There, I said it. Christmas, of course, is a result of the early church pinning Jesus’s birthday to the Saturnalia, an extremely popular festival in ancient Rome. To honor the god Saturn, Romans threw big parties with booze and food, and gave each other gifts. Sneaking Jesus
into this event was a smart move. According to the New Testament, Jesus was clearly born in the Fall and not on December 25th. In moving the date, the early church fathers guaranteed wide acceptance. Adding in Celtic Vegetation Worship (pine trees, mistletoe, poinsettias) cemented Christmas into everyone’s calendar as the high point of the year. Who am I to buck the trend?
The most important thing to know about Christmas, if you’ve never heard of the holiday because you were born on Xenu and just arrived here as part of an earth colonization
program, is that it involves running up your credit cards to keep the U.S. economy afloat. You’ll need to give gifts to everyone you know. The amount you spend is easily checked by the recipients, so make sure you gauge the price to the person. If you have a girlfriend, fiancée, or wife, apparently you’ll need to spend the equivalent of one week’s salary, before tax, on something small and sparkly that fits on a finger or hangs from an earlobe. For a boyfriend, fiancé, or husband, you can get away with
spending fifty bucks on a nice shaving kit. Everyone else will get something in accordance with their relationship to you – family, friends, coworkers, babysitters, doormen, mail
carriers, etc. This is why many people bake a bunch of cookies or buy a pack of Starbucks gift cards.
You won’t have to, because here is the definitive gift guide for Christmas 2017.
Small and Practical
Everything here is stuff I love and use on a daily basis. No one bribed me to say this, I didn’t get anything free in return, and no one asked me to write great review on Amazon because I’m valued customer and here’s a gift card. If your friends, family, or coworkers don’t like these things it’s because they are not useful members of a civilized society.
Glacier Point Water Bottle I have two – one for home, and one for work. Al made me buy the first one and, in fact, wouldn’t shut up about it until I did. This proves that he’s a useful member of society. Glacier is the best water bottle you can get. It will keep iced drinks icy for about 18 hours. Stainless steel construction means it won’t break no matter how many times you drop it. On the con side – it’s a bit heavy, and the design of the bonus sports-cap has a sharp edge that cuts into your skin if you try to dangle it from your pinky while carrying a bunch of other stuff. B ut minor flesh wounds are a small price to pay for the best personal water bottle out there. Comes in 8 colors, and 18, 25, or 32 ounces (get the 25 ounce)
Kitchen Scissors in magnetic holder Small, overlooked, boring? Au contraire. These are the best thing in my kitchen, and get used all the time. The magnetic holder smacks them right against the fridge where they stay put. The heavy-duty design is perfect for cutting almost anything. If you feel like this is too dull to please the god Saturn, try pairing it with…
Whisk Best Paper Towel Holder I’ve gone through a bunch of these, and this is the best. It’s got a weighted base so it won’t be tipping over all the time. It’s got slip-on slip-off design so you don’t have to unscrew anything to get a new roll of towels in. It’s got a low-tech highly effective rubber grip that does exactly what it’s designed to do, and gently stops your towel-yanking from unraveling the whole roll. The only thing I’d change would be to make the center spool taller so it’s easier to pick up and carry around the apartment.
Food and Drink
Your friends will be pleased with these, as they can be consumed or re-gifted. If you’ve got vegan, caffeine-free weenie friends on your list, you will want to pretend you didn’t know they can’t use…
AeroPress The fastest, best, and easiest way to make a shot of espresso anywhere. You just need a microwave to heat the water, and you’re in business. No fire is necessary, and no other source of electricity is needed. The optional metal filter has pros and cons that are hotly discussed in forums by people who have not noticed yet that there are more important issues.
