Last Minute Christmas Gift Ideas: Walmart, Sears
I just searched for last minute gift ideas and realized that the search results are full of people with Nieman-Marcus style and budget instead of Sears Roebuck. So here’s my list of easy-to-find-locally, cheap, and much appreciated last minute gift items.
Leave the “Magnet Kits” to the Nieman Marcus crowd and head for the crafts department.
Once as kids we smashed apart a TV we found in a dump because we heard that powerful magnets could be found inside. Such is the attraction children have for magnets, one of the two or three most precious items in the pantheon of lower-middle class childhood booty.
So you can pony up the $30 for a tame Magnetic Kit. Or you can buy for $6 in the crafts department 50 magnets that your kids can use to discover all there is to learn about attraction, polarity, repulsion, and fooling your little brother with a piece of cardboard. And as every kid knows, it’s the number of magnets that makes it fun, not their pedigree.
An 18″ x 24″ chalkboard fits on a kid’s lap and provides hours of fun.
If you prefer getting a real version of something rather than the more expensive kids version of that same thing, then consider these chalkboards from Walmart. They are roughly 1/3 the price of the self-standing kids chalkboards and I know from personal experience that it is preferable to sit these on your lap as you draw railroad tracks to everywhere, guillotines, and ships at sea. The 18″ x 24″ version ($16.48) is best for laptop use, and I recommend green only because that’s what I had and loved it. These are composition based, not slate based, so you have to erase them with a moistened cloth.
Yes, your wife will think you’re crazy but my daughters really found these useful.
My wife thought I was crazy but I’ve given the Walmart ball compass to my college age daughters and they have loved them. They’re easy to carry in your purse and they will make the female loved ones in your life the equal of anyone else when it comes to directions. Find them near the camping/fishing gear.
Edam Cheese, in the fancy cheese aisle.
For some reason it strikes me as the perfect everyman fantasy to finally be able to afford all those $12/lb cheeses, gourmet mustards, and specialty pepper sauces we family men have resigned ourselves to doing without. So go down to the Walmart supercenter or the nearest upscale market and buy your guy some Chili-Lime Gouda or Edam cheese. It’s under $10 and shows how thoughtful you are.
Stealth “funny book by the the Narnia guy”
Stealth gift for teenagers: If your child is of a literary bent, there’s no better stealth gift than The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis, available via “ship to store” at Walmart. Just toss it off as “I heard this is really funny–it’s the guy who wrote the Narnia books” and hope they take the bait. It’s short, very funny for the mature reader who can keep up with some older references to WWII, rationing etc., and probably the most entertaining book on morality ever written in English.
If you’ve seen him use a Bic pen in public, buy him the Parker Jotter.
A friend, a brilliant software executive, once confided that he loses pens all the time. We compared notes one day and each of us had of course lost our beautiful graduation pens within the first year. We concluded that we are simply not suitable recipients of gift pens.
Independent of each other we had learned that the cheapest decent pen around is the Parker Jotter Pen. It is the “go to” pen for the guy who can’t keep hold of a pen and doesn’t want to look like some kind of piker by whipping out a $0.29 Bic pen at a meeting. It goes for about $6 and is sold just about everywhere. If you’ve ever seen your loved one use a cheapo Bic pen in public, go buy him one of these and a 2 pack of refills. Better still, ditch the refills and just buy him two pens because he’ll lose the pen before he ever needs the refill.
Can you figure out a game you can play with this? ‘Nerf said.
Here is a gift that you can use to play a really fun game that the manufacturer will never, ever, tell you about–not in this world and in this litigious business environment. It is the Nerf N-Strike Maverick which is described at BoysStuff.Info this way.
The Maverick is very robust and well put together. The shooting device is a simple revolver, which is both reliable and effective. Just like with a real revolver, as you cock the gun the revolver turns to line up for the next shot.
The very fun game that you can play using this gun (i.e. the game that the manufacturer will never tell you about) is a very safe and benign variation of a game that you may be familiar with if you are a fan of Michael Cimino or Christopher Walken. It is a game that can really only be played with a rotating barrel. And it is a game that you would not want to describe to anyone who is not 100% emotionally stable. The nerf variation of the game is surprisingly intense and a tremendous amount of fun at a party. But again, you’ll never hear me, the manufacturer, or anyone responsible suggest the game to a large audience.
Previous Year’s Recommendations (no longer on sale)
If your man is a home owner with any kind of yard he will love these Sears Craftsmen $25 work gloves that are now selling for $22.49 in store or online–that is if he doesn’t already have them. (Or get the medium duty version for $13.49.)
Manly man gloves, for the guy who would never spend $25 on gloves.