Dr. Mac’s Rants & Raves
Episode #309

You’re running out of time for holiday shopping, so here are gift ideas that are guaranteed to please your beloved geeks while arriving in plenty of time for the holidays (unless your holiday is Hanukkah, which ended on Monday).

Make A Gift Certificate (Don’t Buy One)

My first suggestion is a gift certificate, but not the kind from a store. Rather, I suggest you make your own gift certificate for a useful service you’ll perform for them, such as lawn mowing, chauffeuring, car washing, backing up iPhones and Macs, or almost anything else you’re willing to do.

If you’re handy with tools you can fix or build something; if you’re great in the kitchen you can prepare a meal or meals; if you have a green thumb you can plant and care for something. Use your imagination—you’ll be amazed at all the things you can do to bring a smile to someone’s face.

And, all it will cost you is your time.

Gift certificates are easy to create. Many apps, including Microsoft Word and Apple Pages to name a couple, offer ready-made gift certificate templates. Or, search the Internet for templates or clip art you can use with your favorite program.

I made this gift certificate from a Microsoft Word template.

I made this gift certificate using a free Microsoft Word template.

Tip: Don’t make one gift certificate for 5 car washes (or whatever)… Instead, make five certificates good for one car wash each. This not only makes your offering look more substantial but also easier for the recipient to use.

Amazon.com and Beyond

Moving right along, if you’re an Amazon Prime member, there are literally millions of items available with free next-day or second-day delivery. Apple Watch bands, iPhone and iPad cases, portable Bluetooth speakers, and tempered glass screen protectors for my devices are some of my favorite geeky things to shop for at Amazon.com

Finally, while I don’t often recommend gift cards because I feel they imply you didn’t care enough to select an appropriate gift … with a limited number of shopping days left, a gift card may be your best (or only) option if you wish to shop online and get it in time for Christmas.

Of course, you can get a gift card for one of the usual places geeks like to shop, like Amazon.com or the Apple Store. But while a gift card from either would do the trick, here are three lesser-known stores from which any geek worth his or her salt would adore a gift card:

  • Monoprice.com is where geeks shop for electronic components including a huge selection of reasonably priced cables, switches, speakers, amplifiers, computer displays, headphones, and much more.
  • Thinkgeek.com offers an array of interesting and unique gadgets and apparel with an emphasis on offbeat products from the Star Wars, Star Trek, and Marvel universes.
  • Finally, Twelvesouth.com builds beautiful accessories exclusively for Apple products. My favorites include the gorgeous BookBook cases for iPhones and iPads, useful desktop stands for various devices, and unique device chargers.
Twelvesouth has cool stuff exclusively available for your Apple gear...

Twelvesouth has cool stuff exclusively available for Apple gear…

The bottom line is that these are gifts that will make your geeks smile, and gifts that could save your bacon when the last minute for shopping has already come and gone.

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Bob: I just wanted to give a shout out to your suggestion about a personal gift certificate, in which you offer to provide a service to another. I think that this deserves underscoring, particularly for any gift giver facing budgetary constraints, as well as for potential recipients who have clear and obvious unmet needs, which today is more people than you might think. And few, if any, would fail to appreciate a personal service for something they truly need and cannot do for themselves. I would go further regarding unmet needs and suggest that if you yourself cannot address that… Read more »