Merry Christmas . . . not

By SARA FAITH ALTERMAN  |  December 10, 2007

Bon voyage
In-laws are such a pain in the ass, especially around the holidays. They gripe, they whine, they kvetch, they mooch. Ever wish you could send them packing to their doom? Here's your chance! Give them an adventure vacation for the medical examiner to write home about, like an all-expenses-paid mountain-biking trip down El Camino de la Muerte. That's "THE DEATH ROAD" to you gringos. Located in Bolivia, this approximately 43-mile stretch of road between La Paz and Coroico is considered the most dangerous road in the world, twisting and turning through mist and clouds and dust, and maybe a llama or two. People have died on this road. I'm just saying.

Book a one-day, all-inclusive bike package for $75 through Gravity Bolivia, a touring company that promotes "gravity assisted mountain biking.” And don't forget to kiss your in-laws good-bye.

A real gag gift
Kissing's not all you can hear through the paper-thin walls of your apartment, huh? A few glasses of chardonnay on a Friday night and suddenly, the Joneses next door are jonesin' for more than just the remote control. And you can make out every dirty word, every arduous squeal. Why should you have to sit there squeamishly, wondering if that's a cat that got hit by a car you're hearing, or if Mr. Jones just hit the spot? Spice up their sex life while soothing your own bleeding ears with a BLACK RUBBER BALL GAG ($25) from Good Vibrations (308-A Harvard Street, Brookline, 617.264.4400). Maybe they'll be into it. Maybe they'll be horrified. Who cares? They'll get the hint, and you can start relishing the sounds of silence.

Thankssh a lot
I don't care who you are; you have that friend with that drinking problem. Mine is a sloppy mess who always embarrasses himself by drinking entirely too much bourbon and then slurring all night long about communists and buffalo-chicken calzones. Fortunately, he has no idea that I'm talking about him, because he never remembers his awkward, ranting blackouts. This holiday season, help your own forgetful, party-loving friends to remember the good times with sketchy strangers they had all weekend long at Faneuil Hall. A DIGITAL VOICE RECORDER is a terrific present for that special someone who can't put down the sauce but wants to remember just how saucy they could be. The Sony ICD-P520 (available at any Best Buy for approximately $60) is hand-held and user-friendly, good for up to 130 babbling hours of recording fun. Most important, it's durable, so it can stand being fumbled and dropped every minute and a half. At last, your alcoholic friends can get in on the morning-after joke.

Sweet and low-priced
After all that spending, who has money left over for co-workers? Especially since you work too hard and don't get paid enough. That holiday bonus probably won't cover any more than the cost of parking at the Prudential Center during peak shopping hours, but still. Gotta buy for the boss. Show her just how much you care, and just how badly you need some cash, and pick up a packet of M&Ms. Fifty cents at any reasonable drugstore. Plus tax. The CEO gets a red one, accounts payable gets a blue one, and Harold over in sales gets a green one. Divvy up accordingly, and presto! Everyone at work gets seasons eatings from the most generous broke-ass in the office. It's the thought that counts. And maybe, as your boss is nibbling away at that miserly chocolate button, she'll start thinking about tossing you a raise.

Oh, and don't forget to buy your favorite Phoenix writer a pony. Hint-hint.

Sara Faith Alterman, who's getting a grammar book for Christmas, can be reached at

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