2010 Holiday Survival Guide for Slackers

You made your list, you checked it twice, then you waited until the last minute to do any of your shopping. Ideas for gifts for everyone on your list, whether they want them or not.

I’m dreaming of a white Christmas. Well, it would be more accurate to say I am fervently praying for a white Christmas. It is the only thing that can save me now.

You see, whenever Seattle receives more than one inch of snow—that’s one cubic inch, disseminated across the greater metropolitan area—the city seizes up like Cheney’s heart on a Thursday, and all rules of civil society are unilaterally suspended. Where you were once expected to avoid driving your car into ditches, you are now obligated to do so. Weather becomes the sole topic of conversation. Going to work or school or the bathroom becomes entirely optional.

All of which is terrific news if you have neglected to do something. Like ummmmm purchase a single present. For a single person. With the holidays 48 hours away. Because you know, come Christmas morn, you can simply point to the lone, malformed clump of slush in your front yard and shrug. “I wanted to buy you guys stuff,” you’d say to assembled friends and family, “but as you can see and smell, I’ve been housebound for days.”


Not that it really matters, these days—hypothetically you can do all your holiday shopping from the comfort of your home, simply by going onto the Interworld Wide Cybernet Web (trademark pending, must credit Matthew Baldwin). And so, our ninth annual Holiday Survival Guide for Slackers, featuring 10 for-real items that you can purchase right this moment and have delivered to your door before the morning of the 25th. Assuming you choose “Overnight Shipping”. And that there is no inclement weather along the delivery route. Or anywhere in the world, ever.


He has a framed portrait of Gene Roddenberry. He has a Federation uniform in every primary color. He has a spindled and stained Uhura standee in his closet that you try not to think about. He dismissed J.J. Abrams’s film as “noncanonical.” This year, give him the gift of sputtering rage with the Star Wars toaster. “You know, because you love Space Trek so much,” you will say as his neckbeard quivers with apoplexy. Weighing only 2.4 pounds, the Star Wars Toaster can be hurled at a window by even the most atrophied of muscles, where it will bounce ineffectually off the pane and land on the faux tribbleskin rug. “Next time you should throw it with more force,” you will gleefully chuckle. Man, you are kind of a dick.


The Better Marriage Blanket completely and quickly absorbs the odor of flatulence. Here’s how it works:

  • You purchase the Better Marriage Blanket for your wife
  • She opens it Christmas morning
  • She divorces you and moves on to a better marriage which, given how low you’ve set the bar, will take all of 40 minutes

The website says that the Better Marriage Blanket comes in white, blue, and beige, but I can’t help but wonder if the last are just “refurbished” units of the first.


Hah. Hah. Hah. Hah. Hah. That’s the sound you friend will mechanically intone upon opening the Nose Shower Gel Dispenser, a product the manufacturer ought to just truck directly to the landfill to save everyone some trouble. “Guaranteed to freak out guests” promises the website, although the fine print stipulates that you have to send in the severed heads of your unfreaked-out guests to get your money back, and that seems like a total hassle. On the bright side, give this and the recipient will greet your complete lack of gifts in future years with fist-pumps of relief rather than seething resentment.


If your cousin Clarence has said it once he has said it a thousand times: Water is in dire need of more balance and stability. This year why not ignore that he has not in fact said that once and buy him the Quantum Age Stirwand? (I’m not exactly sure what a quantum age is—I guess it’s where your age is in a state of superposition, holding two different values simultaneously, like that year when I was mostly 19 but also 21 when trying to buy Schnapps.) Using the stirwand for only 20 seconds on a glass of water will something something something—honestly, even after poring over the website for half an hour I am unclear. But you know it’s based on Real™ Science™ because someone did a clinical trial and wrote a report about it. Here’s an actual excerpt [pdf]:

4.6 Theory’s At this point I feel it is necessary to address some theories about water. The structure of the simple H20 molecule is a theory in and of itself! This is because no one has ever seen an H20 molecule, where as some molecules can be viewed with an electron microscope…

That’s science with a capital I-ence!! Now all we have to do is consult this simple flowchart and voila!


Men’s rights groups have flourished, tackling issues from child custody to male-only military conscription. But no greater example of sexual discrimination has surfaced in recent years than My Cleaning Trolley…marketed “for girls only!” Well here’s your chance to rage against the maSHEne: Proudly give this gift to all the boys and young men in your life who aspire to a bucket-related occupational field. “Includes a real working water sprayer” crows the website, as if that were a technological accomplishment on par with the bionic johnson.


Technically you cannot purchase FarmVille for Dummies until February 2011. On the other hand, anyone who would appreciate this gift could probably be fooled into thinking the dates for Christmas and Valentine’s Day were swapped Freaky Friday-style, so it’s all good. The guide “details how to find neighbors and interact with them, shop at the market, and choose a profession”—skills most of its readers will lack—and apparently talks about FarmVille as well. At 288 pages, this is the perfect book for any FarmVille player with a monitor in need of raising one-and-a-half inches.


First you send Erial a high-resolution photo that you feel is highly representative of “the real you,” which will serve as Erial’s “starting point.” Then Erial meditates and “tunes into you” to “get your unique essence” until he “gets an aspect of your celestial self.” (I “swear” that all of these “quotation marks” are taken straight “from” the we“bsit”e.) Three days later you receive your very own Celestial Portrait, in which your unique essence is revealed to be suspiciously similar everyone else’s unique essence: lens flare and cavorting dolphins. Or send in the photo of a friend who has always wondered what he would look like on fire—although at $150 it’s probably cheaper to invest in matches, kerosene, and a digital camera.


Oh and hey look, it’s The Book of “Unnecessary” Quotation Marks! If anyone has Erial on their shopping list, this might be just the “hint” he “needs.”


You know that person in your office who offhandedly mentioned a fondness for squirrels like seven years ago and now gets squirrel-themed mugs and calendars and greeting cards and assorted squirrelobilia every year on her birthday since no one cares enough to learn anything else about her? I have apparently become the internet’s equivalent of that person. In 2008 I included the Snuggie on this list and last year I mentioned the Snuggie for Dogs, so now people send me Snuggie links all year long. You know, like the Camouflage Snuggie and the Harry Potter Snuggie and the Tie Dye Snuggie and the Street Fighter IV Snuggie and the Alien Chestburster Snuggie and the Skull & Crossbones Snuggie (as if a dude in a slanket doesn’t already scream “AVOID”) and this commercial in which people do the Macarana while wearing Snuggies, which is admittedly not a product per se but does make me want to do the whole Oedipus Rex eye-gouging-with-broaches routine. Snuggies are the perfect gift for someone who, like Squirrel Lady, you know precisely nothing about, except that they are homeothermic and in possession of one or more arms. Now if only they would make a blanket with sleeves that could adequately cover my shame.


Or here’s an idea for that person in your life who is forever dropping the ball: a snow machine. Like a perpetual excuse generator, this handy device will allow the recipient to blame all of his personal failings on the weather. “Yeah I meant to have the spreadsheet finished this afternoon!” he’ll shout at his boss, straining to be heard over the 3,500 cubic-feet-per-minute gas air compressor churning in the corner of his office, “but as you can see, it’s a veritable blizzard in here. I’m totally off the hook!” Ah, the ass-saving power of frozen rain. Let it snow indeed.

Happy Holidays!