Tracey’s Gift-Giving Guide: Part 2 – Electronics

A Playstation 4 or an XBox One


Now here’s the thing…chances are that if you haven’t already purchased this present for your loved one, it’s not going to happen before the holiday season. As I mentioned in a previous post these two devices are THE THINGS to get this year, so if didn’t either pre-order one or camp out all night for a midnight release, there’s an extremely good chance that you’re not going to get one. Good luck.

That said, I still felt I should mention them because, again, they’re going to be THE THINGS this year. Every gamer out there (except for the PC gamers, who we will not speak of here…;)) is going to want one or the other, or perhaps even both, so if your loved one is anything like my husband, the fastest way to their heart is one of these two devices.

Just makes sure you’re get the proper one. You do not want to find yourself in the middle of a console war. @_@

A Media “Box”


Do you have a loved one in your life who watches a lot of their media on their computer? Someone who has tons of movies and TV shows on their hard drive, or who prefers Netflix and Hoolu to satellite television? You may want to consider getting them a media box!

There are a variety of brands out there, but the basic idea of each of them is that they allow you to stream a variety of file types and utilize a number of internet-based services on your television. Depending on which box you decide on you can either place your files on a personal hard drive and connect directly to the box, or you can set up your internet and network sharing options so that the box can stream files over the network from your computer to your television. Additionally, many of the options out there have access to all kinds of internet services.

This one might require a bit of research to decide which box is best for your particular loved one. My husband and I personally have two WDTV boxes (one older one that doesn’t have wireless internet capabilities, and a newer one that has both wireless and it’s own internal hard drive), and while we’ve had our issues with them (WDTV support is effectively useless) we’ve definitely made great use of them. For this time of the year my husband has a collection of Christmas specials on a hard drive so that we can enjoy holiday fun on any television in the house all season long. 🙂

Depending on which one you choose, this gift will run you anywhere from about $80 to $200+.

A Smartphone

Plan you strategy carefully…when considering a gift that will actually end up costing the recipient money (hello, monthly data plan!) you must be very careful. If your recipient is currently on a plan with an older phone, you don’t want to set up a new plan that will be costing them three times as much each month. Similarly, if your recipient doesn’t currently have a cell phone at all, you must take into consideration that they have no intention of paying a monthly bill for something they hadn’t bothered to buy for themselves.

That said, if you have someone who is looking to upgrade their phone, or you’re in a situation in which you’re going to be paying the bill anyway (such as a gift between spouses), this is a great idea. My personal experience has shown time and again that even people who think that they have no use for a smart phone almost always end up loving them in the end. Even if your recipient is not the kind of person to hang out on Facebook or feels the need to check their email a hundred times a day, smart phones are just outrageously useful in a number of ways. My husband and I might have wasted our entire shopping trip to New Brunswick being as lost as a blind puppy if it weren’t for our phones and the Google Maps app.

Of course the price-range on this gift can vary dramatically depending on what you’re looking at. Some dealers will be offering last-gen phones (which are still perfectly excellent devices) for $0 with certain packages and contracts. The newest phones will cost anywhere up to several hundred dollars, depending on what you’re buying, whether you’re buying it outright or with a contract, and whether or not you’re paying for the contract in question yourself. Again, plan carefully.

It’s also worth mentioning that you might want to suss out the recipient of this gift on what kind of phone they might be most interested in. There are lots of iPhone enthusiasts out there, just as there are many people who would want literally any other phone before an iPhone. I personally love my iPhone, but if I were going to buy a new phone now I would definitely go for one in the Samsung series. Be careful not to get the exact opposite thing that your loved one would want!

Do you have any awesome suggestions for electronic gifts? Please share!

Stay tuned for Tracey’s Gift-Giving Guide: Part 3 – TOYS!

To Avoid Holiday Insanity, Please Follow Me

This slightly late, fatigue-riddled post is brought to you by a mother who loves Christmas and loathes shopping.

Ladies and Gents, there are less than six weeks to shop before Christmas, and while that may seem like plenty I’m here to tell you that it is NOT. As I mentioned before, my husband and I have a method of shopping for Christmas all year through…if we see something in January that we think is a good gift for someone, we’ll pick it up. But we do still do some actual shopping coming up to the holidays because obviously.

Yesterday we made one of those such shopping trips to the city, hoping to tie things up as best we could so we wouldn’t have to worry about it. I won’t say that the stores and malls were packed, but for a Wednesday they were pretty darn busy.

And here’s the thing. It’s only going to explode from here on out. You just watch; before you know what happened it’s going to take you an hour and half a bottle of Advil just to pick up some milk after work.

This is the definition of hell, RIGHT HERE. – Image via

Tonight, at midnight, stores are going to be having late night releases of the Playstation 4. Shortly after, there will be similar releases for the XBox One. This is the first stage in insanity, because no matter how hard you try to explain to people that something is the biggest device of the season and that “we’re all sold out dammit, and no we’re not hiding any in the back, why the hell would we do that?”, people will still flood the stores, kicking and screaming and positively losing their minds because they weren’t on-the-ball enough to pre-order the most important thing that their loved one wants for Christmas. The stores will be packed with these people from tomorrow straight up to Christmas Eve, mark my words.

The second stage in the insanity comes two weeks from now. I’m not sure how many people have noticed this besides my husband and I, but I’m willing to bet it’s not many…see, because of the timing of US Thanksgiving this year, Black Friday lands at the very end of the month. The sales and warnings (ONLY X-NUMBER OF DAYS LEFT, DAMMIT!) that prompt people to run to the stores with credit card in hand are coming late this year, which can only incite further “Oh crap, I haven’t started shopping yet!” panic. On a similar note, Cyber Monday (which, reasonably, comes after Black Friday) will also be late, meaning that the post and shipping companies are going to be slogged with goods purchased online that absolutely must make it to their destinations by Christmas even though they have significantly less time to do so than they have in the past. (In other words, if you’re planning on shipping something to a loved one for Christmas, you better take into consideration that delivery times are going to be much worse this year than they were last year).

The third stage in the insanity is, quite simply, the same stage we deal with every year. People wait until the last minute. They rush in with heads full of stress, short fuses, and no idea what they’re going to buy. They traipse into stores with only the vaguest idea of the toy their kid wants and expect every sales associate to know exactly what they’re talking about when all they can offer is broad descriptions like, “this princess” or “this superhero”. They don’t plan ahead, is what I’m getting at here.

I beg you, don’t be these people. These people are the reason that Christmas turns into a huge, stress-filled ball of anger and frustration. Plan ahead. Start shopping NOW (if you haven’t already), and put some effort into it beforehand. It’s really not that difficult to open a Sears Wish Book and get your kid to point to the exact toys they want, or get them to write a letter to Santa. And (though it’s too late now for the PS4 and XBox One), if someone you love is super-excited for something that’s highly anticipated enough to be having huge midnight-release parties all across the continent, you may want to consider getting that item ordered in advance. If there’s one thing everyone should have learned the year the Nintendo Wii came out it’s that just because you want it doesn’t mean that the stores are going to have it for you, especially of ten million other people want it at the same time.

This Christmas PSA brought to you by a woman who watches this stuff happen year after year and wonders how nobody ever seems to catch on.