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Christmas Cheer

Gifts Ideas For 'Non-Geek' Types? 88

Posted by Cliff
from the what-gift-ideas-are-you-tossing-about dept.
BRock97 asks: "There is no better activity which sheds light on 'Geek/Non-Geek' interaction than Christmas shopping. As I try and browse Target's online store looking for the perfect gift, I can't help be gravitate back to ThinkGeek in hopes I will find something that the receiver of the gift will find useful AND also remind them of the person who gave it. I was curious as to what other /.'ers were planning on getting their friends and loved ones (parents/grandparents) who live the 'non-geek' lifestyle." We've already told Santa what we'd like for Christmas, now what about the non-geeks in our lives?
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Gifts Ideas For 'Non-Geek' Types?

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  • by theMerovingian (722983) on Friday December 19, 2003 @10:37AM (#7764432) Journal
    with a digital camera, ipod, or an xbox w/ halo.

    It's like cocaine, you just have to get them started...
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Do all of the following

      1. buy something nice
      2. buy something feminine (perfume, hand creme, pajamas, etc)
      3. Do something requiring effort (make a gift, clean the toilet, etc)
      4. Wrap things nicely
      5. buy some everyday things since she will be reminded of your good thougts every time they are used, earrings, necklaces, etc.

      I'll add one joke here:
      6. Pray (only if you are from France)
    • It's like cocaine, you just have to get them started...

      Ellen? Is that you?

    • If an Xbox with halo makes you a geek, I'm turning in my membership card.
    • exactly...many of the less niche geek items work for 'normals' also...everyone wants an MP3 player (heck force ogg on them!) or a digital camera...

      you might even want to experiment with giving them some more geeky stuff...granted they are open minded...hook them up with an RPG if they are into video games...or independant films for wanna-be movie buffs (Welcome to the Dollhouse is a personal favorite)
  • Need a 10% off online coupon for Target? You can get it from the front page on my website Retail Retreat [retailretreat.com]. Loads of other coupons and deals too. Enjoy.
  • Rethink this. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fuzzybunny (112938) on Friday December 19, 2003 @10:47AM (#7764549) Homepage Journal

    There's something deeply wrong if you're shopping for gifts at Target; take a step back and ask yourself why you're even bothering in the first place. Because you "have to?"

    Send a nice card or take them to dinner if you can't find something unique and "nice". Sorry, but I'm a bit of a purist in that sense--either make it tasteful and personal, or don't give a gift.

    I'd rather get a phone call saying "hi", or a card than some tacky mail order department store shit.
  • by !3ren (686818) on Friday December 19, 2003 @10:47AM (#7764555)
    Nothing says I love you, even though you're a reanimated corpse, like Tesla coils [ebay.co.uk]
  • USB memory drive (Score:5, Interesting)

    by crow (16139) on Friday December 19, 2003 @10:48AM (#7764561) Homepage Journal
    I bought two family members those USB keyring drives. Both of them use computers in two places and still use floppies. It's a level of technology that they'll be comfortable with, and it's something that they'll find useful.
    • Right on! I did the same thing for two family members that take work home with them often and lug a 100MB Zip drive with them. You can 128MB USB drives for about US$45 and they're way more convenient.

      • digime: Try 256 MB for $49.99. See Costco [costco.com].
        • I don't know if anybody else has had problems with SanDisk USB drives, but my friend bought a 128MB one and it freezes up when he tries to save files bigger than 10MB or so. He's tried it on several computers and it always does the same thing.
        • correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the Cruzer Mini INCOMPATIBLE with Linux?
          (maybe that's not an issue for you, but I would think most geeks who use linux would prefer to buy their loved ones a keyring drive that will work on the geek's machine too.

          try one of these:
          http://www.bestbuy.com/site/olspage.jsp?id =1067390 218061&skuId=6186414&type=product
          A little more, but, Linux 2.2+ compatible and a lot SMALLER!!!!

