The holiday season is a time of traditions. Here in America, the most popular holiday tradition, observed by millions, is to celebrate the birth of Jesus by going to a Walmart at 4 a.m. on the day after Thanksgiving and getting into fistfights over steeply discounted TV sets.
But many other nations around the world have equally colorful holiday traditions of their own. For example:
In Spain, on Christmas Eve, children traditionally fill their parents’ best shoes with yogurt, then hide in the woods for two to three weeks.
In Austria, instead of Santa Claus they have “Father Wurmwerfer” — a man dressed in a duck costume who rides a unicycle around tossing earthworms to everyone he sees. Legend has it that if you catch one, you will soon wash your hands.
Never miss a local story.
During the holiday season in Finland, people get naked and sit around sweating in hot little rooms. They do this the rest of the year also, so it might have nothing to do with the holidays. It could just be that they get hammered a lot in Finland.
But the point is, there are many fun holiday-season traditions. And one of the most traditional of all is our annual Holiday Gift Guide, now in its 856th year. The Holiday Gift Guide is a collection of truly unique gifts that we have acquired via a painstaking process of personally visiting a wide range of prestigious locations on the Internet. Every one of these gift items is an actual product that is for sale. We know this because we actually purchased them, although not with our own money, because we are not complete idiots. We have, however, picked up each of these items and held it in our own personal hands, and we can assure you that, in every case, we immediately put it back down.
That is why we are able to offer you our Holiday Gift Guide Pledge of Guaranteed Quality Assurance Warranty, as follows: If you purchase one of these items, and you are not completely satisfied with it, simply give it to somebody else, and maybe that person will be completely satisfied with it. Although quite frankly, we would be surprised.
But enough with the legal disclaimers. Let’s get to the items that "made the cut" for this year’s Gift Guide.
$ 29.99 plus shipping and handling from Kotula’s, 2800 Southcross Dr. West, Burnsville, Minn. 55306, 800-685-4845; www.kotulas.com
Suggested by Jeff Berkowitz of Coral Gables and Maine
For the true wine connoisseur, there is nothing more enjoyable than sucking body-temperature wine from a tube connected to a polyurethane bladder concealed in a woman’s undergarment.
That, in a nutshell, is the appeal of the Wine Rack, a sports brassiere equipped with a bladder that holds 25 ounces of wine or other beverages. According to the manufacturer, you can wear the Wine Rack to “movies, concerts, ball games – anywhere you can imagine” and drink through “a drinking tube long enough to route as you wish.” And here’s a bonus: As your wine rack empties, your bosoms appear to shrink dramatically.
You will definitely want to give this product to all the classy women on your holiday list, as well as any men who for whatever reason — and far be it from the Gift Guide to judge — wear sports brassieres. Remember: This is the only wine-concealment device personally endorsed by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, who never goes anywhere without it.
Candwich — Sandwich in a Can
$10 plus shipping and handling from MarkOneFoods, West Jordan, Utah, www.markonefoods.com
Suggested by Larry Martell of Santa Fe, N.M., and Scott GrantSmith of San Diego, Calif.
It’s a known historical fact that the sandwich was invented in 1772 by the Earl of Sandwich, and the can was invented in 1802 by Sir Harvey Can. So both of these inventions have been around for more than two centuries, yet, for some reason, nobody ever thought to combine them — until now. Now we have the Candwich, which combines the convenience and durability of a can with the tasty wholesome goodness of sandwich ingredients that have been stored for some time in a can.
The Candwich we purchased was a peanut-butter-and-jelly model. When we opened the can, we found a small foil packet of peanut butter, a packet of jelly, a plastic knife for spreading, and a wrapper containing a bun that, according to the Candwich manufacturer, is “made from a special military developed formulation.” Yum! We’re sure it tastes every bit as good as it sounds. Unfortunately, we did not get around to personally assembling and eating the Candwich, because of a sudden loss of appetite. But we’re sure this item would be a huge hit with anybody on your holiday gift list who has been trapped in a cave for three to four weeks without food or water. As the French say: “Bon appetit!” (Literally, “I’ll just have water, thanks.”)
