Essential last minute Christmas gifts

The amount of money we spend on presents each Christmas is frightening. Queues in the shops on Christmas eve are simply hateful. And unless you're under 16 years old, the whole affair can seem a trifle overwhelming.

But the thing that always drives Christmas forward is the fact that we seem to enjoy giving presents almost as much as we like receiving them. So how would you feel if you handed your loved one a gift only to find it wasn't quite as perfect as you thought it would be?

For instance, what if you bought your kid a new LCD TV only to find that he couldn't plug it into his PS3 because it didn't come with the right cable? Here's a list of last minute Christmas gifts to help you optimise your family's Christmas enjoyment:

HDMI cable. Lots of people are unaware that many TVs, Blu-ray/HD DVD players, HD games consoles and the like, don't actually come with an HDMI cable. HDMI is the SCART of the new millennium, and is required to ensure that the HD signal from your player or games console can be correctly sent to your HDTV. They're available for less than £10 too, so if you've bought a PS3 or HD DVD player for a loved one, don't forget to buy an HDMI cable!

Another key popular present this year will inevitably be the iPod. Apple released the iPod touch, classic and nano a few months ago. Why not buy an iTunes gift card and give that with the iPod itself? That would enable your loved one to get some free music to play on their new gadget. Most MP3 players come with God-awful earphones too, so it could also be a good idea to purchase some decent ones separately. And to prevent scratches, how about a silicon case to keep those soft curves nice and smooth?

Digital cameras are always popular at Christmas. But like many things, they often come without the necessary extras. If you've bought someone a digital camera this year, you might also like to consider buying a memory card to accompany it. After all, what good is a camera if you can't take pictures with it? Look on the box to see what kind of card it takes before you buy though! Prices are currently at an all-time low so you shouldn't have to spend too much extra.

And why stop at just buying an extra memory card? The addition of a memory card reader would also be warmly received by any digital camera lover. It would make transferring those pics to your computer that bit easer.

Storage is actually a key consideration for a wide range of electronic products. If you've bought a mini-DV camera for example, have you bought any DV tapes? Blu-ray cameras likewise will need BD's to work. And why not buy some blank discs to go with that new DVD recorder?

Digital photo frames are always a good idea. Prices for LCD photo frames are coming down fast, to the point that they're now pretty affordable. You can load them up with your digital stills and then either display individual photos or a slideshow of lots of snaps. Always a welcome addition to anyone's stocking!

Laptop speakers are renowned for being severely sub-standard. So if you've perhaps bought the wife a notebook computer this Christmas, how about also investing in a nice pair of speakers? Laptops can come with pretty handy soundcards these days, so with the help of a nice 2.0 or 2.1 set, you'll be able to coax some pretty nice sounds out of it. Great for music, games and videos alike.

Games consoles are amongst the big hitters this year, with the Nintendo Wii causing the biggest stir of all. If you've been lucky enough to get your hands on a Wii, why stop there? The console only comes with one Wii Remote controller and one nunchuk - no good if you want to play multiplayer. You could invest in extra controllers to ensure the family can play together on Christmas day.

That goes for the PS3 and Xbox 360 too. On the whole, both of those consoles only come with one controller. So if you're planning on playing with more than one person at a time, extra controllers are a must.

And remember, the PS3 is also an accomplished Blu-ray Disc and upscaling DVD player. Why not buy the PS3's BD remote control for extra control over those HD movies?

And finally, if you're hosting a New Years Eve party this year, why not get the same music playing in every room in your house, with all songs perfectly in Sync? Wireless streamers like Creative's Xmod Wireless will do that. And they'll even use X-Fi technology to upscale your MP3's to CD-quality.

Merry Christmas!

James Rivington

James was part of the TechRadar editorial team for eight years up until 2015 and now works in a senior position for TR's parent company Future. An experienced Content Director with a demonstrated history of working in the media production industry. Skilled in Search Engine Optimization (SEO), E-commerce Optimization, Journalism, Digital Marketing, and Social Media. James can do it all.