        • Hey cool, just saw your reply. A little late now. :) I see YMMV with this one anyway with Linux, which I use, and would want it to work with in case I needed/wanted to transfer something to their machine. I ended up getting 2 64MB PNY drives for about $29 each.
    • you can get Sandisk Cruzer Mini 256MB USB Flash Drive [costco.com] for $49.99! That's a good price that I bought two (one for myself and one for my father [still uses 3.5" disks as well!]). The local store I went to had PLENTY!!
    • Ditto. My girlfriend has justy received one of these. Her 10000 word assignment was on a floppy. I told her she should have kept a backup (why do people ask a geek's advice and then do the opposite?), but she ignored me and the University computer she tried to use to print it off ate the disk. Made the choice for a Birthday present (her birthday is annoyingly close to Christmas) very easy indeed.
    • and you can get one that will play MP3s as well for cheap. I saw some 128MB ones for $52 and bought a 512MB one for $160. They are some no-name brand from Hong Kong, but the one I got a month ago works great.
  • by DaRat (678130) * on Friday December 19, 2003 @10:51AM (#7764591)

    If you have friends who like to eat (okay, most like to eat), then a gift of some tasty morsels may work wonders. Not something that you can buy at the local Kroger's, but something really good from the likes of Harry and David [harryanddavid.com], Teuscher [teuscher.com], or some other gourmet food store. Just make sure that they are likely to like that type of food (okay, no Omaha steaks for your vegetarian friends).

    For parents, if you have kids, particularly babies, you're in luck: just get them a gift book of photos or a good photo in a nice frame, and they'll be thrilled.

    • Harry and David? Come on - have you eaten anything from that chain? It's not good. And not only is it not good, it's expensive too. Sure, in American society we often pay for the product and the prestige of the label but if I'm going to do that, the product had better be damn good. I've found that the food from Harry and David is sub-par, to put it tastefully.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        Normally I wouldn't encourage you to trust a guy called "Acidic Diarrhea" as a food critic, but $30 for a box of cookies that are inferior to Pepperidge Farms also doesn't strike me as worthwhile...
  • PDA (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dewc (700281) on Friday December 19, 2003 @10:51AM (#7764597)
    For the non-geek a PDA would prove to be quite useful. PalmOS based ones are very nice. Even for geeks they are nice. My personal fave is the Zire71. Simple to use, bright screen, built-in camera, and yes, it will remind the person you got it for who gave the gift. I gave my gf a Zire71 and she uses it daily for her job, and it's not because of the geek-factor, it's because she can use it to help her manage her schedules and contacts. My old boss got one for his retirement, and he loves it. He is not a "geek" at all. My sister has went from a Palm Vx, which broke, to a Pocket PC. She's not a geek either, far from one, and yet she loves hers too.
    • by jjshoe (410772)
      Most non geeks i know use the pda for a while and go back to what they are used to. There is a definate learning curve on using the pda. They will either like it right off the bat, or not use it all. For the non tech's i know a pda would definatly not fit the bill.
  • by meara (236388) on Friday December 19, 2003 @10:51AM (#7764598)
    A lot of the non-tech's in my life would like to take advantage of the latest technology, but don't know how. So every tech gift should come with free tech support..

    For example:

    Wireless Router: They'll love surfing the web from the couch on their business laptops -- just be sure to set it all up for them.

    Tivo: Most non-techs I know watch a LOT of TV. Tivo is easy enough that they may not even need your help with it.

    Universal Remote: Over the years, you've built up their entertainment system with an amplifier, pre-amplifier, DVD player, CD changer, etc but they can't figure out how to just watch TV. Buy a good universal remote and program it to have easy "Watch TV", "Watch a DVD", "Listen to Music" buttons.

    MP3 Player: Obviously great for exercise buffs

    Roomba: Who wouldn't love a robot vacuum cleaner

    Just about anything from Sharper Image or Brookstone, especially the Foot Massager: Everybody loves this stuff but will never buy it for themselves
    • Good point and some great suggestions. :)
    • I got TiVo's for most of my family last year for christmas. One was returned, the rest of the family are new TiVo converts. Even my mom, who can barely boot up her computer and send email has figured out everything she needs too with TiVo. Definitely a great gift for the non-luddites in the family. Especially if they are one of those people that always seems to have 5-10 tapes sitting around their VCR full of shows they need to watch so they can tape over them with new shows.
  • by Arkham (10779) on Friday December 19, 2003 @10:57AM (#7764664)
    Non-geeks like jewelry, books, kitchen stuff, etc.

