As regular readers of this page know, the Picks section usually throws the following week's games against the wall and tells you which ones stick. Today is a bit different as next week is the dead zone for gaming releases with the Christmas holiday early in the week.

That also means this weekend should be full of frazzled, gift-buying procrastinators looking for some cool sounds like "Christmas Rejoicing" and presents for folks.

For those who own an Xbox 360 (or who will very shortly) there are a plethora of inexpensive gifts (recharge kits, new headphone sets, console faceplates and skins) available, but it also may be practical to give a gift card of 1600 Xbox Live Marketplace Points ($20). These points are used to purchase everything on Microsoft's gaming portal including arcade titles and extra content for published games like maps and gear. One can never have enough points.

Those scouting gifts for a PlayStation 3 owner can find items such as controller covers and console skins (graphic themes that cover the entire console). But since the PS3 is also a hi-def movie player, there is an essential, albeit nongaming, device that should be in the stocking. Quite simply, the PS3 remote control ($20-$30). You see, most remotes can't be programmed to run the PS3 because it uses bluetooth tech. You could still watch movies using your game controller, but that is just goofy.

It looks like the only thing most people will be able to find for the best-selling Wii are the accessories. We all know it will be next to impossible to find an actual console this weekend. For the lucky owners of new Wii systems, some things are a must. A couple of bucks will get rubber controller covers. It's been painfully documented this year that holding onto the controllers while flailing about trying to play can be downright dangerous.

Next, think about a carrying case for around $25. Trust me, at some point, you will take the super small system somewhere to show it off. Who wants to show up with a broken one?

Here, we lump the Nintendo DS and PlayStation portable together because new owners of both systems really need the same thing. The PSP Mega Pack ($20) includes a padded case, car AC adapter, earphones, and many more items for use on the road and at the crib. The Nintendo DS doesn't have an all-inclusive pack like Sony has for the PlayStation, but you can find the right deals to get most of the stuff separately for just a tad more. The DS's specific suggestions include extra screen covers and extra DS stylus as crucial to long-term enjoyment.

Contact Rob Watson at rwatson@phillynews.com.