The tech gift guide for the last-minute shopper

22 Dec 2012

Whether you’re a Christmas shopper that likes to live on the edge leaving all the gift-buying until the last minute, or you’re in a tizzy because you just realised it’s three days until the big day and you’re coming up short, we have some quick and quirky gift ideas for you.

The safe bets

As Christmas comes nearer, heading out in the cold to browse the jam-packed high street becomes a highly unappealing concept. Instead, you can always pick up an iTunes gift voucher from many local shops and supermarkets, or you can pop into your local post office, Topaz service station or anywhere you see the PostPoint sign and get a One4all voucher.

Festive-themed gift cards have been released just for Christmas and these are available in €1 denominations from €15 to €500. One4all is valid in more than 5,300 outlets across Ireland, and they can also be used online as a virtual credit card.

One4all gift voucher

If your last-minute giftee is an aspiring photographer, check out MyPhotoSchool for gift vouchers for any of its online digital photography courses. Costing stg£145, these vouchers entitle the bearer to a four-week online course taught by accomplished photographers and photography writers. Courses feature step-by-step video tutorials, weekly assignments, downloadable course notes, and the facility to chat with tutors and fellow classmates online.

Braving the shops

If you’re brave enough to get out there and shop, there are still some gadgets that might not yet have been scooped up in the pre-Christmas craze.

Since so many of us carry smartphones these days, accessories for handsets are a good choice, and the usual mobile retailers should be well-stocked with suitable gifts.

Mifi Lite

Pop into Three and you can pick up a Huawei Mifi Lite portable Wi-Fi hotspot. For €59, this little number can connect up to five devices to the internet at a download speed of 21Mbps and upload speed of 5.76Mbps.


Three also has the cute CozyDock for €25. Designed in Ireland by Mojan Limited, this snug holder fits most smartphones and its soft shape means it can sit anywhere, in any orientation and on almost any surface.

TAC Sports Armband

O2 stores also have inexpensive last-minute buys, like the €15 TAC Sports Armband. This lightweight and durable smartphone case is worn on the user’s arm for secure protection when exercising. Multiple padded layers hold the phone in place while the unique design allows easy access to all functions without having to remove the skin.

KitSound Mini Buddy Bee

O2 also has the KitSound Mini Buddy Bee for just €9.99. This little speaker connects to smartphones and music devices via a 3.5mm jack and delivers a big, punchy sound.

The gift of gaming

Sorting your Christmas shopping in seconds from a seated position is one of the perks of the modern world. For the gamer in your life, you can still pick up an Xbox Live membership for a gift that keeps on giving. A 12-month Gold membership costs €59.99, or you can get three months for €19.99. Alternatively, you can buy Microsoft Points, which allow users to download games, extra content and more. For €24.99 you’ll get 2,100 points, or you can pick up 4,200 for €49.99.

Nike+ Kinect Training

If you’re really pushing things down to the wire, Nike+ Kinect Training will be available for the Xbox 360 on Xbox Live on 25 December. The full version can be downloaded direct to the console for €49.99 or 4,000 Microsoft Points, and a new Fast and Focused: Upper Body and Core Pack will launch on 26 December (400 MS Points on Xbox Live), helping you to start your new year’s resolutions early.

Book of Kells for iPad

Image copyright The Board of Trinity College Dublin

Another option would be to invest in one of the more expensive apps on the market as a gift for a loved one. We recommend The Book of Kells for iPad. This stunning app costs €11.99 on the App Store and features all 680 pages of the famous manuscript, plus information on the history of the book, explanations of the decorative symbols, and a gallery of more than 600 examples of animals, initial letters and other decorative themes.

Really, though, you could pick and choose any gift you like from online gaming or app stores as the beauty of it is they never run out of stock!

DIY presents and Christmas GIFs

Tech gifts aren’t all virtual, and some gift-givers like to go hands on. For a DIY tech gift, why not try programming a one-of-a-kind musical Christmas light show using a Raspberry Pi computer synced to MIDI audio like blogger Chivalry Timbers?


If that’s a bit out of your skills range, you could try making these Lego Christmas ornaments designed by Chris McVeigh.

Lego Christmas ornaments designed by Chris McVeigh

Not a tech gift, per se, but I’ve never met a gadget fiend that didn’t also like Lego. Never.

Perler bead ornaments by Scotty Hampton

Via Scotty Hampton’s World

You can also get creative with Perler beads (if you have small children you should know all about these guys) and create video-game character ornaments for friends and family.

Or, for a really simple crowd pleaser, make your friends some Christmas GIFs! There are plenty of free online generators, such as, Picasion and Gifninja, and for inspiration just check out these guys.

Carlton GIF

Christmas Santa GIF

Rage GIF


Spongebob GIF

Finally, if all else fails, there’s always a Grumpy Cat Christmas card. Job done!

Grumpy Cat Christmas

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.