A Special Christmas Shopping List

November 29, 2010

Hey everyone.  I hope you had a really great holiday, and I’m glad to be back.

And now that the Christmas season is in full swing, and the decorations are up and the shopping has begun, I have to say something…

…My family is being a huge pain.

Seriously, they haven’t really done this before.  But they’re totally hosing me when it comes to Christmas lists.  We all enjoy giving each other some small gift for Christmas.  Hopefully, gifts are practical, meaningful, and useful, rather than total crap. 

But they’re completely making that impossible this year.  No one will tell me anything they want for Christmas!  I grilled my brother for fifteen minutes, asking him if he even needed any tools.  He said no.  When his wife said he needs a shovel, he flatly denied it.  Same with my parents.  For the first time, I have very little to go on when it comes to Christmas shopping this year.

So today, I’m running down the list of possible gift ideas in the hopes that maybe you, my ever-helpful readers can assist me in shopping for my tight-lipped family.  If they aren’t going to make a Christmas list, I guess I’ll have to.

Matt Makes a Christmas List For His Family

Gift Cards

Gift cards have gone from being the lazy man’s Christmas gift to the lazy Christmas list maker’s wish.  Can’t think of what to ask for?  Just tell people that they are basically too inept to select the right items and just give you cash, but cash that only works at one place.  The great thing about gift cards is the user never stays within the limit.  So you’re basically giving someone a gift, minus five dollars.

Some Piece of Junk with the Reciept

If I’m going to go to the trouble to drive to the mall and get a gift card for my relative’s favorite clothing store, I’d rather just get some gaudy, oversized sparkly sparkle hot pants with the reciept.  Tell me how that is not exactly like a gift card, except it requires more work to use, expires sooner, and has to be toted around in a plastic bag, and it makes me look more thoughtful? 

A Shovel

Asking any wife what her husband needs for Christmas is bound to result in a gift that only results in more work for him.  Name one way my brother’s life will be easier once he has a shovel.

A Battery

Everyone needs batteries, and they run out at the most inopportune times.  And God forbid you need two batteries and just have one left.  Presto!  Here’s the other battery, just in case.  Ho ho ho!

A Coupon to See “Burlesque” with Me

I am sure I would either leave the movie blinded or with radiation poisoning, but it would be worth it to have a little “guy time” with the boys.

A Portrait of Me

I’ve still got a few very enchanting Glamor Shots, complete with the fuzzy halo effect and everything.  Everyone could do with a few more family photos.

An Animal

My brother asked for a ferret for ten Christmases as a kid and never got one.  I figure now that he has a house, a wife, and two dogs, it’s a good time to set right this oversight and get him a large rodent.


Got this idea from Tyler Stanton.  Fresh from Catalogs.com, my brother could spend Christmas afternoon perusing the delightful new products from Beauty Trends Wigs.

A Bucket of Gasoline

Just keep bucket of gas in garage or on porch.  Gas prices go back up.  Fill car with free bucket of gas, save a bunch of money, and I’m a freaking Christmas hero.

A Ridiculously Useful Kitchen Appliance

Have you seen the number of kitchen appliances there are that do one thing?  I don’t know what I’ve been making out of tortillas and cheese in my skillet, but it must not be a quesedilla.  The other day, I saw an “egg cooker.”  It was shaped like an egg.  What on earth were people doing before these mad scientists brought down this egg cooker from their laboratory?  People must’ve been eating eggs raw, or just eating the shells, because for thousands of years, people have been unable to figure out how to cook them without an egg shaped appliance.  Same goes for rice cookers. 

Charitable Donations

My brother did ask that we make a charitable donation to some place in his name.  Sounds noble.  Except that:

1. My wife and I are already making plenty of charitable donations this Christmas.  We’re saving up treasures in heaven, and I just don’t feel like giving him credit.  If he wants to be really generous, he should ask me to make a charitable donation in my name.

