Friday, December 9, 2016

I Can't Believe I Am Doing This Again.

"My gracious, it's been quite a year, hasn't it?" I ask, laughing halfheartedly and then breaking into terrified sobbing. And on that note: you will notice that this year's Oprah post is very late! "Surely teetering on the edge of the Apocalypse means I get out of writing my Oprah post!" I told myself BUT APPARENTLY NOT.

My original objections to Oprah's lists - the Marie Antoinette-ish disconnect from what people actually give for Christmas and the lack of any clue that most people find gift-given exhortations to self-improvement pretty damn insulting - have faded, palely, with the arrival of GOOP's list and $44 vulva-print rolling papers. Not ONLY do I not know anyone who would want $44 vulva-print rolling paper, I don't even WANT to know anyone etc. $8000 yurts for all my friends! Yeesh.

All gift guides are pretty awful and this is, I think, the nature of the beast - we can only think of the people we know which in Gwyneth Paltrow's case are cackling wealthy ghouls, like the White Witch from Narnia's friends. Oprah mostly hangs out with Gayle and Steadman, who sound nice and human and Oprah's list now feels, you know, nice. And human.

But Oprah's list is what I write about and will apparently write about forever, so bravely I forge ahead. I'm going to grade everything on whether I'd want to open it on Christmas morning, because what other metric would I use? Here we go.

Oprah's Poinsettia Flower Pot Cake
I have a nice and entirely self-preserving desire to never eat a poinsettia, which are (I think? I refuse to look this up) super-toxic. But the cake itself looks like a dream, especially because I've been on a diet for ages and I miss cake so, so much.

New Bone China Mugs
$50 for Six

I don't want these - I don't particularly want mugs as gifts, thank you, since I break things in such short order - but I included the picture because they're so nice and shiny. Let's stare at these lovely stacked mugs.

Oprah had her ears pierced in 2005 and "still get(s) really excited by a good earring." That's endearing, and if she was my friend I would TOTALLY buy her earrings. I don't have pierced ears - well, I DID but it turns out that I'm allergic to most metals as well as everything else I'm allergic to and aren't you glad to know that about me? Also I don't wear much jewelry.* But these are nice for someone who is not me.

*it occurs to me that I am HARD TO BUY GIFTS FOR.

As well as breaking every mug I touch eventually, I also lose my keys with DISTRESSING frequency. This frustrates me and makes me unhappy and it also causes me worry that it frustrates the people who love me. The gift of finding my keys again when I inevitably lose them might SOUND ideal but in reality it would reaffirm that YES, the people I live with find me aggravating and make me very sad. I don't know if this is a global reaction or if I'm made of very fine, very delicate emotional porcelain. Whatever: do not give me this.

3 cheerfully mismatched gloves and why would you possibly buy me gloves (which I hate.) when there are so many books you could get me instead?

$49 for box of 20
"Well, that's stupid," I thought as I read the description in the magazine. Then I went to the website, and saw this picture of that burning pear-thing and now I want them, for such is the fickle nature of fallible humanity.

$60 each for the cleanser and the toner and $195 for the cream
As I get deeper and deeper into my 40s, my obsession with complicated face care - which was fairly intense to begin with - has deepened and YET do not give me face care products because I will presume that you are hinting that I look like a decaying lady Cryptkeeper.

Also! these are free of "toxins" and are gluten-free! Haaaaaaaaaaaa.

Organic Grow Kit
As well as being a boon to small businesses, getting on the Oprah list must be something of a curse for the unprepared. But regardless: don't give me plants. I kill them.

$45 for set of 4
"Nothing says (healthy) comfort like mashed cauliflower," writes Oprah and I LIKE cauliflower but are we SURE about that? But! Last year I was given miniature bakeware dishes much likes these (although not in "beautiful neutrals", do I even need to add this, AND mine are heart-shaped) and I enjoy them very much because the cozy tweeness of making miniature casseroles appeals to me, as it would to all right-thinking people.

