"Fasten your seat belt because it's going to be busy, it's going to be deep discounts, and it's going to be mayhem."

Your holiday shopping days are numbered. Christmas is next Tuesday, meaning the absolute last day to shop would normally be that Monday (unless you're subjecting yourself to the guaranteed torture that is Macy's/K-Mart's/etc's 64-hour sale weekends); add it all up and you've got less time to think about what you're going to buy before you're snailing it through the mile-long checkout line with that $230 Rock Band package that Billy wants but totally doesn't deserve because he's a little shithead that used the neighbor's dog as BB gun practice last weekend. But you've waited this long and you know that you can't really knit or build anybody anything (a mean, come on, a bird feeder? who are you kidding, anyway?) so you're really left with no choice but to submit yourself to the will of mass consumerism. I don't blame you, I've been there. Hell, I wrote the book. Well, actually, I didn't, because I'm writing it right now, so it would be more fitting to say... I'm going to write the book.

Listen up! Discover Financial Services released the results of a survey earlier this week that found that 42 percent of Americans had yet to start their holiday shopping. The biggest reason? Indecision. Well, that unsure mind of yours has gotten you into quite the situation, hasn't it? Maybe it hasn't. You aren't really sold on the idea yet. Luckily for you, I am probably the biggest procrastinator I know, and not only can I give you some awesome tips on last-minute shopping ideas for you and your moderately-loved ones, but I can help you put it off even longer--probably until Christmas Eve, so you can get all your doing absolutely nothing out of the way this weekend, wake up on Monday, and set your sails for savings (and/or sensibly priced commodities).

Shao's Absolute Last Goddamn Minute Holiday Shopping Guide

Here are some unbeatable, undoubtedly cheap-yet-awesome gift ideas for your family/relatives/friends/inmates/fellow refugees! Remember, Christmas presents are more about presentation than expense--you'd let a bum into your home if he were wearing a tuxedo, wouldn't you?

1. Bargain Bin DVDs/Video Games
Now, before I start, I want you to take a look at this image.

Men, and to a lesser extent (as far as I know) women, are immediately and invariably drawn to the spectacle of bargain bins, especially when it involves movies or video games. Like zombies to supple, helpless, probably-soaking-wet-by-this-point-in-the-movie white flesh, they migrate towards this smorgasbord of value with arms outstretched, fingers ready to grasp. Why, exactly? Scientists have pondered this question since the dawn of time, from Archimedes to Mahatma Gandhi. Perhaps it's the possibility of getting that rare find, a gem of a movie that accidentally got slapped with the $5 sticker and thrown in the bin. Or the game that you, for some reason, always loved playing but the majority of the American public did not, or a game that is just plain terrible but you're really into camp and just want it to have it around, possibly to pet it when you are feeling particularly lonely. Or maybe it's just the appeal of a mountainous pile of mindless entertainment; a pile that seems to reach a little too high above the top of the bin and seems to have almost no bottom when you reach into it. A pile that, carefully and surgically modified, could provide for hours upon hours of unintentional humor by the likes of Christopher Lambert, Lou Diamond Philips, Mario Van Peebles and/or John Candy. The probability of finding these kinds of things run pretty high when it comes to bargain bins.

So you, wise consumer, would do well to run over to your local Best Buy and just grab the first 5-10 movies or games from this pile, not taking more than a second look at them (but being sure not to grab the actual full-price movies that they like to throw in there to try and rip you off, the bastards), and wrapping them up and throwing them in the face of your most cherished family member. If it's the dog, you're in luck, because he/she will sit for hours watching Canadian Bacon on repeat with eyes permanently fixed on the television (when it's not cleaning its genitals), enjoying every moment (even when it's cleaning its genitals). That's when you know you've gotten the perfect gift.

However, there are many others who sift through the bins with no real purpose; most just enjoy the sensation of wading through a tide pool of unfathomably bad digital crap. For these people, I suggest going through as many Value Cities as possible and filling a Rubbermaid bin with as many $1 DVDs and games as possible. Yes, there will be quite a few copies of Yoga For Beginners and The Interactive Bible: The King James Version, but the feeling will still be the same. Or at least close enough. And just like a junkie who's lost all sensation, they won't be able to tell the difference. Isn't that what Christmas is all about?