2. Christmas gifts are, ideally, fun for at least ten minutes upon opening them.

3. He’s making me look bad, because I didn’t ask for a charitable donation.  Jerk.  And if I did ask for that, and we just trade charitable donations, then it’s just a contest to see who was more generous.  If he thinks I’m going to let him make me look bad in front of baby Jesus, he’s got another thing coming.

Those are my ideas.  What are yours?  What do you do for those relatives that are impossible to shop for?  What is your gift buying strategy this year?

28 responses to A Special Christmas Shopping List

  1. Hi Matt,

    Somewhere out there in the world there’s a chicken with my name on it.

    One Christmas one of my daughters gave some charity money to name a chicken after me and give said live chicken to some family in a third world country.

    The idea being that the poor family would grow more chickens, become self-sufficient, and be able to afford an AK-47 to make their own way in the world.

    Oh well, even a cup of cold water given in Jesus’ name racks up brownie points with God… Except that this charity did not want to offend third-world sensibilities by attaching any Christian reference to their program.

    Does help need to be labeled “Christian” in order to be Christian help?

    Anyhow, I’m pleased my daughter did not give me another tie that lights up and plays “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer”. It’s good to know that somewhere there’s a chicken named after me…This year maybe my daughter will give me a cow. Or if she wants to spend big bucks on me, a water buffalo.

    Good luck with your list–Give him the shovel. He asked for it.

  2. Dude, I just give people money.

    I enjoy getting money myself because people never get the right stuff, even if I show them on the internet what it is I want.

    Like someone getting me clothing and they come back with the gift receipt saying, “You can take it back if you don’t like it.” “No, I’ll just throw it out, don’t give me an errand to do!”

    Jonathan Chang recently posted..Turkey and thankfulness

  3. Last year we got a Heifer, International water buffalo (everybody’s got one!) and sent both sides of the family a picture of the kids with the silly song written around the outside explaining that we’d bought a water buffalo in their honor. It wasn’t a “small” gift, by any means, but I just couldn’t bring myself to give my parents especially more junk that one day I’m going to have to clean out of their house. And it sure was easier than figuring out what to give to whom.

    We’re at a loss so far for this year. Seems cheesy to do the same “here’s a picture of us in lieu of a ‘real’ gift” again, two years in a row when we haven’t added any more kids to the family. Maybe every-other year.
    Princess Leia recently posted..Shoeboxes!

    • Fun blog – but I take a hint from my wife. She is the MOST amazing gift giver! Even her habitual return-it-all-cheap-skate-sister-in-law said that.

      From what I gather (she keeps her formula secret) she starts with the activities that folks like, adds to that the things that family members do together or with her, and makes that a basis for the gift. Even my overly entitled 20-somethings are impressed with her thoughtfulness. She doesn’t do clothes, and only gift certificates to places where she would go out with one of them. She doesn’t take requests or have lists either.

      As the receiver of many; many thoughtful items over the years, it comes down to relationship. She knows me and cares about me. She usually knows what I need or want.

      I try to listen on our date nights, and look for things that frustrate her, and see if there is a a solution. That is how I do it. Because we have family dinners a lot, we gather information then.

      We don’t do extended family gifts for the adults any longer – well, not since dad gave us venison and then told the story of how he killed Bambi’s mother in front of 14 horrified grand children.

      Our Christmas time is about 4 events: The Nutcracker at a local ballet, a spaghetti dinner at the local monastery to support missions and walk around the grounds to see the lights, a trip to Boston, and a trip to a Colonial historical site complete with sleigh rides. We invite extended family

      In terms of others, we give of our time and resources all year round and don’t do something special for Christmas.

      Useless kitchen items? Well, here is one that is not – Breakfast Sandwich Maker. We use it every day, and are now on our second one.


      My 7-year-old wants a remote control flying Pegasus that you can feed. I haven’t had a chance to Google it – but I could use some help from your readers.
      David recently posted..When Black Friday Calls – More Geek Gifts

      • Part of my BF’s present is going to be a donation to Lifewater. It even comes as a gift card, so the recipient can choose where the donation will go. Best of both worlds? It’s a little gimmicky, but I think he’ll enjoy learning about the different countries they work in.
        I kindof like the gas can idea. Maybe the tag could suggest a fun trip to take with the fuel.
        Sarah recently posted..Happy New Year!

