There's less than a week left until Christmas. Have you finished your Christmas shopping yet? Have you started your Christmas shopping yet? No? Cool, you sound like a mature adult, navigating your sleigh through the holiday fog with ease.
Just incase you need a little guidance, though, let Gawker be your Rudolph:
Now, Dasher! Manic Panic Christmas Clicks
"I don't have to worry about rushing around," you may say, "I'm going to do all my shopping online." Wow, you're so fucking smart. You should be writing this last-minute shopping guide—oh, wait, did you know that today is the last day to ensure Christmas delivery (with standard shipping) on Amazon? How does it feel to scramble, motherfucker?
Now, Dancer! A Solo Performance
If you're not comfortable relying on the U.S. Postal Service to get your gifts delivered on time (though they've been doing this for hundreds of years and you're the genius who didn't start Christmas shopping until just now), your best bet is going to sound counter-intuitive: Wait until Christmas Eve to hit the stores.
By delaying your shopping until the very last minute, you'll actually have a much more pleasant experience (since you waited so long to start looking for presents, I'll assume you're pretty selfish). From now until the 24th, shoppers are going to be running around, bumping into one another like children under the dark voluminous skirts of Mother Gigogne. This spells: long lines, displays in disarray, and irritated sales people.
Sure, some sales people will definitely be hostile and jumpy when you ask them where the bedding is on Christmas Eve, but a lot of them will just be broken shells of people (spoOoO0ky Christmas ghosts – like Jacob Marley) by the time you show up. Stores will be less crowded, since people who understand how to function in polite society are home celebrating with their families. All the displays that were ripped apart by packs of holiday hyenas on December 23rd will have been put to rights before you walk in.
Now, Prancer! Last Minute Gifts That Aren't Terrible
Just like Prancer is the throwaway reindeer ("Prancing?" I believe we covered that with "dancing,"), so are gift cards the toss-off present you give to people you couldn't be bothered with. They're a little cold. To rewrite your narrative from "I felt obligated to buy you a present at 9 a.m. this morning, so I hope you enjoy picking out $50 of your own Bath & Body Works sparkle lotions," consider buying a gift card that's good for a service, like a haircut or a massaaaaage.
Another thoughtful last-minute gift (though this requires either some knowledge of the recipient's future plans or your acknowledgement that they never have any plans because they are pathetic) is tickets to an event. This whole transaction can be completed in about a minute – as you walk from your car into the house, if you like.
If you go this route, don't be afraid to repackage one show as another. Feel like buying tickets to an Eels concert next March? Tell your uncle you got him tickets to "a talk by the son of quantum physicist Hugh Everett III." Yes, the the talk will be conducted in rhyme, set to music, and not explicitly about the "speaker's" father, but your uncle can read between the lines, right?
And Vixen! A Destiny's Child Christmas
Maybe the reason you've put off buying gifts is because you don't even know where to begin.
Here are some gift ideas that are appropriate for recipients of any age, taken from Destiny's Child's yuletide classic 8 Days of Christmas:
- a pair of Chloé shades and a diamond belly ring
- "a nice back rub" and a foot massage
- a cropped jacket with dirty denim jeans
- a poem that you wrote for Kelly Rowland
- a candlelit dinner just me & my honey
- a gift certificate to get my some favorite CDs
- the keys to a CLK Mercedes
- quality T-I-M-E
On, Comet! Giving the Non-Gift of Natural Wonders
The perfect gift for the sucker on your list, natural wonders are available in most places daily at no cost to you.
The best time to present someone with a natural wonder is very late on Christmas Eve or very early on Christmas morning. Ideally, you will wake-up the recipient with a whispered, "Hey, I wanna show you something." As they ask what's up, tell them to shush — you're running the show here. Take them outside and gesture to the magnificent starlight/the quiet peace of dawn/a reindeer that has wandered into your driveway.
"This is my Christmas present to you," you whisper.
Little do they know you had nothing to do with this present!
Appropriate for: The extremely poor; the extremely wealthy.
Inappropriate for: Casual acquaintances; the blind (unless multi-sensory experience).
On, Cupid! Sex Is Not a Present
Sex is a terrible Christmas present. There's nothing wrong with having it on Christmas (although Mary didn't, when conceiving the Lord — just something to reflect upon as you take off your bra), but it cannot constitute the only gift. The reasons for this are numerous.
No. 1: It's an impractical gift to give to a family member.
No. 2: The person with whom you are planning on "treating" to sex probably won't want to have sex with you once they discover you cheaped out on a Christmas present.
No. 3: You might not be as good at sex as you think you are.
The only people who should be giving sex for Christmas are professional sex-workers.
On, Donner! Putting Food on Your Family
Food can be a great gift. Even people who don't particularly like it need it to survive, and lots of foods come pre-packaged with festive holiday touches (an elegant gift basket tied with a big velvet bow; a bag of Hershey Kisses covered in red and green foil). Pick up a restaurant gift certificate. Pick up a fancy cheese plate that, wow, you didn't know cheese could be so expensive. Don't pick up the check at a restaurant and call it a Christmas present because, even if it is a lovely gesture, everyone will remember this as "the year [your name] didn't get us a Christmas present."
If you're planning to save money by baking everyone's presents at home, come up with a Plan B. If you weren't organized to start shopping before now, you're definitely not organized enough to churn out enough baked goods to make that a worthwhile effort.
And Blitzen! The Gift of Tipples
Unless you are shopping for a teetotaler or a child, liquor is often the safest route for presents. You can find it at any price point (cheap stuff for your cheap friends; expensive vodka for the Nana you love) and it's one of the few items that can actually work better as a re-gift. ("Someone gave me this Burgundy in 1959 and I've never opened it. Maybe my mailman will like it!")
If you plan to go the booze route, call ahead to make sure your local store will be open. Just because they don't recognize Christmas Eve in that godless Sodom you call Brooklyn doesn't mean you'll be able to waltz in to your hometown liquor store at 8:59 Monday night and clear the place out. Many states restrict sales on Christmas Eve. Christmas Day is even dicier.
If All Else Fails
[Art by Jim Cooke]