1. $10 Gift Card for an Unknown Restaurant
Usually received from friends or family from out of state, these gift cards are for some eatery that isn’t located within 300 miles of you, and based on the description, you’d have no interest in going there anyway: “Hoof In Mouth – Family Feedbag Restaurant. Home of the Butt Burger! On rural route 17, just past Grandma McGroody’s Skunk Farm.”
2. Bath and Body Shampoo/Deodorant Boxed Set
The practical present that says “Merry Christmas, You Stink!” These boxes often come in some horrid holiday-inspired fragrance mash-up like Jasmine & Gingerbread.
3. This Year’s “Hilarious” Novelty Item
Too bad it wasn’t all that hilarious to begin with, and it stopped being novel back in June. By December 28th it’ll be in that storage bin in your shed, next to the singing big mouth bass, the dancing hamster and the handheld electronic fart machine. (Actually, maybe it’s time to reconsider the fart machine – that never gets old!)
4. Generic “Happy Holidaze” Gift Bag That Appears in Your Cubicle
The boss drops this on your desk when you’re at lunch, because he’s embarrassed to admit that upper management was too cheap to spring for a $10 Hoof in Mouth gift card. It contains assorted fun-size candy and small office supplies with notes attached to each one, such as “You’re a real lifesaver around here!” on a roll of Lifesavers or “Thanks for sticking with it!” on a bottle of Elmer’s glue. What they should’ve included was a package of screws and a Dum-Dum sucker.
5. Obvious Re-gifted Item
When you care enough to foist some unwanted present from last year onto your loved ones. The truly careless re-gifter will give you something you originally gave to them! “Honey, isn’t this the same set of wine glasses we gave the Henderson’s for their anniversary?” Awkward!
Don’t get me wrong, I’d never turn down an envelope full of greenbacks (unless it was part of a DEA sting operation), but isn’t gift-giving supposed to involve presenting someone with an actual present, hopefully something thoughtful that shows how much you care about the person? The rest of us are crafting handmade gifts, or fighting the crowds at the mall for that certain special item. So don’t be a Kash Kringle, doing your Christmas shopping at the ATM.
7. Cross Pen and Pencil Set
Granted, the good folks at Cross do make a damn fine pen. Problem is, I’m always afraid to take them out of the padded lining of the nice hinged box and actually use them. I’d hate for these fine writing instruments to get lost or broken like the hundreds of crappy disposable pens I go through. So instead they sit in a drawer for 10 years with the ink long since dried up.
8. Token Inspirational Work Gift from Secret Santa
Spreading holiday cheer to break up the office doldrums is a nice sentiment, but over the years I’ve received enough positive affirmation mugs, figurines, plaques and paperweights to open my own Hallmark store. Most of the sage advice on these items makes as much sense as the drivel that one friend of yours is always posting on Facebook: “The path to fulfillment lies not in the steps of one’s soles, but in the soul of one’s steps.”
9. Last Minute Gift Picked Up at Walgreens/CVS/Rite-Aid
Wow! The “As Seen On TV” battery-operated musical pasta fork with built-in gum massager? You shouldn’t have! On second thought, cancel #6 above. Cash makes a fabulous gift!
10. Questionable Food Gift Basket
These cellophane-wrapped cornucopia of meats and cheeses have always been a corny gift, filled with a variety of processed food packages, each one a cholesterol drenched sodium bomb. Be especially wary of the non-Hickory Farms off-brands: “Barfmann & Schlongfeld – Purveyors of Delectable Comestibles Since 1882.” Yeah, that’s how old this stuff looks. Who’s up for a Gristle Stick? And what exactly is Liver Loaf? These baskets often come in some horrid holiday-themed flavor mash-up like Jasmine and Gingerbread.