By Dave Barry
The holidays are a wonderful time of year, but too often, in all the excitement and craziness, we forget the real “reason for the season.” The holidays are not about parties, or decorations, or Frosty the Snowperson. Those things are fun, but they are not the true purpose of the holidays. The true purpose of the holidays is to purchase consumer electronics.
Last Month’s Phone: Oh, no! And Other Embarrassments
For starters, every young person on your gift list needs a new phone.
“Wait a minute!” I hear you saying. “I just bought my son or daughter a new phone last month!”
Seriously? You’re openly admitting that you’re forcing your child to walk around with LAST MONTH’S PHONE? You had better hope that the child-abuse authorities are not reading this because, darn it, this is the year 2013, and this is America, and no child should be forced to settle for a phone that has fewer features than whatever phone came out the day after that child’s current phone was purchased.
Also it’s a good bet that your child’s current phone has a cracked screen. The two main reasons why a modern child needs a phone are:
1. To communicate with other modern children, who usually are standing less than five feet away, and
2. To confirm that gravity is still working by regularly dropping the phone onto hard surfaces.
So unless you want to be like Ebenezer Scrooge, the mean old boss who forced poor Bob Cratchit to work late on Christmas Eve with no way to communicate with his family except an iPhone 4s with a poky 1GHz processor and a lousy 16 gigabytes of storage, you will buy your child a new phone. Yes, phones are expensive, but think of the happiness you will feel when your child unwraps the new phone and, in a moment of spontaneous, unbridled joy, drops it on a hard surface.
Also it goes without saying that everybody on your gift list needs a larger TV set. Thanks to technology, we are now blessed with an abundance of televisions with screens so vast that you cannot watch them comfortably unless you are sitting in an entirely different house. You need to buy bulk quantities of these televisions this holiday season, or any hopes for the recovery of the American retail economy will be squashed flatter than a frog under a steamroller and it will be YOUR FAULT.
Gifts for the People You Don’t Care About
Of course if you’re making all these expensive holiday purchases for your loved ones, you won’t have much money left over to buy gifts for the people on your gift list that you don’t really care about. That’s where our Holiday Gift Guide comes in. This is a collection of gift items that won’t cost you a lot of money, and yet at the same time are pretty much worthless. They’re an ideal way to send the message: “Happy Holidays! You’re a low priority!”
As always, every item in the Gift Guide is a real product that somebody is actually selling. Also as always, every item is backed by our Personal Gift Guide Guarantee, as follows: If you purchase one of these items and for any reason are not completely satisfied, you have our personal guarantee that there is nothing that we, personally, can do about it.
But enough with the “sales pitch.” Let’s take a look at the items that “made the cut” for the 2013 Holiday Gift Guide.
FACE SLIMMER MOUTHPIECE
$62 plus shipping and handling from japantrendshop.com
Suggested by Ken Fineberg of Columbia, S.C.; Chuck Cody of Columbus, Ohio; Ryan Jentzsch of Saint George, Utah; Jeff Meyerson of Brooklyn N.Y.; Janice Gelb of Melbourne, Australia
This is the perfect holiday gift to give when you want to send the message: “Your face is fat.” This Face Slimmer Exercise Mouthpiece is made in Japan, a nation famous for being totally non-weird. According to the import-company website, all you do is insert this mouthpiece, then for three minutes make “mouth movements” and “say vowel sounds out loud over and over again,” and voilà, like magic you will look like a lunatic with some kind of hideous lip disease. But when you take the mouthpiece out, you will look youthful and vibrant, at least according to the import company, and we see no reason why it would lie.
HOODIE PILLOW CASE
$19.99-29.99 plus shipping and handling from thinkgeek.com
How many times have you exclaimed: “Why do I have to purchase a hoodie and a pillowcase as two separate items? Why is there no product that combines these two things into one convenient package?”
