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NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Buying Christmas presents should be easier than it is. After all, it's nothing more than going out and finding something fun, pretty or useful, right? With the modern shopping mall at our disposal, not to mention the entirety of the Internet, that should rightfully take about 15 minutes.

Sadly, as we all know, the holidays don't work that way. Some friends and relatives aren't that easy. We all know them -- we all have them: that buddy who only wants four-digit items, the monk-like brother who genuinely doesn't want anything at all or the uncle who just buys whatever catches his eye during the year. We may love this person but does he or she have to be so difficult?

Take heart, there's always something out there! To help with your holiday cheer, here are a few gift suggestions for the hard to please.

1. Zingerman's Food Clubs

Zingerman's is living proof that a deli can somehow achieve brilliance (and that you really can ship cake, cheese or ice cream). Although based in Ann Arbor, Mich., this shop gathers its food from all across the world. Want to try Italian cheese, Mexican hot chocolate and Madagascar vanilla all in one sitting? Look no further.

Although any Zingerman's product would satisfy the food lover in your life, the way to really win Christmas is with a subscription to one of their food-of-the-month clubs. Although one of the more expensive options on this list, this gift offers you an ace in the hole: variety. With a rotating case of foods delivered monthly, there's bound to be something in here that your aunt hasn't seen, and plenty that she'll love.

2. Apps!

At 99 cents apiece, the gift of a smart phone app might seem a little underwhelming. Not to mention difficult to unwrap; how, after all, do you put a bow on an Angry Bird?

That doesn't make it a bad idea. In fact, a collection of useful, fun and offbeat smart phone apps can make an absolutely amazing present with a little time and preparation. By now both the Android and iTunes stores have become enormous haystacks hiding a handful of needles. There's some great stuff in there, but it's buried under a pile of Zynga games.

Save your dad the time and root them out yourself. Digitally gifting a half dozen fantastic games and utilities that he'll use and love will make a far better gift than that DVD you'll all watch once then never think of again.

3. The Complete Calvin & Hobbes

No one can ever go wrong with Bill Watterson's masterpiece. This hardbound collection of comics looks great on a shelf, and even better left open on a night stand.

Funny, moving and thoughtful, Calvin & Hobbes may have ended in 1996, but it's never obsolete.

4. Glass Jewelry

Ordinarily giving jewelry feels like a numbers game: spend more, get more. Next year, spend more to top the last. It's like the last time someone made the mistake of handing me a wine list at dinner. Expensive must equal better. (Plus, who can say no to a Nebraskan zinfandel?)

With glass jewelry those rules go right out the window. Artists can do just about anything they want with shaped glass, offering you the opportunity to buy extraordinarily beautiful jewelry at an affordable cost. These aren't your grade school beads but graceful works of art laced with vivid colors and more imagination than the gem industry has offered in a long time.

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5. Quality Consumables

I've lumped this into one category, even though it contains multitudes.

Consumables can make great gifts with a little bit of time and effort. There's always something your gift recipient likes to eat or drink, and by definition they'll eventually run out. Don't settle for just another bottle of their favorite brand though; that's not a gift, it's just running an errand. Find something new, something they haven't tried before.

For the coffee drinker in your life, I recommend a pound of strong Brazilian beans. Beer fans will probably love Ayinger or Victory Brewing Company's Winter Cheers. Someone who likes fine foods will probably enjoy some French Comte. Remember: the gift is introducing them to a new favorite flavor, not the bottle itself.

6.Portable Phone Charger

Back to cell phones for a minute, because pretty much everyone has one and would like it to work better.

A portable phone charger is a small device that, as the name suggests, plugs into your cell phone to recharge it once the battery has drained. They're fantastic in age where power hungry smart phones have outpaced battery life. Powered either by AA batteries or a wall charger, these devices come in handy the moment after you realize you forgot to plug the phone in last night.

Ignore the first few entries on the list linked above. Portable chargers are small, generally inexpensive and fantastically useful. Not only that but they fly under the radar, so odds are good that uncle who has everything hasn't got one.

7.Framed Map

Great for the traveler in your life, but good for anyone who spends time daydreaming about the next horizon. A beautiful framed map, like those offered by National Geographic, not only looks great but conjures up a spirit of adventure. Every line, dot and dash represents the dust of foreign soil just waiting to be discovered.

Better than a lifetime subscription to Lonely Planet, a beautiful piece of cartography not only looks great on the living room wall but might even lead to some exciting stories around next year's Christmas table.

8.Banana Keyboard

O.K., it's not actually a banana keyboard. In fact, I'm not 100% sure what the MaKey MaKey is aside from incredible cool. One of Kickstarter's most famous success stories, the MaKey MaKey is a programmable circuit board that you can connect via alligator clips to just about anything that conducts electricity. Once set up, it can turn into an instrument, game controller, keyboard and more.

Nintendo controller made out of Play-Dough? It can do that. Remote control sedan? No problem. Water drums? Yep.

The MaKey MaKey is clever, creative, smart and fun. It's a great idea for anyone who could use a toy to play with on Christmas morning.

9.Remote Control Helicopter

I can never get enough of these. Several years back my brother and I bought the Battling Remote Control Choppers from Sharper Image and, these days, most Christmases dissolve into dogfights with the equipped infrared lasers. (Score a hit and your opponent's helicopter temporarily spins out of control. It's awesome.)

I'm a huge fan of Christmas gifts you can unwrap and just play with. Running rampant with new toys is part of what makes Christmas morning so wonderful no matter what your age, and these small helicopters may be one of the best I've ever played with. Anyone who loves gadgets, toys or joy will appreciate them.

10. Whiskey Stones

A great yet understated gift for anyone who enjoys good liquor. The problem with ice is that, while it keeps a glass cold, it does so by steadily watering down the contents. Not a problem with a glass of cola, this is a much bigger issue with $20 worth of whiskey.

Hence, the expression to serve something on the rocks. A cooled bit of soapstone will keep the drink chilled without ruining it. Like the portable charger, whiskey stones may be gaining in popularity, but it's still a pretty good bet that your friend or family member doesn't have them.

<—p> —Written for MainStreet by Eric Reed, a freelance journalist who writes frequently on the subjects of career and travel. You can read more of his work at his website www.wanderinglawyer.com.