1. One Expired Ticket to a Jimmy Buffett Cover Band.
Nobody needs that. Nobody. But, one expired ticket to a Jimmy Buffett cover band, preserved forever in epoxy resin, on an ironic shop clock shaped like Florida or a cheeseburger with palm trees on it — now, that’s a Christmas gift.
2. “HINT” Brand Soap.
I don’t think this actually exists, but it’s terrifying that it might. There are enough problems in the world without opening a Christmas stocking filled with reminders of one’s own fragile hold on societal norms.
If you do decide to give your friends and family hygiene products, try something a little more subtle. Something flattering and (hopefully) overpowering. Like “Ultimate Man” soap by Kiehl’s. Sure it says “you smell a bit,” but it also says you might be able to wrestle a grizzly bear while you change the tire on a dump truck.
If you go this route, coordinate with other gift-givers ahead of time. Even the least observant friend is likely to notice the third and fourth time somebody gives him body wash as a joke.
3. A Ham.
It’s not just the logistical problem of getting 5 pounds of slightly moist, salt-cured pork into a polyester boot. It’s also a matter of how much weight you can reasonably expect a thumbtack to hold. And the fact that gently warming any kind of food product through the holidays is likely to cause 12 days of something less than festive
4. Baby Snakes.
No. Not even if you give them tiny antlers.
5. A Single Episode of Geraldo on VHS.
Sure, it’s nostalgic, and nostalgia is in. But, nobody has a VCR anymore. With the possible exception of anybody old enough and cranky enough to already have The Best of Geraldo on video tape.
If you do need something Geraldo themed for that special person on your list, try a quick Google search for “Geraldo Al Capone’s vault.” There’s something oddly satisfying about seeing all that bravado turn into twitchy disappointment in the face of such a spectacularly bland public fail.
6. A Dozen Emptied Oreos.
Just cowboy up like the rest of humanity and eat the leftover wafers quickly, while the gloriously blank sugar paste taste of filling is still strong in your mouth.
7. Your Junk.
For shame. Even if…even if you’re willing to spend the night perched like a gargoyle on the edge of your mantel, this is a terrible idea. If you don’t believe me, picture how impressive a skateboard looks by itself, parked in a garage.
Technically, it is homemade. But, it’s the kind of gift you’d share with a guy who parks his brand new euro sport sedan across two parking spots when the lot is full, not with anyone you love.
9. A Full Four Place Setting of Sporks.
Unless, of course, your loved one is still eating dinner on a milk crate pulled up to a thrift store coffee table. In which case, it’s perfectly acceptable to give him a set of sporks, a clip-on tie and a book subtitled “The Single Man’s Long-Term Guide to Practically Forever.”
10. The Exclusive Rights to Your Lost, Designer Name Sunglasses.
Somehow, a note with a hand-drawn pair of shades that says “If you find ‘em, keep ‘em,” just doesn’t feel festive. Sure, you may be giving away hundreds of dollars in overpriced eyewear, but in the spirit of the season, if you can’t provide a vague idea of where you might have lost your frames — “the laundromat,” “some couch somewhere,” “Kentucky,” “July,” — something tangible might be more appropriate.
11. Your Own Christmas List.
Even if you’ve provided the links to make it easier for loved ones to buy the things you’d like for Christmas, this reads as a little bit selfish. If you’re going to make the holidays all about you, at least try to be sneaky about it. Try getting them things that seem to be presents, but benefit you in the end. If your partner likes Katy Perry, gift her some earbuds. If your mom has a laptop, give her a service contract with anybody…anybody who isn’t you.
Completely independent of species, this just isn’t done. With the possible exception of historically significant cremains. If you can prove beyond doubt that what’s rattling in that coffee can represents the last recognizable bits of John Wilkes Booth or Elvis’ tailor’s cat, then be sure to provide the documentation.