Big meals are out, and appetizer platters are in. (Matthew Mead/AP)

In an exchange familiar to many a schoolyard denizen, Newt Gingrich wants to go mano a mano with rival GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, Dan Balz reports. First, the former House Speaker complained about negative ads the former Massachusetts governor had aired against him. Romney countered that Gingrich couldn’t “take the heat” of the campaign. So Gingrich counter-countered with the equivalent of an “oh, yeah?” and challenged him to a one-on-one game of Rock, Paper, Scissors--or a policy debate.

Don’t forget the line about rubber and glue, folks.

And it’s too bad that today is the shortest day of the year, because congressional negotiators need all the time they can get, as the Hill stalemate continues over a payroll tax-break extension.

And our quote of the day comes from a story by David Nakamura about President Obama’s Christmas shopping excursion to a pet store.

“Bo’s chew toy. . .Close to #40dollars,” Fox TV correspondent Ed Henry wrote on his Twitter account.

(Henry was riffing on the White House’s encouraging people to Tweet about what they could buy with $40 — the weekly amount that will disappear from the average worker’s paycheck if a payroll-tax deal isn’t struck.)