The Sledgehammer – Version 2.0

December 22, 2010

Coal is Overrated: The 2010 Sledgehammer Last-Minute Christmas Gift Guide

Filed under: Holidays, shopping — Tags: — Brian Lutz @ 1:53 am

Admit it, you’ve been putting off your Christmas shopping until the last minute.  Again.  Just like you swore you wouldn’t do a year ago.  And the year before that,  And the one before that.  And pretty much every year since 1987 for that matter.  And, just as usual, you haven’t got a clue what to get anyone.  Yes, it sounds like there’s yet another Yuletide disaster brewing under the tree.  You need help and you need it fast.  Well, we’re here to help…  Sort of. 

Once again, it’s time for the annual (in spite of better judgment) Sledgehammer Last-Minute Christmas Gift Guide, an ever-so-slightly popular list of some of the hottest (or otherwise) Christmas gifts that’ll be gracing the finest closeout racks and bargain bins three days after Christmas.  Guaranteed to cause blank stares, or your money back (you DID save the receipt, didn’t you?  No?  Well then, tough luck kid.)  As usual, I don’t actually endorse (or even recommend, for that matter) any of these items for use as Christmas presents and/or doorstops, and I feel it necessary to note that if I receive any of these items under the tree on Christmas day I’ll spend the next six months coming up with fun and exciting new ways to ruin your lives.  Why do I bring this up?  Oh, no reason really.  Just carry on with your shopping and think nothing of it.  Anyway, the roundup begins, as usual, after the jump.

Other Christmas gift and/or kitsch roundups on this Blog:

Got a cook on your list this year?  Well, kitchen stuff would be an obvious choice, but how are you supposed to know what stuff they already have?  There’s an easy solution to this problem:  Just find something that they’d be so unlikely to have that it would be nearly impossible?  For example, these novelty-shaped designer spatulas, although most likely impractical for use on just about anything, would be highly unlikely to be already residing in their kitchen. 

If you can’t seem to come up with any kitchen gadgetry that they don’t already have on hand or in the nearest trash bin, you can always give ’em the gift of meat.  Unless they’re vegetarian, in which case this would be a really, really bad idea.  No seriously, they’ll probably strip down naked and picket your living room or something.  And no, that isn’t nearly as entertaining as it might sound.

They say that diamonds are a girl’s best friend, but something tells me that “Best Friend” might not be the proper word to describe how she would react to this particular one.  Even cubic Zirconia might at least look somewhat convincing for a few minutes.

But if you really want to give the gift of true happiness to your alleged sweetheart, why not try the Happy Light?  According to the picture on the front of the box, it’ll make you happy.  REALLY happy.  As in “Fall down on your knees and start worshiping the blasted thing” happy.  Note:  Actual product may be smaller than depicted.  And probably shouldn’t be worshipped.  Remember, idolatry is bad, OK? 

Then again, sometimes all she really needs is a cozy cuddle.  Since you have a tendency to be hopelessly unromantic and fall asleep at thoroughly inopportune times, this is best achieved through the use of microwavable stuffed animals.  It’s also a great way to teach your kids to microwave the family dog if it isn’t being cuddly enough for their liking.

Speaking of the dog, Christmas tends to be a good time to spoil your pets.  Especially if you don’t have things like pesky kids to worry about.  And don’t necessarily think the idea of baking your own dog biscuits sounds ridiculous.

The sad truth is that your dog probably doesn’t care whether their treats come out of the oven or out of some factory in New Jersey, as long as they’re edible and magically appear most of the time when they roll over.  No, what your dog really wants is dead animals.  Or at least semi-reasonable facsimiles thereof.

But ultimately even that doesn’t matter much to them (unless you can somehow find a real dead squirrel to stick under the tree for them.)  They’ll just as gladly gnaw on Santa’s head if it happens to be readily accessible and squeaky.  Hey, he’s probably on the naughty list for the ugly little slipper incident anyway, so why not?

If you’re one of those people who can’t seem to leave Fido alone for a minute, then Puppy Tweets is for you.  Yes, with this suspiciously pink collar thingy, your dog can wirelessly tweet all sorts of inconsequential details of her (after all, no self-respecting male god would be caught wearing one of these, right?)  vaguely interesting doggy existence to Twitter.  Oh, and incidentally, it’s rarely a good sign for the long-term viability of your product when it’s  hitting the 30% off clearance shelf a week before Christmas.

Shockingly, there still seem to be people out there who prefer having children to having dogs.  While children (eventually) tend to bring a lot more long-term benefit when compared to dogs (when was the last time your dog paid for your retirement anyway?) they also tend to be just a bit harder to shop for when it comes to Christmas.  Should you happen to have multiple children who, for one reason or another, seem not to be getting along, you can always pick up a couple of foam swords and let them sort out their own grievances for a while.  Well, in theory that’s how it’s supposed to work,  but in reality, these things are hard enough that I suspect they’d hurt quite a bit to get whacked with. 

Should you be somewhat less inclined to promote violence (of the sort that happens between siblings at least) you might look for some alternatives.  I hear dinosaurs are always popular, and this one comes with over 70 different T-Rex sounds and phrases.  Which seems just a little silly, all things considered.  Last time I checked, most of a Tyrannosaur’s repertoire seems to be pretty well covered by assorted variations on “Roar,” and maybe a couple of incidentals such as stomps,  chomps, and maybe a messy devouring or two.  At least up until some paleontologist manages to make some bombshell discovery that dinosaurs chirped instead of roaring, you’d be pretty well covered.  Even with all that (and a backup set of sounds just in case) I think you’d be hard pressed to get 70 different sounds out of the deal, but who knows?

