Tag Archives: gift

What Was Your Favorite Childhood Toy?

Add to iTunes | Add to YouTube | Add to Google | RSS Feed

I remember playing with an original Lite Brite when I was a kid. My brothers and I would spend hours on end creating different pieces of artwork. You could use the pre-made sheets to guide you, or create something right out of your own imagination! Nowadays, you can play with the new Lite Brite Cube! Create something different on all four sides, or go with a theme. The only limits are those within your own mind! I’m very grateful that ThinkGeek sent this to me to review.

The Cube comes with two storage drawers to hold all of your pegs. You can, of course, buy extra pegs – just in case you happen to lose some! One child can create four different scenes, or keep all the little ones busy at once! There’s a carry handle on the top of the cube for easy transport. Just a word of caution, though… I’d put a piece of tape on those drawers when you move the Cube around. They come out pretty easily, and it’s impossible to find all those little pegs on the floor if they spill!

Wicket and Pixie both want to try to create a picture for me for Christmas. The problem is that they lack opposable thumbs! I don’t think they’ll be able to pick up these little pegs and stick them in the slots. Oh, well. I’m sure they’ll come up with something else to get into.

What childhood toys do you remember playing with? What was your all-time favorite?!

[awsbullet:lite brite cube]

Want to embed this video on your own site, blog, or forum? Use this code or download the video:

Mother’s Day iPod

Add to iTunes | Add to YouTube | Add to Google | RSS Feed

I was fortunate to have my mom with me during Mother’s Day this year. I gave her an iPod, which is kind of funny. Up until now, she’s never wanted one. She had no idea how they worked, nor if she’d ever use the thing. She took it into an Apple store with her, and explained she had no clue what to do. They talked in circles around her about syncing and such. She walked out more confused than when they started.

Mom is a trooper though! She says that when she gets home, she will sync the iPod, since she has to choose between “sync or swim”. Yes – I get my sense of humor from her. She loves technology, of course. She still has the first transistor radio her father bought her several years ago – and it still works!

The iPod I bought for her was personalized, and even has her email address engraved on the back. During the video, I taught her to open the browser and search for something using the touch screen. I explained to her about Apps, and I have a feeling once she dives into looking at them she’ll go crazy! There are just so many cool things she can do using her iPod.

Did she roll her eyes when I told her she could subscribe to my podcast?!?! Seriously?!?!

Just kidding, Mom. You know I love you, and think you’re the best. Happy Mother’s Day!

Want to embed this video on your own site, blog, or forum? Use this code:

Receiving the Gift of Giving

As a young teen, one Holiday season, my parents decided to spread the cheer to an underprivileged family in our area. We were to take a few kids out shopping with us, each of them was given a small stipend (with which to spend on gifts for their siblings). I remember that day vividly – never feeling more grateful for the things I had been given in seeing what others did not have.

So, when Sears offered to sponsor a $500 shopping spree under their ‘Don’t Just Give a Gift, Grant a Wish‘ effort, I didn’t think twice about what I wanted to do with the gift card. It’s all about the toys at Christmas – and even though we don’t have kids of our own, Ponzi and I both thoroughly enjoyed taking a trip across town and down memory lane as we tore through the “Toy Shop.” The goal: to find $500 worth of toys to give to a local donation center.

Now, before I continue, I must again point out that Sears gave me this opportunity. I received the $500 gift card from IZEA, but these experiences are 100% my own. What would *YOU* do with this $500 – spend it on yourself or on somebody else? I chose the latter.

We filled a shopping cart and a half with new toys and remakes of yesteryear. I remembered getting a set of magic tricks for Christmas one year, so I snagged a magic kit from the shelf. I also remembered getting lost with a Rubik’s Cube on Christmas morning, so that was another must-buy. Then there was a time I really wanted a microscope (I still remember my onion skin slide), so a little bit of science made its way into our “buggies” – that’s what Ponzi calls ’em. Oh, and I can’t remember a single childhood Christmas that didn’t have a Star Wars something in it, so I snagged a few figurines, too.

