It’s the season for gift-giving. I usually choose the easy path by giving gift cards, but I’ve discovered there can be problems along the easy path. Two Amazon gift cards I purchased didn’t reach their intended recipients. Amazon replaced one rapidly, but the other had been stolen and used. I’m still waiting for a resolution on that one.
This year will likely be the last I give Amazon gift cards unless or until Amazon shifts to store credit. It’s too easy to lose the cards, and the postal service is less than dependable these days. I planned to get people the cards so they could get what they want for Christmas during Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but if they don’t get the cards on time or at all, there’s really no point.
Think It Through
When giving a gift, it’s important to sit a bit and think about why you are giving it. Is it a reciprocal, friend, or family obligation? Do you want to impress the person or simply give them a reason to think of you? Is it something that will reflect on your job, your relationships, or your status?
All these questions will determine how much time you put into the gift, but if you don’t spend most of that time thinking about what the recipient wants, there is a good chance you’ll both be disappointed with the outcome.
If you are at a loss as to what to give someone, a gift card is a great choice. The recipient doesn’t have to return what you bought them if they don’t like it, which could hurt a bit if you took a lot of time selecting the gift.
I avoid highly personal gifts like perfume, cologne, clothing, or jewelry unless I truly know that person’s taste or they have specifically asked for it. I also avoid personal electronics for the same reason with the same caveats. It never hurts just to ask someone what they’d like for Christmas.
For this guide, I’m going to focus on one vector: things that people will look at and make them think of you when they do. I’ll break down each gift by cost, but the overall theme will be things that would help them recall you kindly.
Under $25 – Supledck 5×7 Picture Frame
For less than $25, I’d go with a talking picture frame and a picture of something memorable you did with the person you give the gift to.
I found the Supledck 5×7 Picture Frame for $21.99 on Amazon.
You can record the memory and particularly any related anecdotes about what happened before, during, or after the picture was taken.
You can even make some embarrassing stuff up — and with a few Photoshop skills, you could turn that picture into something much more memorable.
Under $50 and $100 – Damascus Chef’s Knives
As we get to the under $50 and $100 ranges, consider shopping on Etsy, a site where makers sell their wares, but you’ll need to know your recipient’s interests. If they’re into cooking, consider these distinctive Chef’s Knives.
My under $50 pick is the Hand Forged Damascus Steel Blade Custom Chef Knife is very well made, affordable at $33, and the Damascus treatment on the blade looks fantastic.
For just under $100 — also on Etsy — I found a handmade black Chef’s Knife Set. The set looks amazing, too, and is on sale at the time of this writing for a whopping 70% off at $98, making this one heck of a deal.
These are good-looking knives; they won’t break the bank, and reviews are strong. I was tempted to grab a set for myself, and I still might.
Under $150 – Soundcore by Anker Space Q45 Headphones
Now we are in a price range where electronics may make sense. Noise-canceling headphones are a staple for any of us that travel, but finding a pair you can sleep in can be problematic. You can try earbuds, but when worn for a long time, they make my ears itch, which isn’t conducive to sleep.
The most comfortable headphones I’ve tested this year — priced at $149.99 on Amazon — are the Soundcore by Anker Space Q45 headphones.
Their noise cancellation is impressive for the price, and they are soft enough to sleep while wearing when I last traveled to Europe. I arrived far more rested than I otherwise would — particularly given how iffy airlines are about getting you to your destination these days.
Under $250 – Fi Series 3 Pet Collar
If someone has a pet, they are likely worried about that pet getting out and becoming lost. The best GPS collar I’ve found is the Fi collar, now in its third series. We have the Series 2 for two of our three dogs and love it. One time, our new small male got out of the yard, but I was able to track him down quickly with the Fi collar and my smartphone.
The collar itself is free with a one-year service plan of $192. It has a long battery life and will provide huge peace of mind if you have a pet that wonders. Granted, this would be good for a year, but it potentially sets up subsequent annual gifts if the recipient loves the collar as much as we do.
Related tip for pet guardians: The Next Door app posts near-daily alerts from people who have lost their pets.
Under $500 – Meta Quest 2 VR Headset
Now we’re starting to talk about serious money.
One of the most fun gifts for everyone but the person using it – well, initially, anyway — is the Meta Quest 2 Advanced All-In-One Virtual Reality Headset with 256 GB of memory bundled with two of my favorite Quest 2 games, Resident Evil and Beat Saber.
Meta Quest 2 is a non-tethered headset which makes it safer than other alternatives. Watching someone play Resident Evil 4 can be as entertaining for the folks watching the player as it is for the player playing the game. Beat Saber remains my favorite game, and I can work up a sweat playing it, making it an excellent aerobic activity, as well.
Best Buy has the Meta – Quest 2 Resident Evil 4 Bundle with Beat Saber – 256 GB on sale for $429.99.
Under $1,000 – LG 48″ OLED TV
At $1,000 we’re talking gifts for a spouse or significant other you really want to impress or for a child that has a major event, like a graduation, or deserves a significant award. This price point really does come down to knowing what the person wants.
While I typically wouldn’t recommend a TV, LG has a huge sale on its 48″ OLED TV, which is normally $1,299 but currently $799.
I have one of these in our bedroom, and it is awesome. Impressive color — the blacks are very black — and sound so good I’ve stopped using a soundbar with this TV.
If you want something the recipient will look at a lot and likely remember you for, the LG 48″ OLED TV is a great option.
Over $1,000 – HP Dragonfly Folio 13.5″ G3 2-in-1 Notebook PC
I was going to pick some crazy stuff like the yacht that is also a submarine, the Jetson One flying car, or any guy’s dream ride, the Lamborghini Countach LPI 800-4 remake, which I’m still drooling over myself.
Instead, I’ve decided to pitch my favorite laptop of the year, the HP Dragonfly Folio G3 Notebook. This isn’t a cheap date as it costs over $3,000 fully configured, but, for me, it is the perfect laptop, particularly if configured with the optional WUXGA+ and 1000 nits Low Blue Light Touchscreen display and 5G.
The Dragonfly Folio G3 is covered in the best sustainable leather — not made from cows, but it feels natural — is lightweight at 3 pounds, though it feels lighter, has decent performance (up to an Intel i7), and all-day battery life, so you can leave the charger in your hotel room, home, or backpack.
It features an 8K video camera, auto background blur to conceal what is behind you, some of the most impressive noise cancellation technology I’ve yet tested, and quad speakers, which are great for watching movies in your hotel room.
Oh, and it has a cantilevered screen which is perfect for watching TV or movies on a plane or in bed. Perfect for someone like me who travels too much but wants their entertainment to go where they go.
Alternate Selection for Gamers – Alienware m17 R5 Gaming Laptop
An alternative for the gamer in your life is the AMD-based Alienware m17 gaming laptop, the most powerful gaming laptop I’ve tested all year. The m17 can be configured with the AMD Ryzen 9 6900HX processor and either AMD or Nvidia discrete mobile graphics solutions, including the Radeon RX 6850 or the Nvidia RTX 3080 TI.
Fully configured, it’s less expensive than the HP I mentioned above, though if you configure it correctly, you can get up to six hours of battery life when not gaming. If you are gaming, you need a plug and a massive power supply, but for the gamer in your life, the Alienware m17 R5 Gaming Laptop is the one to lust after.
That’s a Wrap
No product of the week this week since, in effect, all the above are worthy of that designation. So we’ll leave it there with my hope that Santa is good to you this year. Watch out for icy roads. My wife and neighbor were just rear-ended in two separate accidents. Happy Holidays!