Dear Leader Tongue Scraper
$2.95 plus shipping and handling from Archie McPhee, P.O. Box 30852, Seattle, Wash. 98113, 425-349-3009, www.mcphee.com
Suggested by Chuck Cody of Columbus, Ohio
Ask any dentist after he has had a couple of shots of tequila, and he will tell you that one of the most vital elements of oral hygiene is scraping your tongue. And yet the tragic fact is that only 9.4 percent of Americans even own a tongue scraper, according to a statistic appearing earlier in this sentence. Why is this? Probably because tongue-scraping is not considered “cool.”
But that is about to change, thanks to this product. This is the first tongue scraper we are aware of that harnesses the glamour and “star power” of Kim Jong-Il, the supreme ruler of North Korea, often called “Dear Leader” by North Koreans in recognition of the fact that any time he wants, he can have them executed.
The Dear Leader Tongue Scraper comes packaged on a cardboard display card featuring an image of a sprightly and smiling Kim Jong-Il running on a beach, holding a tongue scraper in his hand and being pursued by three young women in bathing suits, their arms open wide and their faces expressing the message: “We want you carnally, Dear Leader, because your tongue is devoid of crud!” We’re pretty sure this is not really a North Korean product, since it’s made in China and the package writing is in English. So it’s possible that if you buy this product, you’ll be exacerbating international tension between China and North Korea that could ultimately result in nuclear war and the death of millions. But that is a small price to pay for oral hygiene.
$14.99 plus shipping and handling from www.wrapanap.com
Suggested by Patrick Cahill of Rockhampton, Queensland, Australia
Has this ever happened to you? Your eyes are closed, and you’re trying to sleep. Just when you start to drift off, you hear the annoying sound of people talking. You open your eyes and say, “Can you people PLEASE KEEP IT DOWN??” Then you get in trouble, because you forgot you were in a staff meeting at work.
If that sounds familiar, you need the Wrap-a-Nap. This revolutionary product combines, for the first time ever that we know of, a pillow, a blindfold AND earmuffs. You simply wrap it around your head, and suddenly you can’t see or hear. And the best part is, your boss and co-workers will never even know that you’re wearing the Wrap-a-Nap! We’re assuming here that they are blind.
But the Wrap-a-Nap isn’t just for office workers. It can be used to grab a quick “40 winks” in many environments — museums, funerals, State of the Union Addresses, the cockpits of commercial airliners — any place where oblivion is welcome. It is our understanding that the New York Metropolitan Opera sells these babies by the crate.
$49.95 and up, plus shipping and handling from International Marketing & Logistics, Fao Morphsuits, unit 11c Stephenson Rd., Gorse Lane Industrial Estate, Clacton on Sea, CO15 4XA, U.K., www.morphsuits.com
Suggested by Chuck Cody of Columbus, Ohio
Wouldn’t it be great if you could be invisible? That’s the idea behind the Morphsuit, which is a one-piece suit made of thin, stretchy Spandex fabric that covers your entire body and head, thus rendering you completely invisible!
We don’t mean “invisible” in the sense of “not visible to others.” We mean it in the sense of, “causing people to avert their eyes in hopes you will go away, because you are wearing a creepy full-body stocking that does a poor job of concealing your various bulges.”
According to the manufacturer, you can see through Morphsuits “and drink through them.” However, the manufacturer warns that “they do impair the vision of the wearer,” and “should not be used as protective clothing, near naked flames or whilst driving.”
But other than that, the Morphsuit is a superb way to draw attention to yourself. You can wear it to work, school, parties, weddings, sporting events, political rallies — virtually any place where you want to run the risk of getting beat up or arrested. Or you can just wear it around the house, as is the practice of leading fashion sophisticates such as Ralph Lauren.
