The holidays are a difficult time for many. Some of us are too sad to celebrate; others of us are too broke to buy gifts; still others are just jerks with bad attitudes and no reason to be mad. To all of these groups I say: Get over it! Your friends, your family, your dog, your boss, your teacher — I’m not going to continue, because really, it’s everyone — are going to be expecting mucho loot from you. And boy is there pressure to deliver.
When you’re frugal-minded and/or strapped for cash, gift-giving poses a quandary. Do you forgo presents in order to protest the twisted notion that material goods equal love? Do you pretend you “forgot” what month it is? Do you open a new credit card and buy everyone you know a personalized surfboard? No. None of these options are acceptable, because you’ve tried them all before and your loved ones have grown wise to your schemes.
People own all kinds of useless, expensive garbage: gold bookends in the shape of pineapples, a pair of dress shoes one size too small, yachts, “tech.” Instead, how about buying them some reasonably priced stuff that they don’t know they want but will always need? You — a humble dirtbag with only a few bucks and some change to spare — can provide your loved ones with this wonderful service without draining the piggy bank.
Thank me later.
In the wintertime, all kinds of extremities come out of the woodwork to say “we’re dry now.” Eyelids are dry, elbows are dry, hair is dry. Vaseline will come to the rescue. And it has the added benefit of being useful in dozens of other ways. For example: You can polish shoes with it. Bet you didn’t know that.
There is a widespread and wrongheaded notion that you shouldn’t give socks for Christmas because they are “a horrible gift.” Au contraire — no person on earth can ever have enough socks, especially considering how frequently one misplaces them. Just make sure to buy incredibly practical ones or perhaps ones with cool little stripes and a shark illustration.
I assume you cook (and if you don’t, how are you eating food …) and therefore you know that a pair of tongs is the best gift you can give anyone, anytime, anywhere. Mix up pasta. Pick up meat. Touch things that are too hot to touch. Take a bay leaf out of soup. Tongs — the Swiss Army knife of the kitchen. And cheap to boot!
One thing New Yorkers will never hesitate to remind you is that our tap water is some of the “best in the world.” As a New Yorker, I’d have to agree. Want to share this unique experience with your aunt in New Mexico without asking her to shell out big bucks to come visit? Send her home-brewed New York City tap water in an old Poland Spring bottle that you were going to recycle anyway. Ah, straight from the source.
Free, from your home.
I drop my phone so much it’s like I have convinced myself I’m made of money!!! Allow your friends to be convinced that they, too, are made of money by buying them a screen protector for their phones. Drop that $700 mini-computer whenever you like. This bad boy is here to serve and protect.
While it may be tempting to splurge on a nice item of clothing for one of your favorite people, think about the risk involved: What if they hate it? What if they think it was too expensive and that makes them uncomfortable? What if it’s the wrong size? What if it turns out you have bad taste? A good middle ground is to buy them one (1) white T-shirt. Less pressure, basically can’t go wrong.
Artisanal pancakes. Buckwheat waffles. Biscuits made with grass harvested from Greenwood Cemetery. No, thank you. What every household needs — especially in case of an extreme event such as a snowstorm or Donald Trump tweeting out the nuclear codes — is a box of Bisquick, gathering dust in the back of a cabinet. Just knowing it’s there is a much-needed comfort.
If there is one luxury that everyone — dirtbag, cleanbag, richbag, or none of the above — deserves, it is a robe. And weirdly, it’s one of the few items of clothing that no one really thinks to buy for themselves. It’s too luxurious to just go out to the store and buy yourself a robe! Who are you, Elon Musk? Instead, do your gift recipient a favor and buy a robe for them. It’s pricier than the Vaseline, sure — but perhaps you will be rewarded with a robe of your own in exchange. Then it cancels itself out. Free robe.
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