The mad rush to shop for last minute gifts that your recipient will actually enjoy need not be a desperate mad rush, at least. I picked out five of my favorite highly giftable items – all one hundred dollars or less, in descending price order, no less – perhaps one just right for your soon to be happy giftee. So, if you need to spend a little time playing a ripe jolly old elf, read on and see what I have in my sack.
Garmin Foretrex 101. For a long time, GPS units were merely of interest to the avid outdoor enthusiasts among us, but with lower costs and easy to use software that integrates GPS logs with photos, suddenly a GPS unit seems handy for the photographer as well. Or anyone, really. Amusements such as Geocaching and practical uses abound, and while the little Garmin Foretrex 101 lacks road maps, it can point you in the general direction of things, track the speed and direction one is going, and records logs that can be transferred onto computers for use in programs such as Google Earth. With an friendly, intuitive interface packed into a small, lightweight unit that includes a wristband, this little GPS unit handily can take the place of a watch, which makes it far less of an inconvenience than some other models. The only catch is that it does not include the necessary synchronization cable and the cable will add a bit to the price tag. At just over $100 it’s well worth a look, but it lands just under my $100 goal if you happen to check your local Aldi store. The Foretrex is the perfect gift for just about any technologically inclined person (www.garmin.com, $99 at Aldi, $113 at Amazon.com).
iPod Shuffle. Sure, almost everyone who wanted one probably already has an iPod – and the full sized iPods at that – but that does not mean even present iPod owners would snub a new iPod Shuffle. The second generation Shuffle, with its unbelievably small size, sleek aluminum exterior and built in clip, is a convenient little music player and with a gig of storage space, it is not exactly a slacker on capacity either. Add an iTunes Store gift card and your soon to be serenaded gift recipient will be all set without parting with an entire portrait of Mr. Franklin (www.ipod.com, $79).
RadTech Optex Products. A perennial favorite here at Open for Business (see previous review), these low priced pieces of protective gear will keep your friends and family members’ laptops safe and snug for years to come. The ScreenSaverz fit between the keyboard and the screen to keep keycaps from marring the delicate LCD screens as the laptop is being hauled around, while the Sleevz stretch gently around the laptop to keep the exterior safe. Both use RadTech’s amazing Optex optical cloth, which in testing we found to be less abrasive than even good quality cloths made specifically for camera and glasses cleaning. Not only was it less prone to scratching, it also does a superb job of ridding surfaces of smudges. RadTech also offers a plain rectangle of Optex cloth known as LenSavrz meant just for such purposes – perfect for any glasses wearer or shutterbug in your family (www.radtech.us, $4.95-$29.95).
Barnes & Noble Classics. For the bookworm in your life, Barnes & Noble’s publishing arm puts out excellent editions of almost any major work of literature one might want (though Shakespeare is conspicuously missing). Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis and other Tales will appeal to those who savor a story with a unique – if slightly disturbing – viewpoint, and Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth offers a riveting adventure that seems mostly ignored these days. Voltaire’s Candide promises satire in its finest form for those who appreciate an accessible social critique, as does the master of satire, Jonathan Swift, in Gulliver’s Travels. And, for the classicist among your gift recipients, a copy of Dante’s Inferno, perhaps the most beautiful work of literature ever written, beckons as well. Each B&N published book is graced with an attractive cover holding a respectable translation (for non-English works) all for typically under $10 in hardcover and even less for a paperback. Substantial “complete works” tomes for a number of notable authors are also available for a few bucks more (www.barnesandnoble.com/classics/).
One Year Bible. If someone you know always talks about wanting to read through the Bible but never makes it, they will appreciate you at the start of the New Year (and all the way through the year) for the Christmas gift of a One Year Bible. Published by Tyndale, the One Year Bible, available in a plethora of popular translations, divides up the Good Book into bite sized portions of the Old and New Testaments each day to get the reader through the whole Bible in the year (including two rounds through the Psalms). Best of all, when crawling through the lists of genealogies and laws in the early parts of the Old Testament, the separate New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs readings will help keep the reader from tiring out (www.tyndale.com/, $18.95 cover, $13 at Amazon.com).
Timothy R. Butler is Editor-in-Chief of Open for Business. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.