If you haven't done your Christmas shopping yet, you are probably going into panic mode—that state where you grab any old thing ("That...snuggie...looks...warm.") and reassure yourself that they can always return it, or maybe you just buy everyone a gift card. Gift cards are good, but here are some slightly more customized options for the photographer in your life.
1. Blurb gift cards
I did a post about blurb last month. For the price, it's the best way to build your own book. This is the first year they have done gift cards. You decide the amount (in dollars or euros) and they give you a code to pass on as the gift. Your recipient can get creative and make their own book or get lazy and buy one that someone else has made.
2. Photo magazine subscriptions
Magazine subscriptions fall into that "gift that keeps on giving" category. I was at our local Borders earlier tonight, and after a depressing tour of the ever dwindling photography and art book section, I took refuge in the last bastion of variety in the store: the magazine racks. Granted, most mainstream magazines recycle stories ad nausium (For women, it's "Lose 15 pounds in 3 days" followed by "Best chocolate cake bake-off." For men, it's "Lose that gut and getted ripped" and "Super vixen Megan Fox bares her soul." For photographers, it's "DSLR Wars!" and "Do megapixels still matter?"), but some magazines have content worth archiving. My top picks would be the ones that showcase important work. In order of price (low to high), I would choose Color, Aperture, B&W, PDN, and Exit. Exit (a Spanish theme-based photo quarterly) is my favorite, but at 140 euros a year (80 in Spain, 100 in Europe), it is a pretty extravagant gift.
I haven't tried these, but I like the idea of creating a skin for my ipod or laptop with one of my own photos. A great alternative to all those ready-made designs.
4. Photoshop brushes
There are hundreds of free Photoshop brushes and textures out there, but who has time to sort them all out? Not you? Me neither. But if you have time but not money, a CD of well organized brush sets would make a good gift. Get really creative and make a set of your own. See also, free textures, free fonts.
5. Photojojo gift card
A lot more attitude than your standard gift card. Visit their store to see the selection.
A final note to online businesses. C'mon people! Offer gift cards and feature them on your main page. Don't you want to make money? This means you, Smugmug, Moo, iStock, Spoonflower, and Photoeye, oh, and me. Maybe next year.