Tag Archives: Gift Guides

Guest Post: Christmas Gift Ideas for the Brother In Law | 2009 Edition

This is Wendy and this is what happens when Jordon doesn’t log out of his weblog and leaves me unattended.  Since Jordon handles most of our Christmas shopping, I don’t have to spend as much time thinking about Christmas gifts as Jordon does.  By far the hardest person to shop for on our Christmas list is my brother in law Lee.  Since he is an important part of our family and our Christmas, a great uncle to the boys, and the only family we have, we don’t just go through the motions.  So in honor of Lee, here is a list of Christmas gifts for those that are hard to shop for and my contribution to this site’s Christmas Gift Ideas.

Here is Lee’s profile.

  • He has a PSP Go, PlayStation 3, and a Wii which in some ways gives one some variety in shopping for him for Christmas.
  • He has an apartment that looks like it should be in Apartment Therapy.  It’s almost intimidating buying anything for his apartment.  It’s actually intimidating to hang out in his apartment.  Of course living in an apartment means that he doesn’t have a lot of storage.
  • He drives an Acura sports car that is worth 20 times more than my car.
  • He works hard at Case New Holland in the city which means that he doesn’t have a lot of time for hobbies.

He is Jordon’s brother and an uncle to the boys which means that Lee is an expert shopper himself.  He is also a single male so he does things like single males do, when Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare came out, he bought it that day so I guess it means that we aren’t getting that for him.

Star Wars The Clone Wars: The Complete Season One :: The Clone Wars movie was horrible but the series is actually pretty good.  Like a lot of animated movies, the series seems to be getting better with the second season but Season One of the Clone Wars is pretty good all by itself.

Air Hogs Dualing Helicopters :: Okay let’s do the math.  Remote control + Helicopters + a rather competitive family + the ability to shoot each other down + a big open field at the cabin = a pretty good Christmas gift.

Survive! by Les Stroud :: Since he a) often forgets his cell phone b) often has Mark and Oliver with him, knowledge of some basic survival skills would be quite useful.  If he wasn’t over watching the DVDs here, you could give him all three seasons of Survivorman on DVD.  You can order them from the Les Stroud Productions store.  Season 1 | Season 2 | Season 3.  We have all three DVDs and they are a lot of fun to watch.  You can also order them from Amazon as well.  Season 1 |Season 2 | Season 3.  In case you just want to see how Les Stroud survives in the American wilderness, you can order this DVD as well.

Bushnell BackTrack GPS :: Lee will never get lost again with the easiest to use personal location finder for around $50. Just mark the location and BackTrack will help him get back. He can use it at the mall and stadium parking lots, at the festival, the park, for travel or your next outdoor adventure.  Wired has a quick real world review and it looks like Cabela’s is one of the few places you can get it in Canada.

The War: An Intimate History by Ken Burns.  Jordon read this book this summer and thought it was amazing.  He spend hours reading the book but then went back and just soaked in the photos.  I don’t think there is such a thing as a good war. There are sometimes necessary wars. And I think one might say, “just” wars. I never questioned the necessity of that war. And I still do not question it. It was something that had to be done.  You can also give your favorite in-law the mini series on DVD as well

I can’t see Lee joining the competitive BBQ sub culture but in case he does, here are secrets for success as a professional griller.  Whether it’s chicken, ribs, butts or brisket, this cookbook has recipes, directives, insights and guidance on how to slow cook competition-quality meats. Better than any restaurant, these competition and backyard secrets will have beginning barbeque aficionados slow-cooking masterpieces in no time at all.  Even if he doesn’t turn pro, he will make life better for everyone this summer at the cabin.  There is also Big Bob Gibson’s BBQ Book: Recipes and Secrets from a Legendary Barbecue Joint.   Winners of the World Championship BBQ Cook-Off for six years in a row and with hundreds of other contest ribbons as well, nobody does barbecue better than Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q in Decatur, Alabama. Chris Lilly, executive chef of Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q and great-grandson-in-law of Big Bob himself, now passes on the family secrets in this quintessential guide to barbecue.

Apple iPod Touch :: I have been pining for one since I started to play around with Jordon’s and it would make a great gift for Lee as well.  While Mr. Rider fan is at it, the first thing he can do is go and download the new Rider App for the iPod Touch.

MEC Camo Shoulder Bag :: Since Lee spends some time with us at the cabin, some cool luggage to toss in the back of the car with his gear and clothes are in order.  While he is travelling, some custom Saskatchewan Roughriders luggage tags might be a cool stocking stuffer.  If you are shopping for someone who does some hiking, don’t overlook the Maxpedition Vulture II backpack.

GPS :: While Jordon is always looking for a trail GPS, I was shocked to see how inexpensive car GPSs have become.

Well the truth is that we are done our Christmas shopping for Lee so my list is all speculation but I thought I would post it to contribute to Jordon’s Christmas Gift Guides and also to help some of you find a fun gift for the hard to shop for in your life.  If you have any thoughts, leave a comment below, e-mail me at wendycooper@gmail.com or check out my weblog.

