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Last Minute Gift Suggestions

Posted in Lifehacks, Technology by engtech on December 24, 2006

Hey, guess what? It’s Christmas Eve. And you still haven’t found a gift yet for someone on your list? Don’t worry, Uncle Engtech is going to throw you a bone and give you a couple of last minute suggestions under the wire. But first, did you check out the rest of my gift guide for geeks series?

(photo by debbiedoescakes)


Be it booze, coffee, fancy chocolates, expensive cheese, or heroin, giving them a little of the monkey on their back is a sure way to make them smile. Just in time for New Year resolutions! This is the best gift suggestion. You can stop reading now.

Gift Certificates

You’ve waited too long, and their favorite authors, movies, CDs, DVDs and video games are all out of stock. Get them a gift card instead, but make sure it is for a store they frequent (especially if getting it for someone out of town).

Some ideas:

  • Electronics stores
  • Video Stores
  • Movie Theatres
  • Book Stores
  • Restaurants
  • Comic Book Stores
  • Local Toy Stores


Prezzle lets you buy gift certificates for online stores in a fun and easy manner that still lets them “unwrap” the gift. Great gift for people who live in a different city. Even supports Sephora gift certificates, which can save you a lot of hot water with the spouse.

(photo by snaperture)

Put that Digital Camera to Use

You have a digital camera. You have a ton of pictures of them. Print them you fool! Buy a nice album to put them in while you are at it.


You could always donate money to a charity in their name. The one gift that they can’t return without looking like a complete asshole.

Subscriptions to their Favorite Web Services

This assumes you know what their favorite sites are. If they are a religious user of Xbox Live, StumbleUpon, Flickr or a last.fm (etc) then getting them a paid subscription would be a great gift. Give them a handmade gift certificate for the big day, and then buy it for them afterwards with their assistance to avoid technical glitches.

Some electronic stores and movie rental chains that also rent video games will carry paid subscription cards for Xbox Live.

Even our very own wordpress.com offers credits as gifts.

(photo by mikefranklin)

Homemade CDs

Download their favorite MP3s illegally and make a compilation CD for them. You can probably find out what they like from their public last.fm charts, myspace page, blog, etc. Music can be obtained via bittorrent (keep reading) or using software like soulseek.

Copies of Selected Films from your Movie Collection

Perfect for the university student living away from home, if the budget is tight why not indulge in piracy? It may even be legal depending on the fair use provisions of where you live. All you need is blank DVD-Rs, a DVD burner, and a copy of DVD Decrypter and DVD Shrink.

Give the Gift of Public Domain

The only good thing about copyright law is that after a set time period, copyrighted works can be freely copied. Golden Age Comics has a collection of old scanned comics in CBR/CBZ format. They can be read using CDisplay. (More info on how to use bittorrent)

But why stop at comics? Public domain movie torrents are also available. You can find another list here that includes public domain music and books. If you have more sources, post them in the comments.

(photo by elisabethd)

Arts and Crafts

Head to the local art store and buy something. Anything. It doesn’t matter what you get, because they’ll never put it to use, but it still looks like you’re trying to help foster their creative talents.


I swear some family has invented a drinking game where everyone has to take a shot when they unwrap a candle. They probably have a more exciting Christmas than I do. You can find candles anywhere.

Video Rental Basket

Put together a gift card for their local video store with some munchies they like. Make sure to get it from local chain, and not one they have to drive an extra 20 minutes to reach. You could create a car package based on any theme they enjoy: car care, home repair, gardening, cooking, romance… a bath basket is the most obvious choice.

(photo by wardomatic)

Magazine Subscriptions

If there is a magazine they always buy at the grocery store, cut out the middle man. Go to the magazine’s website to find out if you can buy a subscription for them online.

Some obvious choices: Vice, Maxim, Time, Playboy, Men’s Health, UTNE Reader, Details, Esquire, Marie Claire, Martha Stewart Living, The Oprah Magazine.

(I’m sad to say this is the best list of magazines I could come up with, I read everything online)

Blank DVDs

Anyone under the age of 30 with a computer and a DVD burner will find a use for these. Available in small packs of 3 to 10 (stocking stuffer) or larger spindles of 25 to 100 (under the tree).

Blog/Flickr/Skype Business Cards

Business cards for blogs. Business cards for Flickr users. Business cards for Skype (Internet telephone / VOIP) users. You won’t be able to get them in time, but it’s the thought that counts.


If the person you forgot to get a gift for is a she, and also is a significant other… bite the bullet and buy some bling before the stores close. Give all the male shoppers the nod — they understand where you’re coming from. And if you truly believed “Let’s not buy each other anything this year” then get your ass off the computer while you’ve still got one! Lingerie is also good, but there is danger in buying the wrong size (and everything is sold out of the popular sizes).

(photo by katia)

Remember: Boxing Day Is Just Around the Corner

You waited too long, but can always go for the do-over. Boxing Day is just around the corner, and there are plenty of deals of to be had. Read some tips on how to handle crazy consumer days(daze?) like these.

Related Posts

  1. Introduction – Some personal stories of what the holiday experience is usually like for me.
  2. Gifts.com – I go through one of those gift suggestion websites and try to pick out the good from the bad. TIP: these sites suck.
  3. Gamers – A list of what I think is good for the Xbox 360, Nintendo DS and PC video gamers.
  4. Comic Books – My favorite comic books available in trade paperbacks.
  5. Programming/Tech Books – Top ten recommended books for programmers, managers and anyone working in high tech.
  6. Books – 45 of my favorite books (non-fiction, fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, humour).
  7. Movies – 81 of the best DVD recommendations.
  8. TV series on DVD – some shows I like.
  9. T-shirts – 100+ geek t-shirts that I like.
  10. Last Minute Suggestions – waited too long and need a gift in a hurry? Try these.

7 Responses

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  1. Nox Dineen said, on December 25, 2006 at 12:51 am

    It’s the 24th and I still have no presents purchased (or really even planned). Prezzle is about to save my ass!

  2. engtech said, on December 25, 2006 at 6:01 am

    Let me know how it goes. I haven’t tried it yet.

  3. Gary Rodgers said, on December 26, 2006 at 11:00 pm

    Nice little guide, I could have made use of this if I would have been online for Christmas Eve!

  4. Bella Slasher said, on December 30, 2006 at 5:07 am

    I was an asshole who waited until Christmas Eve to buy presents. I was counting on this big-box suburban store sprawl to save my ass, but wasn’t counting on the fact that they closed at 6PM.

    There was a lot of driving, freaking out, and luck invovled that night. Fortunately, these three things combined saved Christmas.

  5. Joanne Martell said, on January 05, 2007 at 9:44 pm


    Those cupcakes are the cutest things I’ve ever seen! I’d like to invite you to add any craft articles or patterns (your own or those you are legally entitled to submit) to my article directory at http://www.joannes-crafts.com/index.php or with regard to patterns, to the main site at http://www.joannes-crafts.com (click on Contact Us to submit a pattern).


  6. Kevin Cates said, on January 05, 2007 at 9:59 pm


    If you have a Minute to Help a Family, Buy Them A Coke and a Hotdog, God Bless


  7. […] Last Minute Suggestions – waited to long and need a gift in a hurry? Try these. […]

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