CHRISTMAS is a time when stress levels increase just because of the decisions that have to be made - decisions mainly about what to give people as gifts without getting completely boring or, on the other hand, going broke. If you have any friends or relatives who are into hi-tech, your stress levels can be cut down considerably. Sure, there are plenty of gifts to choose from, but the choices are fairly simple and are excellent value. There are software utilities, computer games, educational programs and even affordable, but useful, peripherals that will make excellent gifts. That is, of course, unless you want to give someone a computer. But that is another story. Games, for example, come in numerous categories and a number of new and intriguing products hit the shelves this past year. All of them are designed to cater to the wide cross-section of computer users - from children to adults. Some of the most computer-resistant adults could find themselves unwittingly converted as they get drawn into games that are absorbing, often mentally taxing, or simply addictive. Take the ultra-violent game, Doom. Though it probably does not quite go with the spirit of Christmas, it is so popular it will almost certainly be appreciated by its recipient. Or there is the fantasy role-playing game MYST, another 1994 favourite. 'This year we have a wide cross-section of new products of Microsoft software, from fantasy adventure games to education software to accessories at a promotion price especially for the season, which are widely distributed among our retail stores,' Russell Yeh, director of the entertainment store chain KPS, said. In the educational categories, there are a number of packages for children, such as the game The Day The Sounds Disappeared. This comes in CD-ROM format and is compatible with both Microsoft Windows and Apple Macintosh systems. The key point of this game is that it is bilingual, featuring both English and Mandarin characters, and is meant to be a teaching tool of sorts. Its price, at $199, is appealing. Another good package for children for the holiday season is Mum's Not Home, also a CD-ROM title, but this time only Mac-compatible. It is a teaching/story-reading game that you can play or learn in different languages and is only $149 at its promotion price. Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, one of the most popular packages this year is Jurassic Park. Surprising because this is not a game but the novel in a format compatible with Macs. It does come with some amazing graphic clips from the movie, though, and is selling for only $99. Also on offer is the 1995 version of Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia on CD-ROM. This classic reference guide is not only good for children, but for adults. Games such as Planet Football, Dragonsphere and Violent Myth all sell for less than $100. Mr Yeh said: 'All these games have been available since mid-November at the new promotion prices.' The real value-for-money packages are those that KPS is offering in the form of 'five-foot packs' and 'three-foot packs' in DOS-compatible CD-ROM format. The Five Foot 10 Pack has two volumes and includes games such as Doom - Episode One, World Fact Book, Battle Chess Enhanced, Fantasia's 2000 Fonts and Sherlock Holmes - Consulting Detective. Volume one is going for $199 and volume two for $279. The Three Foot Six Pack is also in DOS-compatible CD-ROM format and is specially recommended for children. It contains games such as Cinderella, Lenny's Music Toons and Spelling Jungle and is selling at a promotional price of $199. And there's more. 'Our Microsoft Christmas bundles this year will be the highlight on sale where customers can get two packages for the price of one, with educational and fun games to choose from,' Mr Yeh said. He said some new arrivals were included in the bundles such as the game Golf with animated graphics compatible with Windows, plus the game Champ Course Pinehurst. It sells for $479. For children - on the educational front - there is the Windows-compatible game Magic School Business Human Body, which is an encyclopedia of sorts about the human body. Also in the bundle is the game Best Of Entertainment Pack, which includes a game of strategy chess. During the promotional period, the bundle sells for $499. Other new games in such bundles include Microsoft Flight Simulator, with flight simulation modules on the Caribbean and Tokyo added on. Other educational offerings for children include Creative Writer and Scenes-Undersea in one bundle in Mac and Windows-compatible CD-ROM formats. Cinemania 1995 and Dangerous Creatures come in another CD-ROM bundle, but only in Windows-compatible format. 'Golf and Flight Simulator in the past have been good sellers for us and we came about these special promotion prices for all the packages by studying the past performance of our best sellers and coming up with a price which we felt would provide the customer with a good deal,' Mr Yeh said. KPS is also offering a software accessory Disc-Tek CD Repair Kit for a promotion price of $99. This helps a user to fix any problems in his CD-ROM system. Why stop with computer software for a Christmas gift for a computer freak?