$199 each
This is some sort of home security thing that provides live HD video of your house and I guess it's alright? It's not relevant to MY life, so don't bother giving it to me but your paranoid friend would probably enjoy it.

$189 (or $260 Canadian, which I found jarring)
It's a nice enough hooded winter coat, but MAKE SURE you know your gift recipient's attitude towards down because many people will not wear it. For example: I am allergic to it! I bet you're really surprised.

Also, I'm leery of giving clothing to adults I am not REALLY close to, because it's so easy to go wrong, by, let's say, giving them a sweater that's several sizes too big, and then having them darkly mull over that for the next calendar year.

"I want to wish all of you joy - because there is no better gift," writes Oprah, from the Better and Now Lost Past. And if this book (which I frankly do not want) would work, I'd buy it for all my friends. 

I don't travel anywhere near enough for this to be in any way relevant for me, but you might know someone who travels a lot and would like a desperately unexciting utilitarian gift.

I don't want them - and more on that in a second - but I'm including the picture because they're so shiny and pretty.
And as lovely as they are, they're still salt and pepper grinders, and fancy salt and pepper grinders fall into my personal Making The Best of Awful, Awful Adulthood category.

$20-60 each
Frog-belly green various brushes. 
1) It's nice to see the Oprah still loves that frog-belly green shade that I loathe.
2) Hair brushes just.... happen? Don't give them as gifts?

$116 each
Oprah uses the word "schlumadinka" here, which I find gently enchanting. These cardigans and pull-on pants are not schlumadinka, apparently, and are also "feathery-soft" and cozy clothing, suitable for sobbing bleakly in, sounds like JUST the thing.

Running shoes! No thank you!
Here is my traditional reminder that UNLESS THE PERSON YOU ARE GIVING TO HAS SPECIFICALLY REQUESTED EXERCISE EQUIPMENT, GIVING EXERCISE EQUIPMENT IS INSULTING. Like, you might be thinking "I love them and want to give them the gift of health!" but what you're risking is your loved one HEARING "I hate your gross body and here are running shoes as punishment."

But if they asked for running shoes: here are some.

Most little kids I know have OBNOXIOUS numbers of stuffed animals and parents that silently despise you if you give them more, so maybe check if they could use another. But if they could, this set of stuffed animals IS incredibly cute.

Cell Case & Card Sleeve Crossbody
$25 each and I don't have a link to them for some reason, which I'm too lazy to figure out right now.
Oprah's friend Urania has one of these. Urania! That's such a great name!
*I tried to link to Buddy the Elf saying "Francisco" here and failed, so let's just pause and remember that scene.*
Although I wouldn't wear this, my M totally would, and it seems like a fine gift for the minimalist woman on your list.

Food Health and Happiness Book
Oprah wrote a cookbook! I think it sounds pretty great - I love cookbooks - but it's not out until early January, which is a bit oddly timed for Christmas. Still, it's a solid choice for your Oprah-loving, health-conscious aunt.

It's purple, which I love, AND it theoretically will keep me from scalding myself while making spaghetti AGAIN, so YES. Give me this pot and I can dramatically sing "Purple Rain" while making dinner.

One of those griddle/waffle-maker/grill combos and I HAD one of these and wore it out! I have a narrow list of people I'd cheerfully receive small appliances from, and my husband is NOT on them, but it someone else got me this, I'd be delighted.

They ARE super-cute reading glasses and IF your recipient has asked for reading glasses, by all means. 

It's a hoody! It's a cowl-neck! It's off the shoulder! I love fussy sweaters, despite the fact that they're rarely flattering and would deeply love this sweater too, but probably only in black.

So that's one hundred and thirty two human dollars, for - let's see - a tub of soaking salts, a tub of foot cream and a pair of socks!

Also, gift-given exhortations to "fix your feet!" aren't welcome by most people.

I WAS going to write about how the dark-underside of the word "preppy" has been lost over time - and what has been lost with that - but then I was distracted by how cute the bag with the plaid thermoses is and THAT is how things happen, one cute tote bag at a time.

Also: that's a cute tote bag!

