It’s the season of gift giving. I usually take the easy way out with gift cards, but I’ve found that taking the easy way out can have problems. Two Amazon gift cards I purchased did not reach their intended recipients. Amazon quickly replaced one, but the other was stolen and used. I’m still waiting for a resolution on that.
This will likely be the last year until or unless Amazon shifts to store credit. It’s very easy to lose a card, and the postal service is less than reliable these days. I plan on getting cards out to people so they can get whatever they want for Christmas during Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but if they don’t get the cards in time, there’s really no point.
think it through
When giving a gift, it’s important to sit back and think about why you’re giving it. Is it a mutual, friend or family obligation? Do you want to impress the person or just give them a reason to think about you? Is it something that would reflect on your job, your relationships, or your status?
All of 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 will want, there’s a good chance you’ll both be disappointed with the result.
If you can’t figure out what to give someone, gift cards are a great option. The recipient doesn’t have to return what you bought them if they don’t like it, which can hurt a bit if you’ve had a lot of time choosing a gift.
I avoid highly personalized gifts like perfume, cologne, clothes, or jewelry unless I really know the person’s tastes or they have specifically asked for it. I also avoid personal electronics for the same reason. It never hurts to ask someone what they want for Christmas.
For this guide, I’m going to focus on one vector: the things that people will see and think of you when they do. I’ll break down each gift by price, but the overall theme will be things that will help them remember you.
Under $25 – Supledck 5×7 Picture Frame
For less than $25, I’d go with a talking picture frame and any memorable photos you have of the person you’re giving the gift to.
I found the Supledck 5×7 picture frame on Amazon for $21.99.
You can record the memory and especially any anecdotes about what happened before, during, or after the picture was taken.
You can create some embarrassing stuff too – and with some Photoshop skills, you can make that photo a lot more memorable.
$50 and Under $100 – Damascus Chef Knife
As we approach the $50 and $100 range, consider shopping on Etsy, a site where makers sell their goods, but you’ll need to know your recipient’s interests. If they’re into cooking, consider these distinctive chef’s knives.
My pick under $50 is the Hand Forged Damascus Steel Blade Custom Chef Knife very well made, affordable at $33, and the Damascus treatment on the blade looks great.
For just under $100—also on Etsy—I found a handmade black chef’s knife set. This set looks amazing too, and is on sale for a massive 70% off on $98 at the time of this writing, making it a bargain.
These are good looking knives; They won’t break the bank, and the reviews are strong. I was tempted to grab a set for myself, and I still might.
Soundcore by Anker Space Q45 Headphones – Under $150
We are now in a price range where electronics can make sense. Noise-canceling headphones are a staple for any of us who travel, but 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 is not conducive to sleeping.
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 were soft enough to sleep on while wearing them when I last traveled to Europe. I arrived far more comfortably than I otherwise would have – especially considering how iffy airlines are to get you to your destination these days.
Under $250 – Fi Series 3 Pet Collar
If someone has a pet, they are probably worried that the pet will get out and get lost. The best GPS collar I’ve found is the Fi Collar, which is now in its third series. We have the Series 2 for two of our three dogs and we love it. One time, our new little male wandered out into the yard, but I was able to quickly track him down with the Fi collar and my smartphone.
The caller itself is free with a one-year service plan for $192. It has a long battery life and will provide great peace of mind if you have a pet that wonders. Granted, it’ll be cool for one year, but it potentially sets up subsequent annual gifts if the recipient loves the collar as much as we do.
Related Tips 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 are 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 256GB of memory for my favorite Quest 2 games, Bundled with two of Resident Evil and Beat Saber.
The Meta Quest 2 is a boneless headset which makes it more secure than other options. Watching Resident Evil 4 play can be just as entertaining for the people watching it as it is for the player playing the game. Beat Saber remains my favorite sport, 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 – 256GB 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 who has a big event coming up, like graduation, or deserves a significant award. This price point really comes down to knowing what the person wants.
While I wouldn’t normally recommend a TV, LG is having a huge sale on its 48″ OLED TV, which is normally $1,299 but is currently $799.
I have one of these in our bedroom, and it’s Brilliant!, Impressive colors – blacks are very black – and sound is so good I’ve put off using a soundbar with this TV.
If you want something the recipient will see a lot and likely remember you by, the LG 48″ OLED TV is a great choice.
Over $1,000 – HP Dragonfly Folio 13.5″ G3 2-in-1 Notebook PC
I was going to get some crazy stuff like a yacht that’s also a submarine, the Jetsons One flying car, or any man’s dream ride, the Lamborghini Countach LPI 800-4 remake, which I’m still weaning myself off. .
Instead, I’ve decided to introduce my favorite laptop of the year, the HP Dragonfly Folio G3 Notebook. It’s not cheap to date as it costs over $3,000 fully configured, but, to me, it’s the perfect laptop, especially if configured with the optional WUXGA+ and 1000 Nits Low Blue Light touchscreen displays and 5G Are.
The Dragonfly Folio G3 is covered in the best durable leather – not made from cows, but it feels natural – at 3 pounds it feels light though, has good performance (up to an Intel i7), and a whole Daylong battery life, so you can leave the charger in your hotel room, home, or backpack.
It’s got an 8K video camera, auto background blur to hide what’s behind you, some of the most impressive noise cancellation tech I’ve tested yet, and quad speakers, which are great for watching movies in your hotel room. Huh.
Oh, and it has a cantilevered screen that’s perfect for watching TV or movies on a plane or in bed. Perfect for someone like me who travels a lot but wants their entertainment to go wherever they go.
Alternative pick for gamers – Alienware M17 R5 Gaming Laptop
One option for the gamer in your life is the AMD-based Alienware m17 Gaming Laptop, which is the most powerful gaming laptop I’ve tested all year. The M17 can be configured with an AMD Ryzen 9 6900HX processor and either an AMD or Nvidia discrete mobile graphics solution, including the Radeon RX 6850 or Nvidia RTX 3080 TI.
Fully configured, it’s less expensive than the HPs mentioned above, although you can get up to six hours of battery life when not gaming if you configure it correctly. If you’re gaming, you need a plug and a massive power supply, but for the gamer in your life, the Alienware M17 R5 Gaming Laptop is one you’ll love.
that’s a wrap
There’s no Product of the Week, because really, all of the above are worthy of that designation. So we’ll leave it there with my hope that Santa is good to you this year. Be careful of icy roads. My wife and neighbor were just rear ended in two separate accidents. Happy Holidays!