Welcome to The Short List. Each week we'll pick a topic and share our favorite – or, in some cases, maybe our least favorite – things about the Bay area.
Yes, we know how you feel. We're days away from Christmas and the shopping still isn't done. The last thing you want to do right now is take one step into a mall. Well, we're here to help. Here are our top five ideas on last-minute gifts (you can buy us any one of these.)
Gift cards: Practical seems to have replaced creative as the preferred gift of choice - especially in this tough economy. And while it may seem like a cop-out to grab a gift card while shopping at Publix instead of making a special trip to the mall, your friends will thank you. Because it's better to receive a "date-night" dinner, much-needed home improvement item, or a couple of trips to a favorite coffee shop than a candle that will collect dust on a shelf somewhere.
House cleaning gift certificate: Try to name one busy soccer mom who would not appreciate this gift. In between shopping, wrapping, cooking, running the kids around and visiting the in-laws, having someone come in to clean the house after the holidays would be a special treat. Make it extra special and throw in a gift certificate for a massage while the house is being cleaned.
Your time: Make your own gift certificate and offer someone your time. Have a neighbor who has to hire a dog walker every time they go out of town? Know some parents who complain they can never find a babysitter? Design some nice gift certificates on your computer and put them in a holiday gift bag with some candies, and, of course, follow through when they call.
Lottery scratch-off tickets: Have you seen the amount of different scratch-off ticket games lately? You can spend as little as $1 for the Holiday Cheer matching game or up to $20 for Florida Millionaires Club. Mix and match a number of different tickets to give the gift recipient a chance to win at different games. This gift is perfect for pre-teens and those people who seem to have everything.
Car wash: A trip to the local business devoted to all things "clean car" offers many gift choices beyond the obvious gift certificate for a hand wax or auto detailing. We're sure you know someone who needs a new Gator license plate frame, a lamb's wool seatbelt protector or a bottle of STP Oil Treatment. And then there is the wall of car deodorizers that come in many shapes (surf boards, pine trees) or scents (leather, lemon zest). You may not be able to get someone a new car for Christmas, but you can get them a new car smell.