12 Last-Minute Gift Ideas and Some Creative Lies To Support Your Lack of Planning

1. Slim Jims from the corner convenience store.

[Take cheap plastic meat out of cheap plastic packaging prior to arrival. Wrap meat in the ugly silk scarf that Cousin Edna tossed your way 20 years ago and you’ve never worn.] “This is a special friendship log that I ordered for you from Bolivia. It was hand-made by hundred-year-old nuns in a convent dedicated to the sausage-making skills of St. Felicia the Sturdy-Limbed. They have taken a vow of silence, so I don’t really know what’s in it, yet legend has it that you will now be fertile whenever fertility might be necessary. But you might want to stay away from Bolivian sacrificial ceremonies if your loins start to tingle, especially if there is an active volcano nearby.”

2. The leftover plastic cap from a gallon of milk.

[Be sure to hold cap upside down when presenting with a flourish.] “This is a tea light holder recycled from salvaged parts of Apollo 13. This has actually been on the moon and was later touched by Tom Hanks when he was rehearsing how to look uncomfortable in a tight place. That patch of dried whiteness that smells like dairy is really the sweat from one of the astronauts, dripped on that very spot due to the heat of reentry. Only 10 of these were ever made, and Ron Howard owns 9 of them. By the way, you probably shouldn’t show this lovely gift to your cat, because it might get whacked under the couch and you will never see it again.”

3. A chicken bone from KFC.

[Light incense just before proffering to recipient.] “This is a special love talisman blessed by the Voodoo Priestess Marina del Crotchlina de Taco Bella. She rubbed it profusely during an intricate, midnight ceremony wherein there was chanting and the releasing of orgiastic cries whilst startled chickens experienced sudden changes to their flight itinerary. If you wear this around your neck, you will exude an overwhelming musk that will have lusty, foreign lovers throwing pebbles at your window late at night, begging for a chance to sample your secret herbs and spices.”

4. An empty dry-cleaning bag.

“They have been lying to you all these years. This really IS a toy.”

5. A small tree branch that fell in your yard.

[Prep this item by stripping away ugly limbs to make it more convincing and streamlined. A splash of red food coloring on the sharp end will be a nice touch.] “This is a battle spear used by the Mayans during the Cucaracha Revolution. Some say it’s the very spear used to torture Mother Theresa Quesadilla, forcing her to reveal the hiding place of the Babbling Bishops while she was held captive in a Mexican restaurant. Late at night, if you listen carefully, you can hear the spear asking if you’d like a side of guacamole with that.”

6. An old bucket and a garden hose.

“This was Marie Antoinette’s favorite bidet. I got it on eBay. Apparently she doesn’t need it anymore.”

7. The bag of grass clippings that you forgot to drag to the curb on Trash Pickup Day.

(For authenticity, peel the produce sticker off an apple and slap it on the bag, giving it an air of somehow being imported from a faraway land where people speak funny and have odd holidays that don’t make sense.) “This is mulch from Scotland. It was composted under the very tree where Mary, Queen of Scots, had someone executed for not wearing plaid at a time when they really should have done so. If you use the mulch properly, your begonias will thrive, you will suddenly know how to play the bagpipes, and you will feel the growing need to dispense with underwear whilst sporting knee-high socks and a jaunty cap with a little pompom on top.”

8. The never-read owner’s manual in the glove box of your car.

[Prep work: Cross out any wording on the front, and then seal the book closed with duct tape. Beat manual on ground to give it that nice ancient-text aura.] “This sacred book contains all of the secrets of the known universe. But you are not allowed to open it until Justin Bieber is no longer popular. If you open it before then, there is the possibility that he might reproduce, and this planet simply cannot survive if there are two of him.”

9. The spare tire off your car.

“Wear this around your waist and roll down a hill. Everybody is doing it in France. Except Marie Antoinette.”

10. Beer

I think this one is self-explanatory.

