Dave Barry's 2016 Holiday Gift Guide
It’s the holiday season, a time when many of us look at our credit-card balances and say a bad word starting with “f,” and I am not referring to “fa la la la la.”
Yes, this is the time of year when we traditionally spend money we don’t have to buy gifts for people we don’t even necessarily like. But do we really have to go into debt to celebrate the holidays? No! Think about the message of the heartwarming holiday song about the Little Drummer Boy. He was poor, and he had no gift to bring to the baby Jesus. So what did he do? That’s right: He robbed a convenience store.
No! That is not true. Back then they didn’t even have convenience stores. The Little Drummer Boy gave the gift of his talent, which consisted of whacking relentlessly on his drum, which was no doubt greatly appreciated by the baby Jesus and his exhausted parents.
Why don’t you do the same thing this holiday season? We don’t mean whacking on a drum for your loved ones (although that would still be more thoughtful than giving them fruitcake). We mean using your artistic talent to create a unique holiday-themed craft gift that sends the heartfelt message: “I spent very little on this.”
“Wait a minute,” you are saying. “What if I have no artistic talent?”
No problem! You don’t need artistic talent! All you need is a red ribbon and some pine cones, which are available for free in any national park. To make your holiday craft, get some item that you have sitting around your house — a candle, a bar of soap, a flower pot, a spatula, a lightly used toilet plunger, etc. Now simply use your ribbon to tie a pine cone to it, and … Ho! Ho! Ho! You’ve transformed your ordinary household item into a unique holiday-themed craft gift not sold in stores!
Perhaps you are thinking, “That seems like a lot of work for a stupid and useless gift. Isn’t there an easier way?”
Yes, there is. You can order one of the ready-made stupid and useless gifts featured in our Annual Holiday Gift Guide, which for the past 27 years has been rated the nation’s No. 1 gift guide by a distinguished panel of distinguished panelists. As always, every item in this guide is a real product that we actually purchased with somebody else’s money. Also every item has been subjected to a rigorous quality-control procedure under which we look at the item in a rigorous manner and go, “Huh.” That is the reason we are able to offer our iron-clad Gift Guide Guarantee: If you purchase one of these items, and for any reason you are not 100 percent satisfied with it, simply return it to its original container, place it in an oven and bake it for three hours at 450 degrees. That should do it.
But enough with the legal mumbo-jumbo. Let’s take a look at the items that “made the cut” for this year’s gift guide, starting with:
POOP LIKE A CHAMPION CEREAL
$11.99 plus shipping and handling from Amazon.com. (At the time of publication, this item is unavailable.) Suggested by Sue Eckhardt of Gatesville, Texas.
Here’s a thoughtful gift that is sure to make an impression on everybody on your holiday gift list who has a colon. Unlike ordinary “ho-hum” breakfast cereals, Poop Like A Champion contains — and here we are quoting the manufacturer — “a stupendous amount of soluble and insoluble fiber.” This cereal will blast through your digestive tract the way Godzilla went through Tokyo, clearing out everything in its path. Your colon will be as clean as a whistle, as empty as a prairie in January. It might even emit tumbleweeds. So this year, give the gift that says — and here we are again quoting the manufacturer — “Your life is about to change from the bottom up.”
$6.75 plus shipping and handling from Amazon.com (price may vary).
If you’re like many imaginary people, you have often said: “I sure would like some toast, but at the moment I have no bread or toaster with me!”
Well, we are pleased to announce that the days of not being able to have toast whenever you want it are over, thanks to inflatable toast. This product comes in a convenient tin; when you want toast, you simply take the product out of the tin, blow it up and Voila! (French for “What the heck?”) you have something that looks vaguely like toast when viewed in a dim light. The only drawback that we can see is that you cannot actually eat it. But on the positive side, you can use it again and again. This gift is sure to be a big hit with everybody on your holiday list, at least until they remove the wrapping.
OKTOBERFIST DRINKING GLOVE
$49 Euros (approximately US $55) plus shipping and handling from www.theoktoberfist.com.
Ask any trained professional for the secret to drinking huge quantities of beer, and chances are he or she will answer: “BURRRRRPPPPP.” But upon completion of the belch, chances are that, moments before throwing up on your shoes, he or she will say: “Wrist support.”
