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[November 29, 2010]
Gifts from A to Z [Ocala Star-Banner, Fla.]
(Ocala Star-Banner (FL) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Nov. 28--Sure, we all WANT an iPad, but really, how likely is it one will appear under the tree? Nevertheless, Apple's 2010 iPhone-on-steroids probably remains atop most wish lists this yule. While popular, it's also pricey.
The National Retail Federation says that U.S. consumers plan to spend an average of $688.87 on holiday-related shopping this season, up slightly from $681.83 in 2009. The spending is expected to include an average of $393.55 for family and $71.45 for friends. (The iPad starts at $499, by the way.) What are we planning to buy? According to the NPD Group, a market research group, on our shopping lists are clothing, toys, movies/DVDs, books, electronics, accessories, video game systems or games, food and music.
Tech gadgets like the aforementioned iPad, the iPhone and Androids are becoming more popular among consumers. The National Retail Federation notes "many shoppers plan to use these devices this holiday season to look for gift ideas, compare prices and find items in nearby stores." And a lot of us want one in our stockings.
But if an iPad is out of the question or you're out of ideas already, or you've exhausted your list already and need some help, here is a compendium of possible gifts from A to Z.
A Apple. From the iPad to the iPod to the iPhone, Apple has some kind of personal electronic gadget for every desire, need and price range. Even the iPod Nano has been upgraded this year to include visuals. And now that Apple's iTunes and the Beatles' reps have agreed to download purchases of the Fab Four's 13 studio albums as well as other works, all we can say is "Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!" A lot of iTunes download cards may find their way into Christmas stockings this year.
B Box sets. A host of new mutiple-CD sets offer musical gifts with lavish trappings, including such artists as Bob Dylan ("The Original Mono Recordings"), Jimi Hendrix ("West Coast Seattle Boy: The Jimi Hendrix Experience"), Bruce Springsteen ("The Promise: The Darkness on the Edge of Town Story") and even Bach ("J.S. Bach: The Complete Works").
C Custom bobble head. For the man who has everything, design a head-to-toe customized bobble head. Choose your guy's hair and eye color, select whether he has tattoos or glasses, dress him in his uniform or favorite sport gear and upload a photograph to the Whoopass Enterprises website, and they'll help you create a one-of-a-kind gift. Bobble heads start at $40 and can be delivered in time for Christmas.
D DOG GEAR. Your dogs will love the Pet-ZZZ-Pad and love you for giving it to them. Activated by your pet's weight, the heating pad warms to about 102 degrees, which is the normal body temperature for dogs and cats. In sizes large and small, prices range from $19.99 to $39.99. The Pet-ZZZ-Pad is available at Amazon.com and other online retailers.
E E-book readers. Who needs paper? The new generation of e-book readers -- Kindle, Nook, Neo, Alex -- are portable, as easy to read as, say, a book and are surprisingly affordable -- considering you've got a virtual library in a device the size of a Hardy Boys novel. Many come with Wi-Fi or 3G access for instant downloads anywhere. The two most popular are Amazon.com's Kindle and Barnes & Noble's Nook; they range from $140 to $200.
F Flip SLide HD. With the touch of a finger, the Flip Slide records high-def photos and videos, and can upload them instantly to Facebook and YouTube. $199.
G Games. The classic board game Scrabble goes hi-tech with the electronic version, Scrabble Flash ($29.99). Instead of a game board, players slide, swap and shuffle five electronic letter tiles to make as many three, four of five-letter words as possible in 60 seconds. When a word is created, the tiles light up and beep -- keeping time and score along the way. The one-player game, which has three different modes, is recommended for ages 8 and older. And look for other favorite games that have received a modern-day makeover, including Monopoly and Clue.
H Handmade gifts. No glue guns or popsicle sticks here -- we're talking high-end handmade gifts from unique artists and crafters who sell their goods at Etsy.com. Hundreds of thousands of items are listed on the social commerce website, but staffers have compiled the best of the best and put them into categories that fit just about everyone on your gift list. Find everything from personalized wire hangers to organic tote bags to eco-friendly dog beds to fortune cookie Christmas ornaments at www.etsy.com/gift-guides.
I iFitness Mini Sport Belt. This small, stretchable pouch is designed to fit all the essentials a runner needs to have with them at all times. It can carry a Blackberry or iPhone, GUs, ID and credit card, and little cash, yet it is snug enough that you'll barely know it's there. $19.95.
J Jewelry. Guys, you can never go wrong with jewelry. Among the popular trends this year are layered necklaces, bracelets and brooches, statement rings and chandelier earrings.
K Keurig single-serve coffee brewer. For the coffee aficionado on your list who prefers not to brew a whole pot, the single-serve brewer whips up just enough joe at a time. Some models come with programmable LCD clocks, presumably to start the brew at wake-up time, as well as removable water reservoirs. Coffee comes pre-ground in K-Cup single size in a variety of flavors, from Kahlua and espresso to cappuccino and decaf. Prices range from $100 to $200 and are available online and at Bed, Bath & Beyond, Target, Sears and other places where kitchen wares and small appliances are sold.
L Lego Harry Potter. As the Harry Potter saga nears its big-screen conclusion, you can enjoy all the adventures of navigating the maze that is Hogwarts in this customizable board game, one of several recently released by Lego. If you build it, you can play. One in a series of changeable board games from Lego new this year. $29.99 at www.thinkgeek.com and toy stores everywhere.
M Magazines. Magazines can educate, entertain and simply be enjoyed. If you know what someone is interested in or loves, a gift subscription to a magazine on that topic is a cool gift that literally could last throughout the year. Most are 12-month subscriptions, but some websites offer less. From fashion to fly fishing, there's a magazine out there for everyone. Magazine gift subscriptions can be ordered via a specific magazine's website or other sites such as Magazines.com or Amazon.com (under Gift Ideas). Subscriptions can start as low as $5 for 12 issues.