11. Scratch-off Lotto cards.

Because nothing says “thinking of you” like making someone perform manual labor on a little rectangle that they will just throw in the trash when they don’t win anything. Translation: “You are disposable to me, and my affection is dimming. Can you pass the pea salad?” (Side note: Only present this gift to those people where it’s fundamentally clear that you will never be in their will and/or it’s obvious that anything in their will can’t possibly be worth squat. Side note two: Yes, I realize that some people actually do hand out scratch offs at Christmas, but that’s not the only thing you give them, right? Right. So, totally different scenario.)

12. Great Aunt Pearl.

[Preparatory Note: This gift should be directed towards individuals that are the least related to anybody else in the room, like the latest girlfriend of your distant meth-lab cousin who changes paramours and incarceration facilities every month.] Nobody likes Pearl. She’s scathingly rude and doesn’t bother to bathe properly and is so bitter about everything that she hasn’t had an admirable bowel movement in 37 years. (Admit it, there’s a pearl in many family shells.) Isn’t it time another family had the opportunity to be berated about everything they try to do in their lives? I think so.

Share the misery and cast the Pearls far and wide. Who knows, maybe Pearl will finally find a family that doesn’t disappoint her as wretchedly as her own does. And in that respect, you’re performing a noble public service. (P.S. Be sure to tuck all those unwanted fruitcakes in Pearl’s overnight bag as she heads out the door. It’s the only way to get rid of them. P.P.S. I sure as hell hope I’m not the Pearl of my family, because it’s very possible that I am.)

13. The Best Last-Minute Gift of All.

Simply being there for your true family, however you define “family” or “being there”. All snark aside, your presence is far more golden than your presents. The gift that goes both ways is getting as close as you can to those who celebrate you home, regardless of wills and bloodlines. And maybe you can’t be there physically, and that’s fine, the spirit is what matters. Love is not a biological mandate, it’s a choice, a freedom, an essence that sits at the dinner table even if the chair is empty, a warmth that happily samples the fruitcake in us all and doesn’t mind the weird candied green things. Holidays are about who you think of, not where you are.

And now I’m off to drink the rest of the milk, because I’ll probably need that cap in a few days…


Originally published in “The Sound and the Fury” on 12/22/10 and “Bonnywood Manor” on 12/23/16. Modified minimally for this post, as I didn’t want to destroy the evidence that I was clearly in an odd mood eight years ago. Special activity for those who feel moved to participate: Care to share the story of a desperation gift that you’ve given someone? Come on, you know you’ve stumbled somewhere…

P.P.P.S. For folks who are new to Bonnywood: The opening shot? THAT’s my Christmas Village that I’ve been babbling about in my post-scripts the last few weeks, circa 2009. I have a bit of an obsession with miniature things that glow in the night…


44 replies »

  1. “Love is not a biological mandate, it’s a choice, a freedom, an essence that sits at the dinner table even if the chair is empty, a warmth that happily samples the fruitcake in us all and doesn’t mind the weird candied green things. Holidays are about who you think of, not where you are.”

    What I love about your best writing is the way you pull these zingers out of the crazy!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Interesting ideas, almost makes me want to start gifting so that I can try some of them out. However, I gave up gifting a long time ago and the family is just starting to get used to it so I probably shouldn’t start something. Bwah ha ha. You’re right about love, it is not a biological mandate, thank heavens for that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve essentially given up gifting in most situations as well. We still get things for the young uns, of course (why make them face reality until they have to?). It’s much more important for me to give folks things when they need it, not when I’m supposed to do it. And yes, I tossed aside the biological mandate a long time ago…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I actually have #3, but someone would have to wrestle Huny for it. (she doesn’t get chicken bones, but she remains hopeful that one will drop from Heaven and she’ll pounce before the thing is gathered up and flung in the garbage where it belongs). You could add, that if #3 is from a certain local KFC in Northern Utah, it’s also valuable because unless I’m mistaken, that place ain’t gonna withstand the test of time. Their offerings of the poultry kind are getting more and more disgusting. I think they soak the damned bird in grease for four days before they actually try cooking it. *ulp*

    And I AM #12. My family would gleefully participate in the gifting of “Pearl” if they thought they could get away with it. And that business of the sketchy bathing habits? Not true. It’s the aroma from wearing that chicken bone for fifteen years and waiting for Antonio Banderas to show up, wanting to test the herbs and spices. Does that clear up what the odor might be? No? Well again, story. Stuck to.

