Posts tagged ‘Christmas’

December 21st, 2011

5 Last-Minute, Mostly Handmade, Gifts For Under $10

by Venomous Kate

Are you avoiding your phone, turning down invitations, and refusing to answer the door rather than get caught without a gift for someone at the last minute? If you’re willing to shell out for overnight shipping, it’s not too late to shop from my list of 10 Types of Great Gifts for Under $20.

But maybe, like so many of us, you’re in the giving spirit but so strapped for money you feel you can’t afford anything nice? Don’t fret. Here are five last-minute, mostly handmade gifts you can put together for under $10 a piece, and I’m not talking crap that someone will throw away, either!

1. A luxurious spa set for your lady friends.

Whip up some Gingerbread Body Scrub with a few spices from your kitchen, a neutral oil (olive oil works!) and some brown sugar for under $1. In another bowl, shake the same spices together with 1 lb. of Epsom salts ($1.50). Put both in pretty containers, print or write a nice tag, and put them in a box or basket with a loofah ($3) and a pretty ivory-colored pillar candle ($3) from Wal-mart. Voila, a treat for the senses and skin!

2. An art set for creative kids.

Pick up crayons ($0.50), watercolor paints ($1.00), and a ream of blank paper ($3.90) from the dollar store. While you’re there, grab five or six packets of unsweetened Kool-Aid or similar drink mix ($0.10 each). Make a batch of Kool-Aid Playdough and package it in small containers which you can get at the dollar store for $0.50, or well-scrubbed jars. (I save jars from pimientos and marinated artichoke hearts all year for this.) Put them all together in a box or basket and present it to the little artist to keep him/her entertained for hours.

3. Goodies for Guys.

They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Guess what? The way to making him happy on Christmas starts there, too! If you’ve got a guy you need an inexpensive gift for, it’s as simple as finding a large container (oatmeal containers are perfect for this) or picking one up from the store. Make a batch of microwave fudge and some microwave peanut brittle. (Note: if he or anyone in his household has a peanut allergy, make the brittle with some other kind of nut like cashews, or even shelled sunflower seeds!) Alternate layers of them in the container, separating each with some wax paper, and put a label on it that declares it’s all his, because if there’s one thing guys like more than goodies it’s not having to share them!

4. Cocoa for Co-Eds.

College kids are a hungry lot, but many of their dorms don’t allow any kind of cooking more complicated than using a microwave. Know how many would turn down a box filled with yummy things to suit those midnight munchies? None! So whip up a batch of homemade cocoa mix (ingredients cost $4.70) and put it in a pretty jar. In a second jar, combine a box of angel food cake mix with a box of chocolate cake mix ($2.75), then attach a printed card telling them how to make Cake in a Cup by adding 1/3 cup of the cake mix and 3 tbsp. of water in a large coffee mug sprayed with Pam and microwave it for 90 seconds. Bonus points if you throw in a pretty mug for them to use, too!

5. Pamper The Parents.

Oh, sure, everyone knows how tough it is for couples to take time off from their roles as parents and reconnect with each other. And, of course, we all make noises about how important that is, but unless the couple has family living nearby or a reliable babysitter (do those even exist?), it’s just a lot of empty talk. So imagine how much the pair would appreciate if you gave them a $25 gift voucher (that’ll only set you back $10) from Restaurant.com to a nearby dining spot AND you insisted on watching their kids while they went out for a nice dinner together… alone. As a mom who hasn’t had a Date Night with my husband in almost two years now, trust me, a gift like that is worth its weight in diamonds. Really!

 
 

December 21st, 2011

5 Creepy Christmas Carols That Aren’t Jolly At All

by Venomous Kate

We listen to a lot of Christmas carols here in the Venomous Household, starting Thanksgiving night. They play while we haul out and decorate the Christmas tree. They’re on throughout the hours I spend in the kitchen baking Christmas cookies and giftable goodies. I listen to them every evening as I sit in front of the fire, reading, while VH watches yet another football game or rerun of the X-Files.

But, despite the abundance of stations in our area that insist on playing nothing but Christmas music throughout the month of December, I refuse to listen to them on the car radio. Why? Because, as a person who actually pays attention to lyrics rather than just humming along, there are so very many crappy Christmas tunes that irritate the hell out of me. In fact, I’ve been known to leap over cats and small items of furniture in my dash across the room to stop these tunes from playing, they irritate me that much.

