"What bible do you recommend I give as a gift for Christmas? My friend/family member wants a study bible." This is a frequent question I (and perhaps other) pastors field.
Lately, my response has gone like this:
If you want an excellent study bible, you don't need to buy one. The NET Bible is free and includes tons of hypertext study resources. It's really quite an amazing project and resource. Check it out.
However, if you want to get an actual, hefty study bible, and if you want the translation we currently use for the lectionary readings in worship, then I recommend the HarperCollins Study Bible. I personally love my sturdy Oxford Annotated NRSV, but the HarperCollins has more compendious notes. It's really good. There's one other study bible in NRSV that many of my colleagues recommend, called the New Interpreter's Study Bible. That's also a good choice.
If you are interested in study and devotional bibles in other translations, the most recommended resources from my colleagues include the NLT Life Application Study Bible, the Lutheran Study Bible, or the NIV Life Application Study Bible. Although I should be an advocate for the Lutheran Study Bible, I think the notes are far too sparse for anyone looking for a study bible. However, the margins are big and white, so there is a lot of space to write notes.
If you are serious about the languages, consider the NET Greek-English Bible, or buy a bible software package like Accordance (for the Mac) or Bibleworks (for that other kind of computer).
Olivetree also has a free app that lets you read the bible and study materials on your various devices.
And then, while you're at it, remember that there are more translations of the Bible into English than there are language groups that don't yet have a bible in their heart language. So a good gift for someone who wants a bible might also be a contribution to Lutheran Bible Translators or Wycliffe Bible Translators.
Finally, I'm currently reading and evaluating a new translation of the Bible, the Common English Bible. So far I quite like the translation, and would even say that, other than the NET translation, it's the first translation I've read that might usurp the NRSV in my pantheon of favorite translations.