    That last paragraph had a smoke bomb in it and I need to go wipe my eyes. You sneaky sweetie, you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Odd anecdote only slightly-related to #3: Back in the day, around the mid-90s, I used to have an obsession with KFC. It wasn’t so much that I loved their food, although I was rather fond of it, but more due to the fact that KFC used to DELIVER in the Dallas area at that time. I would get home from work on a Friday night, ring my local franchise, and order enough food to get me through the weekend. Then I would spend the next few days munching on my treasures, diddling on AOL (which was really IT, when it came to the budding concept of social media) and scribbling little stories about whatnot. Good times.

      Thank you for clearing up the aroma mystification in #12. I still don’t care for Aunt Pearl, though.

      And sneaky smoke bombs are the best!


  4. I’m gonna try and getaway with number two.
    No. Wait. Number eight. I’m going for number eight.
    I’ll definitely get hugs and kisses for that one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • As long as you keep an endless supply of Kleenex around (with aloe). I seem to get weepy at the slightest little thing these days (another mark for why these holidays are sort of not my bag any more.) I wander around bawling and everyone’s saying “What’s Wrong??” and I’m “I don’t KNOW, I just feel really really blue.” Xanax has been my good friend. I started crying at the fast food drive up today. It’s nuts. And I don’t blame you about your aunt Pearl. My evil ‘will never die because she’s just too g**danged MEAN’ auntie is Clara. She’s a total waste of time. I have any more to do with her than I have to. And if she does die? I’m wearing the brightest red dress I own to the funeral (if I’m asked to go).

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yep, I understand the emotional roller coaster. The peaks and valleys seem to be increasing in height and depth the older I get. To be fair, I’ve always been emotional, crying over lame commercials that are obviously manipulating me or getting giddy over a pop song that has nothing to do with me. Still, it’s worse now. Maybe it’s because we’re just tired of everything and our triggers are so sensitive now that it doesn’t take much to set them off…

        Liked by 1 person

        • Mebbe so. 😦 I HOPE your holidays are warm festive and joyous. And that your triggers (and mine) take the fuckin’ week OF Christmas off. More bawling is not necessary…and I used to sniffle at those old Kodak (Moments of Your Life was the background music..that makes me cry too) commercials and the one they did in the 80s sometime that had Christmas Canon as background music and was about having beef for dinner….a waterfall and buckets of tears. Aw.

          Liked by 1 person

  5. “Holidays are about who you think of, not where you are”. Totes brill. Also, I’m off to Spotify to listen to 🎶🎵please…..celebrate me hooome🎶🎵 😁😁 P.S. village this year? Fans are dying to see it again #noPressure 😁

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Another much-needed post giving suggestions for gifts to people you want most to impress, I see. I’m pretty sure many of these items are cult things though. And some would make perfect necklaces if you are into such things – imagine the beauty of a wishbone strung on leather – or almost-leather because it didn’t cure quite long enough.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Oh dear – “I sure as hell hope I’m not the Pearl of my family, because it’s very possible that I am” … that thought never crossed my mind. What if I am?!!!!

    I want a do-over. Except with a rich family.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I want a do-over with a rich family as well! I mean, I fully understand that money can’t buy you everything, but I’d sure like to give it a try… 😉

      And yes, I’m fairly certain I’m a Pearl, at least in somebody’s mind…

      Liked by 1 person

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