1. Baby it’s Cold Outside

Her: “I simply must go.” Him: “Baby, it’s cold outside.”
Her: “The answer is no.” Him: “Ooh baby, it’s cold outside.”
Her: “This welcome has been…. (Him: “I’m lucky that you dropped in!) …so nice and warm.
Him: “Look out the window at that storm.”
Her: “My sister will be suspicious.” Him:”Man, your lips look so delicious.”
Her: “My brother will be there at the door.” Him:”Waves upon a tropical shore.”
Her: “My maiden aunt’s mind is vicious.” Him: “Gosh your lips are delicious.”
Her: “Well maybe just a half a drink more….”

Seriously, Bub, she said the answer was NO and the conversation should’ve ended there. But what happens instead? Guy starts creepin’ on girl and, already possessing slutty inclinations (notice how she dropped in at his place, uninvited) she starts changing her mind then asks for booze to justify giving in to him. It’s the theme song for horny frat boys and the slutty college girls who can’t handle their liquor! Not surprisingly, it was written by Dean Martin who pretty much embodied a horny, drunken frat boy all the way until his death at 78,

2. It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

It’s the most wonderful time of the year,
With the kids jingle belling
And everyone telling you “Be of good cheer”.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year.
It’s the hap-happiest season of all,
With those holiday greetings and gay happy meetings
When friends come to call —
It’s the hap- happiest season of all!

Kids ringing bells all over the place? That is NOT my idea of a wonderful time of the year. In fact, it’s pretty much my idea of hell. Oh, and being instructed to “be of good cheer” regardless of what someone might be going through? Last I checked, having one’s feelings and experiences negated and dismissed by others is one of the causes of low self-esteem and, ultimately, severe clinical depression. If that’s how the songwriters, Eddie Pola and George Wyle, treated their loved ones this time of year, I can only assume they were horribly toxic, superficial people.

3. Walking In A Winter Wonderland

In the meadow we can build a snowman
Then pretend he is Parson Brown.
He’ll say are you married? We’ll say, “No, man.
But you can do the job when you’re in town.”

Apparently, nothing says “I love you” around this time of year quite like deciding to hold a mock marriage ceremony officiated by a golem made out of ice. Unless, perhaps, it’s later pretending after the ceremony that the snowman is now a circus clown but who cares if you’ve already consummated your marriage with a roll in the snow, right?

4. Santa Baby

Santa baby, forgot to mention one little thing: a ring.
I don’t mean a phone,
Santa baby, and hurry down the chimney tonight!

Oh, the ways this song annoys me!* The woman demands a fur coat, a convertible, a yacht, the deed to a platinum mine, all because she hasn’t been as much of a whore this year as she could have been? Who the hell would want to put a ring on that finger?!

*(Yes, yes, I know Eartha Kitt was iconic, her life a true rags-to-riches (back to rags) story, a unique talent, blah blah blah. Sorry, but I can’t stand her voice. And Madonna’s cover of it is no better…plus it requires listening to Madonna.)

5. Frosty The Snowman

He was made of snow,
But the children know
How he came to life one day:
There must’ve been some magic in that old silk hat they found.
For, when they placed it on his head,
he began to dance around…

You probably figured I’d mention “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” (“He sees you when you’re sleeping… *insert heavy breathing here*). Sorry, but that song gave me great parenting leverage to get my Big-Eyed Boy to behave himself from Thanksgiving to Christmas, leverage that I lost as soon as some snot-nosed kid at school told him the facts about Santa.

Nope, if there’s a creepy Christmas song that is guaranteed to freak me out, it’s this tune about an mob of unsupervised children who fashion a man out of snow and bring him to life, undoubtedly through some dark magic using that hat as its focusing object, and then they proceed to follow their snowy idol down to the town square where they cause all sorts of mayhem until the traffic cop tries to catch Frosty, who quickly makes a run for it. Think I’m exaggerating the creepiness? Then check this out, but don’t say I didn’t warn you!

