Gift Getting: 101 - How To Let Your Family Know What Mac Stuff To Get You

One of the coolest things about having an Apple Store close by is that you can drag your significant other into the store and drop hints about what you want for Christmas. Dropping hints, however, is as much a learned skill as it is a form of art. Just as playing the lottery does not guarantee that youill win, and handing your partner a wishlist does not ensure that an Apple branded gift will be waiting for you under the tree come Christmas morn. You must be stealthy, cunning, and possess extraordinary powers of concentration in other to bend your loved ones to your will, and subtly coerce them into buying what you want. For those of you who may not be familiar with this tactic, I offer you: Vernis Guide to Stealthy Gift Getting

Step 1: Create Your Wish List

This is not as easy as it sounds. A walk into any Apple Store, Store-in-a-Store, or even your local Targets could make any neophyte WishLister go weak in the knees; and the sight of all that Apple stuff, combined with the realization that you could be opening up one or more packages containing some of that Apple stuff come Christmas, has been known to cause some to hyper-ventilate. I strongly suggest that you practice taking slow, deep breaths when deciding on your coming gift. Step 3 will do you no good if you wind up in the emergency room. (Of course, doing so could elicit sympathy from your mate... Iill have to investigate that further.)

You must learn to focus your thoughts and determine which of the many items you just have to have, now. There are several methods to do this; you could make a prioritized list then eliminate all but the top 5, you might look over what you already have and decide which item could use an update (for instance, you really could use a 20 gig iPod to replace that measly old 5 gig model you bought last year), or, if you are new to the world of Apple, you may decide on just the basics. Consider something simple, like a 17" iMac G4 with a Combo Drive, just to make things easy.

Itis also good to have an alternate item of choice, something less expensive but equally desirable. For instance, say you want a G4 PowerBook with all the trimmings but your significant other works part-time at McDonaldis and may not be able to afford it. When you make your desires known and she or he starts to frown at the cost suggest a refurbished iBook instead. This has the effect of making you appear mindful of the otheris financial situation while achieving the goal of obtaining an Apple laptop.

Once youive isolated your choiceis remember to stick with them. Write them down on a piece of paper and keep it with you always. When you see an ad for or see someone with another Apple product, pull out that paper you wrote your list on and study it carefully, repeating the items to yourself over and over until they have completely enveloped your mind.

This method is especially important when visiting an Apple Store. The sheer volume of Apple toys can easily overwhelm the senses, and you could find yourself going from iPod to iBook to G4, fluttering around each like a moth in a room full of candles. Concentrate on one item. Itis hard, but you can do it. Remember, focus!

Step 2: Set The Trap

Letis be honest, what we are really doing here is coercion plain and simple. We are steering our gift-giving partners towards buying something that they may, for whatever reason, be resistant to buying. We must set the trap so that they not only feel obligated to buy us the Apple product, but your partner must feel good about giving it.

One especially effective way is to use a form of the old "Carrot and Stick" method of coercion. We cannot be so obvious, however, as to openly say, "If youid buy me that Apple 22" Cinema Display, our relationship will move to new heights, but if you donit, start packing your bags, you cheap lowlife scum." No, we must imply this in a more subtle way. Your unsuspecting gift-giver must understand how important it is to buy this Apple item for you.

(Note: Be sure that your partner IS a cheap lowlife scum before saying so. Doing so otherwise may not yeild the results you expect or want and you may wind up being forced to buy him or her a cool Apple gift.)

One way to accomplish subtle Carrot-Stick coercion is to recall an incident where the gift-giver was at fault or late for something that was important to you, a situation where an apology may have been given but you feel was not adequate to assuage the pain you felt at their failure. Mention the situation from time to time, being careful not to overdo it. The key word here is subtle, but also be persistent. Sometimes they just donit take the hint, and you may have to drop one several times before you get the desired affect.

Guilt is a good emotion to work with. Say something like, "Gee, this old tube monitor sure does put a strain on my eyes. You use to tell me you thought my eyes were beautiful, but not lately. Why is that, I wonder? Could it be that this old monitor has made them dull? I wonder if that 22" Apple Studio Monitor would help? Hmmmm..."

If that doesnit seem to be working, add more guilt like so: "Oh, by the way, your new secretary called. She sounds awfully young and pretty?"

Just be casual about it, keep them off balance. If you are lucky enough to be in a relationship where your significant other is a thoughtful and caring person, you can always create a situation in which the other feels guilty and so feels obligated to buy something nice for you. Use your imagination, be creative.

Step 3: Spring The Trap

This step can actually be a lot of fun and lends itself well to your creative side. Choose a time when you and your prospective gift-giver can share meaningful hours together out on the town. While carousing about with your him or her, perhaps immediately after taking advantage of a happy hour at a local pub, preferably one near an Apple Store (note: Be sure you only drink water or some other nonalcoholic drink; you want to keep your wits about you.), steer your stooge, er, significant other past the Apple Store.

As you go by stop and look in the window at the display and ask something innocuous but like, "Gee, do you think Steve Jobs has chest hair?" While your inebriated partner is pondering your question steer him or her through the doors and casually stroll to the display featuring the item you are longing for. In a nonchalant manner, pass your hands over the item in a fashion similar to how those models on The Price Is Right might wave their hands over a package of Cheez Nips. This action may require practice so it may be a good idea to go to the store before hand and get some time in waving your hands in front of something, a PowerBook for instance.

Once your partneris eyes have settled on the item, and this is important, lean close to your partneris ear and say something like, "Wouldnit that make a great gift for someone you care about?"

Watch your partneris reaction. Most people can tell when their significant others gets the idea that is being conveyed; a twinkle may appear in his or her eyes, or a hint of a smile may course her or his lips. If, however, the eyes of your partner stare back at you blankly you must then resort to more tactless methods. Grab your partneris head, preferably near the nape of the neck, position the face to within a few inches of the item of your choice, then command in a firm, forceful voice, "Buy this for me for Christmas!"

Chances are youill get the item youive been longing for and, if youire lucky, your partner wonit remember why the scruff of his neck is a bit sore the following morning.

Please be mindful that these steps Iive given you can be adapted to fit any situation. For instance, a really good meal can be substituted for happy hour drinks, though pork chops smothered in onions with a mound of mashed potatoes and gravy along side a healthy portion of asparagus tips lightly seasoned, followed by blueberry covered cheesecake, has been known to fail in some cases. Be creative and play with steps 2 and 3, just be sure to remember step 1 and stay focused on the prize. Come Christmas morning you could be the proud owner of that shiny new thing from Apple.

Vern Seward is rotten through-and-through, and is getting naught but a lump of coal this Christmas, but it may have an Apple logo on it. Heis been a Mac fan since Atari Computers folded, but has worked with computers of nearly every type for 20 years.