Alaska Life

Dave Barry gift guide for 2019: No one will want any of these things

The holiday season is upon us once again, and there’s “something special” in the air. Specifically, it’s the sound — you cannot escape it, especially at the mall — of high-pitched voices shrieking “rum-pa-pum-pum” over and over and OVER until you want to stuff a festive holiday fruitcake deep into your ear canals.

At least that is our reaction. Don't get us wrong: We love the holidays. Really. We just happen to dislike the traditional holiday song "The Little Drummer Boy," because it is tedious, repetitive, wildly overplayed and above all — we do our best to put this delicately — stupid.

Consider the situation from the point of view of the Virgin Mary. You have just given birth. In a manger. With livestock. You are probably not in a festive mood. What you want is rest and quiet for you and your newborn child.

Then a little boy shows up. He is a poor boy, and according to the lyrics he has no gift to bring. Fine! You and your infant do not need a gift. What you need — this bears repeating — is rest and quiet. But no, this little boy is determined that his gift will be to PLAY HIS DRUM.

The song does not explain why the boy, if he is so poor, has a drum. Was it common, in Biblical times, for poor children to carry around musical instruments? Is the boy in a band? Does he play in a trio with the Little Piano Boy and the Little Bass Boy at the Bethlehem Ramada Inn?

The song does not answer these questions. The song simply asserts that the boy played his drum, and that — this is a direct quote — "the ox and lamb kept time." Which raises the question: HOW, exactly, did the ox and lamb keep time? Did the lamb bleat to the beat? Did the ox clack its hooves together, or chew its cud rhythmically? Do oxen even have cuds?

Again, these questions go unanswered. Instead, the little drummer boy informs us that the baby Jesus responded to his performance by smiling. We hate to burst anyone's bubble, but if that happened, with a newborn infant, it was not because the infant enjoyed being drummed at from close range. That was gas.


But we have gone on too long about the flaws of "The Little Drummer Boy."

Let's not waste any more of our time on how bad it is (namely, very bad).

Let us move on to another tradition that comes around every year at this time whether people want it to or not: our Holiday Gift Guide.

This is not a typical gift guide, the kind that features gifts that people might actually want to receive. This guide features a very special kind of gift — the kind that, when you give it to a person, causes that person to sincerely wonder what he or she ever did to you.

Note that all the gifts in this guide are real. You can actually buy them. We know this because we here at the Gift Guide did buy them, although of course we did not use our own money. We may be tasteless, but we are not stupid.

Each item in this guide was subjected to a rigorous testing procedure in which we open the box, examine the item and shake our heads in quiet despair. It is because of this rigorousness that we are able to offer you our Holiday Gift Guide Guaranteed Legal Warranty Promise of Complete Customer Satisfaction: If you purchase any item from this guide, and you are not completely satisfied, simply wipe your fingerprints off the item, wrap it in chains and drop it into any major body of water under the cover of darkness. We will take it from there.

With those words of reassurance, let us turn to the items that made the cut for this year's Holiday Gift Guide, starting with:


$6.95 plus shipping and handling from

Suggested by Christina Robertson of Stanwood, Washington, and John Lobert of Cary, North Carolina

This item is a "must-have" for the fashion-conscious individual on your gift list who wants to be protected from the rain and at the same time look like he or she is wearing one of those those cones that veterinarians use to keep dogs from licking themselves.

This garment, which is made from 100% genuine sticky plastic, is basically a hood, which goes over the wearer's head, attached to a plastic disc approximately three feet in diameter, which protects the wearer's body while leaving the wearer's hands free to make gestures, which is something the wearer will probably be doing often if he or she wears this garment in public.

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$24.95, plus shipping and handling from

Suggested by Craig Roberts of Meridian, Idaho

This exciting and fun gift idea is a "new wrinkle" on the old classic board game Monopoly. Instead of being based on Atlantic City, N.J., Idaho-opoly, as the name suggests, is based on Newark, N.J.

No, seriously, Idaho-opoly" is based on Idaho, which is a state famous for potatoes, as well as many other famous attractions that are not coming to our mind right now. To play Idaho-opoly, you choose one of the tokens — which include a hiking boot, a trout and of course a potato — and then take turns rolling the dice and proceeding around the board buying properties and collecting rents, while trying to avoid picking up a penalty card such as (this is an actual Idaho-opoly card) "YOU ATE TOO MANY CHOCOLATE COVERED HUCKLEBERRIES! Lose 1 turn." Ha ha!


If that doesn't sound like a big old wad of fun, we don't know what does. This is a gift that will keep the youngsters enchanted from the moment they unwrap it to the moment, approximately one nanosecond later, when they move on to the next gift.

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$34.95, plus shipping and handling from

Suggested by John Lobert of Cary, North Carolina

If you're like most people, and you own a chicken, you are constantly tormented by the nagging worry that your chicken is not having enough recreational fun. That is why this item is the perfect gift for you or for the special chicken-owner on your holiday list. This is a swing designed specifically for chickens. According to the manufacturer, its "patented design allows the chicken to pump the swing."

This means that, at last, your chicken will have something to do besides standing around pecking things. Imagine the happiness this swing will bring! The expression on your chicken's face will tell you all you need to know.

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$10.99 plus shipping and handling from


Suggested by Peter Metrinko, Jane Linderman of Kenai, Alaska, and John Lobert of Cary, North Carolina

Waist packs are practical, but many people refuse to wear them because they (the waist packs) are dowdy and unattractive. But what if you had a waist pack that didn't LOOK like a waist pack? What if it was virtually invisible?

That's the idea behind the Dadbag, which is a waist pack cleverly disguised as a pale hairy pot belly, the kind that Dad develops after a decade or so of zero sit-ups and several thousand beers. Once strapped on, the Dadbag becomes an undetectable secret hiding place for your possessions. That's why this is the official waist pack of the Central Intelligence Agency.

