How to Pick Out the Perfect Present (According to the Movies)

By  · Published on December 2nd, 2011

It’s that time of year again when we all rush around, trying to find that perfect gift for all the special people in our lives. We at FSR know how stressful this time of year can be and thought what better source to look to when trying to figure out exactly how to find that perfect present than the movies? From tracking down the hottest toy of the season or finally getting the gift you always wanted, I rounded up a few seasonal favorites to create a handy list of tips that will hopefully help when it comes to finding a gift that makes the intended gift-ee smile, laugh and/or remember what it feels like to be a kid on Christmas morning.

1. Shop Early

In Jingle All The Way, Howard Langston (Arnold Schwarzenegger) sets out to get his son a Turbo-Man action figure – only the most sought after toy that holiday season, and one that Howard had forgotten to pick-up until Christmas Eve. (You know where this is going.) If you want to avoid having to tangle with other desperate shoppers (in the form of Sinbad as a disgruntled postal worker), gangs, counterfeit toys and the police, learn from Ahr-nold and get your shopping done early. Luckily nowadays if you do find yourself in need of a must-have popular item, you can turn to the power of the Internet and next-day shipping instead of a shady mall Santa.

2. Choose a Present You Would Want

In one of the more iconic Christmas films, A Christmas Story, Ralphie (Peter Billingsley) wants to find only one thing under his Christmas tree – a Red Ryder BB gun. Despite being told ‘no’ by almost everyone he reveals his wish to, Ralphie eventually gets his gift, mainly because his father had one when he was a kid and understood the appeal. If you are not lucky enough to have a family member or friend who makes their Christmas gift wish as well known, it is always a good bet to opt for something you yourself would enjoy if it were given to you. Although a BB gun in the hands of a nine year old is probably never a good idea (no matter how much they may want it).

3. Fulfill Past Wishes

The Santa Clause is not only the story of how Tim-The-Tool-Man-Taylor gets turned into Santa Claus (although that is certainly a big part of it); it is also about why we stop believing in Santa as we grow up. Christmas time is all about the magic of the season and when disappointment threatens that magic, it becomes harder and harder to keep believing. Despite the physical (hello white beard and belly) and dietary (constant Christmas cookies and cocoa) changes Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) is clearly going through, his family (besides his son Charlie) still cannot believe he is now Saint Nick. During the busiest night of his year (Christmas Eve, of course), Scott helps bring back the magic to Charlie’s mom and step-dad by gifting them the toys they never received as kids. For them it was a Mystery Date board game and an Oscar Mayer Wienie Whistle – find out what those missed items are for the people in your life and then head to e-Bay and give them the gift of nostalgia. And feel free to take it one step further and dress up as your own version of Santa when delivering their gifts!

4. Go In with a Group On Big Ticket Items

It’s A Wonderful Life’s George Bailey (James Stewart) is a good man who always puts others before himself, constantly trying to help his family and community, even if that means giving up his dream of traveling the world or even going on his own honeymoon. After another unfortunate incident which leaves his family’s Building and Loan (and the town) in trouble once again (and a problem George cannot easily fix this time), George gets some help from his guardian angel to restore his faith in himself. In the end, George is literally repaid for his years of good deeds with donations and help from his friends, family and the community that end up being more than enough to save the Building and Loan. If there is a special gift you want to get someone, but it is a bit out of your own price range, turn to your own friends and family and see if they would want to pool your resources and get that more expensive item (especially if it is something the person needs and does not just want).

5. Beware When Gifting Pets

The idea of a cute little puppy with a big red bow tied around their neck is a great idea in theory, but a pet comes with a lot of responsibility that you need to make sure their new owner is ready to take on well after the Christmas lights come down. Take a cue from Gremlins and Billy Peltzer (Zach Galligan), whose father gave him a seemingly adorable and sweet Mogawi named Gizmo for Christmas. After breaking the three rules of owning a Mogawi (getting it wet, feeding it after midnight and exposing it to sunlight), Billy and his family are subjected to the rampage of a gang of now very unfriendly gremlins. Pets are wonderful and can be the gift that keeps on giving, just make sure the person you are giving them to are prepared to care for their pet all year round, and maybe avoid buying anything too “exotic” (just for good measure).

Hopefully these tips will help as you put together your gift buying lists this year. Or even just pick up a copy of these movies themselves – they make great stocking stuffers!

Happy shopping!

Stay tuned for more entries into our 2011 Holiday Survival Guide.