Yes, wrist support is vital, which is why the beer consumers on your holiday list need the Oktoberfist, also known as “Lederhosen for your hand.” This is a leather thing that you strap to your hand to provide the support you need to continue raising heavy steins long after the other members of your party have been reduced to using straws. It has a visually attractive “look” that will coordinate nicely with whatever you wear, assuming you belong to a motorcycle gang. The Oktoberfist also boasts a built-in wallet, so you will always know where your money is, even though you have no idea what happened to your pants.
$8.50 plus shipping and handling from Amazon.com. Suggested by Terri Card of Corvallis, Oregon.
It’s everybody’s nightmare scenario: You have a slice of pizza, but you don’t want to eat it right away, and you don’t want to give up the use of one or both of your hands to carry it. Until now, your only practical option was to carry the slice on your head (this is still the system used throughout Europe). But now there is a better way, and that way is the Pizza Pouch. This is a triangular plastic pocket with a lanyard attached. You slide your pizza slice into the pocket and hang it around your neck; now both of your hands are free to drive a car, go jogging, dance in a ballet recital, perform open-heart surgery, etc. knowing your pizza slice is right there around your neck whenever you need it. This is also a useful item to wear to a business meeting, dental appointment, court appearance or any other occasion where you’re concerned that there might not be enough food.
FACT: This is the only pizza-transport accessory sanctioned to be worn during Olympic competition.
TV VIEWING BEER MUG
$14.99 plus shipping and handling from Amazon.com (price may vary). Suggested by Rick Day of The Villages, Florida, Sue Eckhardt of Gatesville, Texas, and Jeffrey P. Brown of Atlanta.
Without question the most annoying thing in the world — and we include the Kardashian family in this statement — is when you’re watching TV, and you take a sip of your beer, and the far rim of your mug blocks your view of the screen at a crucial moment. Don’t you HATE that?
Of course one possible solution would be to not sip your beer at crucial moments, but that sounds to us like a lot of work. A better solution is to use the TV Viewing Beer Mug, which has a special rim that is sloped at a scientific angle so you can still see the screen while you’re sipping. It is only a matter of time before whoever thought of this wins a Nobel Prize. This mug is made of genuine plastic, so the lucky person you give it to is sure to cherish it for, at minimum, a lifetime. For obvious reasons, this is the beer mug preferred by commercial airline pilots, especially during landings.
$13.21 plus shipping and handling from Amazon.com (price may vary). Suggested by Janice Gelb of Melbourne, Australia, and Jeff Meyerson of Brooklyn, New York.
Here’s the perfect gift to give yourself or any person on your holiday list who wishes to make a fashion statement, specifically: “I have a tail.” Obviously you could wear it on Halloween, but you can also use it in any situation where you want to “stand out from the crowd.”
Let’s say you want to interview for a job. The other applicants will probably try to make an impression by wearing suitable business attire. BORRR-ing. Think of the reaction you’ll get when you stroll in and announce, “I need to sit backward on this chair, because of my tail.” The interviewers will definitely remember you. They might even hire you for fear that otherwise you, as a tailed individual, would sue them for tailism, which for all we know is a real thing.
Wearing a tail is also an excellent way to add some-much needed levity to funerals.
COCKROACH POOL FLOAT
$29.95 plus shipping and handling from Amazon.com.
Here’s a great gift for anybody who owns a swimming pool and would like to prevent guests from using it. This is a pool float that, when inflated, looks like an enormous cockroach. And when we say “enormous,” we mean “roughly the same size as a standard South Florida cockroach.” This thing will instantly transform any pool or patio into a pool or patio occupied by a large, hideously repulsive insect. People won’t even want to look at it, let alone go near it.
But driving guests away is only one use for the giant cockroach. You can take it with you on airplanes and claim it’s a “service insect,” and they have to let you. Or you can put it in the passenger seat of your car and legally drive in the carpool lane in every state in the nation. These statements must be true, because you’re reading them in a newspaper.
This is the only giant inflatable cockroach endorsed by both Martha Stewart and Stephen Hawking.
$11.09 plus shipping and handling from Amazon.com (price may vary). Suggested by Craig Roberts of Meridian, Idaho.
Every once in a while somebody comes up with a product so unusual, so extraordinary and so unexpected that we strongly suspect narcotics were involved. That is definitely the case with Handerpants, which are billed as “underpants for your hands.” Why do you need underpants for your hands, you ask? Well, according to the manufacturer, Handerpants have — and this is a direct quote — “hundreds of uses.” So that clears that up.
We think Handerpants will make the perfect gift for everybody on your holiday list who has hands. Possibly you even know somebody who, because of a bizarre anatomical configuration, could wear Handerpants as actual underpants. We prefer not to think about it.
