So, what are you going to do? There are now only a handful of hours to go before your wife/girlfriend/kids wake up and see that you've let them down. So, here are some sure-fire ways to get through this situation, (mostly) unharmed by family/friends.
- Gift Cards Some online retailers sell printable gift certificates. Most notably: iTunes. If the giftee has an iPod, you're set. If not, well, you're screwed. You can also email a gift certificate, but that's kind of weird on Christmas morning. ("Say, honey, don't you feel like logging on to your little-used Hotmail account right now?")
- The "I SWEAR I ordered it" Ploy Do a Google image search for some high-res pics of great gifts that you WOULD have gotten them, had you not been such a slacker, and print them out. On Christmas morning, give the recipient the photo and say, "I swear I ordered it online, but [ insert name of online merchant here ] screwed me! They didn't ship it in time!" This will, at least, buy you a few more days past Xmas in which to actually purchase the items.
- The Coupon You did it when you were five, now it's time to dust off this old chestnut to save your sorry skin: Grab some colored paper and some crayons and go to town. Might we suggest coupons for "One Hug" or "One Back Rub" or "One Night Where I DON'T Come Home Drunk". A warning: Be selective about who you give these to. A "Good for one free back rub" coupon given to your girlfriend's mom might be a little awkward.
- The Donation Find a charity and donate money, in the giftee's name. Print out a card that says as much and wrap it. Whether you actually donate, or just print out a fake card, is completely up to you, George.
And, sure, the people who receive any of these gifts will be, ultimately, disappointed on Christmas Day, but you have to keep reminding them that it's "the thought that counts." With enough confidence, you might just come out of this holiday season smelling a little more like roses than you would have if you presented nothing on the big morning.
Well, I have to go and buy some colored paper and some crayons.
Jeff Somogyi is the dealnews Senior Staffwriter. His "Back Rub Coupon" gifts are legendary around the office. To date, no one has redeemed one.