We circled the Sears Toy Shop a few times, making sure we saw everything. Hulk Boxing Gloves: you don’t wanna see me when I’m angry! Chatterphone: rotary dial! Lincoln Logs: time to build something! Operation: don’t touch the sides! Let’s grab some Play-Doh, too – and we can’t leave without taking a few NERF balls with us. They make a portable Lite Brite now?! Man, I wish I was a kid again. For an hour, I felt like one.Ponzi saw some toddler toys she used to chew on. Well, not HER toys – but the same kind. There were a few other baby items we thought would make wonderful presents for some kid this Christmas season. The game Don’t Break the Ice (which I had received as a birthday gift one year), a tea set, a couple of Barbie dolls, a Hannah Montana UNO card game (another childhood birthday present), a Mr. Potato Head, and… oh, so many memories. We weren’t just buying toys, you know? We were buying future memories for children – who will hopefully carry those memories into their adult lives.

It felt good. It felt really, really good.

Hours later, I walked into a local donation center and asked if they accepted toys. One guy asked: “Depends on what condition they’re in.” I told him they were brand new, and his eyes lit up like *HE* was a kid on Christmas morning. The whole place was buzzing with excitement. We unloaded the toys and I thought to myself: “I’ve gotta make this a new Christmas tradition.” So, thank you Sears, for giving *ME* the gift of happiness.

But Wait, There’s More…

Don’t Just Give a Gift, Grant a Wish - Receipt

It’s time to share some of that happiness with some of you. Another contest is upon us (Official Rules). I’ve created three separate Sears gift bundles worth ~$500 apiece: LEGO Wonderland, Star Wars Smiles, and Family Game Night. These, much like the aforementioned shopping spree, were inspired by my own childhood Christmases. If you’d like to receive one of them, it’s super simple to qualify:

  1. Leave a comment on this post with the bundle you desire (and why).
  2. Post to your twitter account if you have one, making sure you include – #Sears @chrispirillo http://bit.ly/giftwish – and whichever bundle you desire in your tweet.
  3. Make an entry in your own blog if you have one, making sure you link back to this particular post URL and mentioning which bundle you want (and why). I register most trackbacks after I’ve received at least one click from your permalink to mine.

You can enter once by commenting, once by twittering, AND once by posting in your own blog (that’s three chances to win what you want). The winner will be selected at random, mind you. So, which one of these gift bundles do you want most?

LEGO Wonderland

  • 10 Cool Lego Mindstorms by Astolfo, David
  • 10 Cool Lego Mindstorms Robotics Invention System 2 Projects by Ferrari, Mario
  • Adjustable links with Mini Kinght
  • Building Robots With Lego Mindstorms NXT by Astolfo, Dave
  • Creator Stegosaurus
  • Extreme NXT by Gasperi, Michael
  • Forbidden Lego by Pilegaard, Ulrik
  • Getting Started With Lego Trains by McKee, Jacob H.
  • Gold Hunt
  • Jetrax T6
  • Jin Sato’s Lego Mindstorms by Sato, Jin
  • Lego Mindstorms NXT-G Programming Guide by Kelly, James Floyd
  • LEGO Star Wars: Ultimate Collectors AT-ST
  • Police Headquarters
  • Programming Lego Mindstorms NXT by Bishop, Owen

Star Wars Smiles

  • Clone Wars Blaster Game
  • Clone Wars Galactic Heroes: Trooper
  • Han Solo Bobble-Head
  • Mad About Star Wars by Bresman, Jonathan
  • Millennium Falcon
  • Mr. Potato Head: Star Wars – Artoo-Potatoo with Princess Tater Figure
  • Robot Chicken: Star Wars
  • Star Wars – The Best Of
  • Star Wars Clone Trooper Helmet
  • Star Wars Clone Wars Plug N Play Game
  • The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia by Sansweet, Stephen J.
  • The Rise and Fall of Darth Vader by Windham, Ryder

Family Game Night

  • 1 vs. 100 DVD Game
  • Baffle Gab
  • Dance Maker Truth or Dare Mat and a Tote Bag
  • Disney Villains Combo: Checkers and Tic Tac Toe
  • Griddly Headz Racing Game
  • Harry Potter Scene It? Game
  • High School Musical 2 Deluxe Plug N Play TV Game
  • Karaoke Pop Culture Hip Hop/R&B Vol. 1
  • Monopoly Here and Now World
  • No Brainer Board Game
  • Rumis
  • Sea Monster Board Game
  • Tenjo Game
  • Trapture
  • Whac-A-Mole Tower
  • WordSpot – Bookshelf Edition
  • Yahtzee Free For All

For whatever it’s worth, I received the Millennium Falcon for Christmas when I was a kid – it was my very first Star Wars vehicle. I came close to buying it separately for myself, but couldn’t justify the expense (or figure out where to put it). My first LEGO kit was also a gift from Santa Claus.

