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Holiday Gift Guide

Are you recovered from Thanksgiving yet? Well today is Black Friday and one of the busiest shopping days all year. I was wondering if you are stuck like me with what to give those you love for Christmas. Here are six FREE gift ideas along with some other options you might consider for your loved ones this season.

FREE STUFF

Is it possible to have a nice, loving holiday with family and friends, a tree, some tinsel, a couple of presents and not spend a fortune? I think so. Our readers run the gamut in the range of finances. Some are in debt over their heads and overstressed at work and guilt-ridden that they can't make Christmas some perfect Martha Stewart moment. For those the USA Today has a great article on practical holiday budgeting tips.

I also thought I would provide some practical recommendations with free stuff that may be worth their weight in gold. Remember, just because you don't pay for something doesn't mean it might be more valuable than many expensive gifts.

  • Gift of Love Probably the most important and valuable gift you can give someone this season is the gift of love. You can write each member of your family or friends a "Love Note" and let them know how much you love and appreciate them. You can also give a hug to those you love and let them know that you consider them to be a gift from God.
  • Mercola.com newsletter As you know, we have tens of thousands of testimonials telling us this is the single most important health resource on the net.

Over 100,000 people developed heart attacks or strokes from Vioxx and over 50,000 people died from taking Vioxx. Mercola.com was the FIRST site on the Internet to warn people to avoid taking this drug. Over five years ago and over one year before the drug came on the market we warned of the dangers of this drug. There are five other similar dangerous drugs on the market, so a free subscription to Mercola.com can literally save you or a loved one's life.

  • Google Desktop Search Anyone who is anyone leans on Google for Web searches. But what about searching your hard drive? Google's free Desktop Search tool, also in beta, can perform the task quickly. There simply isn't any reason I can think of that anyone reading this should not immediately install this amazing piece of software on their computer. For more details please read my review about this amazing piece of software that is one of the most important pieces of software that I have. It has saved me hours of time and always comes through like a champ.

When first downloaded, Google's Desktop Search software "indexes" compatible files, e-mail and any Web pages you previously viewed in Internet Explorer. Later, when Google spits out search results, you can view these Web pages again, even if you are offline or the page is no longer available. That's because the pages and other files Google indexes are stored, or "cached." Google can search plain text, Word, Excel and PowerPoint files, along with Outlook (and Outlook Express) mail and AOL Instant Messenger chat sessions. Other file types are in the works. I am eagerly awaiting the ability to search PDFs, but in the meantime this is an absolute must piece of software.

  • Lookout Prior to Google Desktop there was a program called Lookout. In some ways it was better than Google Desktop and it was also free. But Microsoft purchased them two or three months ago and took it off the market. Guess what though? After reading an article about it in my favorite computer periodical, PC Magazine, I learned that there were so many complaints that Microsoft allowed Lookout to distribute the program for free and it is now update and can be downloaded from their site.
  • Firefox This program is Microsoft's worst nightmare. Most likely you are still using Internet Explorer (IE) for your web browser. The reason why you will want to consider switching your browser to Firefox immediately is that IE is seriously broken. You might infect your computer merely by browsing a web site. So get smart and download the free software that nearly ten million people have done since version 1.0 of the software was released on November 9.
  • Gmail Without a doubt this is clearly the best free email service out there Unfortunately, Gmail is still in beta testing and is only available by invitation BUT I found out how you can get invited and offer this as a free gift to you. You need to be patient and continue to retry as the site will frequently not have any invitations left, but people continue to donate them and if you are persistent you will eventually get one.

The beauty of Google's free, Web-based Gmail service is the amount of storage you get - a humongous 1,000 megabytes (or 1 GB), about 500 times the capacity of Microsoft's rival Hotmail e-mail service when Gmail first arrived. (Perhaps in response, Hotmail and Yahoo recently beefed up storage capacities to 250 MB.) That means you'll likely never have to discard any old mail. Also, messages are grouped with all their replies, making them easier to find. They recently added pop3 capability which means you can view the messages in your regular email client.

USA Today November 26, 2004

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