'Tis the season to punch someone at Walmart for the last PS4. Nothing brings out the best in people, or at least our complete lack of ability to express our feelings for friends and family, quite like Christmas. What does Dad need this year, a mug shaped like a boob? How about Mom, a gift card for Blockbuster? Man, that's going to surprise her.
As we struggle to find that perfect gift, ever so many of us will fail. We will fail like a tongueless nun in the BJ World Championships. We will be overwhelmed by the plethora of piteous provisions on display at Big Lots and Target and Benny's Dildoteria. We will buy one person one really good gift and then a fuck-ton of Terry's Chocolate Oranges because we just don't know what we're doing. And we'll do it again next year, just like we did it last year.
But we don't have to! As a service to everyone you even pretend to care about, I'm offering you this list of what not to buy. Consider it an anti-gift guide. I have no idea what your family likes, but I know what they hate, because no one likes this shit.
#7. Anything Called a "Novelty"
Do yourself a favor and Google "novelty gift" right now and see what comes up. Here's an image search for you:
What do you notice about everything on the page there? I'll give you a hint: They're all worthless pieces of useless shit. Now, to be fair, we can forgive the "useless" part of that description. Novelties are by definition often pretty useless. However, that doesn't mean they need to be worthless pieces of shit.
Remember Big Mouth Billy Bass? The people who make it are convinced that more of those were sold than Tickle Me Elmos, which sold in the millions. That means potentially tens of millions of Big Mouth Billy Basses are littered across the globe, their gaping maws collecting dust after the one and only time someone allowed it to sing "Don't Worry, Be Happy" before it was thrown in a rage in a corner to be forgotten forever by everyone.
Clearly Big Mouth Billy Bass was one of the most popular novelty gifts of all time. It's a singing fish. If Big Mouth Billy Bass were a person, it would be a mime who can only do the "stuck in a box" routine and occasionally moans or grunts during the act. Why would you dream of inflicting that on anyone?
A novelty gift is basically the last defense against giving someone a $5 bill for Christmas. It's your subconscious' way of saying "Fuccccccccccccck" and just rolling over to have a dissatisfied, fitful nap.
#6. Chia Pets
I am utterly, desperately unable to even fathom how these still exist. They were the butt of jokes in the 1980s, and yet they keep being mass produced and sold. I know they're new because they have Obama Chia Pets now. For the love of God, who keeps buying them? Grass grows literally everywhere that isn't a swamp, a desert, or some other assorted hellscape. It's the least impressive plant on the planet. Giving Chia Pets to people is like giving them discarded Starbucks coffee cups, or free clinic condoms.
There is no joy in a Chia Pet. It's a piece of pottery on which you slather a seed paste. Later the seeds grow and the world frowns because why? Why is this happening? I presume there is literally no one on Earth who has actively had a desire for a Chia Pet. At best are people who don't seethe when they receive them, which is probably not a great demographic to work with.
Trust that no one in your family or really anyone with whom you have a relationship that you deem worthy of gift giving wants to take five minutes out of their day to slather weed blossoms on a mass-produced pottery trinket and then let it live out its life in neglect by a window. Because no one would ever want that.
#5. Board Games
I can taste the ire in the air for this one. Felix, you say, drawing me a bath, I love board games! I want a new board game! Well, yes, I enjoy board games, too. Scrabble? Risk? Forget about it, I'll play that shit all day long, I don't give a shit what Luke "I only play board games designed in Latvia" McKinney says. But here's the thing: I already own Risk and Scrabble. I bet you do, too. And maybe four versions of Monopoly, and some kind of adult party game you never play, and Trivial Pursuit, because it's awesome. You have all the board games Jesus wants you to have.
There are currently a dillion board games on the market, and each one in turn is exponentially less fun to play than the one before it. If you played all the board games available at your local Walmart, by the time you got to the 10th one, your only salvation would be if you rolled the dice and landed on a space that just shot you in the face. For every good board game, someone invents 30 more meant to teach you the true meaning of Arbor Day, or that require you to roll the same number thrice on a 20-sided die to proceed through the pretend volcano and earn the Golden Nugget, or just suck a loaf of dick.
There are only a handful of board games that are fun to play, and that's been the case since the 1970s. If you have the urge to buy someone a board game, buy one of the five that people play and then splash holy water on all the others and curse them in Latin so that they don't dare try to haunt you in your dreams. Because they will. You'll be convinced for days that maybe you really do need to buy True Blood: Night Eternal and that no, it's not worse than hepatitis. But of course that's wrong. So, so wrong.
#4. A Calendar
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It's 2013. The next calendar you buy would be for 2014. Do you know what's significant about the year 2014? It's the International Year of Who the Fuck Uses Calendars Still. I currently have a calendar on my phone, my watch, two computers, a tablet, and an iPod. Plus I get about two free calendars in the mail every year between December and January. The only one I use is the calendar my city sends me to let me know when garbage day is. It's the most useful of all of them, and I don't pay for it because why would I?
Giving a calendar for Christmas is like giving someone a pack of unfiltered cigarettes and opium suppositories to help fix their tragic case of consumption. A hundred years ago this would have been met with cries of "bully" and a round of hot toddies. Today you're just someone with a hard-on for the decimation of forests or someone who lives in a shack for whom the passage of time means little anyway.
Ostensibly the only real draw for a calendar in the modern era is the series of pictures included with it. To that I would suggest there is no series of images of kittens, horses, boobie ladies, or proctological X-rays you can assemble across 12 months that isn't readily available on the Internet right now. Maybe just look at those instead. Maybe just admit to your cousins that you don't like them rather than passive-aggressively giving them calendars that say the same thing for 365 straight days.