Oh no, it’s the holidays! Oh no, you’re not done buying presents for everyone! Oh no, however shall you come off as thoughtful when Christmas is like A DAY AWAY and you’ve missed all the shipping deadlines? You’re such an ass! Have no fear; Virginia is here. I finished my shopping in early December, because I am compulsive; however, I have lots of ideas to make your lazy life easier.
–Squarespace. I know I whined about this service before, but I think for non-nerds, Squarespace is the most intuitive way to go from zero website to yes website. If you’re willing to take on the cost of hosting their site (there are a million offer codes if you listen to good podcasts), they will get a custom domain and all sorts of great nerdery. You probably know better than your recipient what their domain should be, and you can take a minute to set up a decent basic site that they can easily edit on their own. Give your mom a gift of a non-crappy web presence! My husband making website tweaks for me has seriously been one of the best gifts I’ve ever gotten.
-iTunes gift cards, WITH recommendations. No, hear me out. This is not a cop-out gift card if you do it right, especially if the recipient is not a hardcore tech nerd, and ESPECIALLY if it’s a relatively new device. You can make their experience much better with your touch. Make lists of the best apps, or even snag their device and load apps on using a gift card (and pre-folder them if they won’t know how). Configure settings for them. Download eBooks. Set alarms (OK, maybe that dude at the NY Philharmonic has demonstrated why this one’s a bad idea; you know your recipients, so use your best judgment here). Add cute photos for the home/lock screen. You can totally make this kind of gift card personalized if you get creative. Even if they don’t wind up sticking with your choices or recommendations, they’ll appreciate your assistance.
–Sock of the Month Club. This is kind of pricey, but super fun. Who doesn’t like new socks? Who doesn’t like fun socks? Who doesn’t NEED new socks from time to time? Who doesn’t like gifts that keep on giving? (If any of these questions don’t illicit an “Everybody! YAY!” response, or at least a bemusedly tolerant smile, um, I do not understand how you found this blog and also how you live with yourself.) My experience from a couple years ago is that the bulk of the socks were sized and designed more for ladies, but the folks at Ozone were super helpful and responsive when I nagged them about this since I had bought it for a man after explicitly making sure they could do dude-oriented SOTM gifts. They always replaced the girly or small ones for free, and overall Grant was super excited for this gift. They seem to have formalized it with a gender-specific option to select, too, so I bet it’s even smoother sailing now. Grant got this specifically because I shop for myself online and he was always jealous of the fact that most packages sent to our household were for me. Getting mail is fun!
-Cool-ass live plants. Get them a svelte potted orchid (check with grower to make sure it’s in bloom) or a fragrant jasmine or paperwhites or an amaryllis, or if you wanna go big and bold, a potted Meyer lemon tree. This kind of thing doesn’t have to show up right on Christmas to make the gesture cool; just tell them to expect it with a timely e-card you slacker. Even if the recipient can’t keep it alive for more than a few months, that’s still usually a lovely run and cheaper than spending money on regular cut flowers, etc. (Some of these are pet- or kid-unfriendly and some have very strong scents, so know your recipient and go with a boring safe scent-free phalaenopsis orchid if you’re uncertain. Those are smaller and can usually be put up somewhere high for safety.)
-Culinary subscriptions. We all know about Tonx from every podcast, but it really is a great easy idea and it won’t matter if they don’t actually receive the beans in time for Christmas. It’s a gift that keeps on giving, and they’ll think of you every time they drink superior home coffee (or think longingly of your gift when they go back to inferior Starbucks VIA or whatever). Or, you can get them an olive oil subscription that they’ll receive and go through over time. Or Bacon of the Month, or Omaha Steaks — look, those might be kitschy to some, but they’re still around because PEOPLE LOVE THEM and they get used up.
–Quarterly.co or The Thing Quarterly. These are cool designey-minded subscription services that are fun and don’t need to show up right on Christmas to be thoroughly enjoyed. Best for the sorts of people who already own a Cosmonaut stylus but do most of their writing in Field Notes or Moleskine notebooks and have at least 100 Twitter followers. You know who I’m talking about.
-eBooks. Sure, books always used to feel like kind of a cop-out, but eBooks are an easy equivalent and less techie eBook owners may actually find the purchasing and browsing process kind of confusing, so you taking the reins might be just what they need. If you read something you just LOVED that you think someone else could love, and you know the email address to which you need to gift it, why not? Ebook prices are so high that they still do make for a valuable gift to most recipients, and yet they’re low enough that you can send multiples. This obviously works best with people who have time to enjoy reading.
-I totally forgot about digital subscriptions! Not only periodicals on tablets or e-readers, but also memberships like Netflix, Hulu+, Angie’s List, and Amazon Prime, to name a few. Figure out what they would like or use, and buy multiple subscriptions to make it feel complete.
Oh, right, and the e-card. You can design your own little website, nerd, or you can find a free e-card from some spammy website or you can pay and get surprisingly cool-despite-being-Flash ones from http://www.jacquielawson.com/. Either way, find a way to make it slightly cooler than a straight-up boring plain text email, and make sure you specifically mention that they should start receiving their gift around X date. You’re welcome; now you can go back to Minecraft and not have to go to the mall OR the post office!
Love, Virginia Claus