Christmas Gift Ideas and Gift GuidesIf I missed anything or if my suggestions made you think I was absolutely crazy, let me know in the comments. You can access the current edition and previous years list of Christmas gift guides here.

Christmas Gift Guide for the Homeless

This one is pretty close to my heart.  At work I get to buy the Christmas gifts for the guys at the Salvation Army Community Centre and I have a lot of fun doing it.

Last year I got them nice duffle bags and a watch/wallet gift set.  We also got a big donation of men’s boxer shorts from Wal-Mart and we let the guys sort those out.  It was hilarious because there was Simpson’s boxers, Montreal Expos boxers, and other funny boxers. We laid them out in the chapel on Christmas Eve and on Christmas morning there was underwear soaring through the air like fish at Pike’s Market as guys figured out sizes and preferences.  I think they got a bigger kick out of the Saskatoon Gotch Market than anything that day.  Some of the guys had never owned a watch and were in tears.

In the past, we have given out fleece jackets, electric razors, Christmas stockings full of loot, and other bits of clothing.

This year we are going to give out some hoodies (Christmas brought to you by Bill Bilichick but we won’t cut off their sleeves) and a shaving kit full of shaving supplies, toiletries that we don’t keep in stock at the Centre and for the guys who are just passing through, winter survival kits. We are also giving out some leather bound NLT Bibles. (that’s the plan so far but all plans are subject to change)

We get a lot of requests over the holidays about what to get people in the shelter.  It’s a tough time for many guys who stay in shelters.  Being homeless is a tough experience anytime of the season but even harder at Christmas. I thought I would post a Christmas Gift Guide for those that are homeless and living in a shelter.

Take a look and see what you can help with and make Christmas a little nicer for those that live in a shelter.

Simple Luxuries

  • A couple of years ago someone donated some Old Spice Body Wash.  The tagline on it said, If your grandfather hadn’t worn it, you wouldn’t exist. which brought a lot of laughs for the guys that we gave it to.  From places like Dollarama you can get imitation brands of stuff for $1 and it smells pretty good.  Guys love it.  If you are so inclined, get them a body scrub puff as well.
  • We give out free razors at the Centre.  The general rule is that when guys say thanks to us for them, we jokingly tell them not to.  They are that bad.  I have used them once and the screams could be heard for miles.  A great luxury is a decent razor.  Walmart and most pharmacies have their Gillette Sensor clones with inexpensive replacement blades.  Disposable packages of Gillette or Schick razors are awesome as well.  If you can toss in some travel packages of shaving cream, all the better.
  • Towels: No one ever has a towel and we always need more of them to give out.  I tend to agree with Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban that a nice new towel is a wonderful luxury.  It’s a big source of frustration with me as some guys tend to demand towels and a towel service but others love them and take care of them.  All I know is we can always use more of them.  New towels, used towels, you name it.
  • A nice insulated travel mug with a secure leak proof lid :: One of thing that most people don’t understand is that most of our guys are working and some of them are working in really tough, hard, jobs in the bitter Saskatchewan cold.  An insulated travel mug is a prized possession for a lot of guys and something like this Starbucks tumbler would be great.  I am not saying that you need to get one of these, I am just saying a mug that won’t spill is a big deal.  Dollarama has some stainless steel mugs for $1 but their lids come off pretty quickly but they often have thermoses that would serve the same purpose.
  • McDonalds or Tim Hortons gift cards.  You have no idea how much guys appreciate a Tim Horton’s gift card around the shelter.  Gary Smalley could write a book about Tim Hortons as a love language and it is a comfort food for guys.  Now I know a lot of you who read this are in the U.S. but all you have to do is find out what the closest coffee chain is to the shelter.  Tim Hortons, Starbucks, or Dunkin’ Donuts… you get the idea.
  • Long Distance Phone Cards :: Some of the guys at the Centre have no family while others desperately miss theirs over the holidays.  This gives them a chance to reconnect.  We gave out $5 ones a couple of years ago but they can burn through them pretty quickly.
  •  I saw this hand crank radio the other day while in XS Cargo and I thought it was a great idea for the guys.  You crank it up for 30 seconds and it will run for 20 minutes.  It also includes some headphones to go along with it so they don’t drive guys around them crazy. While they run on batteries, they don’t need them.
  • Chocolate/Candy :: I am torn over this one as so many of our clients have diabetes (diagnosed or undiagnosed).  Then again I am going to have some candy and chocolate over Christmas so why not?  Basically if you like it, someone down at the shelter will like it.