$34.95 plus shipping and handling from ToadShop, P.O. Box 1233, Greenville, Maine 04441, 877-855-3442, www.toadshop.com
Suggested by Angie Mansfield of Madison, S.D.
Imagine this holiday scene: A fashionable woman unwraps a gaily wrapped package and finds What’s this? A dead toad!
Sound too good to be true? Well it could be a reality for some lucky lady on your holiday gift list, if you give her this toad purse. That’s right: This is a real, functioning purse, made from a real, formerly functioning toad. It has a cord so you can carry it on your shoulder, and there’s a working zipper in the toad’s butt, so you can open it up and put small items inside the toad. Smelling salts, for example.
We’re sure this item will make a huge impression on whomever you give it to, based on the reaction of the Holiday Gift Guide staff, Judi Smith, who refused to touch the toad purse with her bare hands, and had trouble even looking directly at it.
The toad purse: A gift she will always remember, even after therapy.
The 'Phubby' Wrist Phone Cubby
$ 12.99 plus shipping and handling from Whatever Works, P.O. Box 3339, Chelmsford, Mass., 01824-0939, 800-499-6757, www.whateverworks.com. (Now simply called the “Wrist Cell Phone Holder.”)
Suggested by Carol Ann Byrd of Nashville, Tenn.
How important is this product? Here’s a quote from the packaging (and if we can’t trust the packaging, what can we trust?):
“Until recently, conveniently carrying a cellphone was this millennium’s greatest challenge.”
That’s right: This millennium’s greatest challenge. Not terrorism. Not global economic collapse. Not figuring out why people watch Jersey Shore. No, our greatest challenge was conveniently carrying our cellphones.
And finally, that challenge has been met, thanks to the “Phubby” brand wrist phone cubby. This is a brightly colored stretchy fabric sleeve with a pocket in it. You wear the sleeve on your wrist and slide the phone into the pocket, and there you have it: a phone attached to your wrist! It’s incredibly practical and convenient, assuming you don’t mind having a phone attached to your wrist all the time.
Game On Glove
$29.99 plus shipping and handling from Game On Glove, 19 Tiffany Ct., Montville, N.J. 07045, 904-GET-GOG1, 904-438-4641, www.gameonglove.com
Suggested by Andrew Hoenig of Rockville, Md.
Here is the ultimate gift for the “sports fanatic” on your list who wants to support his team in a way that makes the unmistakable statement: “I’m a dork!”
The Game On Glove is a piece of soft plastic about the size of a head of lettuce, shaped sort of like a hockey glove and painted in the colors of a sports team. There’s a hole where you stick your hand in, and another hole where you put your beverage, so you can use your Game On Glove to hold your beverage! Of course you could also just hold your beverage in your hand, but that wouldn’t look nearly as dorky.
But holding your beverage is only one of the things you can do with your Game On Glove. You can also OK, let’s take a peek at the official Game On Glove website....
OK, it turns out that holding your beverage is pretty much what you do with the Game On Glove. So if you know anybody who would be excited by the prospect of receiving something like this, then this is definitely what you should give that person.
Christmas Stocking Full of Knives
$39.99 plus shipping and handling from Smoky Mountain Knife Works, 2320 Winfield Dunn Pkwy., P.O. Box 4430, Sevierville, Tenn. 37864, 800-251-9306, www.smkw.com
We’re not going to beat around the bush here: This is one of the most exciting items we at the Holiday Gift Guide have ever encountered. It comes from the folks at Smoky Mountain Knife Works. Apparently they were sitting around one day, wondering, “What can we here at the Smoky Mountain Knife Works do to help people get into the true spirit of the holidays?” And then somebody — let’s call him Bob — said, “How about we sell a Christmas stocking filled with knives?” And then everybody had a good laugh and took away Bob’s crack pipe.