Portable, unbreakable – can’t live without it. (I lied – vegans can use this too)
Milk Foamer At home, I love the Capresso frothPRO, since you just plug it in and let it run. It works great! At work or on the road, I haven’t really found a good substitute for the glass Froth Master, although I do tend to break the glass container periodically. The metal one is not breakable, but I find that for some reason, it is harder to clean and you can’t put it in the microwave to heat. The battery operated ones break too quickly.
If you’re the thoughtful type (not like me), you can package an aeropress and a foamer (or two!) in an attractive basket with a pound of Buunni and feel the love.
Leonidas Chocolates There’s a cautionary tale here. Don’t ignore the power of marketing. If you look at the facts, Godiva chocolate is more expensive and lower quality than Leonidas. So why isn’t Leonidas taking over the world? Instead of spending its money on marketing and paraffin like Godiva, Leonidas pours its resources into the finest ingredients and lower prices for you, the customer. So send everyone a box of chocolates. Just not from Godiva.
A local favorite of my hometown (San Diego) is See’s. I have a strong childhood affection for these, although they do run too sweet.
You’re not normal. Why should your gifts be? The recipient of these gifts will either be delighted, or you will never hear from them again (unless they are your children. In that case, let the whining begin!) Either way, you’ve achieved your goal.
Tabletop Fountain I wanted one of these for years, and finally got it. It makes a pleasant tinkling sound and humidifies the air, which bringing a Zen-like cool to your fengshui. Comes with river rocks. I throw in a capful of vinegar every time I refill it with distilled water to keep the algae at bay.
If you aren’t ready for a tabletop fountain, you can test the waters (ahem ahem) with a small cool mist humidifier. I’ve got one in each room, and they do a stellar job of preventing nosebleeds, dry hands, and headaches during low-humidity winter months in New York City.
Estonian E-Citizen Offer to purchase an Estonian E-Citizenship for your friend or family member. This does not confer actual citizenship, so don’t go thinking you can plunk down 100 euros and pack your bags. No, rather you get a number of advantages such as an international business platform, authentication, and a cool id card. Impress your friends! Warning: you do have to cough up your passport number and the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board & Estonian e-Residency Program team will do a background check on you – they’re very polite about it, however.
Charities This was a big hit last year, so I’ll probably do it again this year. Imagine the
squeals of delight on Saturnalia Morning as your children unwrap a flock of ducks going to Angola, a monthly donation in the name of Mike Pence to Planned Parenthood, or a chunk of cash that went to kids with cancer instead of a PlayStation 2. The spoiled little sh*ts have enough stuff already, don’t they? This kind of experience builds character.
Just for You
You’ve gone shopping for everyone on the list. Now it’s YOU time. Here are the best gifts you can give yourself this happy season.
Stitch Fix I tried this with little hope of success. In fact, as I signed up for it, I told my “personal style consultant” that “I’m a middle-aged crank and hard to please. My watchword is comfort. One more thing: if anything can’t be thrown in the washing machine, you can forget it.” To my surprise, she served up five items, two of which I really like! You pay for what you keep, you return (for free) what you don’t. Clothes come monthly, every other month, or four times a year. You choose.
Workflowy Can’t live without it. Get a free account, then pay the low annual fee for unlimited storage. It’s in your browser, and on your phone. You will thank me. Added bonus — it’s still flying under the radar of Your Corporate Overlords.
Capsule Hello Duane Reade – remember me? You suck (read why here). Also, my local place, I love you. I really do. But why do I have to call you three times, and then call my doctor three times, just to get a refill? Why do you make me wait 30 minutes in person and
then tell me “oh, we didn’t get that yet”? Why? Because you are not organized. Capsule is organized. And, Capsule is one of the reasons that bicycle messengers are back, baby!
A written contract signed by everyone in your life to agree to outlaw gift giving for anyone over the age of 15. Let’s make Christmas more like Hanukkah. You don’t see your Jewish neighbors spending thousands of dollars on crap no one wants, do you? No. You give some gifts to the kids, you have some fun, you light some candles, and THAT’S IT. Let’s try that one on for size next year, shall we?