would include the cool Logitech Gaming Mouse or the new wireless Microsoft Touch Mouse.

On the other hand you can find out their size and buy them a nice sweater. If you actually have no taste whatsoever, just buy anything plain made from cashmere and you’re good to go. Everyone likes a cashmere sweater. That said, you’d save a lot of more money rummaging through the closet for collectibles.

Happy shopping.

You can Follow John C. Dvorak on Twitter @therealdvorak.

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