Still Looking For That Last Minute Gift?

If you're like me you're probably drifting along in a cloud of good intentions, quite sure that at any moment you're going to find the perfect pony or rocket car or robot maid for that special someone. In a few hours you're going to suddenly realize that somehow the entire month of December slipped by without you noticing and the time for gift giving is upon you. You'll have to save the rocket car that transforms into a pony that does the dishes for next year and buy some presents right now. You'll be extremely pleased to know that I've got suggestions for you. For those of you who are born organizers, you might find some stocking stuffer ideas or something for next year because you're already shopping for 2006, right?

Are you looking for a gift for someone who likes to use their mind, enjoys logic games and puzzles? Sudoku is a Japanese puzzle game that is sometimes billed as a wordless crossword puzzle, a somewhat puzzling description. You start with a grid with some empty spaces and some with numbers in them. You win by filling in every space so that every row and every column contains the numerals one through nine. Some are easy and some take several hours to complete. These puzzles are now quite popular in the U.S. and you can find a nice variety of sudoku books at just about any bookstore, ranging in price from around five to twenty dollars.

While you're at the bookstore why not pick up some books by Edward Eager? Although he originally made his mark as a playwright and lyricist, today he is most beloved for his wonderful series of magical books for children. Half Magic, the first book in the series, is about four children who find a magic talisman that can grant wishes. The only problems are that it is old and nearly worn out so it only grants half of what you wish and they don't know that it is magic. This leads to all kinds of problems such as when they wish to be on a desert island but only get the desert half of the wish. These books are terrific for kids of almost any age. Older children can enjoy them on their own and you can read them to younger children.

If you're shopping for someone who likes Clive Barker and has read all of his books then you might try Douglas Clegg. I'm not sure why he doesn't get more attention. He's interesting and intelligent and frightening. I'm in the middle of The Infinite right now. The Priest of Blood, book one of The Vampyricon is probably his most recent book. I say probably because he has another book due to appear at any instant and it very well could hit the shelves between the time I write this and we go to press. One of the really nice things about this author is that he's quite prolific so you'll never be starved for new reading material.

Neil Gaiman's Anansi Boys was one of the best books of 2005; touching, funny, scary, and intriguing. But as good as it is the audio version is exponentially better. Comedian Lenny Henry does a brilliant job bringing the characters to life. The story takes place in Florida, England and the Caribbean Islands so Lenny Henry has a perfect opportunity to show off his dizzying array of accents. When he says lines like "Don't you say right like that…like I'm a crazy old lady who don't know the price of fish" you could swear that he really is er, a crazy old lady who does know the price of fish. Now that I think about it you'd better pick up a copy for yourself as well.

Were you able to get an Xbox 360? If so and it didn't melt down and you're looking for games for it then why not get the online version of Joust? This is the same game I used to play on arcade machines twenty years ago. But then again it isn't because now you can play against your buddy ten states away or a stranger in another country. There's nothing quite like knocking some guy into the lava and not being able to understand his cursing because you don't speak the language. Now that's gaming.

I've got one last suggestion for you. If you're looking for something sparkly and unusual you can't go wrong with Faberge eggs. These are not reproductions or replicas; these are new pieces created by Theo and Sarah Faberge, the descendents of Carl, who made the first of the famous Easter eggs 120 years ago. I particularly like Theo's "Dragon Egg" and, while perhaps not the most Christmassy gift choice ever, the "Devil's Egg" with its beautiful serpent and lovely apple of knowledge is quite charming. Sarah's "Neva Egg" is a beautiful representation of the river, frozen in the grip of winter. Unlike the first eggs, these creations are not going to run you millions of dollars. I didn't see any that cost more than $50,000 and most of them were ten thousand. If you want the "Scrooge McDuck Midnight Egg" I am afraid you are out of luck as it is completely sold out.

Okay, those are my suggestions. Time is running out, you’d better print and run. Have a wonderful holiday!