The Functionality of Gift Guides, From Cheap-o To Cadillac

williams sonoma christmas catalogMany of us prefer not to go broke over the holidays simply because we have to buy gifts for everyone from parents-in-law to our kids’ teachers. And, because capitalism abhors a vacuum even more than nature does, supposedly helpful low-priced gift guides abound.

But it can be hard to find gift guides that actually inspire. Here’s one, for example, from Elle: 30 chic gifts under $30. Some of its suggestions are kind of blah (wooden bracelets; a make-up towel; a candle in a tin). Others are too personal to get for anyone unless you know them really well, in which case why are you spending as little as possible on them (pajama shorts).

It partly redeems itself later, though, with the inclusion of this shiny, skull-shaped bank via Dormify.

creepy skull bank gift

Is its purpose to remind us that the only two constants in life are death and taxes? Who knows. It’s more interesting than a Madewell pouch, anyway.

I’m also bewildered but charmed by these shot glasses. shot glasses gift

L’chaim?

Refinery29 chimes in with a list of 50 under $50 and right away their suggestions are at least more fun to consider. I mean, yes, they also have a couple of candles.

What is it with candles? Candles are the most boring thing one person can give another. “Here, take this. It’s made of wax.” “Thank you for this drippy, impermanent gift. I will put it with the other seventy-three candles I have accumulated as presents over my long life of being female.”

But they have fun stuff too, including a bag of marbles, a retro air-popped popcorn popper, and a cool looking pitcher. If you’d like to drop $45 on a pot-themed ashtray, they’ve got you covered, too.

If you’d prefer to go all out this season, then there’s really only one choice: the Williams-Sonoma Christmas Catalog, as annotated by the good dyspeptic folks at Deadspin.

Sample gift: a bar cart.

Copy: “Features a steel frame, inset glass shelves, and high gallery rails to secure glassware in transit.”

Drew Says: That’s a thousand bucks for a bar cart. How could I possibly need this unless I live in the coach section of an airplane? Furniture is already a gigantic ripoff, and that’s for USEFUL shit like couches and chairs. Fragile glasses and whiskey bottles were not meant to be wheelable. My guests don’t need that extra flourish. They’re not invalids. They can make the 10-foot trip to the damn bar. GET UP AND GET YOUR OWN GIMLET, BRADLEY.

My advice? Read through in a state of fascinated horror, and then buy everyone who requires a relatively low-priced gift a book.

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