Dave Barry’s Holiday Gift Guide

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.

PERFECT POLLY

$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.

NECKTIE FLASK

$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