Prefer to buy thoughtful gifts but feel flummoxed when it comes to the random (though ever-so-helpful) people in your life? Worry not. Help is here.
The gift: Tron: Evolution (Disney Interactive Studios, $30 for Nintendo DS or Sony PSP)
The reason: He delivers heavy boxes to your door but never says a word. He’s not rude; it’s a social-skills thing. This modern take on the classic ’80s video game will deliver him to his comfort zone on his lunch break.
The gift: The Office: Overtime Digital Shorts Collection (Universal Studios, $15)
The reason: Everybody needs a pressure-valve release after a long day at the office. These “not seen on TV” video shorts will give your overeager assistant exactly that. Pair it with an iTunes or Amazon gift card.
The gift: Bruce Springsteen’s The Promise (Columbia, $19)
The reason: It’s a state law that all New Jerseyans love Bruce Springsteen, so make nice with the NJPD by gifting them a copy of the latest from the Boss. It might also help lessen the sting of Jersey Shore.
The gift: My Country: 50 Musicians on God, America & the Songs They Love by Melanie Dunea (Rodale Books, $33)
The reason: He doesn’t want for anything except new tunes, but really, there’s no CD, MP3 or bit of vinyl you could buy him that he doesn’t already know about. Instead, let him read about the musical inspiration of country stars old and new in this gorgeous, portrait-heavy book.
The gift: The Sherlockian by Graham Moore (Twelve Books, $25)
The reason: He fancies himself a detective, always snooping around the building and butting into your business. Keep him busy with this entertaining modern mystery starring Arthur Conan Doyle and Bram Stoker.
The gift: Men of a Certain Age: The Complete First Season (Warner Home Video, $40)
The reason: You haven’t even met the new couple across the street, and now you have to give them a present at the neighborhood progressive dinner and gift exchange? They’re sure to love Men of a Certain Age (plus, they’ll bring in your mail while you’re away).
The gift: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë (Penguin Classics, $16)
The reason: Yes, she probably already knows the words by heart, but teacher will be hot for the Ruben Toledo–illustrated cover on this new edition of the classic novel.
The gift: The Darwin Awards Countdown to Extinction by Wendy Northcutt (Dutton, $20)
The reason: What possesses people to attempt dangerous stunts, film them and then post them to YouTube when they inevitably go spectacularly awry? We have no idea, but your friend loves that stuff. Keep her busy with this book filled with “seven safety warnings you should not ignore,” “nine nos with power tools” and more.