Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Holiday Post 2007, Part One

Well folks, it's that time of year again when I take this moment to wish all of you out there a happy holiday season. Apparently this is becoming a bit of a tradition for me now (see 2005 and 2006). Whatever holiday you choose to celebrate, or more than one, or none at all, may it be a safe, happy, and peaceful time. Just to cover my bases, here is what the lawyers (if I had any) would probably allow me to say. Here is, once again, the legalistic holiday greeting (modified for this year, with a hat tip to the Super's Blog):

From Your Lawyer Friends:

"Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, our best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low-stress, non-addictive, gender-neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasion and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all. We also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2008, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make America great. Not to imply that America is necessarily greater than any other country nor the only America in the Western Hemisphere. And without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith or sexual preference of the wishee. By accepting these greetings you are accepting these terms. This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal. It is freely transferable with no alteration to the original greeting. It implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes for herself or himself or others, and is void where prohibited by law and is revocable at the sole discretion of the wisher. This wish is warranted to perform as expected within the usual application of good tidings for a period of one year or until the issuance of a subsequent holiday greeting, whichever comes first, and warranty is limited to replacement of this wish or issuance of a new wish at the sole discretion of the wisher."

Since I will be taking some time off from the blog sometime soon to enjoy the holiday with the family, I am leaving you with this collection of odds and ends I have recently found related to the holidays, with my snarky commentary here and there. Given that I found a lot of good stuff, we can actually afford to make this a three-part blog celebration. I hope you find some of them useful, entertaining, thought-provoking, funny, etc.

So here goes Part One:

First, one I have been saving for a while, and a new one.

  • Last year, I forgot to include this item about those holiday letters some of our distant relatives send to us. You know the ones. These are the various family newsletters that to be honest we probably don't care much about. Why? Because we probably have no clue who half of those people are anyways. Joshua Glenn, writing for the Boston Globe, takes on this topic and points to some parody newsletter examples. (Found via the Obscure Store and Reading Room).If you need some ideas on what gifts to buy (what do you mean you are not done shopping yet? What the heck are you waiting for?)
  • By the way, this year, Michael McGrorty has his take on those pesky newsletters as well. Go read "In Your Mailbox Soon" to see his version.
Here are some places where you can get some ideas for your holiday shopping needs.

  • NotCot has been putting out a list of presents for every day of the Christmas season. Maybe you want to check it out. (A hat tip to YesButNoButYes blog).
  • The Laughing Librarian offers a pretty big Holiday Gift Guide. See if you find some humorous or offbeat ideas there.
  • Lifehacker also has a holiday Gift Guide 2007. They even break it down by price range.
  • Are you stuck doing one of those workplace gift exchanges? From Wired's How To Wiki, "Choose Gifts for Office Parties."
  • Now, how about your child's teacher? Yep, if you want to show some appreciation for the person who puts up with your rug rat on most days (yep, it's a fact, children do spend more time at school than at home), then you may want to read this first before you decide on a present. The Washington Post had an article on December 15, 2007 related to "Teacher's Pet Peeve: Useless Gifts." The bottom line folks, try to be a little thoughtful in that regard. It's the least you can do for those who educate your children. (found via the Obscure Store and Reading Room. The comments there are, shall we say, priceless?)
  • On using gift cards. I think the author on the next piece may be way too harsh on those that use them. See link here. Anyhow, at least one party may be happy for gift cards, and that is the National Retail Federation. They recently reported that the "Number of Holiday Returns Decreasing Partially Due to Gift Card Popularity." Is this really surprising? It is known that gift cards are a good deal for retailers anyhow, especially when people lose them, forget to use them, or the cards expire. Why? Because the retailers already got the money anyhow. Always remember to use the gift card if you got one. If you are buying one, check the terms on it.
  • On some gifts, you may as well buy used. However, there are some gifts you definitely should not buy used. Learn the difference and go from there. Personally, I happen to like buying used books. A gift card to a place like Half Price Books always makes me happy (even if I have to drive a longer distance now to get to one).
  • And if you must regift. Actually, according to the article, it is more common than you think. Personally, could be ok, if you do it right.
  • Of course, if you did buy a present, chances are you have to wrap it up. I will admit that I am not the greatest gift wrapper, but I get by. Anyhow, here is some advice on how to wrap a present from WikiHow. The guide is very specific and includes photos. Step One is the most obvious: remove the price tags.
  • And just in case you have not gotten enough of the news on the holiday season and retail, here is a lot of coverage from MSNBC (I am sure you can find even more if you go to other news sites).
  • Finally, if your shopping needs go more into the adult and sexy, the Village Voice features Pucker Up's Eighth Annual Sexy Gift Guide. (first link is the site providing some of the ideas. The second is the article itself). If you offend easily or this is just not your thing, then don't click. If on the other hand, you are on the adventuresome side, go for it.
Perhaps the holiday season is one for nostalgia.

  • Check out some of the old Sears Wish Books here. I am sure a few of you remember those? I know I got a lot of ideas for what I wanted for Christmas as a child from them. They had great playsets for Star Wars for one.
Some items on safety because I do want all of you out there to be safe:

  • Beware holiday scams. The vultures are all over the place during the holidays. Don't fall for their scams.
  • If you have children, odds are good you are buying toys. The toy recalls have been all over the headlines. may be able to provide some help in choosing toys. They feature a search option for toys. For more information on the recalls, you can also see the report of the U.S. PIRG (Public Interest Research Groups) entitled "Trouble in Toyland: the 22nd Annual Survey of Toy Safety" (link leads to the press release. You then have the option to download the full report at the site).
Make sure you come back for Part Two of our Holiday Post 2007. Happy Holidays!

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