If your answer is “numerous times,” then you will want to own this hoodie pillowcase and give one to everybody on your holiday list. As its name suggests, the hoodie pillowcase is a pillowcase with a hood attached to it. Just think of the advantages! There are so many that we cannot even begin to list them all here. But we can say that we think this concept could be expanded to include other combinations, such as a hoodie bathing suit, hoodie saxophone, hoodie aquarium, hoodie barbecue grill, hoodie WeedWacker, etc. We honestly can’t think of any object that would not be improved by having a hood attached to it, and we include the Shroud of Turin in that statement.
$14.99 (price may vary) plus shipping and handling from perfectpollypet.com
Suggested by Jenny Paxson of Culpeper, Va.
You’ve probably seen the TV commercials for Perfect Polly, the battery-operated pretend parakeet manufactured in China from genuine plastic. These commercials feature people smiling radiantly and laughing with delight as the amazingly fake-looking Perfect Polly performs her repertoire: making a vaguely birdlike electronic sound; moving her head; moving her tail; moving her head again; moving her tail again; moving her head again; and just generally providing hours of fascinating entertainment to anybody — young or old — who has the IQ of kelp. If you have somebody on your holiday list who fits that description, then Perfect Polly is the ideal gift for that person.
We think the Perfect Polly concept should be expanded to encompass other pretend critters — hamsters, cats, dogs, children, etc. Maybe some day we could replace the entire U.S. Congress with battery-operated plastic senators and representatives. Come to think of it, we could replace Congress right now with 535 Perfect Pollys. They’d be cheaper and far less likely to text pictures of their private parts. They don’t even HAVE private parts, as far as we know.
NECK AIR CUSHION
$19.98 plus shipping and handling from harrietcarter.com
We don’t know about you, but when we have a medical problem, we do not “take chances” with our treatment. We go straight to one of the nation’s best-known authorities on healthcare: the Harriet Carter mail-order gift catalog (“Distinctive Gifts Since 1958”). That is why we are so excited about this neck air cushion, which is a rubber thing that you wrap around your neck, and then pump up with air to receive medical benefits. This is important because your neck is one of your most vital bodily organs. Think about it: Without your neck, your head (this happens more often than you would think) would fall right off. That’s why you should purchase a neck air cushion for yourself and everybody on your gift list. Not only does it provide important unspecified benefits, but it makes you look as though you are being strangled by some kind of mutant blue squid. You cannot put a price tag on that.
$24.95 (free shipping available) from flasktie.co
Suggested by Dan Given of Tustin, Calif. and Rick Jameson of Dublin, Ohio.
Drinking on the job was not always frowned upon. As you know if you watch Mad Men, back in the 1960s American office workers routinely pounded down tumblers of booze at 10:30 in the morning. Yet during that same era, America was able to (1) land men on the moon, and (2) produce groundbreaking TV commercials such as the one where a rabbit tries to steal Trix cereal from kids because it has, quote, “real fruit colors.”
Coincidence? We think not.
So let’s say that, for whatever perfectly legitimate reason, you or somebody on your holiday gift list would like to conceal eight ounces of liquid on your person in an office environment. This is the item for you. It’s a necktie with a hidden plastic container connected to a tube so you can suck the liquid without removing the tie. It’s perfect for work, but it’s also great for funerals, ballet recitals, jury duty, congressional hearings — any situation where you find yourself thinking: “I could sure go for eight ounces of liquid.” And the beauty of it is, nobody will suspect a thing until you pass out facedown in a pool of your own fluids.
This is the official necktie of the Federal Reserve Board.
$12.50 plus shipping and handling from pamperyourpoultry.com
Suggested by Ronald Glondys of Venice, Fla.
Why does your chicken need a diaper? Here’s a helpful quote from the folks at Pampered Poultry:
“Our diapers fit comfortably and allow you to enjoy your birds in the house or car without worry!”
So if you know people who wish to enjoy birds in their houses or cars — and far be it from us, in the 21st century, to judge these people — then this is the gift you are looking for. The diapers come in a variety of fashionable colors that will go with any décor as long as you keep the lights fairly dim.