No, seriously: They actually did it. We know because we bought this item. What you get is a cheap mesh Christmas stocking with a cardboard picture of a happy ho-ho-ho Santa on it, and this stocking is COMPLETELY FULL OF KNIVES. And these knives are not small, either. A couple of them are the size of Justin Bieber. Talk about the holiday spirit! If you’re holding one of these babies, and you tell somebody to bring you a figgy pudding, trust us, that person WILL bring you a figgy pudding.
Cow and Horse Droppings
$4.64-$5.12 plus shipping and handling from Reynauld’s Euro Imports Inc., 122 N. Main St., Elburn, Ill. 60119, 888-762-6872, www.reynaulds.com (search for "piles").
Suggested by Steve Roberts of Cleveland, Ohio
The holiday season, above all, is about bringing joy to children. And nothing makes children happier than receiving a truly special and unique gift — a gift that none of the “other kids” have.
We can guarantee you that this is exactly the kind of gift you will be giving if you give these model-railroading cow and horse piles. These are tiny but realistic replicas of cow and horse excrement that model railroading enthusiasts place amongst their model cows and horses to add realism to their model railroads. Really, they do this.
But children don’t need an elaborate model railroad to enjoy these piles; all it takes is some imagination. And you can join in the fun! Simply place the piles around the floor and tell your children, “Come on Bobby or Suzy or whatever your name is! Let’s pretend these are piles of real poop that were excreted by real cows and horses, and there’s a train going around them!” Then just sit back and watch their little faces light up with excitement, or something very much like it.
$18.50 plus shipping and handling from www.amazon.com
Suggested by Rebecca Dill of Scottsdale, Ariz.
This is the perfect gift for that “special guy” on your holiday list. (We are using the term “special guy” in the sense of “loser.”) The Girlfriend Pillow is a soft pillow with a single “arm,” and what the manufacturer describes as “2 round shape cushions on the surface that gives you a breast-like sensation.”
In other words, sleeping with this pillow is exactly like sleeping with a real, biological woman who happens to have only one arm, and no lower body, and no head, and is covered with fabric. Think of the advantages! For one thing, the Girlfriend Pillow will never buy shoes, or demand that you share your innermost feelings when you have no innermost feelings more complex than “I want another beer.” Speaking of which: If you spill your beer, you can use the Girlfriend Pillow to mop it up. Try THAT with a biological woman!
The Girlfriend Pillow is the official girlfriend pillow of the National Football League. Also Donald Trump owns two of these, although they have not yet met.
Martha Stewart Animated Snake Wreath
$29 plus shipping and handling from Grandin Road, 5566 West Chester Rd., West Chester, Ohio 45069, 866-668-5962, www.grandinroad.com (Search for item No. 45465)
Suggested by W. von Papineäu of Gloucester, Ontario, Canada
Nothing says “Welcome to my home!” like snakes. And when it comes to choosing an animated snake wreath — whether as a gift, or for your own personal use — what you’re looking for, above all else, is quality. That’s why we here at the Holiday Gift Guide strongly recommend that you ignore all the cheap “knockoff” animated snake wreaths on the market and go with the Martha Stewart model.
This is a beautifully crafted wreath festooned with realistic rubber snakes, which are connected to a battery-powered motor and some kind of electronic thing, so that when visitors approach your door, your snakes vibrate in a menacing rubber manner. Your guests are bound to be delighted, assuming they do not go into cardiac arrest.
This is the only animated snake wreath endorsed by both Metallica and the National Council of Churches.
The Gift Guide thanks
Arielle Curbelo, Bob Harksel, Brooks Sickles, Candace West, Christine Sullivan, Danielo Lovell, David Alvarez, Felice Shekar-Harksel, Frank Theaters at Sunrise Eleven, Gino Jenson, Graham Perelman, Jeremy Smith, Lilly Echeverria, Marty Burger of Door to Door Fitness, Michael Marko, Reese Perelman, Rhina Lopez, Ryan Carlton, Sierra Gorman, Wendy Doscher-Smith, Daniel Portnoy and Mark Hendrix.