With the Thanksgiving turkey fully digested and the swirl of Black Friday shopping out of the way, buying will begin in earnest for the holiday season. What gift will you get for grandma this year? Want to give something unique for $100 or less? Can’t decide between tablets? Here are three gift guides to give you some ideas:
Twelve crazy ways to spend $100
1. One pound of Wagyu beef: If you’re a steak lover, treat yourself or a friend to what better be the best cut of beef you’ve ever tasted in your life. Wagyu is a breed of cattle that produces densely marbled beef. In fact, it’s known as the “foie gras of beef.”
2. Archery gear: Anyone with an interest in archery can purchase the Diamond Sub-Atomic Youth Build-a-Bow package from Bass Pro Shops for $99.99. This beginner package includes a bow riser, bow limbs, bow limb inserts, bow string, arrow rest, three arrows, assembly bolts and wrench, and a Diamond tattoo
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3. Remote control helicopter with built-in camera: Make the dream of owning a helicopter – albeit a toy one – a reality by purchasing the Odyssey Flying Toys 12-inch Nighthawk Helicopter with built-in camera on Amazon. Not only does it have a remote, this helicopter also features a video camera with an SD card slot. Additionally, it comes with an alloy structure, a 1 GB micro-SD card and a front spotlight.
4. 23andMe DNA kit: Genealogy nut on your gift list? Purchase a DNA kit from 23andMe for $99 to help them learn more about their family heritage.
5. Suitjama set. Know any fans of “How I Met Your Mother”? If so, they might remember when Barney Stinson donned these fancy pajamas, designed to resemble a suit. Perfect for occasions when someone wants to look distinguished while lounging around the house. The Suitjama set is priced at $89 and comes in navy blue, grey, black and purple.
6. Modal sheets: Indulge someone on your list in a blissful night’s rest each and every time their head hits the pillow by purchasing Modal sheets from Bed Bath & Beyond. Modal is a high-strength fiber from the Beechwood trees of Europe, free of pesticides and toxins. Choose from a variety of colors, sizes, weaves and thread counts. Prices vary but can reach as high as $99.
7. Sonicare toothbrush: Who doesn’t love that fresh from the dentist feeling? Treat someone on your gift list to a professional grade cleaning everyday by purchasing the Sonicare HealthyWhite electric toothbrush set, available at Wal-Mart for $99.95. The Sonic technology in this tooth brush helps clean hard-to-reach areas, and includes a sensitive mode that’s gentle on gums. Included in the package is the Sonicare toothbrush handle, multi-voltage charger, a teeth whitening pen and $50 coupon for professional whitening.
8. Dartboard: Help someone on your list equip a game room or man cave with the Blade 4 Dual-Core Bristle Dartboard, available at Wal-Mart for $87.94. This regulation size bristle board features a new staple-free wiring system, has 50 percent thinner Dynamic Sector Wire to reduce bounce-outs and increase scoring potential, and is incredibly durable, with a long-life sisal base.
9. Bug-A-Salt gun: Know any clean freaks with a sense of adventure? No matter how clean their house is and how much they try to keep them out, dirty flies always find a way to sneak in. Make this problem a thing of the past by purchasing the Bug-A-Salt. The shotgun contains regular table salt and all you have to do is fire it and the salt decimates flies on contact. Guns sell for $39.95.
10. Levitation device: Fascinated with floating objects? Purchase the Levitron Revolution with EZ Float technology for $99.99 and float nearly any object weighing up to 12 ounces. This is a great way to display small objects, such as collectibles or office supplies, in the most unique manner possible.
11. Five flocks of ducks: If you want to use $100 to make a difference in the lives of the less fortunate, purchase five flocks of ducks – at $20 per flock – from Heifer International. The ducks will be given to a family in poverty who can’t afford to purchase food. Not a fan of ducks? You can also buy a flock of chicks for $20, rabbits for $60 or honeybees for $30.
12. Land in Scotland: For just roughly $78.44 American, you can purchase a 10 square-foot plot of land in Lochaber, which located in the Scottish Highlands. The property is the site of Highland Titles’ Nature Reserve. You'll receive a certificate declaring the recipient as a Laird, Lord or Lady of Glencoe and a variety of other fun gifts.
Laura Woods, GOBankingRates.com
Gift ideas for five hard-to-buy-for people
MILLENNIAL. What child of the ’90s didn’t waste hours every day on a Sega Genesis? Now you can re-create the old days with a Sega Genesis that actually works (Bed, Bath and Beyond, $39.99). Warning: This present, which includes two controllers and several built-in games, may reduce your 20-something to a puddle of nostalgic tears.
The millennial is often unfairly maligned as self-centered and frivolous. An adorable monogram necklace with his or her initial won’t do much to counter that impression, but we sure do want one.
TWEEN. We feel safe in guessing that the preteen in your life is asking a lot of questions about zombies. He’s not quite ready for The Walking Dead, but the comical picture book Zombies Hate Stuff may do the trick in the meantime (Amazon, $9.61). Apparently, zombies don’t have much love for kittens, hippies and clowns. Who knew?
Groom the next Kelly Clarkson early with a Plug-N-Play karaoke microphone (Gifts.com, $35.95). It works like a karaoke machine but without the bulk, plugging directly from the mike into a DVD player and preset with 150 songs.