If your retirement plans happen to involve having your kids turn into rockstars, become fabulously wealthy (and somehow manage not to blow it all on drugs and questionable relationships) but you don’t want to blow the big bucks on a Guitar Hero or Rock Band set, you can always get them these Paper Jamz instruments instead.  All the ersatz rock power with a lot less cost, and none of the excessive storage requirements, durability, or entertainment value beyond about ten minutes or so.

And if you think they will get bored of playing with the generic versions, why not get them the super deluxe High Voltage AC/DC version?  Your kids will be on the Highway to Hell in no time at all!  Just be warned that you’ll be paying a bit more for the AC/DC version.  This, unfortunately, is one Dirty Deed that isn’t Done Dirt Cheap.

Unless you happen to be a member of my family, chances are the genetic lotto may have dealt you a female  or two though, and last time I checked most little girls aren’t big on death metal these days, so you might need to find some alternatives.  Like, for example, this ATV-like vehicle thingy festooned with the latest fantasy flavor-of-the-week.  Never mind the fact that there’s a virtually identical Buzz Lightyear version sitting right next to it on the shelf, apparently little girls just love this stuff.  Until they get bored with it, at least.  Which generally takes about ten minutes.

If that doesn’t work, why not get them My First Blender?  Which sounds great in theory, but if you consider the fact that blenders are typically used for creating either boozy cocktails or colossal kitchen messes, you might just find yourself dealing an awkward question or two.  Oh, and whatever you do, do NOT let them see any of the “Will it Blend?” videos on YouTube, this can only end disastrously.

Eventually those cute little girls will manage to turn into teenagers, but in the transition there seems to be a phase marked by a plastering of boy band posters on the walls and copies of Bop and Tiger Beat strewn all over the room.  If you can manage to hit this particular point at just the right time, you might be able to get away with gifting a watch featuring the teenybopper boy band flavor of the week.  Provided, of course, that you can plausibly manage to deny everything two years down the road.

For the guys, electronics seem to be all the rage these days, and within the past year TV manufacturers have started pushing the latest in 3D technology like there’s no tomorrow.  I suppose that’s nice and all if you happen to like 3D, but when you try actually selling the stuff you begin to run into a few hurdles.  Such as the fact that without the special (and quite pricey) active-shutter 3D goggles you need to properly view a 3DTV, you get this blurry mess.

And if you’re looking for a set of 3D glasses to go with that fancy new TV of yours…  Well, this isn’t it.  Yes, they’re 3D glasses, and they’re expensive, but they’re not the RIGHT type of 3D glasses.  You see, these $149 3D glasses are intended to be used in theaters.  You know, those big buildings you used to go watch movies in, you remember those, right?  Well, apparently the 3D glasses they hand out at the door aren’t good enough for the true 3D snobs out there, so someone had to go and make a set of glasses that does basically the same thing, only about 150 times more expensively.  Don’t worry, I’m sure if you dig hard enough you can find some sort of technobabble to justify it.

Um…  Not touching that one with a ten-foot pole.  Which seems to be the whole idea, really.  Not that I’d admit to any sort of expertise on the subject or anything…

 

And for the random person who you found yourself guilted into buying a present for, there’s the usual assortment of random boxed-up $10-$20 crud that clutters up the shelves around Christmastime then promptly vanishes without a trace for the next ten months come January third.  Since the timely demise of The Sharper Image a few years ago (at least until someone reincarnated them in their current zombie form) these items have served as the leading source of gee-whiz gadgets and gizmos for the non SkyMall-reading public (a group which, thanks to the TSA’s recent efforts, seems to be a rapidly expanding demographic.)  Mose of these items tend to get carried over from year to year, but there’s always a few new items thrown into the mix from year to year.  Nestled among the now standard assortment of flimsy pocketknives, cellphone caddies and key finders is this glove-handed ice scraper.  Just perfect for those times when you don’t want to freeze your hand while scraping the ice off the window.  The other hand?  Not so much.

Also on the shelves this year are these nifty new muglike cup sleeves into which you insert a paper coffee cup to make it look vaguely like you’re using a mug.  Because if you actually tried using an actual coffee mug people might start thinking you were, like, environmentally friendly or something.  You can’t let that happen now, can you?

The humble snowglobe has long been a staple of Holiday giving that becomes pretty much useless after December 26th, but in recent years even the snowglobe has gone high-tech.  To be perfectly honest, I’m not even sure what this particular snowglobe is supposed to do.  All I know is that for some unknown reason the thing requires an FCC compliance label and all sorts of warnings about RF interference.  Maybe if you shake it too hard you’ll get snow on your TV?  (PS:  I offer my apologies to my uncle who I stole that from on Facebook.) 

But even as we celebrate some of Humanity’s latest innovations in dubious gift giving, let us take a moment to remember the classics.  Because nothing says “I put about twelve-and-a-half seconds worth of thought into your Christmas gift this year” quite like a sweater shaver.

Finally, if you can’t think of anything else, there’s always the classic bad gift ideas to fall back on.  After all, there’s nothing like giving a vacuum cleaner for Christmas to make sure your presents will always suck.

Oh, and if at any point during this gift guide you told yourself that you’d only ever buy one of these things when pigs fly, I’m afraid I’ve got some bad news for you.

Anyway, have a merry Christmas, a Happy New Year, and whatever you do, make darned sure you save the receipt.

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