Credit: Marianne O'Leary

2012 Holiday Survival Guide for Slackers

‘Twas the day before Christmas, when all through the house still no presents were purchased—again, you’re a louse. Gift ideas for the ungifted.

The good news is we’re still alive, a full weekend after Mayan Armageddon (the apocalypse I mean, not the Mountain Dew flavor). It’s weird, since the Mayans were so dead-on in predicting Fruit Stripe gum and how #UnusualNamesForWhiteGirls would trend on Twitter last April.

The bad news, alas, is that you put off your holiday shopping, banking on end times. Sorry chump: You’ve Been Mesoamerican’d!™ (“You’ve Been Mesoamerican’d” is a registered trademark of Condé Nast, used with permission.)

At this point you basically have two options. One: Go see a showing of The Hobbit this afternoon and, when you stagger out of the theater half-crazed with dehydration after the final credits roll on Wednesday morning, blame your holiday absenteeism on Peter Jackson’s ego. Or you can roll up your sleeves and then roll them back down again, because you can shop online with your sleeves up or down—the internet is crazy that way.

And just to “prime” the “pump” of “frantic” last-“minute” “buying,” here are 10 for-real items you could hypothetically purchase for your friends and family and have shipped to your home in time for Christmas, assuming it’s currently Dec. 21, the world is actually ending, and reality is now just some Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge-like delusion in which ordered items can arrive within the hour and save your miserable ass. Fingers crossed!


They say alcohol is the social lubricant, but no amount of Zima can reduce the friction of awkward cousin Fredrick’s social skills to less than that of a rasp. So maybe skip the booze entirely and buy him a 55-gallon drum of lube. When he arrives at a party coated in this stuff, he will no longer find himself shut out of the small talk; in fact, the host herself is likely to initiate conversation with him, employing such openers as “Why are you dripping?” and “Have we even met?” Finally he will make it to the end of a social occasion without being thrown out, if only because no one can get a good enough grip on him to do so.



In high school my best buddy Matt and I hypothesized how the world would be a better place if stupid people had a blinking light on their head that warned you of their affliction. We even invented a gesture to symbolize this (place the back of your hand on your forehead, open and close your fist quickly) that we hoped would catch on around the nation, much as the thumb-and-index-finger “L” came to represent “loser.” Our idea never gained any least until the advent of the disco ball hat. Giving this to anyone who would enjoy wearing it is like belling the cat for those in the know.



Each Christmas you make good on your threat to give your children nothing but coal. But now, thanks to skyrocketing energy costs, giving them fossil fuel is almost like rewarding the miserable ingrates! Fortunately Playmobil has your back with their reasonably priced tiny mound of fake coal. Build anticipation in your household by removing the traditional stockings from the fireplace on Xmas Eve and replacing them with tiny socks you can claim to have “harvested” from Whos. The photo of the product helpfully includes a circle around a small baby with a line through it, a helpful reminder to not sire any more of these twerps.



Your teenage son sure goes through a lot of Kleenex. It is inexplicable to you, since he so rarely has a runny nose. Maybe he lies in bed at night and listens to Adele’s 21 on his iPod, openly weeping over the vagaries of love and loss? Well, there’s only one way to find out: Give him the tissue box hidden camera for Christmas, wait for him to take it back to his room, and simply review the captured video the following morning to determine what OH MY DEAR GOD WE ARE CANCELING THE INTERNET.


“There are Millions of Artists in the World...BUT ONLY ONE WHO PAINTS WITH HIS PENIS” boasts the website for Pricasso. (Warning: Link is unsafe for work unless you are an employee of one of those charitable organizations that only hires the blind.) Or perhaps just the only one to mention this fact to anyone other than his therapist? A portrait by Pricasso would be the perfect gift for your friend who eats at Chik-fil-A, as he has already shown a fondness for products made by dicks.


Pastor Clem says the voice we hear from inside is our conscious, advising us of what to do in morally ambiguous circumstances. You nodded solemnly as if you heard such a voice, or had ever encountered an ethical situation for which faking your own death wasn’t the perfect solution. But later you wondered if maybe something else inside Clem was feeding him protips. To find out, why not give him the newest guidebook from Chronicle Books, What’s Your Poo Telling You? After he’s read this, maybe he’ll realize the little voice crying “Let me out!” is not his soul struggling for liberation in a sin-filled world, but a hint that it’s time for the Little Deacon’s Room.


Fun story: Back in 2003 I recounted a totally fake conversation about the Maury Povich Show on my website, and this post inexplicably became the top search result for “Maury Povich” on AltaVista or Lycos or whatever the hell we were using in those dark days. For the brief span of time that it remained so, I was deluged with email from and her ilk, who apparently mistook my dumb blog for the TV show’s homepage and implored me to pass their unintelligible messages on to Povich himself. Anyway, if you are pals with any of these yahoos, they will probably get the vapors when you give them a dog DNA test for Christmas. Finally the paternity of Mr. Fluffsnuggle can be determined with the precision and theatrics such an event deserves, with the owner’s collection of Beanie Babies pressed into service as an audience at the unveiling.


“You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear” said Mark Twain or Benjamin Franklin or I don’t know one of them dead guys that was essentially an 18th century Twitter stream. And while that continues to be true, at least technology has advanced to the point where we can make a purse out of a dead cane toad. “Designed and created for that someone who likes something different [from desirable gifts]” says the website, mostly.


Your son gingerly unwraps the official Hogwarts Acceptance Letter, and his jaw drops in astonishment. He looks to you, eyes wide with wonder and excitement. “I’m…I’m going to Hogwarts!” he exclaims. Oh no. No no no. You always knew this kid wasn’t the sharpest picket in the fence, but he can’t possibly think it’s real, can he? And yet he rushes across the room to embrace you, deep in the throes of misguided ecstasy. “Well,” you stammer, your eyes darting frantically around the room. “I mean…of course! You’re a wizard, Logan!” Oh my god, what are you doing? Such cowardice! “In fact…that’s your robe over there,” you hear yourself say, gesturing toward a misshapen lump of wrapping paper at the rear of the tree. Logan rushes to open it, only seconds from revealing the 12-pack of socks within; his attention diverted, you sidle toward the front door. As his tiny fingers scrabble for purchase on the gift, you take one last look at your son, turn the knob, and skulk into the night. And as you run down the slush-covered streets—icy air in your lungs, tears frozen upon your face—you agonize over the poor decisions that have led you to abandon yet another family.


Or, if you know someone who bought into the whole end-of-the-world hype, why not pick them up the 2013 Mayan calendar, and helpfully point out that it ends on Dec. 31. Apocalypse: Then!

Merry Christmas, and Happy Final Year.