The art of the last-minute gift |

The art of the last-minute gift

Barry Smith

Aspen, CO ColoradoSo, that person just stopped by with a Christmas gift for you, right? That person you neglected to get anything for. The one who obviously has different ideas about your relationship than you do. THAT person.Now they’re standing at your door, beaming “Merry Christmas!” brandishing a cheerfully wrapped box of guilt and awkwardness. So, what do you do? First you need to remember their name. It’s probably written on the little card, after the word “From.” You’ll need to stall for time while you pretend to casually find this card.Like this: “OOOOOOOHHHHHH, my goodnessssss! This is sooooooo thoughtful. You shouldn’t have … Thank you so much … Sears. Come on in.”Now they’re in your house. You have to offer them something to eat or drink, because that’s what you do with people you’re so close to. They sit down and you open your gift and begin to chit-chat about things. But there’s no denying what’s hanging in the air: So, where’s THEIR present?Do not panic. Instead, just follow the advice of…The ‘Irrelativity’ last-minute gift guide – extreme editionFirst of all, you’re going to have to call on all of your acting skills to pull this one off. And if you think you have no acting skills, just remember the last time you called in “sick.” Remember practicing your lines a few times, rehearsing exactly where the little coughs would go? Exactly. You can act. And you’re gonna need to act fast.First, you’ll need to feign a sudden flash of inspiration. Don’t overdo it. Say, with eyes all a-glow, “Oh, silly me, I have to give you YOUR gift! Wait right there.”(NOTE: This gift guide is only valid if you live in a multiroom dwelling. If you live in a studio, I suggest not answering your door for a full two weeks after Christmas.)Now, run into the next room to fetch their “gift.” Your mission is to find, de-personalize, wrap and deliver a makeshift gift in less than one minute. This could be noisy. If you have a stereo, announce that, oh, you HAVE to hear this song. Cue up “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” or an equally lengthy, caustic opus and turn it way up as you leave the room. If you only have an iPod, make the same announcement, pop your earbuds in their ears and crank it. Mouth the words, “This song rocks, huh?”Now go! What’s it gonna be? HURRY! Skis from the garage? No. Shoes? No. Don’t even know what size your guest wears, and no way or time to casually find out. Shampoo? Probably not. To the kitchen! A bottle of wine? No, drank them all over the past week. Silverware? Decorative platter? Trivet? Oven mitt that looks like a puppet pig head? Yes! Perfect! It’s cute and useful, the perfect combination … crap, one of the ears is burned. Think! THINK! Office supplies? Post It pad, maybe? No, everyone steals those themselves. Desk lamp? Scissors? Stapler? Lame, lame, lame. A CD? Possibly, except you last bought a new CD in 1999, and you can’t exactly give them the first White Stripes album, can you? A DVD? No, those are all from NetFlixOK, time’s a-wastin’. If you don’t scrounge something up soon, they’re gonna think you don’t fully embrace the spirit of Christmas. Cleaning supplies? Nope. Dental floss? Nope. Hand towel? Nope.It’s gonna have to be a regifting. Quickly now, sift through the stack of presents you just got for Christmas, and look for … wait a minute, what’s this? Something generic and impersonal that looks like it was given to you just to satisfy some holiday quota. Perfect! Thank God you haven’t cleaned up the pile of wrapping paper yet – you can even reuse the tape. Slap it all together. Hurry! Done! Collect yourself – you’ve got to appear calm, despite your racing heart. Here’s where your acting will come in handy again. Mop your brow and channel your inner “Oswald-casually-exiting-the-book-depository” persona as you re-enter the room.”Here ya go,” you hand them the gift. “It’s just a little something.””Wow,” they say. “It, uh … looks exactly like what I just handed you. Even the wrapping paper is the same.””I know. Uncanny, huh? Merry Christmas!”Read more on Barry’s blog,

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