OK, if you haven’t started your Christmas shopping by now, you should probably give some serious consideration to panicking at this point (hold on, I need to go panic for a few minutes. . OK, back. That didn’t help the situation any. but ar least I got it out of the way.) For those of us who weren’t smart enough to get all of our shopping done back before the stores turned into a wall-to-wall mob of festively-minded rioters, we’re in a bit of a jam this weekend. While it may be true that nothing would ever get done if it weren’t for the last minute, that particular axiom is best applied to situations in which everyone else doesn’t have the same idea.
But never fear, I’m here to help… Sort of. I don’t know exactly how it happened, but somewhere along the line I managed to acquire a decidedly undeserved reputaiton for being good at Christmas shopping. Somehow, I usually end up with just what whoever I am shopping for has always wanted, but doing so requires a long, arduous journey with plenty of not-so-great and/or downright questionable gift ideas along the way. It’s these gift ideas, guaranteed to disappoint the whole family, that will be outlined in this gift guide. See the list after the jump.
For the Kids:
Remember back in the old days when all you needed to play detective was a funny hat, magnifying glass and the unwitting participation of the family dog? Apparently it’s gotten a bit more complicated than that these days. This CSI Field Kit ($60) is apparently one of a number of toys based on the popular CBS crime drama, a show that contains a significant amount of “not appropriate for children” content in every episode. Even putting that particular fact aside, you just know that somewhere along the line one of these kits is going to get some murderer off the hook thanks to evidence tampering by some kid before the actual cops show up.
Next, we’ve got a set of twelve cleverly marketed plastic cups, practically a steal at $29.88. Of course these are no ordinary suspiciously glow-in-the-dark plastic cups, they’re Speed Stacks, the official stacking cups of the World Sport Stacking Association. It seems that the sport of cup stacking has a long and illustrious history, and even the cool kids do it (at least they will if they’re in P.E. class and at risk of flunking out if they don’t.) Of course, who needs all these fancy new toys when you can just stick with the tried-and-true classics of yesteryear? Surely the tin toys that you had when you were young will be just as entertaining to a new generation as they were 50 years ago, right?
Um… Wait a second here. “Not a toy?” Then exactly what is it supposed to be? How many generations of children played with these things and miraculously managed to survive their childhoods in spite of it? It’s a good thing we’ve got lawyers to protect us from ourselves these days, who knows what disastrous consequences might happen if we let a child get a hold of one of these things. Anyway, moving on…
For the grown-ups:
Have you got a degenerate gambler in the family? if so, why not get them some chips? They probably already have a boatload of the things hanging around the house (the combined value of which probably wouldn’t buy a latte in a Starbucks six blocks off the Vegas strip) but do they have any of these? Apparently it’s not just lumps of clay covered in plastic, there’s technology involved here. In fact, it’s so high tech that there’s a patent pending on it. Granted, the things won’t do anything to stop you from losing your shirt in your weekly no-limit hold ’em game, but at least when you’re sliding them across the table to the guy whose “bluff” turned out to be a nut flush. you can be confident that you’ve got the latest in patent pending chip technology at your disposal. Or at least you would if you hadn’t just busted out on the third hand of the night again.
Of course, nothing goes better with a night of serious gambling than combining it with a night of serious drinking, and this handy Fill ‘Er Up Liquor Pump will help you do just that. The whole gas pump thing might look cute the first couple of times (or more, depending on what additional recreational controlled substances might be in use at the time,) but eventually you’re going to get sick of waiting for the thing to dispense your next shot, and you’re just going to pop off the lid and pour straight from the reservoir. You’ll probably be too drunk by then to avoid spilling all over the place, but you’ll probably also be too drunk to care.
Then again, if cocktails are more your thing, you can get this attractive “penguin” cocktail shaker, which will allow you to answer the age-old question: How many drinks does it take before you no longer care that you are imbibing the regurgitated contents of a penguin’s gullet?
And of course, what activity goes better with drunken revelry than combining it with obnoxious party favors? For the low, LOW price of only $30, you can get this assortment of cheap plastic headgear, party poppers, and no fewer than 120 streamers, just to make sure that you end up finding the things wrapped up in the vacuum cleaner at inconvenient times for the next six months afterward.
For the Whole Family (or whatever portion remains after the prior gifts:)
Note: If the contents of any bottle in your refrigerator happen to look like this, do yourself a favor and throw the bottle away. You might want to do the same with the rest of the contents of the fridge as well, just to be on the safe side.
Have you been wanting to try out one of those “video game” things that all the kids seem to be talking about these days, but couldn’t manage to find a Wii in time for Christmas? There’s always this Tiger Woods DVD game. Jam packed with more than fifteen minutes of family fun, It’s just like a real video game, except with half the interactivity and none of the replay value!
But if you’re looking for the ultimate in limited entertainment value, why not try out A Christmas Story: The Board Game? Sure, it’s guaranteed to end up sitting in the closet for at least eleven months out of the year, but it’ll keep the whole family entertained for a while on Christmas day (at least until the inevitable “you shoot your eye out, lose a turn” joke shows up. After that, it’s all downhill.) The winner is the person who doesn’t end up having their mouth washed out with soap.
If you’ve got a few extra bucks to spend this year for Christmas, why not take a trip out to The Sharper Image, where you’ll always find the latest in questionable gadgetry at wildly inflated prices? Here’s a couple of highlights from this year’s offerings:
For only $199, you can be the proud(?) owner of this life-sized animatronic bust of Elvis. Patterned after his appearance from the much vaunted “Aloha from the Uncanny Valley” tour, this bust sings eight of Elvis’ greatest hits, or comes with a karaoke microphone so you can make a total fool of yourself trying to do the same.
If you’re looking for something a little less interactive (or at least a little bit easier to throw through a window whenever you get sick of it,) you can spend that same $199 on the Isis, the “World’s most difficult puzzle”, which you can solve for a chance at winning cash or other prizes by solving even more difficult riddles. Of course, once all the riddles are solved (and the associated treasures found) you’ll basically have a shiny metal ball that you paid $200 for.
Finally, if you’ve got a political junkie in the family, you can get them one of these handy 2008 election calendars. Of course, at least two of these (quite possibly three, if the recent polls are any indication) will probably be obsolete by the middle of February, so be sure to hedge your bets and give them the whole set.
If even after these ideas you’re still stumped, you can always just go with socks, which I’m pretty sure would be better than any of the items on this list anyway. Good luck with surviving the masses of shoppers this weekend, and remember that next year, you’re going to get this done well in advance so you won’t have to deal with this mess, right? Me neither.