Register Tuesday | January 21 | 2020

Oh Come, All Ye Baleful

A snappy roundup of this year’s must-have Xmas Xrap

Ah, the “holidays”—that magical post-Thanksgiving-pre-Christmas period when Dwight Yoakam’s Christmas album becomes ubiquitous, ladies at work start force-feeding you reindeer cookies, and the art of shilling takes on the depressing urgency of a closing fiscal year. It’s not just the shillers’ fault either—the obligation of familial and secret-Santa gift-buying transforms their stock of crap from stuff you’ve ignored for eleven-and-a-half months into giftable gold.

So what’s a lazy fuck to do? One can’t in good conscience get wasted on all the free holiday booze until one’s shopping penance has been completed—not to mention that there is all this shit out there that has been specially manufactured for holiday purchasing and if it doesn’t sell, Santa will be forced to beat baby Jesus with a Furby. Nobody wants to see that happen, so as a public service I have compiled this year’s list of compulsory Christmukah purchasables. Buy one item from each category and you will be absolved of your sins for another year. Buy them all and you will go to the special heaven filled with brown-eyed virgin Starbucks baristas.


There are several important advances in holiday decoration technology this year. Number one is the upside-down tree. This is going to be huge. Only a dipshit would want a right-side-up tree. Upside-down trees leave more room for presents, for one; more room for things! Things that you can buy! You’d have to be Scrooge McDuck to pass up on one of these babies. Also, it displays your ornaments in a much more attractive way, and it’s wacky. If you don’t have an upside-down tree in 2005, you are a communist.

You are a communist, that is, unless you ride the wave of tree-trend number two, the Charlie Brown Pathetic Tree. Just like the one from the TV special, this tree has a droopy top and a single, sad ornament. Now honestly, I can’t imagine this being your primary tree—where would you put the presents? The holidays aren’t about feeling sad about animated anti-heroes, they’re about buying lots and lots of presents. It would perhaps be best employed as a supplementary decoration, possibly as part of Peanuts-based nativity scene.

In addition, you’ll need some kind of outdoor light display—according to my sources, icicle lights are out and bubble lights are in. Also, lawn ornaments are hot, hot, hot. You could go with the classic Santa/sleigh/reindeer formula, but why not make your neighbours jealous with a “teddy bear’s Christmas” or a singing nativity? This is your time to let your creativity run wild.


After perusing the eBay forums dedicated to the creepy present vultures who buy up local stocks of hot toys and sell them at exorbitant prices to desperate parents, I’ve discovered that the big gifts this year are the Xbox 360 for boys and the Amazing Amanda doll for girls. The Xbox 360 is like a regular xBox only it’s more expensive and it doesn’t play all of the old games—which sounds like a winner—and Amazing Amanda talks in some way that is Amazing. You can tell she’s hot shit with the pre-teen chicks (and confused pre-teen boys) because she retails for a hundred bucks—and that’s before the eBay vulture markup. It strikes me that kids’ toys are noticeably more expensive these days. I’m glad that today’s parents love America enough to shell out a hundred bucks for a doll. We live in amazing times. There is also a new Elmo that is nowhere near as exciting as the Tickle-Me variety.

For the adult nerds in your life, you’re either going to need the Holiday 2005 Edition Darth Vader action figure or the l33t Scrabble tiles. Don’t ask, just buy. Keep in mind that if you’re going with Vader, they’ll need two—one for them to play with and one to preserve in mint condition. Other, more normal grownups might enjoy one of Apple’s many fine products for playing music. Starting in fiscal year 2006 it will be illegal not to have a minimum of two different-sized iPods on your person at all times so why not give your loved ones a head start? I understand that Steve Jobs’s re-education camps will be operational come January 1.

According to Jeff over at, this year’s most exciting gift items are a grossly oversized chocolate bar and a foot-and-a-half-tall alarm clock. Those are going to sell out fast, I suspect, particularly if someone tips off the forum folks at eBay. Best to get Grandma’s giant chocolate bar now, before you have to pay some online extortionist for it. Please allow me to also suggest the “Lefties are Beary Special” plush toy for southpaws; “You Don’t Wanna Cross Santa,” LawTunes’s newest compilation of humorous lawyer-centric Christmas rock ’n’ roll hits; or the hilarious half-eaten cookie-shaped cookie cutter.


It just wouldn’t be the holiday season without Starbucks. Beyond the pumpkin spice latte, the eggnog latte and the mint-mocha latte, their product line runs the holiday-themed drink gamut. Take home a bag of Christmas Blend coffee. And a Snowflake cookie. And a holiday mini-brownie. They also have special Crème Frappuccinos for the season. In fact, just call home and tell Mom to fuck the ham because Starbucks is cooking Christmas dinner this year. Don’t fight it—fighting it will only earn you a venti bitch-slap. The Bucks owns your holiday.

And there you have it, kids. Your handy-dandy xmas xrap buying guide. Purchase early, purchase often, and don’t forget to get caught up in the magic of the season.

Audrey Ference tries her darndest to keep up with what the kids are into these days. Her column appears every two weeks. Read other recent columns by Audrey Ference.