SLIDESHOW

The Last-Minute Gift Guide

The clock is ticking. Depending upon when you're reading this, you have less than three days before Santa's deadline. Holding out? Been too busy? Over the next few pages, you'll find a couple of quick tips, organized according to how much time you have left. And if any of my pals get some of the gifts below, well, it's just a coincidence--honest.

December 22: Last-Minute Bargain Hunters

Savvy Web shoppers start their days by checking out sites such as dealnews.com and dealcatcher.com. While that's all well and good, you still need to make sure that you've got long enough so that when you order online, your gifts arrive in the St. Nick of time. Save yourself a few headaches by checking out the "Still Time" feature at dealnews.com. The site has assembled an updated list of 90 stores (everything from Amazon to ZipZoomfly, and just about everything else in-between) that can still ship out your gifts before its too late.

And for New Year's presents (!), check out PC World's other 10 gift guides.

December 23: Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog

Consider the gift of geeky videos. Currently an Amazon.com exclusive, Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, is now available on DVD. If you're not familiar with the disc, here's the skinny: Joss Wheedon (the man behind TV's Buffy the Vampire Slayer) produced a Web movie during the writer's strike. This comedy musical about a lovelorn supervillain gained a huge cult following online. Now on DVD, it's sure to gain a whole lot more fans. Special features include a musical commentary track and user-submitted video applications for entry into The Evil League of Evil.

At Amazon, you still have a chance to order for overnight domestic delivery until about 3pm Tuesday, PST--and even that varies by item according to its shipping information page.

December 23: The Box Set

It's still not too late to go to the local video store to get a time-honored last-minute gift: The box set. Of course, your mileage will vary depending on tastes, but with Blu-ray winning this round of the high-def wars, odds are you'll find plenty of interesting gift box collections of favorite TV shows and movies. Why not get some remastered classics like, say, the Planet of the Apes 40th Anniversary Collection of the five films (not 2000's Marky Mark and the Monkey Bunch remake). It's beautifully bundled in an oversized hardcover book with the original movies on Blu-ray discs and a gang of extras. Just keep in mind that not all special editions are created equal. Read up before you buy to ensure that you're not just shelling out top-dollar for a pretty box.

December 24: Video Games, 24/7

We've already broken down some of the hottest games burning up consoles this holiday season, but what if you can't make it to the mall in time? Not to worry: Did you know that 7-11 stores across the land can give you an extra life? These late-night munchie havens also happen to sell games behind the counter: Fallout 3, World of WarCraft: Wrath of the Liche King, Gears of War 2, Madden NFL – they won't have every game, but, hey, since you're so late at this point, beggars can't be choosers. So, find a location near you--and maybe grab yourself a gallon-sized drink as a reward for finishing your shopping in time.

December 24: Gift Cards

It might not seem like the most personal present, but you can't argue with the ease of gift cards--all it takes is a trip to just about any corner store. You can throw a buddy some iTunes bucks or points toward a game console's online store (at this point a ton of great games lurk on Xbox Live, Sony's PSN Store, and Nintendo's WiiWare channel). Those in a hurry can purchase and print up a gift certificate at places such as Amazon.com, or give the gift of Netflix subscriptions.

If you've got time to run out to either Target or Best Buy, you can grab the most surreal gift cards around--MP3 player and digicam gift cards. They are technically gifts unto themselves!

Or, for all you cheapskates out there, you can do what I do: Hand-draw a coupon good for a year's worth of tech support for the in-laws. Hey, you're gonna wind up doing it, anyhow.

December 25: Make a Mix CD

The art of making a mix tape isn't quite lost to the ages. Instead of a funky plastic magnetic cassette, you have a bright, shiny disc on which you can put your pal's favorite songs. I suggest going to your favorite source for DRM-Free music and shop to your heart's content. After loading up the disc with tunage, it's time for the finishing touches. For example, why not print an image on top of your disc? It not only personalizes the gift a little more, it makes your friend feel like you spent a little more on this gift than just a couple of minutes before heading out the door.

If you have a LightScribe optical drive in your computer, it can etch a monochromatic pattern into the top of the disc. More of a Technicolor gift-giver? You can print a full-color image onto specially coated discs that have a white printable side. In this case, we hope you have Epson's Artisan 800 inkjet MFP.

December 25: The PC Mix Tape

How about we take that whole idea of creating a personalized mix tape and update it a little further than just a disc. Here's the concept: Create a customized pile of legitimate applications, free music, and whatever else you want to bundle, pop everything onto a USB flash drive (or flash memory card), and--bam--gift given. Tailor it to a buddy's needs. And the best part is that the most this will cost you is the price of a USB flash drive.

You can apply the idea to a lot of things (smart phones that take memory cards, for example), but if you want a huge list to help you create your own mashed-up masterpiece, use our downloader's gift guide to get started.

Well, time's up. Happy holidays!