Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Last minute gift ideas

Here I am to save the day with some last-minute gift ideas! Now, even though Assistant Mufasa looks super-cute all packed up in his festive holiday bag, keep in mind that a kitty is NOT a good present.

A good rule of thumb is, any gift that requires the recipient to spend more money maintaining it than you did buying it is probably a bad call. When I was twenty, a boyfriend bought me a rabbit, presumably because I said his friend's bunny was cute. Newsflash, dude: horses and dolphins are cute too but that doesn't mean I want to raise one. Needless to say, I made Boy take Bunny back to the store and that relationship fizzled shortly thereafter.

Another boy gave me a plant for my dorm room in college. Now I know what you're thinking. 'Jeez Fiona, even a PLANT was too much work for you? How lazy can you be?' (Pretty lazy.) But in my defense, his two dollar plant required immediate repotting into a five dollar pot with five bucks worth of potting soil. And then...my roommate discovered it had bugs. Not just bugs. Aphids. Do you know what aphids look like?

Your skin is crawling, isn't it? Mine is. *twitches uncontrollably* Go ahead and check your own houseplants. I'll wait here. Don't forget to check the underside of the leaves too.

Everything all right? Good. But see what sort of problems the wrong gift can cause? Now let's talk about the RIGHT gifts.

Stuff and Things

I'm not the biggest fan of physical presents that are going to clutter up my already cluttered, too-tiny apartment. But I know that some people collect stuff the way I collect passport stamps, so here are a few things to consider for the stuff-lover in your life.

1. A Galileo thermometer. I remember a few years ago when they were so stylish that you could pick one up at the corner drug store. They're a little harder to find now, but there's just something cool about a water-filled stick of glass that actually serves a purpose. Don't take my word for it, take the word of a random guy on the internet who writes "Everyone can appreciate the simple beauty of colored orbs floating in water." Sounds good to me. And keep in mind, what was cool five years ago can now be considered retro-cool.

2. One of those gradual-wake alarm clocks. I know they carry them at Bed Bath and Beyond, but those of you who prefer not to patronize megacorporations can surely find them online or at Mom & Pop stores in your neighborhood. You don't have to be a nurse like me to know that waking up gradually to soothing ocean waves is more therapeutic than being rudely jolted out of deep sleep by full-volume System of a Down.

3. Harry Potter DVDs. Now is the time to complete your collection before they pull them from the shelves and only sell them in unaffordable eight-DVD sets.


My dad was one of those guys who grumbled no matter WHAT I bought him for Christmas. I spent too much money. He didn't need it. There was nothing wrong with the shoes he'd been wearing for the last fifteen years (except that, you know, they had holes in the bottom.) Grumble, grumble, grumble. The least fun person to shop for EVER. So eventually my siblings and I got the great idea to donate to charity in Dad's name. He loved it. He especially loved getting a gift card to Kiva so that he got to pick the person he was helping and he got to keep track of the loan repayment. And then, when the loan was repaid, he got to do it all over again. Truly, the gift that keeps on giving.

I could give you a long list of awesome charities like First Book, Heifer Project, Doctors Without Borders, Ocean Conservancy, etc, but I think everyone has their own charities that they feel good about donating to, and the point isn't who you support, it's that supporting other people (or animals) feels good. 

If you're not sure though, a Kiva gift card is a really fun present, since it can be interactive if the recipient so chooses. (You're also welcome to just donate to the company's operating costs if choosing from among the thousands of possible lenders is overwhelming.)

Classes and Events

Blues games and ballets, live shows at the Pageant. Any vacation that you can imagine. Pottery classes I'll take in the spring. These are a few of my favorite things. 

The best gifts are the ones that make memories and have absolutely no chance of being infested by aphids. Hockey, football, basketball, college water polo, whatever--all but the tiniest towns have some sort of sporting events for the sports lover in your life. Take a cooking class. Take a rock climbing class. Take a weekend trip to Chicago to explore the Art Institute. His and hers massages. Buy glass-blowing lessons off of one of those Groupon-type sites. Go horseback riding or ice skating. Take your guy/girl/parent/kid to one of those Sky Zone places where you can play dodgeball and do flips.

And for the person who has everything? I recommend Hang gliding!!! (Can I come too?)

The point is, it's not too late to score an awesome present, so give that sausage and cheese tray to your boss, return the reindeer-print flannel pajama bottoms, and get shopping!


  1. I hear aphids are turning to hang-gliding as a means to get from plant to plant.

  2. Thank god I don't do house plants!! Ew ew ew!! lol

  3. Shel--Those are only rich, classy aphids so we should be safe :)

    Sara--I know, right? I still get the heebie-jeebies thinking about that plant. I currently roll with one stick of bamboo. If I need more oxygen, I'll just have to go outside.

  4. Wonderful post,Fiona.
    The first photograph got me. I honestly can't think of anything more beautiful, more wonderful, more awesome-blossom than a cat-in-a-bag. But that's just me, so I won't give you any.

  5. Thanks guys. I probably should have clarified. A kitty is not a good present for MOST people, unless you know someone super-responsible. My kitties are awesome, but they work me to the bone some days, taking turns chewing on my shoes, barfing on the rug, howling inappropriately for no reason in the middle of the night. I think I got dog-flavored cats ;)


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