2. The Newspaper
Getting the damn thing is just such a hassle, and most people--get this--don't even subscribe! They have to go out and pay for it. Can you believe that? In this day and age? Shit, you're doing that special someone a favor by bothering to hoist yourself out of bed, putting on pants, jogging and/or driving to the nearest distributor of periodicals (normally in the form of a corner store, coffee joint, breakfast cart or drug store), paying for it and bringing it back for them. Plus, think of all the benefits--they're conveniently getting information, and not only will it make them smarter, but it will increase their vocabulary and help their pronunciation. Even if they don't normally read the newspaper, they're guaranteed to love it. There's something for everyone: Opinionated editorials, possibly biased columns on world events, discussions on important issues (with all the boring stuff like facts omitted, even better), a word jumble, Garfield, and Family Circus. God, I almost wish someone were getting me the newspaper this year.

Bonus: As a game for the kids, see if they can spot which AP photographs are doctored and which aren't--they'll be pleasantly surprised!

3. Bread and/or Milk
Hey, someone's going to need it eventually. And you know they're going to forget.

Imagine their gratitude when they wake up Christmas morning and realize that they have no milk to fill that bowl of Honey Bunches of Oats, only to unwrap your present and find a gallon of delicious milk waiting for them!

Shao's tips: Keep your present stored at the proper temperature prior to Christmas day, or, failing that, install a refrigerator and/or cooler under your tree.

4. The Squirrel Slingshot
You're fully aware at both the banality and the uselessness of making someone something like a birdhouse, or leg warmers, or a patchwork quilt, or a crocheted noose or something lame like that. That's been done so many times, it's got Jesus' beeper number! (or something, I forgot how that goes.) But the novelty and inexpensiv-ity of the gift (employing the use of alternatives to wood such as popsicle sticks) has ensured its continued use throughout the years, giving it that endearing, cliche quality that nobody really wants. So what are you left to do, modern American consumer? You want something that's still that cheap, but creative enough that it won't warrant the response "Twenty years of marriage and this is what you got me?!" Don't worry, I've got you covered.

In case you are unaware, the Squirrel Slingshot is Generation-Y's birdhouse. Rest assured, in a few years they'll be getting badges for this in Cub Scouts. The main advantages? It's probably even cheaper than any of those other lame gifts. Got a colander? Aluminum bowl? Some extra strength rubber bands lying around? Some heavy wood planks? Bam. Now grandma can drink her tea and enjoy pestering rodents cutting through the crisp autumn air.

Bonus? It's hilarious.

5. The Sky Mall Catalog
This takes a bit of explanation: Not something from the Sky Mall Catalog, the Sky Mall Catalog itself. For those who are unfamiliar, the Sky Mall Catalog is a free catalog that you usually find while trying to smuggle your drugs or whatever into the back pocket of the seat in front of you on a plane. The catalog features a vast array of pointless piddling crap that ranges from ridiculous to just plain wrong, interjected with a few pages of novelty items that you couldn't pay for if you sold your entire life, including that really comfortable chair you own. So basically, it's like The Sharper Image but worse--can you imagine? Seriously, it's like looking into a window of hell.

Choice items on any given casual browsing of the catalog include A Marshmallow Shooter (which is proudly advertised as being able to shoot a marshmallow over 30 feet), and... okay, honestly, I don't think I have the mental strength to continue.

Your giftee should consider this not only a source of possible endless entertainment, but a chilling look into what you could have gotten them.

6. Something Of Yours That You Haven't Worn In Years
I don't mean to be that guy that links to Youtube videos all the time, but I just have to give credit to The Office for this one, and I don't really feel like explaining it. Plus, I feel like it's a fitting way to end this guide, seeing as how it's the cheapest and easiest.

I hope you find this guide useful, as you've got about 72 hours and counting until you have to prove to your family and friends that you actually do love them and care about them. They'll be waiting. They'll be judging. They won't be easy to please. You'd be better off considering this the preliminary test to entering heaven. Not that there's any pressure, or anything.

Next: A lengthy rant about Blogger's horrible, confusing, cluttered interface! Stay tuned.


Yeef said...

Good stuff. Now I know what to get you!

betty machete said...

uh, sir, i believe the sky mall catalog said the marshmallow shooter could only muster 30 INCHES... which is the reason why it was so hilarious.