Making a list? Checking it twice? Here are some guidelines to keep befuddled spouses, parents of teenagers and others on the right track.

**** MAXWELL, "Maxwell's Urban Hang Suite," Columbia. This richly atmospheric, thematic collection recalls Marvin Gaye's classically old-school album "I Want You"--but with an extra fillip of '90s funk and eccentricity that makes it a true original.

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Albums and other items in the Gift Guide are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent).

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