Here we are again at that magical time of year when the mall has mandated with its decor that October 31st is the perfect time to start thinking about Christmas shopping. But in these tough economic times, do we really have the money like we did last year to buy Uncle Harry that wireless talking meat thermometer from The Sharper Image? Definitely not. (And if we do have the money, we’re putting it towards a foreclosed shack on the beach that just got $8000 cheaper.)
I have had my share of poor Christmases. One Christmas, when I was 16, I bought my best friend a cardboard cut-out of Gollum from Lord of the Rings. She never actually saw the movie. Still, this Christmas is going to be the most epic of poor Christmases because everyone else is poor too. Maybe we’ll have one of those The Grinch Who Stole Christmas -Christmases, you know, minus the part where a grinch steals all the gifts, but keeping the part where everyone decides at the end that they love each other and that Christmas gifts really don’t matter. Which is so untrue. I keep a hierarchy of friendships based purely upon how much each person spends on me for Christmas. Note: Katie, you’re in the danger zone. Better step it up.
Enter: My solution to end your empty wallet woes this holly-jolly season. A list of home-grown Christmas ideas with most items found at your local Family Dollar, or at most retail plazas on suburban bus routes, because you had to sell your car.
For the Teenage Girl in Your Life
First off, I hope you’re not a 52 year-old man. If you are, hopefully this teenage girl is your daughter or niece. That being said, let’s move on. I envision a gift basket. Contents may include
- a pregnancy test, $3.99 at FamilyDollar.com. If you’re her Dad, this means you can kill two birds with one stone by avoiding that uncomfortable sex talk, and give her a practical Christmas gift that she or one of her hysterically crying friends will find useful.
- Bag of Hershey kisses, discounted to $1.00 during post-Halloween sale at Rite Aid. When her boyfriend dumps her for not giving it up at the prom, the chocolate will be waiting faithfully at home.
- Proactiv free trial. Warning: Remove from gift basket should said teenage girl have PMS. You might wind up dead. But your heart is in the right place.
For the Hypochondriac in Your Life
For him or her, these must be really scary times. Put them at ease with your homemade H1N1 Prevention Kit.
- A free trial subscription to Netflix. The third grader who wrote this eHow article on Swine flu prevention recommends avoiding large public gatherings. Your little friend is going to be spending a lot of time alone watching romantic comedies.
- A personalized face mask, $3.00. Go wild with the googly eyes and glitter pens.
- Wall of the United States with box of red and black pins, $10.00. They can create their own personal version of the real-time map of H1N1 infections across the United States. It’s like a game of pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey with a fatal twist. And practical, too. They can be reminded every second of every day of the impending pandemic.
- 3 bottles of Robitussin Cough Medicine. If things really get tough — you know, if they actually become one of those red little Game of Life -looking markers on the above map, at least they can throw three sheets to the wind and go Robo-trippin like that 14 year-old kid on Intervention.
For that person you hate but are obliged to give a Christmas gift to
A coworker, your boss, your boyfriend’s mother, the opportunities are endless. Go with this list of Gifts that Save Money, subtitled “Practical Gifts that You Wouldn’t Enjoy Receiving but You Would Like to Burden On Someone Else” / “Blatant Regifts Such that the Receivee Recognizes the Blatant Regiftedness.” Examples of suggested gifts include a Brita water filter and reusable shopping bags.
I hope you enjoy assembling these gifts for the loved and hated ones in your life. Requests for future gift ideas are more than welcome!