One of the many wonderful things about the Xmas season is an opportunity not to be a human superfund site. For once. Only at Xmas can you give gifts to people without it looking suspicious, or scammy, or skeevy (though if you’re giving them a pair of underwear with a camera not-so subtly crammed in, that’s probably still going to look questionable to the “squares”). But every opportunity is also a problem in disguise. And a crisis. And an anxiety-driven nightmare. And then back to opportunity. But then an explosion. Explosion!explosion!explosion! John Adams said that and we got it from the internet.
There are three phases to the Xmas gifting life cycle. First, picking the appropriate gift for each person on your gift list. Second, making the gift list you forgot to make before step one. Second, acquiring the gift. And, third, wrapping the gift, including a note that will either (1) endear you to the giftee, or (2) give you plausible deniability.
Folksy Story To Butter You Up for When We Post Our Patreon Link Later
When I was a teenager, I had a close friend named MacGuffin. We went Xmas shopping together, like teenage boys like to do. He found a lovely, old-fashioned oil lamp for his sister, Sexy Lamp Girl. You know how the ladies love oil-burning lamps. “What about oil for the lamp?” I asked. “She’ll get that for her birthday,” he said.
This is an example of near-genius level gift giving. If he could’ve convinced someone else — preferably his sister — to pay for the lamp and then wrote it off on his taxes, that would push it over the hump to genius level. But it was still pretty great. (True story, btw.)
Picking an Appropriate Gift
We’ve got three words for you: drunk web shopping. See, alcohol is a wonderful thing in so many ways, but one of the sometimes useful ways is that it opens you up to your icky feelings. This includes icky feelings you might have for people, hence the giving of the gifts. Or, maybe you’re doing it out of obligation, but booze still applies because it can help you look beyond your annoyance toward some hint of compassion or even feeling you might have for this asshat. This will help you pick out an appropriate gift for them, and if you’re drunk enough, you’ll be willing to actually buy it.
Remembering To Make a List
Now that you’ve blown all your money on replica taquitos, it’s time to reevaluate in the cold light of mid-afternoon. You need to get gifts for a couple folks to make up for all the BS they’ve put up with from you. But now you’re broke. You could sell plasma. You could cash in your retirement. We both know you’re just going to blow your last seven bucks on lottery tickets.
Now, you have even less money, so it’s time to make a list. At first, you want to add everybody you know to it, but remember, you can’t even afford the dollar menu at McDonald’s. Actually, that sounds pretty good. And you’re hungover. Maybe a quick dig through the couch cushions and a trip to the drive-through before we proceed.
Okay, back on track. Now your stomach hurts, but let’s press on. The key to a successful Xmas list is to add the folks who absolutely won’t forgive you if you don’t get them anything. Also, it’s a good idea to think about the future. You don’t want to piss off anybody who is known for giving thoughtful (i.e. expensive) gifts.
Wrapping the Gift
Did you know that 7,500 people die each year from gift-wrapping injuries? Birthday gifts are the biggest killers, but holiday gifts are a close second. Wrapping a gift well requires forethought, planning, and appropriate materials, which all sounds a whole lot like work. Look, we’re already giving stuff to people. They expect us to make it look nice too? Wow. Get your priorities together, people.
If you shop at rich people stores, they’ll wrap the thing for you. But if you’re anything like us, you’re not allowed back in those kind of stores. You could also get your mom to wrap it for you, because you have a mom. Loser.
Otherwise, you’re going to have to figure out how to wrap presents yourself.
First, you need supplies. Wrapping paper. Tape. Scissors. A beer. Each of these is essential. Quality liquor stores will carry all three of these, which makes things a lot easier. If your liquor store doesn’t carry wrapping paper and tape, we suggest you find a better liquor store. Listen, if you don’t respect yourself, no one else will. Or you can just use whatever you have laying around.
Once you’ve got the supplies, it’s time to have a beer.
To wrap presents, you need some kind of flat-ish surface to put them on. Trust us on this. It can be anything, really. Maybe you don’t have any furniture. If your toilet still has a lid, use that. Or the floor, if it isn’t buried beneath six inches of empties and various debris. If all else fails, you can use your own body as a flat surface. Or your roommate Timmy, if you can get him to hold still. We suggest a roofie.
We’re going to let you in on a little secret: we’re not wearing pants. SORRY. What we meant to say was that the biggest challenge in wrapping presents is dealing with irregularly shaped presents (examples: puppy, machete, rotisserie chicken). But the key to dealing with them is to put them in a less weirdly shaped box. Where do you get these boxes from? We don’t know. You should probably ask someone who lives in the clean world. Mr. Man knows where to get a box. But we just make do. That cereal you had for breakfast? Hey, that came in a box. That case of beer you also had for breakfast? Box. In fact, we bet almost everything you eat came in a box: microwave popcorn, microwave pizza, microwave tater tots. Box, box, box. “But wait, How To Even,” you may be saying, “I’ve got these two boxes, but they aren’t quite big enough.” Well, make them into a mutant superbox, then, with a little love and a whole lot of duct tape (which was our prom theme, btw). Do we have to do everything for you people?