Stuff for Work

  • In Saskatchewan, you have no idea what a difference that winter work gloves, winter jackets, fleece jackets (dress in layers), and winter coveralls can make.  It allows guys who may not have resumes or that extensive of work experience to go down to the day labour places and get some work.  Work brings in money but it also allows the guys to prove themselves.  Many of the guys in the shelter go out to a day labour place for a couple of days and get hired on by the company who brought them in.  A couple of years ago a donation came of winter work clothes, the stuff was given out and two guys found work the next day.  Within a short time they were out of the shelter and haven’t looked back since.  It’s a big deal.  You can toss in travel mugs and thermoses into this category as well.  They make working in the cold a lot easier to do.

Necessities of Life

  • The Centre has soap, shampoo, conditioner, and razors to give away for free.  We also have a clothes cave where we can give away clothes that are donated.  What we need is underwear (let’s be honest, no one donates underwear for good reason) and socks (who keeps old socks?).  We could always use new underwear and socks.  In addition, we could always use winter jackets.  During my time at the Centre, I have seen so many hitchhikers be brought in totally frozen by the RCMP or city police and the guy is in a jean jacket an that’s it.  What is frustrating is that the guys are like, I’ll just warm up and keep going in -40 weather while wearing just a jean jacket.  Generally we take them to our Clothes Cave and get some warm stuff.  Also, you have no idea how many cold kids we see who need something warm in extreme weather.  If it warms you up, we will put it to good use.

Reading Material

  • An easy to read translation of the Bible.  Over 50% of our guys at anytime in the Centre are functionally illiterate which makes the KJV translations that the Gideons give out pretty much useless.  Guys love the NLT, Message and CEV bibles when they come in and we can give them out.  Pocket versions are best as they don’t take up that much space is a pack.
  • Magazines :: Sports Illustrated, Men’s Health, National Geographic ¦ you get the point.

Don’t Give These Items

  • Personally I think a multi tool would be great for 97% of our guys and they would really appreciate them but for one or two guys, the damage they would create would be immense and shelters really don’t want knives in them because of the risk they pose.
  • Computer driven electronics. I know that you can get 1 gig MP3 players for under $10 now but where are they going to get charged up, where are the guys going to get the music. Like us, many shelters really don’t want USB devices plugged into their system because virus concerns and also a lot of guys use them to carry porn along with them. It’s not that I care that much what guys are carrying on their USB devices but I do care when I have a computer full of porn and viruses to deal with.

If you have any questions or doubts, contact your local shelter and see what they can use.

Christmas Gifts Ideas for Boys Under Two Year of Age | 2009 Edition

Who would have thought that Oliver would be so hard to shop for.  I don’t remember Mark being so hard to shop for when he was a year and a half but then I realized that so many things I wanted to get Oliver are still sitting in storage because we already bought them for Mark.  In case you are struggling to find out what to buy a toddler, here is a short Christmas Gift Guide to give you some ideas.

Wooden Sleigh :: We bought on of these for Mark, used it for a couple of years and it still looks like it is brand new.  This could conceivably last for 12 kids, even if your marriage couldn’t.  While I linked to the cheapest one I could find on Amazon.com, I am pretty sure you can get them a lot cheaper at your local big box outlet.  I know quality is important but it’s not as if you are letting your kids go down K2 in one of these things.

Calgary Flames Mini Stick :: Ollie is about the age where hitting things is a lot of fun.  The secret it to teach him that it is more fun to hit a ball and a puck than it is to hit Mark and myself.  Since we have a dog that loves to fetch, this could be more fun than what we are bargaining for.7

Toy Tool Set :: With the cost of getting repairmen into your home, it’s never to early to teach a child how to fix a furnace or a hot water heater.

Fisher Price Parking Garage :: Right after Henry Ford started to ship the Model T, Fisher Price started to ship the Fisher Price Parking Garage.  I had one, Lee had one, I am sure my grandparents had one.

Fisher Price Laugh and Learn Puppy :: Lee gave Oliver one of these for his birthday.  It sings, it laughs, it tells jokes, it teaches him things, it drives me crazy.  It is currently teaching Oliver the A-B-Cs, 1-2-3’s and parts of the body, plus sing along to ten favorite songs and games.  It is also giving him investment tips and putting together a retirement plan for him.

I have a digital camera, Wendy has a digital camera, Mark has a digital camera.  Oliver can now have a play camera where he can obsess over the backlighting and the shot as we do with this Playskool play camera.  Now of course he is going to find out that the camera we gave him is a toy when his Flickr account doesn’t get that popular but that won’t happen until he is at least three.  If you want to spend even more money on a fake video camera, there is this one with Elmo.  It doesn’t actually do much but it does it with you kid’s favorite Sesame Street character.
Christmas Gift Ideas and Gift GuidesIf I missed anything or if my suggestion made you think I was absolutely crazy, let me know in the comments. You can access the current edition and previous years list of Christmas gift guides here.

2009 Christmas Gift Ideas

Since many of you are starting your Christmas shopping today (they call it Black Friday for a reason), I thought I would post together my Christmas gift ideas here and hopefully you find what you are looking for.  Good luck out there, you are going to need it.

We also took some time to look at Christmas Gift Guides from yesterday.