Blogging may be light over the next two weeks, as I'll be trying to copy-edit a 100-page magazine (and write some of it) while eating, sleeping, washing clothes, and reading 1000 blogs on a fairly regular schedule. Another chore at this time of year is holiday (do your worst to me, Bill O'Reilly!) shopping. Along those lines, I recommend this Slate.com posting on the madness of "gift cards." Some are better than others (Starbucks is OK because I can just buy friends coffee until the card runs out), but in general gift cards are just cash with strings attached. ("No, you may NOT spend this at Liquor Land! Get some school supplies at Staples!")
Gift cards do have the advantage of not taking up a lot of room in a small apartment. But the best gifts are in the food-and-drink category. Anything edible or drinkable isn't going to hang around my apartment for too long. If I don't like it, I'll serve it to a visitor, and if none of my friends like it, I'll bring it to the office.