Martini Chat: Last-Minute Gift Ideas

For those who wait to the bitter end.
Author:
Publish date:

The following is an excerpt from this week's Martini Chat, an hourlong, online program on market and current events at 5 p.m. EST every Thursday, hosted by TheStreet.com columnist Chris Edmonds and reporter Eric Gillin. To participate, visit TheStreet.com just before the show begins, and click on the invitation.

Eric Gillin:

Chris, we're supposed to be shopping, huh? We're sweating and freaking out because there are only five days until Christmas, and one of them is Sunday, and we don't know...

Chris Edmonds:

Eric, that's right. All of you who still have shopping to do, raise your hands. I know mine just went up. We may have just the answer for you. Some awesome last minute gift suggestions from two of the smartest gift-givers you will ever find. After all, these guys do this for a living.

Consider this our gift to you. With us from San Francisco is Dave Garr of

Surprise.com, and from Atlanta, Bob Zakrzewski, president of

FindGift.com. Both sites are gift consultants, offering their services in helping you find the best possible gift for that special someone, even your dog.

Welcome to you both. Dave, let me begin with you. There's less than a week left before the Christmas holiday season. A lot of people have been very distracted by current events and the economy and have found it hard to focus on the task at hand finding gifts. What advice do you have for people who haven't ventured to the mall and are feeling scads of pressure to come through in the clutch?

Dave Garr:

Never give up.

Surprise.com has a page with last minute gifts. We list places like Ashford and Amazon. You can still order until Saturday at noon and get things by the 24th. We also have gift certificate sites where you can email one on Dec. 24 or 25. You can come to the site, and we'll have gift suggestions. You can go to the mall and buy the gifts.

Eric Gillin:

Bob, it's Eric Gillin in New York. At what point does buying online cease being an option? I know a lot of sites have overnight delivery and ship really quickly, but if Christmas is five days away and there's no mail on Sunday, can you even really shop online anymore?

Bob Zakrzewski:

Most definitely. There's a number you can get last minute. The longer you wait, the less options you have and the more you have to pay for shipping. With three to five days, you can still have confidence in things arriving in time. Christmas deadlines vary depending on the website, but a number of merchants can deliver on the 24th and 25th.

Bitesandgrins.com has a lot of humorous products for your favorite techy.

Eric Gillin:

Dave, crucial last-minute shopping decision? To mall or not to mall? Should people run to the local mall, despite the crowds, because of the diversity of goods out there? Or do you think it's better to hit a Wal-Mart or an all-in-one store?

Dave Garr:

I'd recommend coming to a site like www.surprise.com or www.finegift.com and seeing where the gifts are available. I would recommend Wal-Mart for savings, but if you need to go to a mall, then do that.

Eric Gillin:

OK, quiz time -- let's say I'm a Dad with three kids. One is a teenager, one is a prepubescent, and the last is a toddler. Let's start with the youngest first. What are some solid last-minute gifts for toddlers? Are they really hard to shop for? Will any old stuffed animal do? Bob, you go first.

Bob Zakrzewski:

I think toddlers are easier. So many gifts that if you pick the age range, it's hard to go wrong. I have yet to meet a toddler who doesn't like videos,

Toy Story

or any Disney video. Also, the oversized Lego blocks and train tracks, a Lionel train set. Every Christmas, you can buy them a car. For girls, kitchen sets and fake food are always winners. It's hard to go wrong with a stuffed animal, though for a toddler the more unique and fun the better. Maybe Barney? It depends. Some people like him, but it hasn't found it's way into our home yet.

Eric Gillin:

My prepubescent 9-year-old is like any ordinary kid. He likes action figures and toys, sports and video games, but I'm not sure which ones are the good ones and which are the bad ones. He's even tried his hand at creative stuff, like a model, which may have been too challenging, since he glued half the house to the newspaper. He does seem to like crayons, and he needs clothes. Is it better to buy a 9-year-old general stuff like clothing or books or crayons to be on the safe side? Or should I run the risk of buying him a toy that's inappropriate because it's either not cool or just patently not fun?

Dave Garr:

I'd recommend something like an AirGo pogo stick that uses compressed air or any kind of remote controlled thing. Sharper Image has a hovercraft. Roller sneakers are cool this year, or a video game system?for a 9 year old, either a Game Cube or a Gameboy Advanced Handheld.

Eric Gillin:

And, toddlers and preteens are one thing, because on some level they're so happy to get a gift that anything you get works out well. But with my teenager, I can't detect any discernible likes or dislikes other than the fact she doesn't seem to like hanging out with Dad. Can you help out here? What sort of last-minute gifts can I get my teenagers that will make them happy? Bob, what are your thoughts?

Bob Zakrzewski:

If you have a normal hypothetical teen, then music, electronic stuff, or even cell phones.

Customphones.com can deliver for orders made as late as Christmas Eve. On the sophisticated side, you could get her the rose one. On the sentimental side, a nice watch, pendant, or bracelet would make a nice father to daughter gift.

Dave Garr:

Or gift certificates are good for teens. Even from your local mall.

Chris Edmonds:

Dave, I feel like I have continuously been on party patrol the last two weeks' dinners, open houses, you name it. And, my wife thinks every time we need to sport a gift for the host. What sorts of things make nice last-minute gifts for the host of a party? Any quick fixes this year?

Dave Garr:

The Christmas favorites seem to be wreaths, pine-embedded candles, chocolate covered strawberries, or wine with a personalized label. Maybe a money candle where it burns into a tower and inside is a treasure? That's available at Surprise.com.

Chris Edmonds:

Dave, what are the hottest gifts this year? Here in New York, a lot of the stuff is FDNY, NYPD and USA related. Is that nationwide? What nationwide trends are you seeing?

Bob Zakrzewski:

We are seeing a lot of patriotic items. Many people know someone overseas, and they want to show support. Even in Atlanta we're seeing a lot of flags displayed. It's great to see. We set up a category on www.finegift.com that's become very popular. Others are humorous items and things for techies or computer junkies.

Eric Gillin:

Finally, for both of you, and Dave, lets begin with you. What's your "go to" gift? When you're in a pinch, do you have a stand-by gift?

Dave Garr :

I keep a supply of "Jerry Seinfeld: Live on Broadway CDs."

Eric Gillin:

Bob, your turn.

Bob Zakrzewski:

Gift baskets for me.

Dreammaker.com has a bunch for any occasion, even one with a holiday sleigh. At

Cheesecake.com, you can customize the label with your own personalized message. Their last shipment for Christmas is Saturday morning.

Dave Garr :

Or a gift certificate for a massage or a dinner delivered to the recipient.

Eric Gillin:

Gentlemen, thank you. Hopefully our listeners will put your public service to good use. Once again, our guests are Dave Garr of Surprise.com and Bob Zakrzewski, president of FindGift.com.