$19.99 plus shipping and handling from hensaver.com
Suggested by Terry Spurgin of Bedford, Texas
A question that we have all asked ourselves is: “Does my chicken need a brassiere?” To answer that question, let’s refer to the website of the company that sells the Birdy Bra:
“The Birdy Bra not only supports a slow or pendulous crop but can protect a bird’s chest, which is a common location of pecking of hens by other hens. Once blood is drawn the pecking can escalate, resulting in infection and even death. Our Birdy Bra can also be used on parrots that self mutilate.”
That’s right, people: If you are not putting a brassiere on your hen (or self-mutilating parrot) (which would be a good name for a rock band) you could very well be contributing to its DEATH. So if you, or some person on your holiday list, would prefer not to be thought of as a heartless murderer of fowl, this brassiere is the perfect gift item. It comes in a variety of sizes and colors, as well as instructions that probably make a ton of sense if you are in possession of an actual chicken.
GLÄCE LUXURY ICE
$75 plus next-day shipping and handling from deandeluca.com
Suggested by Jay Brandes of Savannah, Ga.
Of all the products we have ever featured in the Holiday Gift Guide, this is the one that, more than any other, makes us say, quote: “Huh?”
Here’s the product description from the Dean and Deluca catalog, which we are not making up:
“Gläce Luxury Ice is a meticulously designed and differentiated ice brand specifically designed for use in premium drinks and cocktails. The Gläce Mariko Sphere is a perfectly spherical 2.5-inch piece with a melting rate of 20-30 minutes. The Gläce G-Cubed, a symmetrical 2.5-inch cube, has a dilution rate of 20-40 minutes. Gläce Ice pieces are individually carved from a 300-lb. block to ensure flawless quality and a zero-taste profile, never contaminating the essence of premium liquors and drinks.”
In other words, Gläce Luxury Ice is: Ice. It is frozen water. Granted, it is an “ice brand” that has a special name with two little dots over the “a” to suggest classiness, and it has been “individually carved,” and it has a “melting rate” and a “zero taste profile.” But it’s still ice.
Guess how much it costs, for a box of 10 cubes.
That’s right: SEVENTY-FIVE DOLLARS. For ICE. So obviously this is a product aimed at real connoisseurs, with “connoisseur” defined as “a person with even less intelligence than the morons who buy Perfect Polly.”
We purchased an order of Gläce Luxury Ice using money generously provided by the Miami Herald. Our plan was to put it in a premium drink and then drink it, but by the time our photographer finished taking pictures of it, it had melted. So now what we have is a bag of water. But it’s luxury water. It’s Wäter. And we’re willing to let it go, to the right connoisseur, for just $50.
BRAIN GAMES FOR DOGS
$9.99 plus shipping and handling from harrietcarter.com
Do you have a dog? Is it stupid? Of course it is! That’s why we call it a “dog.” We’re talking about a species whose highest biological priority — higher than eating, finding shelter or protecting its young — is sniffing other dogs in the butt.
If that sounds like your dog, or a dog on your holiday gift list, then you need Brain Games for Dogs. This book is a tremendous training tool. You give your dog a command — any command — and if it fails to obey immediately, you simply strike it with this book.
No! That was a joke! Please do not write angry letters containing misspelled words to the editor. In fact this is an excellent book, filled with helpful information on how to teach your dog many tricks and games, such as Fetch, Push the Door Closed and Balance a Treat. Notice we say “your dog.” Our personal dog is not interested in learning any of these things. Our dog’s unspoken but clear position is, “I am an old dog, and these are new tricks.” Our dog would no more push the door closed than do our income taxes.
CAT LADY ACTION FIGURE
$11.09 (price may vary) plus shipping and handling from amazon.com
Suggested by Sue Eckhardt of Gatesville, Texas.
Here’s a fun gift for that special child on your holiday list (we are using “special” in the sense of “strange”). This is an action figure depicting a cat lady who is wearing a bathrobe and pajamas and is ready for action with her six included cat figurines. Imagine the hours of enjoyment some lucky youngster will have, making the cat lady feed the cats, change the cat litter, feed the cats again, change the litter again, collapse on the ground and lie motionless for days while the cats pay no attention to her, etc. This is a WAY better present for a modern youngster than the Xbox, which to the best of our knowledge does not come with ANY cat figurines.
