Thursday, November 27, 2008

Holiday Gift Guide for the "Frugal" Man

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. However, he's in line behind the banks and car manufacturers for a government bailout. If Santa had been allowed to drill for oil on his property, you might be seeing something decent under your tree. But noooo - we were too worried about saving the permafrost to let him drill.

So you're on your own this year. The elves are getting reindeer steaks, and since he finally got satellite tv, the big guy is staying home, emailing gift cards to everyone instead of venturing out in the freezing freeze. If you're lucky, by the time you get your gift card, the store will still be open for business.

If you haven't bought gifts yet, you are most likely male. Let's face it - most women buy gifts all year 'round, stuffing them into a 'gift closet' for use later. That closet quickly becomes an archeological time capsule, the lower layers filled with ungiven gifts. Dig deep enough and you'll find some interesting things, like maybe a Partridge Family lunchbox, or rainbow toe socks. Or Hoffa.

As a result, women are ready to gift spontaneously any day of the year. Christmas could be magically moved to August and we would be ready, armed with curling ribbon and raffia. Guys - well, not so much.

The great thing about being a guy is that as far as gift-giving goes, no one really expects anything of you, except perhaps shock-value entertainment in the form of how insipid your gift is. The most we women can expect to receive is fodder for future complaints.

"Ralph gave me another set of soup bowls. Amazing!"

"You think that's bad? I got a cookbook. Written by his mother's parole officer."

Rejoice, men, in these low expectations. There's no need to raise the bar, especially this year. But what should you buy? Those stinkin' soup bowls really cut into your beer budget.

Thank goodness for me, right? As a woman, I know how to make a big deal out of nothing. As a woman, I'm adept at handing out unwanted advice. And as a woman, I have the right to tell you to sit down, shut up, and listen.

"Hey," you might say, "My buddies and I don't exchange gifts. That's a girlie thing." I hear ya. That's why when you give them these gifts, do it at a bar. They won't have anything for you, so they'll be forced to pick up your tab for the night. Now I have your attention, don't I? I thought so.

The following is a list of inexpensive gifts designed to look like you put some thought into it. Feel free to wait until the last minute to get them. Like you'd do it any other way:

1.Build a Nuclear Fallout Shelter Out of Government CheeseYou can make this book for free by going to any fallout shelter website, preferably a hysterical one, copying the 'how-to' information, and replacing the word 'prefabricated' with 'gouda.' Print on your home computer and voila - instant cheapo gift. Your friends will be so impressed that you cared enough to keep them alive, at least a little longer than everyone else. Armageddon one of these for everyone on my list!

2. Photo frame belt buckle($14.98 Nothing says 'Ho, ho, ho!' quite like wearing a photo of a loved one, or somebody's loved one, close to your um, heart. Why not be a real friend and preload the buckle with a nice, tasteful photo off the Internet? Make sure you label your giftbox carefully - you don't want this going to your mother by mistake. Unless she's in prison and can trade it for something decent.

3. Regift candles, soap, and other unwanted oddities - What is it with women and candles? There must be an unwritten rule about giving someone a chunk of wax. Something like, "You already have everything, you skank, so I'm giving you this bizarre symbol of excess." Or maybe, "Figuring out what you would really like is too much of an effort. Here's a freakin' candle." I have 800 pounds of wax in my closet. When the last power outage rolled through, I was so excited that I could finally use some of these scented, multi-colored mahoozits, even though it was noon. Anyway, do your gal a favor - dig deep into that gift closet, grab some of those unwanted blobs, throw some paper around them, and get them the hell out of there. Trust me, she'll thank you eventually. Special note - this type of gift is best given to an aunt or your mother, someone likely to buy you a Home Depot gift card in return. Give this to one of your drinkin' buddies, and things could get weird.

4. Nosepicking for Pleasure ($7.95 - You know you're gonna read book this before you give it to anyone - how could you resist? Just make sure not to leave any 'bookmarks,' if you know what I mean, because that's snot cool. When you hand this gem to your buddy, tell him he's more than welcome to regift it. Not that he wouldn't anyway, because it's just so darn awesome manly (in a third grade sort of way), all his buddies will want to check it out.

5. "I Love You" Toast Stamper ($4.50 -

This is for your sweetie. After all, it's the thought that counts, right? She'll have a blast stamping your toast in the morning. That way she can say "I love you" without waking you up. Do not use it as a branding iron. It will melt. Do not ask me how I know that, or I will bury you in my gift closet.

With any luck, your friends will be buying you drinks, and your wife/girlfriend will ask you to never buy anything for her ever. Which is really the goal, right? If you don't like to do something, do it badly, and you won't be asked to do it again. Just like the makers of government cheese.

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