I’ll also be using funds generated from this post to make further food bank deposits and donations to other charities. We’re all trying to make this a very Merry Christmas (Happy Holiday) for as many as possible.

Are Those "Free iPod" Websites Legit or a Scam?

Add to iTunes | Add to YouTube | Add to Google | RSS Feed

You know the sites. You see them everywhere. “Sign up and get five of your friends to sign up… and you’ll win!” It’s not as easy as they make it sound. With so many sites who do the same thing, you’ll have a hard time trying to find even five who want to sign up under you.

I received an email earlier in the week from Tom, asking me if these “freebie” sites are legitimate or not. I personally tiptoe very cautiously around things like these. The odds are not in your favor that you’ll really get something for free. It’s quite difficult to get enough people to buy in to whatever it is the site in question is selling or advertising. Most people will fail in getting the ‘free’ product. Yes… there are legitimate sites giving away real products. Just read the fine print. Make sure you fully understand the requirements that are laid out prior to getting involved. Heck… why not ask your friends BEFORE you sign up if they’re even willing to follow your lead and try to get something for nothing?

Don’t throw away your money. Be smart. Stay away from all those scams out there.


Want to embed this video on your own site, blog, or forum? Use this code or download the video:

Homemade Gifts

Add to iTunes | Add to YouTube | Add to Google | RSS Feed

Erin writes: “One thing that always gets people stressed during the various birthdays and holidays throughout the year is finding the perfect gifts for friends and family. I am a big believer in making gifts for people. I always find that people really appreciate a homemade gift. Here is my top 5 list of homemade gifts.”

  • Handwritten letter, card, poem or story. This may seem really silly, but in this day and age, handwritten letters or cards are losing out to the ease of email, text messaging, and public networking sites. Why not sit down and take the time to actually compose a letter on paper? I tried to do this in college, and I found most people really liked getting a handwritten letter in the mail. You can either just write them a letter talking about how awesome they are, or you might even be feeling really creative and compose a quick poem or short story. Either way, it will give them something tangible to read and reread for as long as they have it.
  • Knit a Scarf. I learned how to knit in about one day. The easiest thing to knit is a scarf, and once you learn how to do the basic stitch, you should be able to knit a scarf in a relatively short amount of time. To make this even easier, you can get large knitting needles and chunky yarn. A handmade scarf is just the thing for winter, and you can even make decorative scarves for people to wear even when the weather isn’t too chilly. This will make the knitting go even faster. There are many websites online that teach basic knitting stitches. A great place to get started is a website called learntoknit.com.
  • Framed Picture or a Scrapbook. Most of your viewers probably have either a digital camera or a camera phone. Heck, maybe they even have a regular camera with film! Either way, a great gift is the gift of memories. You can take a picture of an event that is important to them (maybe you went to a baseball game together, or a party) and have it nicely framed. For the more crafty, you can even make a small scrapbook for the person. Let’s say that you and a group of your friends go to a Red Sox game (forgive me, I live in the North East). You can take pictures of the game and pictures of your friends and combine them with clipped out articles about the game or even baseball cards of players featured in the game. It may sound goofy, but it shows a lot of thought and it will give your friend something to remember the event by.
  • Homemade Candy. Even though this sounds like a difficult gift, there are a few basic candies that anyone can pull off and look like a pro. One of the most impressive and yet easy is Chocolate Bark. All you have to do is melt a bag of good quality chocolate chips of your choice either over a double boiler on the stove top or in the microwave. Then when the chocolate is melted, you add about a ¼ to a ½ cup of nuts, dried fruit or broken cookies. My one standby that I always fall back on is a combo of semi-sweet chocolate, mini-marshmallows and broken graham crackers. You can try many different combinations. You will end up looking like a real expert and your friends will love having a bag of candy all to themselves.
  • Dinner. Inviting friends over to dinner is one of the greatest gifts a person can give. Even the most inept cook has a few basic meals that they can whip up for themselves, so why not invite a few friends over and enjoy the food together? Whether it something super fancy or not, people will appreciate the time and effort you put into the meal. A good bonus tip if you plan on doing this is to go with something you have made before and know you can accomplish. Doing something new and complicated may be impressive, but the stress that this can cause is not worth it. Besides, your friends will appreciate homemade tacos just as much as they would appreciate Beef Wellington.
  • Bonus Tip! If you decide to make candy or dinner for your friends, make sure you know about any type of food allergies or dietary needs.
    If your friend is allergic to nuts, you don’t want to make them peanut brittle and if they are vegetarian you don’t want to grill them a steak for dinner. I know it’s common sense, but it will save a lot of trouble in the long run.


