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It’s officially the last minute

December 21, 2010 at 10:32 AM

The State Journal-Register

e’re coming right up on the desperate hours of Christmas shopping. The shopping days are disappearing fast, and a new snow shovel is beginning to look like a thoughtful gift.

Take a deep breath. There’s still time to hit the gift-giving bull’s eye.

If you’re in a quandary as to what to give the outdoor enthusiasts on your list, do this. Ask them to write down exactly what they want and where it can be found. Save all receipts in case they change their minds next week, especially if you are buying ammunition, arrows or 10 pounds of beef jerky. This approach lacks imagination, but the results are often favorable.

While I agree that Christmas morning should be all about surprises, as a father of a teenage girl, I’ve already had about all the surprises I can stand. I’d rather hand them out than receive them.

If you are making your way down the surprise road, here are some guidelines.

Never buy anybody anything they need. This is especially true for the hunters and fishermen on your list. If they need it, they already have it, or it’s on permanent loan from someone who didn’t need it.

Purchasing an item to replace one that has been lost is a sure-fire way to have the original surface before noon on Christmas Eve.

Unless it’s a four-wheel drive ATV, your gift should take less than two hours and 500 tools to assemble.

If you’ll need to explain what the gift is, or how it’s supposed to work, move on to something else right now. There’s no more room in that dark corner where bad gifts go to die.

If you’re wandering through the idea wasteland and haven’t received any hints, almost all outdoors magazines have holiday gift sections. Be very careful. A last-minute shopper could pay dearly for a blank expression.

The “Surefire G2 Nitrolon Flashlight” is impact-resistant. It would probably survive a drop from a tree stand and might keep shining all the way to the bottom of the lake when it falls overboard. Sturdy and reliable as it is, it will be just as easy to lose as all the $4 and $5 models that bit the dust during deer season.

A good pair of warm, waterproof boots seems like a good idea. Keep in mind many outdoors people already have a pair they like so well that they have a second pair new in the box just in case the manufacturer decides to improve on perceived perfection.

The ad for a newly designed pair of “bargain binoculars” says: “The recipient is almost certain to think you spent more than you really did.”  These bargain beauties can be yours for $750.

Never invite someone to speculate on the cost of a gift. There are only two possible outcomes. Both are bad. One, they’ll guess it low and make you look cheap; or two, they’ll guess it high and make you feel cheap.

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