    I got my wife a pair of Bulova watches (one for every day, one for special occasions), a book on used book stores, a book on Breyer collectable horses (which she collects), the usual assortment of candy, the new Train CD, a new Williams-Sonoma tea kettle, and some other small stuff. Not a geek toy in the bunch, even if I did order quite a bit of it online.

    BTW, if you know my wife (not likely if you read slashdot), don't tell her!
    • I got my wife a pair of Bulova watches (one for every day, one for special occasions), a book on used book stores, a book on Breyer collectable horses (which she collects), the usual assortment of candy, the new Train CD, a new Williams-Sonoma tea kettle, and some other small stuff. Not a geek toy in the bunch, even if I did order quite a bit of it online.

      Is that for this Christmas or an accounting of birthday, anniversary, etc. gifts for the last two years? If the former, please stop posting as you're mak

      • Two Bulova watches. Unless you bought them from a guy in a trench-coat, I'd guess that rang a sizeable bill.

      • Is that for this Christmas or an accounting of birthday, anniversary, etc. gifts for the last two years? If the former, please stop posting as you're making me look really bad! Two watches and a tea kettle? Meanwhile, I still insist on using my rusty old kettle from my bachelor days and throw a tantrum when my wife proposes replacing it.


        It's for Christmas. I keep a list on my laptop of things she says she wants throughout the year. When it comes to Christmas, I've got a great list and am never short of
  • Stay on Thinkgeek (Score:3, Informative)

    by Eye of the Frog (152749) on Friday December 19, 2003 @10:58AM (#7764665)
    I got a bunch of little stuff for people there:


    Is that good, or have I become out of touch with non-geeks?
  • ......or a shower gel and aftershave gift pack.
  • You can generally find them for about 6 to 10 here in the UK. They are surprisingly bright and perfect for use when you have parked the car somewhere dark and lost your keys. They also look pretty robust, though I havn't had one long enough to attest to that.

  • by ghettoreb (711310) on Friday December 19, 2003 @11:06AM (#7764751) Homepage
    i found out in college that non-geeky people enjoy weird things, like:
    • love,
    • friendships,
    • memories (that are not measured in MB's or pixels)
    • getting away from the computer
    • sunshine (one *not* coming from the monitor)
    • fresh clothes
    • mountains/beaches -- these things in LotR:RotK actually exist!
    I was so startled by thier weird tastes that i say kudos to anyone who claims to have mastered their weird ways.
  • by Rainier Wolfecastle (591298) on Friday December 19, 2003 @11:23AM (#7764977)
    If you're shopping at Target for presents, the one thing you won't be getting for xmas is laid.
  • Lego Creator [lego.com] race to build it board game.

    I can be a geek, give a geeky gift, and get my geek on with my non geek family.

    What could be better?

    -Adam
  • by jaredcat (223478) on Friday December 19, 2003 @11:50AM (#7765379)
    There are a couple of easy ones that I use and re-use every year always with good results:

    In a hurry: Blockbuster [blockbuster.com] Gift Card. Who doesn't go to Blockbuster? Geeks who use Netflix, right? Well stop trying to convert those poor ole simple folk and give them what they need-- a way to pay off that $15 3-day late fee. Another quick gift (if you are REALLY last minute) is an Instant Prepaid Phone Card. Some companies (NobelCom.com [nobelcom.com] springs to mind) will even send out a gift e-mail along with the Access Number and PIN on whatever day the event is-- for instance, have it arrive on someone's birthday. This is a good gift for people who make a lot of International calls (think H1B workers and non-resident aliens), but other than that, you suck if you are so last minute that you have to buy an instant phone card as a gift.

    Gourmet Food: Everyone likes to eat tastey things. Try iGourmet.com [igourmet.com] for a wide selection on everything from wine and cheese to curred ostrich, and try Dans.com [dans.com] for the best chocolates anywhere.

    Flowers: Women love flowers. Gay men love flowers. Heck, little girls love flowers. I sent flowers to my 12-year-old niece for her birthday in October and she loved them! KaBloom.com [kabloom.com]consistantly has the best presentation when you open the box compared to 800flowers or FTD. Too bad their website is kinda hokey.