Want to embed this video on your own site, blog, or forum? Use this code or download the video:

Google Gifts

Add to iTunes | Add to YouTube | Add to Google | RSS Feed

People ask me every day what I do for a living. I create content… lots of content. I am only able to create this content thanks to my sponsors, of which Google is one. I have long used AdSense, and now help others use it, as well. As a small token of appreciation, Google sends out thank you Christmas gifts to certain AdSense partners every year, who have reached a particular threshold.

A couple of years ago, I received a cool little cube that glows. Now, I love glowing things… just look at my Tix clocks! Not only does the cube glow, it also is a radio! It runs off of a couple AA batteries. I can choose to have it just glow, glow and play music, or just play the music. I keep it here in my office on the shelf, with it glowing. I love glowing gadgets! They just rule.

Last year, Google sent me a very cool mini digital picture frame. Not only does it display photos on the screen, I can also listen to .mp3s on it, or watch .mp4 videos! It has a USB port, of course. It also accepts SD cards. Since I already have a digital photo frame in my office, I keep this one down in our living room. It has our favorite pictures from our wedding on it, constantly rotating.

This year, Google sent me this card. It’s just a flat little card with the Google name on it. No, it’s not a credit card. Watch as I pull this tiny little square piece apart from the rest of the card. Do you recognize what that is? You’re right… it’s a USB drive! It holds up to 2GB of data, and fits right in my wallet. That is very cool. Now if I’m out somewhere and don’t have my keys with me, I still will have this one in my wallet.

I don’t know if others have ever said so, but thank you, Google. I really do appreciate the little gifts you send. They are thoughtful, handy and fun!

What kind of trinkets do you like receiving at Christmas? What about those neat items you pick up at trade shows? Send me a comment or an email, and tell me your favorite little toy you’ve received.

Want to embed this video on your own site, blog, or forum? Use this code or download the video:

The Perfect Gift

Add to iTunes | Add to YouTube | Add to Google | RSS Feed

Holiday shopping is stressful. We always want to be the one to get the perfect gift for every person on our list. I know you’re busy making lists, checking them twice, shopping, wrapping and bow’ing (is that a word?!) everything… but take time out to read these tips to getting that perfect gift this year.

  • Don’t buy something YOU want, and then give it to someone else. Keep the person you’re buying for in mind. Don’t just think “omg I would LOVE that”… and assume the recipient would love it as well.
  • If you give a gift card, make sure it has the right features. Check to be sure there’s no expiration date, and that it can be used in-store or online. Also, you might want to look into something like the pre-paid AmericanExpress cards. These can be used anywhere AmericanExpress is accepted, thus are more versatile.
  • If you buy clothing, don’t forget the gift receipt. It’s impossible to judge the right size, color and shape. That’s why I personally stay away from buying clothes. Matter of fact, make sure you get a gift receipt for *everything* you buy. You never know when it’s wrong, or defective.
  • Keep in mind that it doesn’t have to be expensive in order to make someone very happy. You don’t need to break the bank. Pay attention to the person throughout the year, the hints and ideas. Keep them in mind, and make your gift thoughtful and from the heart. Trust me, it will be well received.
  • Always give batteries with gifts that require them. There’s nothing more frustrating than receiving the perfect gift… only to find you don’t have batteries for it!

