A holiday gift should say something about the giver. It also should reflect what the giver wants from the receiver. Nobody really gives gifts because they like to see the faces of friends and family light up like the proverbial (or literal) Christmas tree in appreciation. We give gifts because we want something back — be it a gift of equal value, a compliment, a favor, or a holiday hummer. (Hey, can't blame a guy for trying.)
But what if the reciprocation you seek is . . . intangible? Remember, gifts are traditionally a way to make a statement — as in, nothing says love like a diamond or a set of steak knives or whatever. Gifts wrapped around a message can be so heartwarming. And subtle. And hard to refuse. So this year, send your loved — and hated — ones a very special message. Give gifts that keep on giving: passive-aggressive packages that will hint at what you really think and imbue future interactions with poignant meaning. Awkward, poignant meaning.
Got a roommate that makes too much noise? Trying to wrangle a proposal out of your deadbeat boyfriend? About ready to squeeze or extort a raise out of your chump boss? Scented candles and deodorant can go a long way toward making a point with your stinky co-worker, especially when it's wrapped up in metallic snowflake paper and tied with a jaunty bow.
Living situations can get sticky. Inevitably, at some point in your life you'll end up randomly shacked up with some slacker you met on Craigslist who neglects the crusty pile of dishes in the sink and always, always pees on the seat. You've tried little notes, tried gentle conversation, but nothing gets through to this guy. Well, ’tis the season, so try a more direct and gracious approach. The SANI-FEM FRESHETTE F.U.D. (that's feminine urinary director, if you want to get all gross about it) is perfect for those who sprinkle when they tinkle. This little beauty of a hygiene gadget runs for $19.95 at R.E.I. (401 Park Drive, Boston, 617.236.0746, or online at rei.com), and is designed to help woodsy ladies streamline their bidness when they're camping. But it's also good for housemates who just don't understand that pee is not for sitting in.
Dropping hints can be a handy tactic when you've been trying to get the old ball and chain to stop screwing around and commit. (Come on, ladies, humor me and embrace the stereotype.) You've tried leaving bridal magazines around the apartment, staring forlornly at your naked ring finger while sighing pathetically, and even screamed an ultimatum or two while he attempted to tune you out with ESPN. In short; you want a diamond. I know you do. Trust me, you won't shut up about it, even when I plug my ears and hum that Destiny's Child song about buying my own shoes and throwing my hands up in the air. Stop whining at me about how much you want a giant chunk of Sierra Leone on your left hand; tell your man. The key is to find dude-gifts with some subtle, girlie touches that scream "Make me a kept woman before my baby-maker dries up and all I have left are my 17 kitties and my broken dreams!" Home Depot (check online at homedepot.com for your nearest location) is a beacon of all things manly, and they offer an array of electric-saw blades made from diamonds. Perfect! Check out their selection of BOSCH LASER-FUSION DIAMOND BLADES, available in various sizes, all made with premium-quality bling that ranges in price from $19.97 to a whopping $149.99. The gemstones make for a cleaner, more effective cut, and ooooh, they're shiny.
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.