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Posted at 08:30 AM ET, 12/21/2011

The official guide to last-minute Hanukkah and Christmas giving

Holiday giving is hard.

When you are six, if you glue together some toilet paper rolls and draw a face on them, everyone is impressed. “Wow,” they say. ”Art.”

When you are twenty-six, if you glue together some toilet paper rolls and draw a face on them, no one is impressed, unless you have been attending a very exclusive graduate art program for the past five years and include a heartfelt card explaining that “the piece explores the plasticity of the toilet space with regard to intersectionality, which is why the face I have drawn on it is sad.”

Since the days of the Little Drummer Boy — “I have no gift to bring (pa-rum-pa-pum-pum)!” — people have been forgetting gifts and instead choosing to bother the intended recipients with drum solos. So you are not alone.

People always say that it is the thought that counts. The trouble is that in most gift-giving situations, the thought is, “Wow, I forgot that Christmas was in three business days.”

You could send an E-card, but that would be an admission of defeat. So your next thought is, “I wonder if I have anything lying around the house that I can disguise as a thoughtful gift.”

For you, and everyone like you, here are some ideas.

They say that love is the greatest gift of all. This is false. The greatest gift, by far, is money, accompanied by a card that says, “Please do not write me a thank-you letter.”

Giving people books is awful, especially if you inscribe them with heartfelt notes saying how they changed your life, because this makes them impossible to return and exchange for something more useful like calendars with pictures of drunk cats.

Depending on the crowd, concepts can make a great gift.

2 Approval Rating Points. These make a grand gift for everyone on your list. Mitt Romney needs them. Barack Obama needs them.

You can give a Heart, a Brain, and the Nerve to Barack Obama and the GOP candidates in whatever order makes sense to you.

Michele Bachmann says the Kinsey report is a myth. This explains why a 7 on the Kinsey scale is “exclusively attracted to centaurs.” Give her a book of real mythology, like “Abstinence Only Education is Effective” or “Thor.”

Mitt Romney looks as though he has enough brylcreem, but just in case, it never hurts.

They say the best things in life are free, which is what I always say when giving people empty boxes.

If you run out of time, you can just write a conceptual word like “PLENITUDE” on a large sheet of paper and wrap it up lovingly. If anyone questions you, become frigid and standoffish, and mutter under your breath, “If Christopher Hitchens had given you that, you would have thanked him.”

Remind them that, no matter what, this isn’t as bad as Christmas in the Schrodinger household. (“I got you a kitten! Maybe.”) If all else fails, find a dead cat and give it to someone in a wrapped box that says, “Love, Schrodinger” on it.

Give someone a gift certificate to a pest removal service. Then, release a live bat in his home. That’ll serve him right for complaining that no one ever gives him gifts he can use.

Alternative version of this gift, for someone on a budget: wrap a box of bandaids in a box covered in blades.

 Try an empty box. Label it “Your Very Own Higgs Boson.” When the person complains that there’s nothing there, explain that “you blinked during the yoctosecond it was there.” Hope they don’t ask follow-up questions, because your grasp of the physics is shaky at best. Alternatively, label the box “Your Very Own Neutrino” and insist that they open it the night before they open it.

A deeply inconvenient Groupon, for something like, “One night of massage therapy in a helicopter, but only between 6 and 7:30 p.m. on a Wednesday in a month containing no Y's.”

Scratch tickets are generally a good idea, because if their recipient doesn’t win, you can feel good that you’ve helped your local government, and if the recipient does win, you can sue him, tearing your family apart.

For political junkies and fans of Justin Timberlake, try an action figure of Dick Cheney, in a box. For added effect, strap the box to your waist.

And above all, remember that “It is more blessed to give than to receive” is never true in any circumstances. Most of the times people say it is blessed to do something, they are trying to convince you to do a thing that was popular in the Middle Ages and has since lost some of its cachet, like fast or pray or go live as a stylite.

Remember, the next best thing to giving good gifts is giving gifts that will result in your never being invited to take part in a holiday gift exchange ever again.

Or you could send an E-Card.

By  |  08:30 AM ET, 12/21/2011

Tags:  Holidays, gifts, kids these days

 
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