Send me the tips you have to find that perfect holiday gift! Or better yet… send me your holiday wish list!

Want to embed this video on your own site, blog, or forum? Use this code or download the video:

Online Shopping Tips and Tricks

Add to iTunes | Add to YouTube | Add to Google | RSS Feed

Today, I went shopping online to purchase the new Casio camera that is being touted as the “YouTube camera”. It encodes videos to the format used by YouTube, saving me a step or two in my recording process. I did a lot of research into finding the best price, and came across a website I wanted you to know about.

On ClayValet, you can submit up to five free requests per week. ClayValet is a personal shopping service. They can give advice, find you deals, and recommend the best products. Simply tell them what you’re looking for, and they’ll do the work for you.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: always do your research. Turn to the people in your circle, whether that is family and close friends, or on social networking sites. Always make sure you check things out before you buy them, and look for the best prices… or even coupons. Want to embed this video on your own site, blog, or forum? Use this code or download the video:

50 Geek Gift Ideas (My Wishlist)

I’ve worked my fingers off over the past day, updating my personal wish list with all the latest interesting gadgets and gizmos (not to mention a few stocking stuffers thrown in for good measure). Without further ado, I give you a semi-official and almost-complete wish list – which could be good for just about any ol’ geek:

  1. Panasonic TH-42PX60U 42″ Plasma HDTV
  2. Seagate 500GB eSATA External Hard Drive
  3. SkyScout
  4. Electronic Message Board
  5. eSATA to USB Adapter
  6. Firepod
  7. Energizer Energi To Go Instant Cell Phone Charger, Mini USB
  8. Panasonic Wireless 802.11 b/g Network Camera (BL-C30A)
  9. Microsoft LifeCam NX-6000 Webcam
  10. Logitech Harmony 1000 Advanced Universal Remote
  11. Night Owl Explorer Pro 5x Night Vision Scope w/I/R Illuminator
  12. SanDisk V-Mate Video Memory Card Recorder
  13. Star Wars Astromech Droids Complete Set
  14. Samsung BlackJack
  15. GPS TrackStick
  16. INVIS-ID
  17. Wireless Entertainment Desktop 8000
  18. Solar Charger – USB charger – Mobile Device Charger
  19. Xtreme X-500 Electric Scooter
  20. Celestron CPC 1100XLT Computerized GPS SCT with StarBright XLT Coatings
  21. Kotobukiya Star Wars Darth Vader Pre-Painted Soft Vinyl Model Kit
  22. Wi-Spy Spectrum Analyzer
  23. Pertelian External LCD Display v4
  24. eStarling WiFi LCD Frame
  25. Watt’s Up Pro
  26. LED Name Badge II
  27. LED Projection Night Light
  28. Canon PowerShot SD800 IS
  29. NY Times Deluxe Touch Screen Crossword Puzzle
  30. Wireless Weather Forecaster
  31. Westinghouse (WHI-4C) 4-Channel Wireless Intercom System
  32. Uniden GMR1588-2CK 22-Channel 15-Mile Two-Way Radios (Pair)
  33. DreamAuthentics Ultra Quad Arcade Package (MAME Arcade)
  34. Dyson Root 6
  35. Lentek Koolatron BV01G Bug Vacuum Pest Control with Recharger
  36. HP LaserJet 3052
  37. APC BR1500 UPS
  38. Belkin F5U261 USB 2.0 4-Port Drive-Bay Hub
  40. Mac Mini (SuperDrive)
  41. Sony HDR-SR1 Handycam HD Camcorder
  42. Ionic Breeze GP
  43. Jump-Start DC Power Plus (AU400)
  44. Ecosol Powerstick
  45. Brando WorkShop 55 in 1 Card Reader
  46. Xbox 360 HD-DVD External Drive
  47. Communicator Grey C100S USB Speakerphone for Skype
  48. The Optimus Keyboard
  49. HP LP3065 30″ LCD Monitor
  50. Slingbox Pro

BTW, if you order anything through OverStock.com before December 1st, you can save an additional 12% (saving as much as $125).

Did I leave anything out?