2015 Holiday Gift Guide

Have you been naughty or nice this year? Photo Courtesy: Fausto Hernandez
Have you been naughty or nice this year? Photo Courtesy: Fausto Hernandez

By Taylor C. Berrier

I’m sure most of us by now already have a Christmas list written up that can cover a roll of toilet paper  front and back. But that’s just too much stuff. Where are you gunna put it all? Do you really expect your friends and family to destroy the Rainforest gift wrapping all that crap? Hell no. Plus, if you are like me,  you have friends who don’t celebrate Christmas so you can forget getting everything on your list no  matter how hard you beg and plead with those heathens.

All kidding aside, just because you don’t celebrate the holidays doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the  experience and uplifting feeling that comes with the act of gift giving. I wanted to write this holiday gift guide with the intention of maintaining that sappy sentimentality of the past but still end up leaving you being remembered as the Pauper of the Present during this holiday season.

Let’s begin with the one thing we all want, we could all use, and the thing that always sounds so cool when revealed on any game show. A brand new car. Although not exactly in every one’s budget, a car probably is the best gift one could give besides giving a house to a homeless person. But not just any car mind you. After all, driving is work and who wants to do that during the holidays.

From RC toys to a BMW controlled by your cell phone, cars always have been fantasized in a fashion that would remove all the effort of actually driving them. That’s right, I’m talking about driverless cars. The subject of many recent news stories, Google, Ford, and Mercedes all are getting behind this wonderful idea and trying to make what used to be a thing of the future a thing of now. Maybe just slightly  unreasonable to offer this up as a gift this holiday season. But if you could get your hands on one of the first ones, it undoubtedly would make for the best gift given in your office secret Santa exchange.

You’re probably already labeling me a lunatic and dismissing everything I’ve already said. Fifty years from now when they will be able to print these puppies out for the cost of a dime, you can expect Santa will be outsourcing his deliveries of driverless cars to his elves as they will be at the top of everyone’s  fantasy wish list.

Put down that iPhone! Now throw it in the trash, and that stupid watch too. Apple users don’t prefer the basic ecosystem iOS employs, if that’s what they are telling you then they are lying or ignorant. The logo makes it clear what you are buying into: a half-eaten piece of fruit. If you are trying to claim superiority over someone, a plain old iPhone isn’t going to cut it.

Well, if you are a reasonable person and did not throw your iPhone away like I told you to, good, because there is another way you can disregard all reason and logic but still win an argument over who has the better phone, you or your friend with that Sony or Samsung. Cover that bad boy in diamonds. Yeah, you heard me, diamonds. Buy a plane ticket to the UK and talk to this man, Alexander Amosu, world renowned luxury designer for men’s fashion and mobile devices. He can customize iPhones, Blackberrys, and even your suit with any array of gold, platinum or diamonds of your choosing. Cause if you are going to give a phone to someone as a gift, you might as well say you care by giving them one worth more than their first born. You just can’t beat a present made out of diamonds.

Now, on to something slightly more affordable: 4k TVs. Chances are, whatever you are binging on at the moment whether it be Game of Thrones, Narcos, or even the new-classic Empire series, it’s going to look its best on an organic light-emitting diode screen (OLED) that’s at least 4k resolution and curved. Still considered a luxury item even by the top 1 percent of Americans and still more common in executive boardrooms, mansions, and the store shelves from which they’re sold, these high class televisions slowly are making their way into more and more hands as companies find ways to reduce their costs and increase scale production.

But this wish list is only the best of the best, so go ahead and pass right on by those Vizio’s, LG’s, and Samsung’s you saw being sold on Black Friday. Labels might not be everything when it comes to electronics, but rest assured, THX certification is nothing to blink your eyes at and the only maker offering such is Panasonic. The 85-inch AX850 will cost about as much as that driverless car and even though these aren’t exactly items you can gift wrap and hand over to your secret Santa, they sure would look pretty with a big red bow attached to them.

Sorry Texas Instruments, but anyone with one of these Panasonics won’t be visiting your DLP projectors at the IMAX any time soon. Short of giving that special someone these super special televisions, you always can remodel an entire section of your living quarters to be made into a personal home theater.

OK, maybe you don’t need electronics. You’re probably more of a man’s man who knows your way around building one of those custom home theaters or is perhaps working on your own driverless automobile in your already custom-built garage. Well, if you stocked up on tools on Black Friday like I did, then you probably need a good place to store them all. More likely the kind of tools you employ are a bit fancier than most and you need a fancier place to keep them well protected. Check out the Westward Premium Combination Tool Chest/Cabinet by Grainger. These suckers feature 24 drawers on wheels in your choice of red, black, or for an extra grand, stainless steel. These are the Trump Towers of tool cabinets generally reserved for top-of-the-line industries and Formula-1 auto shops. They also weigh in at 650 pounds when empty, so when you get it delivered, slap one of those big red bows on top and call it a day.

This thing not is only a work of art, but it’s built to last a lifetime in your garage or workshop. I don’t swear by brand loyalty except when it comes to Adidas, there are other great tool cabinets out there, just like Sony, Samsung, and LG really do make great electronics. Snap-On makes an incredible tool cabinet as well that I thought worth mentioning. For around the same price range as the Grainger, you will get a more “decked out” tool cabinet than your average one with lights, skin decals, and special editions, or double down your dollars with double-wides for double the storage capacity. Pretty sick stuff for serious professionals only.

