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Here’s a handy-dandy holiday gift guide for Black Friday

By Mark Saal, Standard-Examiner Staff - | Nov 21, 2017

 What's with all these TV commercials this time of year showing a brand new vehicle sitting in the driveway on Christmas morning, a big red bow around it?

C'mon, that never happens in real life. I mean, seriously. Aside from Elvis, who gives luxury sedans as gifts?

With Black Friday just a few days off, the official holiday shopping season is bearing down on us like a freight train full of stress and disappointment. So, if not vehicles, what are the rest of us supposed to give for Christmas? Here's my Top 10 Holiday Gift Suggestions for 2017:

10. PetChatz: This pet monitor is billed as "Digital Daycare for the Home Alone Dog and Cat." It acts as a sort of two-way baby monitor on steroids, allowing you to have video chats with your fur baby while you're away. PetChatz also dispenses treats at your command and provides your pet with games, aromatherapy and even something called DOGTV. There's also PawCall, an accessory that allows your animal to call you when he or she is feeling lonely. And incidentally? I see no reason why this couldn't work for your toddler. Just load the pet treat hopper with Skittles or some other human food and -- voila! -- no more expensive babysitters or daycare, people. $213-$379, PetChatz.com.

9. Password Vault: This compact device holds up to 400 user IDs, logins and passwords for computers, bank accounts, etc. Meaning, all you have to do is remember one PIN number to access all of that hard-to-recall information. Of course, if you forget your PIN, you're pretty much hosed. Unless you buy a SECOND Password Vault in which to keep your original Password Vault PIN. $59.95, SharperImage.com.

8. Plush Internal Organs: Forget stuffed animals. What kid wouldn't flip for these stuffed human organs? The company I Heart Guts describes its product as "what you might find inside a dissected Hello Kitty." Among the dozens of cartoonish-looking plush body parts are Heart Plush, Brain Plush, Liver Plush, Pancreas Plush, Kidney Plush, Lung Plush, Gallbladder Plush, Spleen Plush, Appendix Plush, Uterus Plush, Prostate Plush, Rectum Plush and much more. These cuddly toys are almost guaranteed to ensure your child goes into one of the healthcare-related fields. $20 each, IHeartGuts.com.

7. Hydro Hammock: This gift combines two items that -- for me, anyway -- always seem a lot more relaxing in theory than practice. But for those who love hammocks and hot tubs, they say it's the best of both worlds. Basically, it's a hot tub that you string up between two trees. $458-$1,999, HydroHammock.com.

6. Lung Ashtray: For the smoker in your life, we present an ashtray shaped like a pair of lungs. But wait, there's more! When a cigarette is placed in one of the ashtray's grooves, the ashtray coughs and gasps. A not-so-subtle reminder that if they don't stop smoking, you won't have to worry about buying them many more Christmas gifts. $9.99, Amazon.com.

5. Death Star Waffle Maker: Luke, I am your breakfast ... For the "Star Wars" fan, how about a waffle maker that produces golden-brown, cooked-batter replicas of a moon? Oh, wait. That's no moon -- it's a space station. This wonderful kitchen appliance creates a 7-inch-diameter waffle that looks just like the Death Star. Why, it'll be just like eating womp rats back home. Because, you know what they say: "Come to the Dark Side! We have waffles!" $39.99, ThinkGeek.com.

4. Christmas Tree-to-Be: For the gardener in your life -- or maybe just someone you don't like -- it's the ultimate do-it-yourself gift. Grow your own Christmas tree in your yard with these Scotch pine seeds and instructions in a decorative tin. $10, UncommonGoods.com.

3. Indoor Flameless Marshmallow Roaster: Time was, in order to enjoy s'mores, you had to venture into the great outdoors and build a campfire. Now, just plug this puppy into an outlet and toast your marshmallows over an electric heater. Just add chocolate and graham crackers! All from the comfort of your own home. $69.95, HammacherSchlemmer.com.

2. Automatic BBQ Grill Cleaning Robot: It's exactly as the name implies -- a robot that uses three spinning brass wire brushes to move back and forth across the grate on your grill, automatically cleaning it. The robot shuts off when it's done, in about 10 to 20 minutes. Think of it as a Roomba for your grill. $129.99, SharperImage.com.

1. The 2018 Calendar of Utah Geology: Has your wife or girlfriend been hinting at wanting a "rock" for Christmas? Why not give her 12? The Utah Geological Survey recently released its 12th edition of the popular calendar, which features stunning photographs -- with brief descriptions --of Utah's geologic wonders, taken by UGS staff. Why not rock someone's world this Christmas? $4.95 ($4.25 for orders of 10 or more), MapStore.Utah.gov.

Contact Mark Saal at 801-625-4272, or msaal@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter at @Saalman. Friend him on Facebook at Facebook.com/MarkSaal.

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