Memo to Christmas shoppers: YOU ARE DUMB.
But I'm here to help. Really. Next to laughing at them, helping stupid people is what I love best. And since YAD is, ostensibly, a sort of publication, and since all publications, ostensible or otherwise, do themed gift guides around this time of year, I figure, why fight the tide? I warn you, I will be delving a bit more into theory than practice, but if you're wondering what to get that Bush-voting idiot relative you hate but are stuck with in your life, I can't recommend highly enough the "Blue Collar Comics Ride Again" DVD.
Normally, I wouldn't support giving money to people who, like Larry the Cable Guy, have built entire careers on three words, one of which technically isn't a word. But in the case of your family's token dittohead, the Blue Collar Comics are a can't miss gift. First, there's an excellent chance they'll like it, because they're stupid. And if they hate it, then you've made them suffer in a way that allows for COMPLETE plausible deniability. And there's even a slim chance that, if they already own the first one, they'll watch the second one, compare the two, realize they're the same, realize that their life is a lie, and move to Berkeley.
Now, on to theory. When you have no idea what to get someone, you generally have two options. A gift card, or a sweater. Allow me to translate these two gifts into English to better help you decide which is the most appropriate:
GIFT CARD: I don't know you, or know anything about you, but circumstances or genetics have obligated me to buy you something. So here. Go to the store and get something you'd like.
SWEATER: I don't know you, or know anything about you, but circumstances or genetics have obligated me to buy you something. So I went to Target and grabbed the ugliest thing I could find. Fuck off. I lost the gift receipt, so if you want to exchange it, you'll have to wait in a long line and argue with people before buying something you like with another fifteen bucks of your own money.
If you're shopping for children, especially children who are not your own, initiative is not your friend. If you've been informed that your nephew "likes the Yu Gi Oh", when you hit that crowded Toy Aisle of the Damned, don't think, don't plan, just grab the Yu Gi Oh stuff and get the hell out. This is not the time to recall fondly what you enjoyed as a child and get that instead. This is not the time to balk at the "crazy hairstyles" or "scary monsters" and find something else in the educational aisle. All you will do is convince yet another generation that older people cannot be trusted.
We move on now to the topic of gadgets. Usually kitchen gadgets. Here's a handy rule of thumb for people contemplating the purchase of any item that plugs into the wall. If you see it advertised in December, and do not see it advertised the other eleven months of the year, DO NOT FUCKING BUY IT FOR ANYONE.
If it's only advertised in December, that means it's only meant to be bought as a gift. If it's only meant to be bought as a gift, it means it can only survive if the people who pay for it never see it, touch it, or use it. Ergo, it's something that nobody would ever buy for themselves. And the reason nobody would ever buy it for themselves is because it's the size of a small dog and comes in handy once every decade.
If you know someone who is such a frozen pizza fiend that a collie-sized, electric, rotating frozen pizza cooker would actually save them time and improve their lives, guess what? They already own one. Thanks to the Internet, they're able to keep up with all the latest developments in the frozen pizza reheating scene, and the Pizzazz was discussed in painstaking detail on frozen pizza lover message boards in the months leading up to its release, at which point everyone on the frozen pizza lovers message board went out and bought one and discussed how well it interacted with the various national and regional brands of frozen pizza. Those who didn't buy one on the day of the release talked about how great it sounded and how they couldn't wait until they could get one of their own so they could be free of the horrible burden of the OVEN.
That's usually the point at which the sausage and pepperoni factions explode into a huge flame war, but that's not really germane to the theories behind successful gift-giving.