    Designer Apparel: Nothing says "I know style" like a new pair of Gucci, Christian Dior, or Versace glasses. You can get these in stores everywhere (try Sunglass Hut and Solstice), or for the really good stuff, online at eyewearcentre.com [eyewearcentre.com]. Beware discount vendors like 'EyeSave', and especially stay away from eBay. There are more fake designer glasses on eBay than there are fake Rolexes in a New York Street Vendor's cart-- and even though you probably can't tell, trust me, your mark can and will notice a fake. The most important things when picking designer apparel are: Get something from THIS SEASON'S COLLECTION. Getting last year's stuff on sale will NOT go over well. Make sure this is a color or style that looks ok on your mark. If you are clueless, look at that person's existing favorite clothes, glasses, etc. for reference. For glasses: make sure that you get the right shape for that person's face type. Again, if clueless, look at that person's existing stuff, or see this nice chart [eyewearcentre.com].
    • I gotta disagree on the gift card thing. Either buy a real gift or just give them cash instead. Scott Adams sums this up nicely. I saw an episode of the Dilbert cartoon where Dilbert got his mom a gift card from the mall. "How sweet!" she said, "You traded cash, for something like cash, only not as good!" Flips it over..."Oh, look, there's an expiration date right here on the back! How lovely."
      • I agree that gift cards are sucky gifts-- but it at least is shows that you put SOME effort into it. If you give cash, thats just like saying "oh I don't really care but I know I had to give you something."

        Gift Cards, Instant Phone Cards, Lotto Tickets, and the like are only recommended if you waited until the absolute last minute before gift shopping.
      • Of course, then there's my mom who not only replied "Don't get me anything" when I asked her what she wanted for Christmas, but proceeded to say "Barnes & Noble gift card" for my two aunts, four cousins, and both my grandparents when I asked her what they wanted. I was tempted to do it and say "This crappy gift is courtesy of your daughter/sister/aunt."
    • Hey, man -- I'm a straight guy, and I like flowers, too. I became interested in them because one of my teachers at the dojo I attend is interested in flower arranging, and I'm now apt to pick up a few to keep around my apartment.

      Sexual preference has nothing to do with plants.

    • Who doesn't go to Blockbuster?

      I don't, though I used to. They are a PITA to deal with and the lines are too long. Mom and pop video stores tend to have better service and some oddities that Blockbuster and Hollywood Video don't tend to cary.

    • > Who doesn't go to Blockbuster?

      Anyone who likes porn [sptimes.com] doesn't go to Blockbuster. Get your friends a good porn web site subscription instead.

      Don't sweat it. That link goes to a news article.
  • by RealityMogul (663835) on Friday December 19, 2003 @12:01PM (#7765548)
    Give them a coupon that says you will fix their computer for free the next time they screw it up or some other techie service.
    • I think that if I gave my family members a certificate for computer support, they would feel like they could only call me that one time, rather than everytime they move their taskbar accidently. Hey, I like this idea...
      • Actually, I've found a much easier way.

        Just b*tch and moan that "... this is why I use a Mac" every time you fix their PC. They'll get sick of it quick. ... seems to work very well.
  • I bought my dad a gift selection of ales and "Beer Cheese", My Uncles Malibu and Carolans, Anouther Uncle 24x Carling Black Label. Alcohol is my default option, my sis expressed interest in a USB Pen drive, so I got her a 128MB USB one with MP3 and Radio, and my mum wanted a puzzle (?)
    • by Anonymous Coward
      my mum wanted a puzzle

      Give her a Windows XP PC, and challenge her to (without your assistance) connect it to the internet and make it secure.

      That ought to keep her busy for a while.
  • You post on /. and you still have non-geek friends!
  • Christmas ornament
    Crystal doo-dads like a bowl or candlesticks
    Food-related items; candy, booze, etc.
    Flowers
    Sport-related items: football, frisbee, etc.
    Pet-related items: new leash, kitty toys
    Memorabelia: baseball cards, etc.
    Clothing-related items: tie, sweater, shirt, etc.
    Sex-related items: lingerie (always get a small size even if she's not), massage oils, etc.
    Other personal care items: shaver, lotions, perfume, etc.

    Some of these of course are not appropriate in all situations... :)
  • Don't buy gifts (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Eloyse (733180)
    I never buy gifts and I don't expect any and everyone's happy that way cause they didn't spend 2 weeks salary on expensive (and often unusable) gifts. But I do prepare special dinners during the hollidays, sometimes for familly and sometimes for friends. I think it's the best way to spend your money.
  • Get them an Amazon gift certificate--it's geeky in that they have to go online to purchase something, but certainly contains lots of non-geeky items; enough to satisfy any geek or non-geek!

