Some Gifts Not To Buy for Christmas

A New Cell Phone.  Now, if it was just a new cell phone, where you could take the SIM card out of your old phone and put it in the new one and have a better phone than you had previously, then it would be a good gift – maybe a great gift – but cell phones are subsidized by service charges.  When you see a phone advertised as “$49.95!” don’t forget there’s the monthly service charge that the recipient has to pay, which includes the rest of the cost of the phone.  You’re basically forcing them to buy themselves a gift.

A Music CD.  This isn’t technically a gift nobody would want, but there are a lot of people who don’t put a lot of value in music these days.  If you’re buying a gift for your 13 year old niece or nephew, better make sure they don’t have a 50 gig archive of downloaded MP3s first or there’s a good chance they’re just not going to appreciate your thoughtful 50 Cent album.

A Homebrew Computer.  If you’re buying your sister in law a new computer, do everyone a favour and buy her a Dell.  You could build something better for less money by hitting the local PC discount shop but once you put that bag of parts together, it’s your problem when something goes wrong.  The Dell support reps are probably a lot more patient on the phone than you are.

Software.  See “A Music CD”.

Something You Think They Might Like.  This applies to tech gifts, mostly, when you’re not tech savvy yourself.  Here’s how it works.  Bob’s a techie kinda guy and you’ve heard MP3 players are all the rage.  You see a nice one at Best Buy for $69.95.  Don’t do it!  If you’re buying a geek a tech gift, you really need to check with them to see what it is they want, specifically.  If I want a Radeon 9600 XT, a Radeon 9600 SE isn’t going to cut it.  And it’s not like getting a toaster that just doesn’t toast toast as fast – it goes from “hey this is a cool thing I really wanted” to “this sucks”. 

The safest thing to do is give your techie friends a nice big fruitcake.  Mmm fruitcake.  (No seriously.. am I the only one that likes fruitcake?)