Are you sure you don’t need a Slinky?

I am a giver. No you shut up, I am. I get totally jazzed at giving gifts, and usually spend way too much money on them. Most people who know me reasonably well can say that I’ve turned up at some point with some kind of present for them for no reason whatsoever. Or if there’s a reason, it’s often in an unexpected context. More times than not, these surprise gifts are utterly useless, but even that gives them a certain memorable quality (e.g., “I wasn’t thinking I needed a plastic eggplant, but it will always be a bond between us.” Or something.).

With that in mind, believe me when I say that I fucking hate Christmas shopping more than that Paul McCartney song “Freedom,” and that’s a whole damn lot. Let me qualify that by saying it’s not the actual shopping for or giving gifts that I hate, because, and I will refer you to the above paragraph, that part is peachy. It’s the fact that there’s nothing worse during the Christmas season than having a penchant for giving unexpected presents one at a time and being an internationally ranked procrastinator.

First of all, there’s nothing unexpected about getting a Christmas present, unless it’s from someone you aren’t really close to– and for me to evoke that kind of surprise I’d need to expand my list and more importantly budget to include people I don’t like all that much, thus negating the joy for me. Second, my gift shopping style is that I will spend an hour in a store trying to decide which dancing hamster, the one dressed like a geisha or an astronaut, best compliments so-and-so’s interests and personality. When I have to do this for a dozen or more people, and want the gifts to be personal, and there’s no perfect dancing hamster for at least half the people on my list, my brain fries. Third, the only thing that actually gets me working in this situation is the adrenaline of an approaching deadline, which tends not to flow until at least a week after the cut-off date for receiving internet orders before the 24th. Meaning I have to physically shop, and there aren’t enough hours left for me to stare at the hamsters and eggplants to my satisfaction, not to mention the fact that I like to reserve items like unexpected hamsters and eggplants for non-Christmas months.

Anyway, if anyone would like to share what you’ve purchased so far, and don’t mind me ripping you off, please feel free because my head’s going to fall off. And for anyone who has a reason to expect they might get a present from me, please know that it’s my desire to get you something perfectly personal and fabulous, and not my desire to not get you something, that is causing said head falling.

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  1. I got syphilis.

  2. Hold on, let me write that down.

  3. I don’t want to get too specific, because I think some giftees and gifters of mine read your blog, but the two best presents I’ve heard of this year are the following:

    1. Shittake log
    2. Bacon Of The Month Club

    Also, you should just buy everyone you know the Arrested Development DVDs.

  4. So far, I’ve bought… nothing.


  5. I bought a whole bunch of fancy schmancy tea gift-packed, with whimsical names like “peach puff daddy.” It looks cute, but no doubt it tastes terrible. So my friends will probably only ever drink it when I come over. And then I’ll have to drink it too.


  6. My favorite hamster is the one that sings “Kung-Fu Fighting”, and its dance moves include a nunchuck that actually whirls around. It’s the greatest.

    Anyway, gifts. I have some guidelines I use when I’m having trouble with a ‘force-buy’ instead of ‘wow-this-is-perfect-for-him/her buy’:

    1) What is something this person would use and enjoy, but wouldn’t necessarily buy for him/herself?
    Example: William-Sonoma dishsoap. I’m actually going to buy some for my mother. I mean, she would never buy that for herself normally, but if she already has it, might as well use it. And she’ll enjoy it.
    Other possibilities: backscratcher, universal remote, soothing eye pillow, dog brush, magazine subscription.

    2) What are this person’s hobbies/interests? What could you get them for their interest that they probably don’t have?
    Example: trick golf balls that explode into confetti or water or whatever. Beau’s parents golf, so I got them these as a little fun to have next time they go out, either just trying to explode them, or trying to prank each other.
    Other possibilities: tennis-racquet-shaped pasta, local bike maps, wireless mouse.

    3) What’s on sale at TJ Maxx?
    example: set of six wine glasses for $10. Perfect swap gift. Also a perfect back-up/emergency gift.
    Other possibilities, depending on your TJ Maxx, could include: cocktail shaker, herb-infused olive oil, Kona coffee, set of four dessert plates, sushi serving set.

    4)My Last-Ditch Effort: What’s a gift that other people have gotten that they liked that this person might like?
    Example: chenille throw blanket with matching pillows. I was stumped for what to get a friend for a wedding gift, so I asked another married friend, “What was something you got for your wedding that wasn’t on the registry but that you are really glad you got?” See above for answer.
    Other possibilities: Um, try seeing if the person has an wish list. Or, if they’re married, maybe their registry is still online, with a few items remaining.

  7. Well if it takes any pressure off, PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD don’t get me anything for Christmas, because I have totally tanked everyone’s birthday this year and y’all (meaning everyone I know except family I’m visiting on the actual days, which would be awkward to show up empty-handed) are getting your Official Holiday Gifts sometime in February, if at all.

  8. so far i have purchased DVDs and CDs for all my giftees. we’re having a digital christmas round the snowy household.

    i like to get the perishables as well. perfumed lotion or spa type loofah/pummice/gloop containing baskets. stuff like that.

  9. Hey, now, those alpacas grow some mighty fine yarn. If someone gave me alpaca hair for Xmas, provided it had been spun and dyed nicely and there was enough of it to be useful, I’d hug their neck.

    Alternatively, people dig the lavender dryer sachets. Or! Bake. Baking makes for good cheap last-minute yet at the same time personal and handmade gifting.

    There’s always the old macaroni, cardstock, and spray-paint to fall back on, too…

  10. Is patty Bryan adams’ Wife

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