Like everyone else, I was given a ton of colouring books and pencils LAST year and still have not bleakly coloured my way through all of them so I'm good, thanks.

The purple scarf is SO pretty.
Becoming a lady who wears scarves all the time doesn't surprise me - it seems like something I'd do - and it's given everyone an easy gift-giving shortcut for me. As a result, I know have enough scarves to outfit the necks of an army of me, and would like more as well. 

I've done a dramatic 180 on my original opinion on robes, which was - very wrongly - that they were terrible gifts and now I've realized, like all right-thinking people, that robes are amazing presents and really good to cry in. This is a fine, tasteful robe, and the neutral colours won't hurt your eyes after prolonged sobbing.

These are wireless headphones. They are $200. I mean, if you'd like to, FINE.

They're very pretty candles and I LOVE scented candles and yet - like perfume - scented candles are pretty personal. I personally only like candles that smell like someone is making me a nice cake and not like I'm burning a tree, so don't get me these

These are fine, I guess. If you're getting me one, I'd like it in black.

Here it is! The thing I'd like the least from THIS ENTIRE LIST!
And this is such a singular thing, isn't it? There probably ARE people who would find this just thrilling but my gracious, I am NOT one of them.

Remember Victoria magazine? I LOVED that so much in high school, and it made me think life would be full of far more drawer sachets and lovely dried flowers than it has turned out to be. So it's ABOUT TIME that someone gave me this, and I could scent all of my long plaid skirts, suitable for wandering fields with my travel watercolour sets, instead of what adulthood has REALLY been about (trying to catch up on the effing laundry).


SO! This digital frame automatically displays whatever picture is most recent on your phone. Let us imagine, for a second, that you give this to your grandma.
NOW let us imagine that one day, you're feeling saucy and take a series of saucy pictures to send to your beloved. You're a grown-up! You can do what you like! And your poor grandma accidentally gets an eyeful.

This is fine, but I'm mostly including that pleasantly citrusy picture to try and sear the image from your mind of your grandma standing - horrified yet unable to look away - as you unwittingly send nude after nude to her digital frame in an attempt to take the one perfect saucy picture to text your husband.

It's a water bottle you can stuff fruit pieces into! I don't want it.

"These edgy handmade cuffs have Gayle written all over them!" writes Oprah and I hope Gayle enjoys them but I would NOT, thank you.

$24 for 12
They're those stretchy elastic hair ties, packaged to look like candy and I would like you to imagine my levels of deep, deep existential despair upon realizing that my box of cheerful ribbon candy (an ALRIGHT gift) is actually a box of hair elastics.

Oh no. Not for me, thank you.
But I'm aware this isn't a universal no - for some people, this would be a delightful gift. This is more a personal nope. Moving along.

I have the Kindle app on my New Phone (which I also have now and it is DELIGHTFUL and I LOVE it) and it gets used a lot, but I had some electronic e-reader before and never used it at all, so I have no idea what my feelings about this actually ARE. Mixed? Can I say mixed?

"Have you spent the best years of your life grating, dicing, slicing, and doing the whole julienne thing?" writes Oprah. "Destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked?" writes Allen Ginsberg.
And no, as mentioned earlier, I've spent my best years sulking and washing towels.

I don't particularly want this but it DOES look like brutal, fruit-slicing fun.

$16 each
These aren't ACTUALLY "ew", but the urge to spell something rude was overwhelming to me - because I'm a bad person - and my other rude word choices wouldn't fit.
My mom - and I think I write this every year when encountering keychains - has a Daffy Duck keychain because his splayed duck legs are easy to find in her purse. I'm certain the sharp edges of those letters would be equally easy to find in your purse, as well.

Here it is! The thing I want most of all on this entire list! Those are ADORABLE!
I was also in a situation this summer where I was forced to endure someone else's incorrect musical choices because THEY OWNED THE BLUETOOTH SPEAKER and have since then been possessed of the need to have my own Bluetooth speaker so this never, EVER happens to me again.

 Set of 6 Marbled Plates
$68 for six
Pretty! And - if given to me - doomed!

