Last minute shopper? You've got more options than Alex P. Keaton


In 1983, the classic sitcom Family Ties had an episode in which Alex P. Keaton (Michael J. Fox) has a dream that he is Ebeneezer Scrooge. By the end of the show, of course, Alex has seen the error of his ways, and so on Christmas morning, he races out to buy his family some gifts. Unfortunately, only a convenience store is open, and so his gifts are kind of lacking.

"You gotta keep in mind, with these gifts, it's the thought that counts," warns Alex, just before he parcels out the presents. "The only place open this morning was a 7-Eleven."

And then he proceeds to dole everything out--beef jerky for Mallory, a six-pack of cough syrup for Jennifer, a cup of coffee for his dad ("Alex, how did you know?") and a TV Guide. "For you, Mom," says Alex. "It was the last one."

So keeping that in mind, I thought I'd give any late, last-minute shoppers a blueprint for getting good Christmas gifts, ones that go way beyond beef jerky and cough syrup.