Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Bored Yak's Guide to Holiday Gift Giving

Seems like every culture or faith tradition is celebrating a holiday right about now. Most of them, of course, have been co-opted by savvy capitalists into guilt-ridden, gift buying, debt racking, spend-fests. Fear not, noble denizens of Earth - and those tuning in from afar - it doesn't have to be this way. With a little ingenuity and good, old-fashioned elbow grease you can both stun everybody on your list and have a little left over to tuck under the mattress. Or you could spend yourself into the kind of debt death would be a welcome reprieve from. Either way, the Yak is here for ya.

Spend Until It's Gone

1.) Get 'em one of these. I know it would shut me up for a while. Actually, come to think of it, that thing looks a bit tall. Like it's asking to roll over more than an impatient dog trainer. It probably wouldn't shut me up for long at all.

For the guy who has everything.

2.) Heli time. Everybody wants it, no one can afford it: what better gift! If you've got some money left over, spring for some extra life insurance. You never know...

3.) I don't know the first thing about snowmobiles, but that seems like the next best thing. How 'bout this one? Maybe someone could buy it for me and teach me how to ride.

4.) A lift ticket. Maybe splurge for a lesson.

5.) A boot dryer. My mom got me this one from Dry Guy a few years back. Now I can actually ride multiple days in a row without feeling like I'm walking though the Everglades to get to the lodge.

6.) Magazine subscriptions. Why give just one gift when you can give a bunch of gifts staggered out at regular intervals? You all know the usual suspects, but don't forget the oft overlooked frequency The Snowboarder's Journal. Or the totally overlooked.

7.) The most electrifying snowboard base-layer since your skin itself. The Airblaster Merino Ninja Suit. Everyone knows about the Ninja Suit by now, the combo balaclava, long-sleeve shirt, long underwear that protects your skin from snow like its shadowy assassin namesake. Well, now it's baaaack, in wool. Warmer? Probably. Stink-free? Thanks to wool's natural anti-microbial properties, yes. Still a killer Halloween costume? You're God damn right it is! I'll take mine in black, size M, please.

Makes me duck just looking at it.

8.) Gift certificates. More thought than cash, less thought than everything else. Here's a new twist, micro-lending. Start out by giving your favorite person a $25-gift certificate to Kiva. They then pick where they want that money to go. From farmers in Uganda to grocers in Bolivia, these entrepreneurs just need a little change to get something going. Then when it gets paid back you can take it out or re-lend. It's a cross between putting your money under the mattress and donating to charity. Is there anything better than helping out your fellow man this holiday season? Nope. Do it and tell them I sent you.

Save a Little Scratch

1.) Use your talents. Maybe you can write poetry, take amazing pictures, knit scarves, build life-sized replicas of Boba Fett out of dryer lint and chicken wire or something else that. These gifts, while not free, have a personal touch that extends well beyond their monetary value. Put together a DVD of old family movies and pictures and watch those of an older generation will be sure to thank you.

1b.) Work for free. Whether it's your sister who has an unfinished basement in her house, your folks who've been meaning to get a fresh coat of paint in the guest room or your friend who could use a full tune on his snowboard; when you can help someone out with something that they would normally spend money on, it's as good a gift as any.

2.) Freebies. I've got boxes of snowboard-related stickers. Chances are, if you bothered saving them, you might have such things laying around. I know a few kids that perk right up when they get stuff like that. Hook 'em up! One caveat: do not give away used stuff unless it's to a second-hand store. This qualifies as re-gifting, tread lightly.

Come to think of it, tread lightly on all these money-saving tips. If you have money for 'real gifts' and you don't deliver the goods, you better have an explanation for an offended recipient. Happened in my family once and the resultant rift still hasn't fully healed. Best to iron these things out in advance.

3.) Make a trade. You know web-sites, he knows woodworking. How about a web store front for a splitboard and a pair of snowshoes? You get the idea. Just don't get too hardcore with the bargaining.

4.) Surprise. Show up at the door when you said you couldn't make it home. That might be the only present they need.

'This damn economy' needs some stimulating, but I suggest you don't spend money that you don't have. Debt should be a back alley avoided, not some lighted dance floor to be discoed upon. That's all the free financial advice I've got. Stimulate if you can or maybe take 'er easy this year and make up for it in cheer. Either way, Happy Holidays to you and yours.

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