Image Courtesy: Manly Man Company®

This might sound crazy, but have you ever thought about giving the gift of jerky for Christmas? Sure it’s affordable, it tastes great (like who doesn’t love jerky?) but most importantly; you’re supporting a veteran-owned business. The Manly Man Company® run by Greg Murray (Marine Corps) offers man bouquets made of beef jerky. This growing company that takes care of men boasts an ever-growing line of unique, custom and curated gifts. You know you need to check them out!

Maybe the person you are buying the gift for is the active type. Active so much that their insurance  company is making a fortune off their premiums because let’s face it, with all that mountain biking and death defying, they are a bigger liability than your pipe-smoking grandpa. So they enjoy a little  off-roading from time to time, and who can blame them, everyone enjoys a good adventure, we’re just not all willing to risk our lives for it.

The less-active may instead chose to live vicariously through another’s recorded exploits. And what better way to record these than with a GoPro, a camera small enough to take with you anywhere but the center of a volcano or the earth’s molten outer core. But why get just the camera when you can get your own photographer, well, more or less.

Avoid having to worry about your tech getting as damaged as you might be if something goes wrong and have that nice expensive GoPro floating high above you in the air by a nice expensive UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle), more commonly referred to as a drone. Bundles of cameras and drones are easy to find and readily available, for the right price. And that adrenaline junky is going to need that bundle. Just make sure they share their epic footage with you before they publish it on YouTube, maybe they’ll thank you in the credits.

Moving on to the gift for some of the least active people – a slightly more affordable item that still requires some of the deepest of pockets – is one specifically tailored to the gamer. Your typical gamer isn’t going to be impressed by just any game disc, or game system for that matter. If you are going to gift the joy of gaming to someone, it might as well be the complete package, one they will spend more time hypnotized by than the lifetime of road hypnosis saved by owning a driverless car. PlayStation, XBOX, PC, it really don’t matter as long as you are dreading across that post-apocalyptic wasteland only found in the world of Fallout.

If one gift on this list isn’t enough to break the bank and you find yourself needing to give two gifts, this would be a perfect pair if played on one of those 4k 3D OLED curved TVs. You might be thinking what’s all this going to run you, besides the $13,000 television. Well, depending on the system, the core thing you need to play on, you’re looking at anywhere between $300 and $3.000. You’re going to need multiple controllers, there’s a couple of bills, a headset – another bill or two, and the game, which of course, if you want the best, go with the collector’s edition, always. Usually only available for pre-order before its release, any version of the game usually can be found for a price afterwards through your neighborhood auction site: eBay. In this case, try and go for the Fallout 4 Pip-boy Edition and the Mini Nuke Bundle, right now looking at half a grand to get all the good stuff. The recipient of this gift will be grateful for all the additional content. For an even more complete package, check out The Emperor LX, the ultimate gaming chair designed by Modern Work Environment Lab, sure to set you back $21,500.

Live in Texas? I’ve got you covered. Last but not least on my holiday wish list is another, but different  type of tool cabinet: The Browning Platinum Plus PP66 gun safe. For anyone who thinks nine grand is a drop in the bucket compared to the safety of their precious firearms, the Browning series gun safe is a perfect, decorative accent to any home, mansion, or ranch where the 2nd Amendment reigns supreme over the 1st.

With the Platinum Plus, no one will claim you ill-equipped for that inevitable zombie apocalypse or that ISIS takeover of our homeland. Yes, owning one of these means bearing the responsibility of saving the world if/when it starts going up in flames, because no one will be more prepared than you.

Even if you don’t own guns or maybe just own one little pistol, doesn’t mean you don’t need this safe. It holds the industry’s highest standard of fire resistant materials and can keep your roommates, you know the ones, the ones with a complete lack of restraint, from jacking all your Twinkies or Cheetos. It’s even the perfect gift to store another perfect gift inside of it: guns. So, guns aren’t the greatest invention in the world, but one can’t deny the artistic value many hold to these finely crafted pieces of metal. Just don’t let yourself get locked inside one of these.

I realize this list walks a fine line of insanity when it comes to its price tags, but don’t think for a minute there aren’t more budget-conscious items out there on sale this holiday season that every guy would love to get his hands on regardless of it not being the most expensive version of that item.

When it comes right down to it, it really is the thought that counts. But the thing is, most of us capitalists are thinking of the best possible version of what we want and narrow down our options as we compromise from there. We learn how much we are willing to settle as we consider the pros and cons of renting, leasing, and buying new this holiday season.

Does it really matter if you snag that discounted, store display model or that re-gifted, open-boxed item you found from a third-party seller? It might just depend on who you are gifting. But a little secret, it’s really about showing them that you cared enough to gift them in the first place. It says, “Hey, someone is thinking about you and you should feel special because of that.”

So gift whatever you can afford to gift, if not a TV, then a book perhaps. If not the GoPro Hero4 Black, then maybe a lens kit for smartphones. I think you get the picture…