Christmas time is just as much about giving than receiving, and every year there’s a handful of folks in your gift-giving circle that you, you know, just don’t have any ideas for. Thankfully, each year there is a nice, solid, generic gift list that is good every Christmas, year in and year out, that works no matter what, and works especially well if you don’t want to exchange gifts with that person ever again. Ever.
Fruitcake: I never understood either side of the opinions regarding fruitcake. On the one hand, it’s not this ridiculous confection, the result of a confluence of poor taste and bad design. On the other hand, it’s not exactly the gift-giving equivalent of the Hope Diamond, either. I’ve eaten fruitcake, and it’s…not good. But not bad. It’s not…anything. It just seems like there’s a fairly small market for people who are sitting around, bored and hungry, thinking quietly to themselves, “Boy, you know, I could go for a cherry, a strawberry, a banana, perhaps a bit of pineapple, and a tangerine, all at the same time, draped in a lathering of solidified high fructose corn syrup. That would just hit the spot.” Thankfully, science has evolved to the point where we can, indeed, enjoy them all at the same time, thanks to an innovative technology known as “mushing up enough sugar so the whole thing stays together and lasts longer than Joan Rivers, though fresher.” Fruitcake is primarily consumed by those who have little regard for the longevity of their pancreas.
Combination Anything: Any time two disparate gadgets of varying degrees of utility are combined into one piece of equipment, you know you have a winner on your hands. Usually the options involved are at least tangentially related, such as alarm clock and serrated knife. In fact, alarm clocks in particular seem to be a commonality in most combined gadgets, which to be seems a vast misapplication of effort. When I wake up in the morning, the last thing I want to do is anything, so whatever device is embedded in my alarm cock is mostly going to be wasted, unless it is a mallet with which I can destroy said alarm clock/mallet. But it’s all not alarm clocks, of course; a simple scan of random devices invoke electric razors, mirrors, thermometers, flashlights, cameras, binoculars, manicure sets, corkscrews, nail files, and HD radios. One can only dream.
Anything That Questions the Recipient’s Sexuality: It’s always productive and highly amusing you get your best friend, sorority sister, or creepy uncle that gift that playfully doubts what their sexual orientation is. And I’m talking about all lifestyle choices, of course. Inflatable sheep, spreader bars, flannel, and coffee table books about Austrian sex comedies all point a figurative finger, laughing heartily at the recipient’s discomfort. Alas, you always run the risk of getting a knowing wink and an “I’ll talk to you later about this” look from your intended target, so it’s always best to have a good backup plan comprised of a bubble hockey tourney or a ready subscription to HGTV.
That Singing Fish And Other Novelty Gifts: Seriously, these are the best kind of gifts to get, because anyone who doesn’t enjoy anthropomorphic seafood singing a low-fi rendition of “Rock Around The Clock” has no soul. Basically any kind of singing animal works, but so do gifts involving cartoonish men who do rude things when you press a button to put on your dashboard of your car to cleverly insult passers-by that cut you off in the vague chance that they may be able to see, through the rush of traffic, a six-inch-tall stuffed plush doll giving you the finger; a sound-activated figure, usually Santa Claus or Sammy Davis Jr., which will entertain young children for HOURS while they stomp, clap, and scream in front of the figure to get Kris Kringle to gyrate for a half second or so; and any sort of bank that forces the deposited coin in question to go through an elaborately artificial means to get to the kitty. This usually involves a Construx-type crane or a well-placed pitching plastic arm, but the Cayman Islands works just as well.
Stuff That Will Not Be Used After Jan 7th or So: This includes any kind of exercise equipment that will be gracelessly abandoned mere moments after New Year Resolutions are made. It will also include sports equipment for sports that will never, ever be played; power tools and garage apparatuses that are bought with good intentions, the good intentions being to sell them at a yard sale four years later at about a fifth of their market price; and any form of self-empowering products, from tapes and books to hard liquor.
Gift Card: Nothing says “Happy Holidays” quite like handing someone a plastic card that says “Handing you a big wad of sweaty cash is apparently just too crass, so I’m going to give it to you in the form of a card with a jovial snowman and a corporate logo on it while restricting what you can use it for to buy stuff.” Merry Christmas, thoughtless jackoff!