Monday, 2 December 2013

Cyber Monday Christmas Gift Guide

I confess I hadn't heard of cyber Monday until last week but it coincides very nicely with this year's Christmas Gift Guide, which I've brought forward just in case today any of these items might be available as an online bargain.

First, the awkward squad - those friends and relations it proves almost impossible to buy for either because they've already got everything or because they have such demanding tastes. Something that might just meet both criteria without breaking the bank comes from the Ashleigh and Burwood range which includes this rather stylish (and very fragrant) Mercury Decadent Vase Diffuser Set (£24.49 on the Ashleigh & Burwood site but only £20.39 on Amazon).

But there are some people who wouldn't thank you for anything as frivolous as this, and for them why not combine practicality with luxury with the Thane H20 X5 Steam mop? I say 'mop' but this new addition to the Thane steam-cleaning range is actually a floor cleaner, fabric steamer, window cleaner, handheld steamer and carpet cleaner all in one and turns ordinary tap water into super charged and continuous steam meaning you can dispense with detergents.

I confess I'm quite excited by this (I know, sad…) and can't wait to try it out so there'll be a full review to follow. Meantime, if you're interested, it can be had for £89.99 (a £10 reduction on the RRP) courtesy of a voucher code available for use at Robert Dyas which can be had via the Idealo price-comparison website. More of them later.

Of course, all parents (along with a great many aunts, uncles, grandparents and godparents) will at some point be buying toys as part of their Christmas shopping. That can be a bit of a nightmare as not only can they carry an eye-watering price tag but - safely wrapped in plastic and cardboard - their durability and ability to withstand hours of heavy-handed playing can be impossible to assess accurately. Tonka (whom I well remember from my own youth) recently launched a new Tonka Town range and every bit as robust as the old tin Tonka toys I used to play with of old and The Tonka Town Fire Station playset is just £21.33 on Amazon (rrp. £39.99).

What we all need, if course, especially when buying toys is an open, honest an trustworthy opinion from the experts - the kids who are actually going to play with them and Charlie was selected earlier in the year to be part of the Tesco toy team… a day playing with toys and being filmed talking about them. And, of course, giving an honest opinion...

Toys, of course, can vary in price enormously and it can be a lifetime's work seeking out the best deals.  Sites like Ideolo, however, can do the hard work for you and present an easy way to save a fortune. And with the new Ideolo iPad app the searching and price-matching just got a whole lot easier. I gave it a try searching for something on Charlie's (extended) Santa wish-list and here are the results:

The app's home-page… just touch a pic to begin a search

Narrowed down to all-things 'Lego'…

 Just add words...

 and 'bingo'… the product I'm looking for with a range of discount buying options

Of course, shopping online isn't without it's risks and there are a few simple precautions you can take to help cover yourself if there are any problems.

Most important, for anything costing over £100, is to use a credit card as your means of payment. That way - under the Consumer Credit Act - should anything go wrong (the company go bust, the goods not arrive) the credit card company will be jointly liable and you may get all your money back. But beware when entering your credit card details online and make sure you're on your own computer, that the wifi is protected and that your anti-virus software is up-to-date.

Right, so that's toys and gifts for the hard-to-please but what about, well… you know, that special person, that certain someone, that deserving, er… dad who works so hard all-year-round and deserves something special to unwrap on Christmas Day?

Well, ahem, far be it from me to put ideas into anyone's heads but speaking as someone who - since the advent of smartphones - has stopped using cameras completely (in favour of the increasingly high-resolution lenses available on those gadgets we still quaintly call a mobile) the New Nokia Lumia 1020 (which I had the good fortune to have a play with on Saturday) ticks a great many boxes, especially with its stonking 41MP camera as well as dual capture facility and features like manual exposure level, white balance, shutter speed and ISO normally only seen on DSLRs.

All this and it makes 'phone calls, too!

Mind you, not everyone is as as avid a phone-snapper as I am, but we all need a little 'me-time' now and again, and that can be hard to find during the festive season. So why not create your own with something like these urBeats DRE earbuds from DrDre, shutting out all around you while listening to something soothing on your iPod or smartphone. With Precision-machined single-billet metal housing to prevent vibrations and unwelcome sound from tainting your listening experience to ultra-flexible and tangle-free cabling these are the headphones for a dad who might be woken from his Christmas afternoon nap by a toddler crawling all over him… or worse.

Heck, with a built-in mic you can even take calls without taking them out of your ears or holding your phone like a walkie-talkie.

Perfect for all those Christmas Day phone calls you'll be taking from all the grateful recipients of your thoughtful present-buying!

Beats by DRE

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