There are two ways to buy someone a Chanukah present:
- Ask them point blank what they need.
- Take a wild guess and hope they like it.
Asking them point blank is no fun. There’s no surprise: “Hey, you got me that thing that I found and sent you a link to! Thank you for paying for it, I guess, and also for holding on to it for several weeks until Chanukah!”
That leaves the guessing option. With guessing, most of the time you’re going to end up buying either something they already have or something they really don’t want. And then they have literally one second to get used to the idea that this item is now in their lives. For example, you can say, “This guy likes jokes. Let’s get him a funny mug.” But he doesn’t like all jokes. And then he doesn’t find your mug funny, plus he already has a mug, and now he has to drink from yours even though it has a joke he doesn’t stand behind that other people will now think that he thinks is funny. And also maybe he’s a teacher and the joke on the mug is grammatically incorrect. I am not talking about me. This is an example.
I think all of this is the real reason some people don’t give Chanukah presents. Because it’s not like they’re showering everyone with gifts the rest of the year either.
Maybe you would be better off having someone who doesn’t know your recipient at all picking a gift for you to get them. I can’t do any worse than you. And that way you can say up front that the present wasn’t your idea, and if they don’t immediately light up, you can say, “That’s OK; not offended. I got the idea from a humor column.”
So here’s a short list of actual items that will be perfect for anyone on your list, at least as a conversation piece:
For People Who Love to Sleep: The Hoodie Pillow (hoodiepillow.com, $30).
This is a pillowcase that looks exactly like a pillowcase that normal humans would use, except that on the front of it, there’s a hood with a drawstring. At least we assume that’s the front of it.
This gift is great for the person on your list who keeps losing his yarmulke in the middle of the night. Or who doesn’t want to get their head off the pillow in the morning. Now they don’t have to!
And I bet it’s phenomenal for sleeping on public transportation. Because nothing says, “I don’t want to talk to you,” like a hood with a drawstring. Not even the fact that you’re asleep.
Not ideal for: People who already wear a hoodie everywhere—People who sleep on your shoulder on public transportation—People who sleep on their side.
And speaking of being exhausted,
For People Who Love to Eat in the Car: Exhaust Burger.
This is a small device that is sort of shaped like a small, round indoor grill, except that you bring it outside and attach it to the exhaust pipe of your car, and it cooks your burger for you as you drive. I assume there’s also a clamp of some kind in case of potholes. And by the time you get to your destination, you have a nice, hot burger that does not at all taste like an exhaust pipe.
There’s no way this thing is safe.
At least that’s what one would think. But it turns out that it is, according to the manufacturer, which is located in Iran. According to them, the burger is not actually cooked by the exhaust fumes themselves, but by the heat generated from those fumes.
Right. That’s why they called it an exhaust burger.
Also, the device only holds one burger at a time. So if there’s more than one of you, you have to stop at a red light and nudge your passenger awake from under his hoodie pillow, and he can grab his plate, run out to the back, bend down in the path of the rerouted exhaust pipe, pop open the grill, scrape your burger off the street, and put his on the grill. All before the light turns green. Then you have to find somewhere to wash.
Wait until the homeless guy at the intersection discovers this thing.
Anyway, this grill is great for the person on your list who drives great distances alone, such as a plant mashgiach.
Not ideal for: People with 15-passenger vans—Teenagers—People who already have health issues.
For People Who Just Want Cash: Metal-Detecting Sandals (Hammacher Schlemmer, $60).
Remember metal detectors? A lot of people had those as a kid. You would walk back and forth over the seashore or the midbar or the sandbox at the park looking for cash in the form of small coins because the metal detector could not sense bills…
But then you stop using the metal detector at some point, because you’re an adult, and you’re not hauling this thing around in public looking for pennies.
But this gift item can bring it back. Basically, someone built the metal detector into the sole of a pair of flip-flops. The flip-flops are attached to a wire that is attached to a device that you wear around your calf that contains the batteries and also lights up and vibrates when you find a paint can or whatever. And this way, your hands are free to hold your multiple phones and not miss an important business call.
You can also wear it if you’re a security guard, and have some incredibly awkward moments scanning people.
And this gadget literally pays for itself! Though you will never in your life find $60 worth of coins. Unless you stumble across a buried treasure chest. Or like this one spot on the lawn where somebody dropped a pushka.
Not ideal for: People who actually are under house arrest—People who can’t wear flip flops (such as contractors or anyone in plumbing)—Anyone who works on a girder.
Mordechai Schmutter is a freelance writer and a humor columnist for Hamodia and other magazines. He has also published eight books and does stand-up comedy. You can contact him at [email protected].