Gifts That Go Beyond the Gadget

December 16, 2009 | By | Comments (0)

Somewhere on your holiday lists this year—either your personal wish list or the list of gifts you've yet to buy—is bound to be some kind of tech. Maybe it's an iPhone for your spouse or a gaming system for the kids. Perhaps it's a sassy new netbook for your mother or a Keurig coffee maker for the dorm-living college student in your life. No matter the gadget or device, one thing's for sure: tech is a lot more expensive than, say, a nice hardcover book or a cozy pair of slippers.

If the requested gadget or gizmo is a budget buster for you, but you know someone else in the extended family is giving or getting one, I've got a few ideas for gifts that go beyond the gadget.

Let's start with the iPhone user on your list. Users can get more out of their device with MobileMe, a subscription service that syncs the iPhone to a Mac or PC without docking. E-mail, calendar events, and contacts are pushed to all devices and what's even better is MobileMe helps you find a lost iPhone and wipe it clean from a remote location if it's been stolen. MobileMe is $99 a year and includes 20GB of combined email and file storage and 200GB of monthly data transfer. If they've already got MobileMe, maybe a pair of Freehand gloves for $18 is a better choice.

For your mom who has a new netbook but doesn't know how Wi-Fi works or how to get on Facebook to see your pictures, consider gifting a membership to the FloH Club. Started by Florence Henderson, a.k.a. Carol Brady, the FloH Club offers telephone computer support for seniors. Our parents didn't grow up with computers the way we did (or I should say, the way my niece did). And for many, venturing out beyond e-mail can be daunting. A one-time "Empowerment Service" costs $49.95 and teaches your mom how to use e-mail, Facebook, and Skype videoconferencing as well as teaching her how to set up her digital camera and download photos, set up a printer, and set up an iPod or Mp3 player.

For the gamers in your life, how about an XBOX live 12-month Gold Card? The subscription sells for around $40 and allows users to play against friends anywhere in the world and watch thousands of HD movies from Netflix (Netflix membership sold separately, of course). If you want to gift a Netflix subscription, a 3-month subscription runs around $42 for two DVDs at a time.

And then there's those Keurig coffee makers. They seem to be popping up everywhere and you can count me among the recently converted. You can't beat the convenience of the K-Cup system, especially if the people in your house or office enjoy different kinds of coffee and tea. My husband is a dark roast kind of guy. Me? I prefer a medium roast thank you very much. I can't say I'm crazy about the generated waste, but there is a new accessory to address that problem.The reusable K-Cup filter allows you to use your own gourmet ground coffee in your Keurig brewer. It retails for $14.95.

I don't know about you, but I love the idea of practical and consumable gifts. What's your favorite consumable gift to give or receive?