Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Friday, December 1, 2017

Christmas Tradition: The Thoughtless Gift Guide

Back in 2004, when for one bright shining moment I was actually putting my college training to use, I was publishing regularly in the Buffalo Beast, a always very political, often very funny and offensive at every opportunity free newspaper circulated in the city of Buffalo, NY. The paper -- co-founded by a guy named Matt Taibbi who, I've heard, left to go work on some rag called Rolling Stone, or something -- is long gone, but my clip file endures. One of my favorite pieces, from Christmas 2004 is reprinted without permission below. Enjoy, and Happy Holidays!

Buffalo Beast #65
The Thoughtless Gift Guide
By Jeff Dean
It's noon on Christmas eve and you've just learned that cousin Todd has been paroled and will be coming to Christmas dinner, or maybe you are "secret Santa" to the new kid in shipping who eats his lunch in the john. The clock is ticking, your credit card is scorched and suddenly you've gone from jolly to humbug. Don't panic. There are plenty of options for the last-minute gift-giver who has neither the thought nor the cash to put into another gift.
It goes without saying that you will start your hunt at a discount chain store such as Wal-Mart or Target. These stores have anticipated your arrival and have stocked their doorways and front aisles with dozens of thoughtless gifts, most under $10.
For the less-than-special woman in your life, consider a scarf and glove set, handsome winter accessories that are colorful, yet as protective as cheesecloth. Slipper sets are also popular because, hey, everyone has feet (though, with the war, you may want to check first). Resin fountains and musical water globes sporting fairies, angels and critters are also a favorite with the get-in-get-the-hell-out shopper. Why not splurge and pick up a matching resin garden stone inscribed with wispy verse?
There is no shortage of thoughtless gifts for the gent you have to buy for. Motorized tie racks, TV shaped remote control caddies, talking pedometers and 3-in-1 anythings abound at holiday time. Particularly obnoxious are the miniature pool or dart sets. Imagine the hours of fun you'll have imagining your lame-ass brother-in-law actually shooting pool on his lame-ass 5x7 inch table. And who doesn't like snacks? You could go spend an arm and a leg at Hickory Farms, or you could just stop at the drugstore and pick up a box from the Chestnut Creek Country Snack collection. For less than $5 you get smoked cheese spread, crackers, tea and sausage. The peace of mind is free.
A very popular "oh shit" gift is the mug set. Usually packaged with coffee, cocoa or soup, these handy packs come with mugs or bowls emblazoned with popular logos. This year, among the traditional Campbell's and Hershey's packs, you will find sets from John Deere, Field & Stream and NASCAR.
Maybe you've given the mug set too many times to the loser on your list, but you still don't want to come off like you care. No problem, with Kammenstein's hardwood mug tree, which prices at about half of what another mug set would have set you back.
If your budget is a little more flexible, consider a multipurpose watch. Toolmaker Stanley has lent its name to a line of watches that, in addition to, presumably, telling time, also open bottles, drive screws flash lights and offer level gauges. The watches come in metal replica toolboxes that can also double as an attractive casket for small pets.
For the ladies who barely blip on your emotional radar, seek out a nice shrink-wrapped tub of hyper-allergenic lotions and soaps, such as Wal-Mart's 20-pound Comfort & Care set, which includes bubble baths, shampoos and loofahs wrapped in a huge gilt basket so tasteless Donald Trump would roll his eyes.
If you want to be more subtly obnoxious, spring for the Febreze ScentStories player. Clocking in at just under $30, this useless gem uses fragrance cartridges to tell a story, such as "Walking Barefoot on the Beach" or "Relaxing in the Hammock." The cartridge cycles through different scents as it plays, supposedly telling an olfactory tale. Sounds ridiculous, but just try to find one.

There are so many choices for the thoughtless gift-giver, you'll wish you were obligated to put more names on your list. But instead, just relax, have a cup of Harley Davidson cocoa, maybe a bite off the sausage log, and be glad it's over for another year.