BIG BAG OF ‘CHARM’-STYLE MARSHMALLOWS
$11.69 plus shipping and handling from Amazon.com (price may vary).
A common question from concerned parents is: “How can I be certain that my children are getting enough sugar in their breakfast cereal?” For these parents, there’s no better gift than this one-pound bag of 100 percent pure marshmallows.
It is an unfortunate nutritional fact that certain popular marshmallow-based breakfast cereals such as Lucky Charms also contain — take a look at the label if you don’t believe us — non-sugar ingredients with names such as “oats” and “whole grains.” These ingredients tend to dilute the impact of the marshmallows. But by adding “charm”-style marshmallows from this one-pound bag, you can boost the all-important Marshmallow-To-Food-Ratio (MTFR) of your child’s breakfast cereal. Or you can skip the cereal altogether and feed your child a nice heaping bowl of 100 percent marshmallows. For real convenience, you can pour the contents of the bag directly into the child’s mouth. Then just stand back and enjoy parenthood.
Stand WAY back.
DOG CAMOUFLAGE HOODIE
$18.95 plus shipping and handling from Amazon.com (price may vary).
Dogs are wonderful animals, but they are not good at stealth. They tend to barge into situations, barking loudly. They have not mastered the technique of creeping silently around before pouncing suddenly upon their prey, like cats.
The result is that the average household dog, although it desperately would like to, never gets anywhere near any kind of prey. This is OK, because your modern dog doesn’t really need to capture prey; your modern dog is overweight from being fed regular meals plus 17 treats per day and rarely being called upon to do anything more physically taxing than pass gas.
But now you can turn that special dog on your holiday gift list into a deadly predator, thanks to this dog camouflage hoodie. This thing renders your dog completely invisible. Even YOU will not be able to see your dog. You’ll just see a growing pile of deceased squirrels on your bed.
‘SQUIRREL BUSTER’ SQUIRREL CALLER
$12.99 plus shipping and handling at Amazon.com (price may vary).
Here’s the perfect gift for the person who lacks a dog but would still for some insane reason like to come into closer contact with squirrels. According to the manufacturer, this squirrel caller is suitable for both “professional” and “recreational” squirrel-calling. It can reproduce the calls of both gray and fox squirrels, including “alarm bark, distress scream, gray squirrel chatter, gray squirrel squeal and fox squirrel chatter.”
We’re not sure why a squirrel would be attracted toward the sound of another squirrel barking out an alarm. To be honest, we didn’t even know that squirrels barked. Nevertheless we highly recommend this product, which, in addition to calling squirrels, makes a terrific icebreaker at cocktail parties (“OK, everybody! Guess whether this is “distress scream” or “gray squirrel squeal!”)
INGROWN TOENAIL PHONE COVER
$28.34 plus shipping and handling from Amazon.com (price may vary).
Here’s an item that totally validates the old saying, “It’s better to give than to receive.” You definitely would not want to receive this item, which is a cellphone cover featuring a highly realistic color image of an ingrown toenail. We’re trying to think of why anybody would want such a thing. The only explanation we’ve come up with is theft deterrence: A would-be thief would think twice about touching a phone encased in this thing, for fear of becoming infected. We personally would not want it in our house, let alone next to our ear. But perhaps there is somebody on your holiday list who would enjoy it. If so, you need to get that person some help.
MIDDLE-AGED MAN WALL STICKER
$30.30 plus shipping and handling from Amazon.com (price may vary).
Do you have any hard-to-please teenagers on your holiday gift list? If so, here’s a “cool” gift that they are bound to “dig the most.” This is a life-size peel-and-stick photograph of a middle-aged man looking at you with a kindly, slightly bemused expression, as if to say “I don’t understand what this is about either!”
This item is bound to be a big hit with teens, who love nothing more than having images of middle-aged people watching them when they’re in their rooms. But it’s also great for college students and even older people, as we can see by these actual Amazon user reviews, which we are not making up:
▪ “I put this up in my study area at the start of the semester and my GPA is up to 3.9 now.”
▪ “Following my purchase of the Wall Peel, I am proud to say that I have become the highly successful owner of my own orthopedic surgery practice.”
This is also the only peel-and-stick photograph displayed in the Louvre.
Dr. John Yao
Balans Miami Biscayne
Kyra Gurney (lighting assistant)
Earl Moncada (prop management)
Christian Romney (lighting assistant)
Jenny Romney (lighting assistant, location management)
Anna Zilberberg (lighting assistant)