WIFE. If you really want to impress your lady, you need to do a little Internet stalking now. No, really. Check out her Pinterest board (yes, she has one) for some inspiration. Chances are she has an item or two you could pick up at Target. But if all else fails, or you just can’t bear to go down that rabbit hole, we’re sure she will love you forever if you get her a set of Olivia Pope wine glasses ($14.95 each at Crate & Barrel).
You love a deal, and so does your wife. Impress the heck out of her with a Groupon Getaway. Take a spin through coupon sites like Groupon, Yelp and Living Social to assemble all the things you and your honey might need for a date night, vacation, staycation or even a solo getaway for her. Book a hotel room for half off, schedule a spa package, throw in an adventure and don’t forget a dining experience.
DAD. Capitalize on the newfound fascination with craft beer and get your pops (or anyone, really) a wooden six-pack holder with his name on it ($49, RedEnvelope.com). Don’t forget to load up Dad’s favorite new thing with six bottled beers he has never tried.
So your dad is a Trekkie, eh? Prove to him that you were listening to his rants about Dr. Spock or whoever all those years with Star Trek-themed patent art (Amazon, $39.95).
RANDMA. We can hear it already. Your grandmother says this holiday season she only wants“the pleasure of your company” - again. Sorry, Gran, not going to happen. Stop by Sephora and pick out lotions or body wash from high-end brands like Philosophy that are too luxurious to disappear unused into her medicine cabinet. (Gift sets range from $20 to $75.)
Pool gift money among your cousins and pull your grandparents into the modern age with an electronic tablet, like a Kindle from Amazon (ranges from $119 for Kindle Paperwhite to $379 for the flashy Kindle Fire HDX 8.9) or an iPad Mini 3 ($399). They'll have a blast, even if it’s just to read e-books and text you through Words With Friends.
Katie Sanders, Kameel Stanley, Keyonna Summers and Keeley Sheehan, Tampa Bay Times
Time for a tablet?
Here are some buying tips organized by system. Prices listed are for base models. You can typically spend more for additional storage or LTE cellular connectivity.
APPLE’S iOS. The iPad remains top of the line among tablets. The selection of apps designed specifically for it is unmatched. Those who already have iPhones will appreciate the ability to start email and other tasks on one device and finish on the other. You can even make phone calls from iPads, if you have an iPhone on the same Wi-Fi network.
The downside is the $499 price tag for the latest full-size model, the iPad Air 2. Many Android tablets are cheaper. You do get a light and skinny device for the price, with a camera that matches the iPhone’s 8 megapixels (though the iPad still lacks a flash). The new Air also has a fingerprint sensor to bypass security passcodes and to authorize online purchases using Apple Pay. It won’t work with in-store payments, though.
If you are on a budget or want a smaller device, consider last year’s iPad Mini 2 for $299. This year’s Mini doesn’t have many improvements over last year’s model, except for the fingerprint and Apple Pay capabilities. The convenience might not be worth spending more for the $399 iPad Mini 3.
You might consider putting the savings toward a mid-tier or higher-end model. With both the Air 2 and the Mini 3, you can upgrade to 64 gigabytes of storage from 16 GB for just $100 more. Or get 128 GB for $200 more than the base model.
GOOGLE'S ANDROID. Android phones and tablets don’t let you switch back and forth as easily as Apple devices do. The advantage of sticking with an Android tablet for Android phone owners is having a unified library of apps.
Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S is the best of the Android tablets I’ve tried. The display uses a technology called AMOLED to produce colors that pop out as you view video or browse the Web. But the Tab S also comes with a high price tag – $500 for the full-size model and $400 for the smaller one.
Samsung does offer an even-pricier Pro series, with screens of up to 12.2 inches diagonally, but that’s really aimed at professionals. Full-size models tend to be nine or 10 inches, while mini models are seven or eight inches. At the small and cheap end, Samsung offers the 7-inch Galaxy Tab 4 for about $180. Book lovers can choose a Nook edition, made in partnership with Barnes & Noble.
Google’s $399 Nexus 9 has the advantage of running an Android version that’s closest to Google’s vision. Samsung and other manufacturers typically add their own twists, which can confuse consumers. The Nexus does have a wireless chip for in-store mobile payments using Google Wallet, if you feel like waving it around in the checkout line.
I’m including Amazon’s Fire HDX tablets under Android, even though the system’s been modified so much that there’s little resemblance. App selection isn’t as good as what you get on purer Android devices. But Amazon is able to add such features as one-button access to live video help. It is great for first-time tablet owners and comes at a nice price – the full-size model for $379 and the smaller one for $179.
MICROSOFT'S WINDOWS. Until Windows 10 comes out next year, there’s a huge divide between Windows phones and Windows tablets. Apps aren’t compatible, and Windows tablets have more in common with Windows desktops and laptops. A Windows tablet is best suited for someone looking to replace a PC. In fact, many Windows tablets are just laptops with detachable keyboards.
There are too many models to list, so I'll use Microsoft’s own Surface Pro 3 as an example. You type on a touch screen or attach a $130 keyboard cover. The Surface itself starts at $799, though configurations go as high as $1,949 for those serious about ditching the PC. The Surface’s built-in kickstand can be adjusted to a range of positions, some better for desks and others for the lap. The best thing about Windows tablets is their ability to run regular Windows software, such as Office and Photoshop. Other tablets have, at best, a light version.
Anick Jesdanun, The Associated Press