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$29.95 plus shipping and handling from

Suggested by RD Drysdale of Anaheim, California

Probably the biggest single problem facing us, as a species, is what to do with our beverage container when we are standing around at parties. Finally, we have a solution in the form of the Bev Buckle.

This is a large heavy metal belt buckle that flips down to form a little shelf that holds your bottle or can, leaving your hands free to eat, make balloon animals, etc. But it's not just practical: The Bev Buckle will enhance the appearance of any outfit whose appearance would be enhanced by a large heavy flip-down belt buckle. The Bev Buckle has appeared on the popular TV show "Shark Tank," which should tell you something.

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$29.99, plus shipping and handling from

Suggested by John Lobert of Cary, North Carolina

Childhood is a time of innocent fantasy – the happy, naive belief that some day you will grow up and survive the coming zombie apocalypse. It's a beautiful sentiment, and that's why this gift idea is perfect for the young person on your holiday gift list. This is a toy that... OK, let's let the words on the packaging describe it: "It's panic time – the only hope for 'normal living folk' vs. attacking zombie hoards is ZOMBIE ROADKILL ESCAPE, with lethal 360-degree rotating 'crane decapitator.'"


Apparently when the zombie apocalypse comes, humanity will no longer be able to distinguish between a "horde" and a "hoard." But let us not nitpick about the packaging of this toy. Let us instead imagine the joy it will bring to a special child on your holiday gift list, who will spend countless happy hours, as children have for generations, beheading zombies with a rotating crane decapitator. For that, truly, is what the holiday season is all about.

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$29.99, plus shipping and handling from

Suggested by John Lobert of Cary, North Carolina

This is the perfect item for the guy or gal on your gift list who is proud, perhaps a little too proud, of his or her physique. This is a one-piece garment made of stretchy material so thin that you could fit the whole thing, wadded up, into an Advil capsule. This makes for a very snug fit.

Q. How snug is it?


A. As snug as the swimsuit on Michelangelo's statue of David.

Q. But the David statue is naked.

A. Exactly.

In addition to revealing the wearer's anatomy in clinical detail, this swimsuit boasts a large image of hideous Marvel Comics supervillain Thanos grinning fiendishly. So altogether this garment makes for a striking visual package (Har!) that, when worn poolside or at the beach, is bound to attract attention. We mean from the police.

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$16.99 plus shipping and handling from

Suggested by Karen Lassman

Here's a great gift for the business executive on your holiday list who wants to look sharp and at the same time be protected from damage. This is a two-piece suit made entirely out of plastic bubble wrap. Needless to say, it looks great, and you can just imagine how comfortable it is, especially on a hot day.

But the real benefit of this suit is the way it cushions the wearer in the event that—this happens far too often, in today's hectic business world—the wearer is sealed in a cardboard box that is handled carelessly by delivery persons. But this suit is not merely protective: It makes a strong impression at business meetings, especially when the wearer takes a seat, filling the room with the authoritative sound of bubbles popping. Imagine the level of respect.

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$19.59, plus shipping and handling from

Suggested by John Lobert of Cary, North Carolina

Do you have a "brainy" intellectual on your holiday gift list? The kind of person who enjoys mentally challenging activities such as Scrabble and chess? If so, this is the gift for that person.

Flushin' Frenzy is a game of skill and strategy, wherein players try to unclog a "stopped-up toilet" by taking turns pushing a plunger until the poop pops up. "POOP there it is!" states the box. "Be the first to grab it and score points!" Ha ha! What strategic fun! It is no wonder that Flushin' Frenzy is the official party game of Mensa.

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$16.98 plus shipping and handling from

Suggested by John Lobert of Cary, North Carolina

Here is the ideal gift for anybody on your holiday gift list who finds the Flushin' Frenzy game too intellectually challenging. The Chow Crown game consists of a motorized "crown" that you assemble yourself (allow six hours) which has forks dangling from it. You stick pieces of food on the forks, place the crown on the player's head, then start the motor, causing the forks to rotate around the player's head while a song plays.

The goal is for the player to eat as many pieces of food as possible before the song ends. Take our word for it: If you were to rank all the games on the market featuring musical head-mounted food-spinning devices, this game would be in there somewhere. And we do not say that lightly.

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$10.99, plus shipping and handling from

Suggested by Dan Given of Forest Hill, Texas

We love our phones, and we need to look at them all the time. Tragically, however, we are sometimes forced to use both of our hands for non-phone-related activities, such as driving, holding infants, performing brain surgery, etc. This means that there can be situations in which entire seconds pass during which we cannot see our phone screens.

And that is why everyone on our holiday gift list needs this neck-mounted phone holder. Thanks to its revolutionary hands-free design, you can ALWAYS have your phone right in front of your face, where it belongs. You can be in constant touch with the people you love, unless they are physically standing in front of you, in which case your phone will block them from view. But you can see their texts.

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$17.99, plus shipping and handling from and $18.99 at

Suggested by John Lobert of Cary, North Carolina

The problem with ordinary nose hair trimmers is that they lack flair. This is why we are reluctant to use them in public. Instead we sneak into the bathroom to perform our nasal grooming, like common criminals. But that is no longer necessary, thanks to the breakthrough modernistic design of this trimmer, which is perfect for the Space Age.

This is a nasal trimmer that you can confidently whip out and use in a fashionable restaurant, swanky nightclub or high-level corporate meeting — any situation, really, except maybe in an airport security area. (“DON’T SHOOT! IT’S A NOSE TRIMMER!”)

Dave Barry

Dave Barry is a Pulitzer Prize-winning humor columnist and author for the Miami Herald.