So, the office supplies you “borrowed” from work are snugly tucked into an empty Waffle-O’s box. But you’re not done yet. You have to wrap that puppy in Xmas wrapping paper. Sure, this seems like gilding the Waffle-O’s box, but without festive wrapping paper many of your giftees will think you’ve just garbaged up their living room rather than Xmas-ed them a present. The good news is that almost anything can be used as wrapping paper: utility bills, CVS receipts, animal skins, thin slices of bologna. The possibilities are endless.
Alright, now lay out your paper. Make sure to have enough to completely cover your present. It’s always easier to cut off paper than it is to add more paper. If you do have to add more paper, try to make it the same or very similar kind of paper you used before, i.e. if you’re wrapping your toddler niece’s Borbey (knock-off Barbie) in a Chinese take-out place menu, but run out of menu, maybe use a Japanese steakhouse menu to finish.
Okay, now you need some kind of tape. Duct tape works, of course; duct tape works on everything. Scotch tape (or “wuss tape” as we call it) is the usual kind, we guess because people are trying to be fancy.
What do you do if all your duct tape was needed for car repairs, or couch repairs, or to make a new pair of shoes? Or you accidentally ate it? Easy peasy feelin’ queasy. People have wrapped Xmas presents for hundreds of thousands of years before tape was invented. You can use string or — more likely — shoelaces to tie the newspaper you’ve splashed with green and red food dye. No string? Some kind of glue will do the job nicely. You might need to put some C-clamps on the package while the glue dries, but there are many kinds of traditional glues that allow you to bypass that step. include tree sap, egg whites, used gum, or strawberry jam. It depends on what kind of message you want to send.
Writing A Note
We have two words for you: drunk writing. It’s how 60% of famous authors get their novels done. (The other 40% used meth.)
Now you’ve got the thing wrapped. Try not to fall on it in a drunken stupor. Or do. Whatever. Follow your bliss.
How Did We Get Here Anyway?
Why do we even do Xmas gifts in the first place? Sure, it’s one of the nicer holiday customs, unlike, say, hiring someone to eat your sins at your funeral. What‘s the story on how this December 25 gift-giving lalapalooza got going?
This is the story. It starts millions of years ago when human beings were enslaved by the dinosaurs. You didn’t know we were once indentured servants to the dinos? Not surprising. It’s a shameful history that’s been a secret hidden from most of humanity from the beginning. Knowing that our true heritage was as pool boys and gofers for a bunch of lizards would have terminally demoralized us forever.
Back then, we humans spent our lives catering to every dino-whim. Fetching them the choicest fern fronds, scratching those hard to reach spots behind their armored heads, flossing their 7-inch dagger-teeth. But our primary duty was to deliver their precious eggs to them whenever they wanted to see them, which was about once a year.
Over time, we became convinced that our eggy duties were a sacred trust, tied to the eternal rhythms of birth and renewal. It became the center of our lives and beliefs and the beginning of what would eventually be something like some sort of religious and spiritual need or instinct in us.
So, given the primitive mental capacity we had back then, we began to copy our dino-masters, giving egg-shaped rocks to each other once a year, and eventually other things, things with actual, if nominal, value, like a favorite egg-shaped stone, or a feather, or particularly nice looking fern frond.
Before you know it, a million years had gone by. Dinosaurs had been wiped out by greed and a regressive tax structure, but we humans transmogrified our early labor experiences into holidays. Giving gifts at Xmas, and not just eggs. Doing things with eggs at Easter, and so on.
But what about evolution, you ask. Didn’t humans evolve millions of years after the last dinosaur gave up its ghost?
Well, yes and no. Of course there was evolution, and of course it was millions of years after the dinosaurs died out that we evolved…the second time! Here’s how it went down. It’s true the big thunder lizards died out — mainly because of runaway capitalism. But we lucky humans got a do-over. As the age of dinosaurs began to fade, we humans double-dog-dare-reverse-evolved down to — what else?— dino-egg-stealing mice. Then, when the coast was clear and we had the run of the veldt, we evolved back up — hominid by homind — into our present (and former!) shape. Through all those stages of evolution, the idea of exchanging eggs — or some kind of valuable thingamabob — on the Jurassic solstice was buried deep in our DNA, eventually emerging again as the tradition we now know and have mixed feelings about of exchanging gifts at this special time of the year.
Btw, those creationist theme parks where you can see bearded men in biblical robes riding T. Rex’s or herding brontosaurs to their summer feeding grounds, or milking stegosaurs to make dino-cheese? Nope. We were at T. Rex’s beck and call, mere underlings and quislings, and the creationists are so wrong about this it makes everything else that’s wrong feel just a little bit better.
Conclusion: The More You Know…
The important thing about Xmas gifts is making sure everyone knows you got them things and that makes you better than them. If they got you more expensive stuff, that just means you’re humble, not a bragging piece of shit like them, which still makes you better. But be sure to make a note of it so you can embarrass them next year. There are some who say that there are other purposes for the Xmas season, but these are the type of people who wear Xmas sweaters unironically, so we don’t listen to them.