  4. My 89-year-old dad doesn’t need anything tangible, but he does get lonely. Last year we all give him our time. I made a calendar with family photos and birthdays, and added at least one outing or activity per month. We took him to two art museums (on the free days, so all we spent was for gas), the rodeo (his first ever), the balloon festival, and Clive Cussler’s car museum. We drove him into the mountains to see the gold aspen this fall. Next up is a melodrama.

    Even at my age (mid-50s) there isn’t much in the way of stuff that I want or need. My list has “chickens” at the top (through Partners International) and “time with family” next.

  5. At least you put thought into it. I had a relative who drew my name one year for Christmas when I was a teen. They bought me sweatpants. I never wore sweatpants. They weren’t even sweatpants with a sports team logo on them. They were plain grey sweatpants.

    My parents had even given them ideas about what to get me. And they wondered why I refused to do the gift exchange with the family from that point on. :)
    Jason recently posted..Natchez Trace 3 Part 7- Thank you- thank you very much

  6. Charitable donations just puts me in mind of The Human Fund. Always. I could never give that as a Christmas gift, because that’s all I could think about. Even if it was the best thing ever, it would still feel like I was George Costanza.

    These days, we don’t do a lot of gift exchanging in the family. Which I admit, I kind of miss. Even if we were just exchanging the same Lord of the Rings DVD, it was nice to have something to unwrap.

    That said, I’m one of those hand-made people. This year: Scott Pilgrim hats for everyone.
    Alise recently posted..Musical Monday

  7. If part of my gift is the time I spent picking it out, then part of your appreciation can be the time you spend returning it.
    Rick Nier recently posted..Thanks in Any Language

  8. Tsk, tsk, tsk. Matt, you’ve never been Asian. Otherwise you would know that rice cookers are the equivalent to sliced bread. The Asian’s ability to consume large quantities of white rice surpasses anything Uncle Ben has to offer 😉
    Angela H. recently posted..Protestant Deviant- Part I

  9. You can either get your brother a shovel or some socks. :)

  10. Gift cards are the way to go.


  11. I have both an egg cooker and a rice cooker. They’re actually called “pans” at our house.

    I’m having the same dilemma, some people say “nothing” and others who shall remain nameless say “all I want is a 60″ flat screen.” Somewhere in the middle is a chia pet.

  12. My family is road-tripping from SD to KY to spend Christmas with us this year. We only buy gift for the kids; adults make a little something if they do anything at all. We’re making Christmas ornaments out of little stockings and coal.

    This is more amusing when you realize that my husband works for a coal company. How else can you give your family coal for Christmas an not have them hate you forever?

  13. It’s funny. My mom and sisters always have a list of all the possible things I could get them for Christmas, but NEVER ask me what I want. I told my mom I didn’t want anything for Christmas this year and she got all offended. Sigh…guess I’ll make room in the crap closet for another giant black leather purse with a giant flower on it…

    Unless, of course you think your brother might want a giant black leather purse with a giant flower on it. I think I still have your address…
    katdish recently posted..A tale of two vacations

  14. You touch upon a sore point: gift cards. They “expire” after a certain time, or are reduced in value. They are more a gift to the merchant than to the recipient. I still have cards from Christmas 2004, little good do they do me. If you can’t or won’t select gifts, why not cash? Or make a charitable contribution. Seriously, doesn’t have to be in my name. Use your own and get the tax deduction.
    vanilla recently posted..True Gall

  15. I heard someone say that giving a gift certificate/gift card is like giving the person an errand to run. A gift certificate to a restaurant you know he dislikes might be a good idea. Maybe he’ll give it to you. Or, if you go the animal route, pick an impractical one, like an emu. Then next year he’ll actually tell you what he wants instead of leaving you clueless.
    seekingpastor recently posted..Naked and Happy

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