 

December 19th, 2011

10 Types of Great Last-Minute Gifts Under $20

by Venomous Kate

If you haven’t finished your Christmas shopping, time is running out! You probably know that already, so what’s stopping you from finishing your gift list? Okay, so maybe money is tight or you’re too busy to trudge through the mall. No worries, I’ve got you covered! Well, not the money aspect, mind you, but you only need $20 (or less) for these great gifts. And, thanks to blessing of free two-day shipping, they’ll be there on time if you order TODAY!

1. For Kindle Owners – Know someone who owns a Kindle? Then why not stock their library with a selection of free or nearly free Kindle books?

2. For Coffee Lovers: Want to produce a Pavlovian response in a coffee lover? Whisper “Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee” and watch them drool. Better yet, give them a pound of the stuff ($9.99). Like them a lot? Then throw in an Aerolatte To Go milk frother ($12.77) so they don’t have to keep shelling out tips to that surly barista with the scraggly goatee.

3. For Playful Thinkers: Sure, you could give them a subscription to Mental Floss magazine, but at $21.97, that would exceed the $20 limit, wouldn’t it? Why not give the gift of Mastermind, the challenging board game we all remember from childhood? Yep, it’s still just as tough, and it’s still just $14.99.

4. For Those Without Taste: You know who I’m talking about — Uncle Bob, who still tries to get you to pull his finger even though you figured out 37 years ago what a bad idea that is, or maybe Eugene in Accounting who doesn’t understand why everyone teases him for wearing both suspenders and a belt to hold up his pleated jeans on Casual Friday. These are the folks who’d love something like a toilet-shaped coffee mug ($11.99), a grenade-shaped screwdriver set ($5.36) or a nightlight shaped like a leg ($14.95). (Yep, a smaller version of the one in A Christmas Story (Two-Disc Special Edition DVD).) ($13.99)

5. For Tired, Stressed-Out Women (or whiny teenaged girls): Ask any overworked woman what she’s most in need of and you’re likely to get one of two answers: (1) a drink; or (2) some “me” time. Chances are, if she’s that stressed out, she probably has plenty of booze on hand. So take care of the “me” time with the Spa Sister Absolute Night Luxury gift set ($19.50) that includes slippers, an eye mask, body scrub, foot lotion and lip balm, all in a cute little case.

6. For Wine Lovers: I know, I know, it’s hard for me to believe that people don’t always finish a bottle of wine, too! But for those who don’t — or who just like to pretend they can’t — the Vacu Vin wine saver set with 4 stoppers ($18.68) lets them keep the good stuff fresh.

7. For Yoga Fans: Know what’s worse than feeling your feet slip out from beneath you as you’re doing Downward Dog in a class full of skinny, bendy people? NOTHING! That’s why I love these all grip yoga socks with pink dots ($9.61), which are not only cute but give great grip, too. At that price, why not combine it with a thirsty yoga towel ($9.58) because, no matter what people think, yoga really does make a gal sweat!

8. For Kids With Cabin-Fever (or who need to stop trying to watch Johnny Test when you need some sofa time to get away from the rest of the family): give ‘em a Chinese jump rope ($5.35) and watch that energy burn. Oh, sure, you may get that old chant “in, out, side-by-side” stuck in your head, but it’s a small price to pay for possession of the remote control. Want to keep them busier even longer? Throw in a skip ball ($13.15) and send ‘em outdoors!

9. For Couples Without Kids: Okay, so they don’t get to wake up before dawn on Christmas morning to watch their kids gleefully rip through mountains of gifts, tossing each one aside with barely a glance as they reach for the next. Know what couples without kids do on Christmas morning? Each other. Help them keep that Christmas morning spirit alive the rest of the year with sexy refrigerator magnet poetry. ($14.95) Too silly? Fine, give them an inflatable “position master” pillow (NSFW) instead. ($18.01)

10. For People Who Are Exactly Like Me And Live At My Address: They’ll be happy with just about anything from this list. Trust me on that!

 
 
 

December 18th, 2011

A Glimpse At My Christmas To Do List

by Venomous Kate

With just one week left until Christmas, my husband and I have been busy all weekend working on our respective To Do lists. Now that I’ve put our lists on the same page, I can understand why!

How I'm spending the weekend before Christmas

So, you know why Santa says “Ho, Ho, Ho!” around this time each year? It’s not that he’s laughing. Oh, no. He’s reminding husbands of the only person who’ll have the energy for sex after their wives have spent the weekend working themselves ragged while they watched football.