  • by acomj (20611) on Friday December 19, 2003 @04:43PM (#7768959) Homepage
    I give calendars with nature photos I take during the year. This goes over very well.

    new Inkjets print photos really well. The way I do it is to print the picture at the top of a page (8.5 x 11 or 11 x 17) and put the calendar part on the bottom. I usually use 35 mm negatives I've scanned, but this year 2 of the pictures are digital from a 4 megapixel calendar (4 megpixels is good enough for full frame on the larger calendars, about 8x10 inch).

    Its relatively cheap too. for a 11x17 page 1 sheet = $1 + ink. 12 sheets for the year. You can customize it too by putting peoples birthdays on the calendar.

    • It can get far more involved than that.

      My wife has been doing this for 8 years, starting with pictures of my daughter. Now there are 5 grandkids, so my wife has a matrix of what photos go into whose calendars.

      Oh yeah, and everyones birthdays.

      This leads to multiple copies of different calendars, with the attendent mistakes, etc.

      Next year I think we give fruitcake.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    - 1 month's supply of Pantoloc a PPI drug (for heartburn)

    - 1 big jar of tums

    - 1 Case of beer

    - 1 pack of smokes (malboro)

    - 1 case of Jack Daniels

    They all have heartburn and this stuff makes it better and worse.
  • Cash (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Ratbert42 (452340) on Friday December 19, 2003 @11:13PM (#7771506)
    This year, our families (except the little kids) are getting small token gifts. We gave the hundreds we might have otherwise spent on them (and then some) as gifts to our unemployed friends.

    I can assure you someone that's been out of work for 9 months appreciated a couple hundred dollars a lot more than my in-laws will appreciate their usual shot-in-the-dark gifts.

  • P-Lease (Score:1, Informative)

    by JamesP (688957)
    How can this be difficult? Ok, ok, I guess for geeks it's a bit tricky... But, even for me, I think it's not THAT difficult...

    1 - What age class? (Older (like in Grandparents, parents) younger (like in smaller cousins, kids) or same age (friends, Girlfriend/Boyfriend)

    2 - What does this person enjoy: gardening, maybe a sports person, someone who likes cooking, reading, you can't go wrong with flowers/perfume to your girlfriend ( but you probably will want something more expensive for Xmas ). Jewlery is al
  • Do you have gifts that you lothe?

    Someone gave me a rock one time though I *never* talk about geology. They gave it because they thought it was "cool". It is cool, though it's not a good gift. It's 10lbs of crystal that is hard to dust and too fragile to wash...perfect in the cave it was ripped out of and horrid for a fireplace mantle piece.

    If you care about someone, do the right thing. The last thing you want is them to remember your gift everytime they stumble over the boat anchor of a gift that was

  • I invaded L.L. Bean this year for gifts for geek and non-geek alike. Rather than gadgets or DVD's, I decided to look for comfort, and I think I succeeded. The family is numerous and mostly technical, and I decided that even the most hardcore boy-geeks might enjoy donning soft chamois shirts in non-retarded plain (as opposed to plaid) colors, while the several girl-geeks might enjoy things made of merino wool or wool and cashmere. Of course we live where it's cold, but I think these things will be welcome.
  • by JoeCommodore (567479) <larry@portcommodore.com> on Sunday December 21, 2003 @01:11AM (#7777486) Homepage
    Get them tech stuff they are interested in that you know is good.

    You know the hackable DVD players, the MP3s with OggV support, You know the Difference between DVD-R and DVD+R. They will appreciate it if you give them something and say, "I know you like music so much - so I picked out the BEST DAMN MP3 player a geek like me could get. Merry Christmas! Now let me help you get this bad-boy installed on your computer..." Now that says something.

    If they are Quakers or something visiting them and holding a real 'lucent' conversation with them is also a treat for people who are more people-oriented. (Yeah, you are going to have to remember thier name, better make up cheat-notes!)

  • loved ones (parents/grandparents)

    Loved ones usually also includes spouses, SOs and children.

    Sorry, I forgot this was Slashdot.

If a 6600 used paper tape instead of core memory, it would use up tape at about 30 miles/second. -- Grishman, Assembly Language Programming

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