TURKEY LEG AIR FRESHENER
$5.95 plus shipping and handling from disneystore.com
Suggested by Jen Picciano of Jamesville, N.Y.
If you’ve ever been to Walt Disney World, you’ve probably seen large people lumbering around gnawing on turkey legs the size of Yule logs and getting turkey grease all over themselves. No doubt your reaction, like that of most people, was: “I wish there was a way to make my car smell like those people!”
Well guess what happens “when you wish upon a star?” Your dreams come true, in the form of this turkey-leg air freshener! It’s not an actual turkey leg: It’s a car air freshener made from a piece of cardboard that looks strikingly like a piece of cardboard that vaguely resembles a turkey leg. And it smells as good as it looks! That is why this is the Official Turkey Leg Air Freshener of both Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the Popemobile.
DOORBELL FOR DOGS
$29.95 (with free U.S. shipping) from pebblesmart.com
Suggested by Craig Roberts of Meridian, Idaho.
Dogs keep a busy schedule. They have to go out, then they have to come back in, then they have to go back out, then they have to come back in, then they have to go back out, then they have to come back in, then they have to go back out, and then they have to come back in again. And that’s just from 7 to 7:15 a.m.
Unfortunately, for most dogs, the only way to communicate to you that they need you to open the door is to scratch manually on the door, which is annoying and technologically primitive, not to mention causing low self-esteem in the dog. But now, thanks to the miracle of space-age electronics, we have the dog doorbell, which eliminates that annoying scratching and replaces it with an annoying doorbell sound that the dog makes by pressing the big yellow button with its snout. Your dog will love this amazing product, unless your dog is anything like my dog, which was terrified of it.
The dog doorbell is mounted low enough for dogs to use it, which means it would also be a great gift for anybody who sometimes parties a little too hard and arrives home unable to walk erect. We are not saying that Mr. Keith Richards is a devoted user of this doorbell. But neither are we saying that he isn’t.
$14.98 plus shipping and handling from harrietcarter.com
It’s a difficult question that every pet owner must face, sooner or later: How do we memorialize our beloved animal companions after they have gone to that big Pet Supermarket in the sky?
If somebody on your holiday list is wrestling with that question, this item is the answer. This is a pet grave marker made of a scientific material called “polyresin” that has been colored to look exactly like fake stone. It will stand over your deceased pet’s final resting place, so that you will have a place to pay your respects, and other neighborhood pets will have a place upon which to make weewee. It will serve as a timeless memorial to your pet, like the great pyramids of Egypt, only better, because the Egyptians did not have “polyresin.
$12 (price may vary) plus shipping and handling from amazon.com
Suggested by Jon Harris of Christiansburg, Va.
These are special glasses that use an amazing scientific principle — possibly photosynthesis — to bend light beams at a 90-degree angle. This means that when you put these glasses on, instead of seeing what’s in front of you, you’re actually looking straight down. This means you can watch television while lying flat on your back, which can be very handy. Or say you’re a guy, and you’re talking to a woman who happens to have — as so many women do these days — breasts. You don’t want to be caught looking at them, but you hear them calling out to you in breast language, which only guys can hear, saying: “Here we are! Down here! Don’t you want to take a gander?” If you’re wearing these glasses, you CAN take that gander, while appearing to be making eye contact, thanks to science!
If they ever make contact lenses that can do this, they’ll sell MILLIONS.Φ
Dave Barry is a humor columnist. For 25 years he was a syndicated columnist whose work appeared in more than 500 newspapers in the United States and abroad. In 1988 he won the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary. Many people are still trying to figure out how this happened. Dave has also written a total of 30 books, although virtually none of them contain useful information. Two of his books were used as the basis for the CBS TV sitcom “Dave’s World,” in which Harry Anderson played a much taller version of Dave. Dave plays lead guitar in a literary rock band called the Rock Bottom Remainders, whose other members include Stephen King, Amy Tan, Ridley Pearson and Mitch Albom. They are not musically skilled, but they are extremely loud.