N Netbook. Netbooks are becoming popular as an inexpensive alternative to pricier laptop computers, but they're nearly as powerful. Most come pre-loaded with sufficient software to do what you want -- about the only thing they lack is a CD/DVD drive. Available for only a few hundred dollars through numerous online outlets and wherever laptops are sold.
O Ornaments. These holiday baubles are personally designed by your favorite celebrities, including Sarah Jessica Parker ($29.90) and Mary J. Blige ($19.90). Both are part of the heART HSN 2010 Designer Ornament collection available at hsn.com. All of the profits, no less than 30 percent of the purchase price of each ornament, will be donated to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Other designers include Gwen Stefani, Sean Combs, Martha Stewart and Emeril Lagasse.
P Polaroid. Polaroid has returned to instant photography -- but with a twist. The new, funky-shaped Polaroid 300 instant camera prints out business-card size photos wrapped in the classic Polaroid border. It also has four scene settings. Camera retails at $89.99 and the 10-pack film is $9.99. Take it a step further with the $199.99 Polaroid PoGo, a full-feature digital camera that instantly produces borderless, 2-inch-by-3-inch sticky-back prints. Crop the photo, edit it and if you like, add fun borders. If you don't need an instant camera, but like the idea of instant photos, the Polaroid PoGo Instant Mobile Printer ($49.99) is a good solution. Using an AC adapter, connect the printer to your digital camera or Bluetooth-enabled camera phone and voila: full-color prints in under a minute. Both PoGo products are small enough for your pocket and require no ink.
Q Qolf. It's exactly like golf, only different. Qolf (pronounced "kwalf") is something of a cross between golf and croquet. Try to hit low-flight golf-ball like spheres through vertical holes. The game can be played indoors and out. $39.95 for basic set; $99.95 set includes four clubs. Available online at Qolf.com or at finer qolfing supply shops everywhere.
R Record bowl. Got old LPs collecting dust with no way to play them? Uncommongoods.com will turn them into a custom serving bowl. Imagine munching Fritos out of a Jimi Hendrix "Are You Experienced" bowl or the Beatles' "White Album." It's not suitable for wet things (Duh! There's the spindle hole in the bottom!). It takes artist Jeff Davis three-to-four weeks to make and ship it back, so better hurry. $50.
S Sing-a-Ma-Jigs. From Fisher-Price, these free-spirited characters love nothing better than to sing -- in harmony -- with you and each other. Perfect for children 3 and older. $9 and up.
T Turlington scarf. This cotton and acrylic knit scarf from Gainesville's Dunlop McCandless that resembles a real alligator adds comfort and style to every Gator gameday. It's lightweight and breathable for Florida's mild fall weather, and comes in alligator green and the classic colors of UF orange and blue. $39 from Simply Gorgeous Gifts in Gainesville or online at dunlopmccandless.com.
U UDraw Tablet for Wii. An easy-to-use drawing tablet works with the Wii gaming system to encourage the inner artist to express his or herself -- from doodles to masterpieces. And there's no clean up afterward. Comes with UDraw Studio software. $69.99 at RadioShack, Gamestop, Target, Walmart and wherever Wii gaming supplies are sold.
V Velociraptor. Not a real one, of course; they're, um, sort of extinct (we hope). But Bloco has introduced a child-friendly foam puzzle kit with which kids can create their own miniature raptors, those crafty too-intelligent critters in the "Jurrasic Park" movies. Comes with a pterosaur, a Cretaceous period flying lizard. This is one of Dr. Toy's 10 Best Toys of 2010. $19.95 from Amazon.com.
W Wellness mats. With the increased costs of dining out, more and more of us are discovering we have a working kitchen in our homes. But that means more time standing, wielding a knife, slaving over a hot stove, yadda yadda, and that means more lower-back discomfort. Enter the squishy anti-fatigue Wellness Mat for extended standing in the kitchen. They come in various sizes and colors; a 2-foot-by-3-foot mat runs just under $120 from Wellnessmat.com or local culinary supply stores.
X Xbox 360. This seems to be the year of the Microsoft gaming system. Earlier this fall, top-selling games -- "Halo: Reach," "Fallout: New Vegas," "Call of Duty: Black Ops" -- were released. And earlier this month, the Kinect joined the fun as the newest innovation in full-body control. Almost like HAL in "2001: A Space Odyssey," the Kinect "eye" watches your every move and replicates them with your on-screen avatar. Unlike the Wii remotes or PlayStation Move, there's nothing to hold or even touch. Suggested retail price is $149.99, available almost everywhere; bloggers report Microsoft expects to sell 5 million Kinects this year.
Y Yackle Ball. A soft, but firm, X-shaped "ball" for backyard fun. It supposedly flies farther in the air than a football due to its aerodynamics and shape. Comes with a number of games to play alone, with friends or even in teams. Available in red and white, yellow and blue or black and white from Ttalf Toys. $26 through Amazon.com.
Z Zoobles. Are they a ball? Cute critter? Or what? Zoobles from Spin Master are inhabitants of the mysterious isle of Zooble; each has "the ability to magically transform from tiny balls hiding in the unknown into cute, mischievous and quirky little creatures." A girls' collectible, there are dozens of these cueball cuties; each comes with a "happitat" that encourages the Zooble to pop out of its shell. Single packs start at $5.99 at most toy stores.
Rick Allen, Lashonda Stinson Curry, Bill Dean, David Moore, Sarah Sain and Dave Schlenker contributed to this story.
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