Last minute e-mail gifts they will love

First: Don't panic. Lots of others have forgotten key people on their holiday gift lists besides you. Second: Turn on your computer. Quick.

Third: Sing the praises of the e-mailed gift certificate, also available in pdf, print-outable form! Cost of shipping -- zip! Number of trees sacrificed to packaging -- zero! Number of points racked up for creativity and thoughtfulness -- countless!

The New York Times recently ran a wonderful article by Claire Cain Miller recently (Dec.23,2009) discussing a plethora of websites that enable users to get their artistic mojo on with impressive results.At sites such as Zazzle, CafePress, Spreadshirt, and Blurb, if you can imagine it, you can personalize it. Traffic and sales at these sites has increased dramatically this year as many people got crafty with their gift giving.

But let's not beat ourselves up -- allowing friends and relatives to experience the fun of creating something with their own photos or artwork is an act of obvious selflessness. We want them to have all the enjoyment and sense of accomplishment. In fact, it's so easy to make stuff, even a kid can do it with a little guidance. In addition, an emailed gift certificate from one of these sites allows pals to select exactly which item they would most like to have: water bottles, t-shirts, totes, ties, shoes, umbrellas, underwear, binders, stamps and skateboards (cool!) to name a few.

TasteBook empowers users to create their own cookbooks and judging from examples on the site, the completed product is nothing short of pro. Look out Rachael Ray! It also offers email gift certificates. Online scrap booking websites such as Scrapblog, Shutterfly, Snapfish, Winkflash and Kodakgallery help users create beautiful photo projects without the glue and tape. Wondering if mom or Aunt Nell could figure it all out? It could be an opportunity to work together, or teach a fairly simple skill they will enjoy for hours. Your late-gifting largess could inspire a new hobby.

If your friends are about as crafty as the elf in that Christmas special who wanted to be a dentist, do not despair. There are email-able gift cards for just about everything. and sell emailable miracles from a long list of retailers and restaurants. also allows users to personalize their certificate with special wording and the option for photos. Some sites do charge a 'handling' fee, so be sure to take note. However, once you figure in the amount you would have spent on time and gas, it doesn't seem so bad.

Customizing your email gift search is also possible if you have something specific in mind (and of course you do, that's how thoughtful you are!). represents more than 5,000 resources if you're thinking of providing someone with a little R&R, while could be just the ticket for the foodie in your life (note: giftcards are currently for sale on this site as much as 80 percent of the face value, enter code:Santa). Sweet!

On the darker side, also features email gift certificates with the tag line, "Finally, a gift that's as lazy and thoughtless as you are." Devoted to a catalog of misery-minded merchandise, the site features "despairwear" and a "Demotivator" line of calendars, posters, mugs and more "for the person who has everything but still isn't happy about it." According to the website: "At Despair, Inc., we believe motivational products create unrealistic expectations, raising hopes only to dash the. That's why we created our soul-crushingly depressing Demotivators designs, so you can skip the delusions that motivational products induce and head straight for the disappointments that follow!" Featuring t-shirt slogans like, "More people read this t-shirt than your blog", "It could be that the purpose of your life is to serve as a warning for others" and, "I expected times like these", you may find yourself laughing til you cry.

Whether your glass is half-empty or half full this season, it's time to ho-ho-ho-hurry! The countdown is definitely on.
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