This is a water-filtering pitcher and the FILTER IS MADE OF COCONUT SHELL OH MY GOD. I am SO allergic to coconut and this casual use of coconut in a product that people might not even think of warning houseguests about distresses me.

These are fine, even if I find segmented clothing like that rather reminiscent of a caterpillar's bumps. Still! Quite nice!
I got a pair of knee-high boots on DEEP sale and everywhere I go, people compliment them and I'm always frozen because DO I TELL THEM THEY WERE $35 or what? It's anecdotes like this that make this gift guide critique such a winner.

$13-40 each
There's my desire to never wear horizontally-striped, form fitting one piece pajamas, but it is at deep war with my cruel wish to have all of my huge sullen adolescent children wear unflattering matching pajamas. "Ha ha!" I think, from some deep, best-examined part of my psyche. What a merry Christmas morning that would be!

It's a giant red lipstick! You'd need to use a brush to put it on, but it amuses me.

I write this HORRIBLE LIST in order and just had the cheering thought that maybe I'm almost done! I made the mistake of scrolling down and oh, no, I am not. O DEATH WHERE IS THY STING.

So. It's a brightly coloured wallet. I don't know if being hot pink makes a wallet more FUN, but it's alright.

Those ARE fun! I would like one very much even though I don't think I've ever needed a clutch in my entire life. Do you ever use clutches? Is your life great? Do you spend less than 25% of your waking hours doing laundry?

OOOoooh, you aerate your wine! Aren't YOU fancy. 
I would probably love this, to be frank. I love being fancy.

It's sixty bucks for a pail of presents for your dog, and alright, if you want to get that for your dog, go ahead but I am ALL out of patience for the phrase "dog parents", no. No comparison, don't.

A Short Play Wherein Oprah And I Run Into Each Other While Wearing The Same Excellent Boots
Oprah: (graciously) I love your boots
Me: (super awkwardly) THEY WERE $180 

My Christmas gift to you is sending you to my Google search for "People Wearing Avegant Glyph" and YOU ARE WELCOME.

$138 each
They are big, attractively glazed handmade bowls and are very nice, but what I find off-putting is Oprah's suggestion: "Fill one with beautiful fruits or pinecones for a personal gift."
Pinecones as a gift are fine if you're 3 and just back from a walk with your grandpa but from an adult, it's a little bizarre. Please don't give people a (lovely!) bowl filled with pinecones.


This is a sweet little thing and I am POSSESSED of the need to own it despite the fact that I do not travel AND I DON'T LIKE JEWELRY! But I suppose I could develop a taste for both leaving my lovely, lovely house and personal adornment, all so I could have the pleasure of owning this elegant little travel case.

This t-shirt is "truly a goes-with-anything" writes Oprah and for ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY FIVE DOLLARS, I SHOULD HOPE SO.
Not to be grimly Calvinist, but that is TOO MUCH MONEY FOR A T-SHIRT.

$72 a pair
More jewelry and not for me, obviously, but fine.

$150 for 22 Butter nail polishes and a lazy Susan
Recently, my daughters and I counted all of our collected bottles of nail polish and we have OVER 100 BOTTLES OF NAIL POLISH so we are good, thank you. We have enough.
I suspect if someone gave us a fancy set, like this, we could just toss all of our old polish out. 

There's a nice plum one that I briefly caught myself thinking "Oh, I'd like that," and then I remembered my NEVER GIVE FITNESS OR HEALTH GIFTS FOR CHRISTMAS UNLESS SPECIFICALLY REQUESTED mantra. But if someone ASKS for a Fitbit, these are very cute.

"Talk about cute and comfy," writes Oprah. 

It's a nice enough sweatshirt and I would be quite pleased to get it, assuming that it's neither forest green nor burgundy.

Brightly coloured hand-knit toques with pompoms on them, just like the ones your grandma used to knit you! Except these cost $60 and you're an adult now. But hey, it's been a wretched year and if this makes you happy, then it's a lovely and good thing.

This is an air fryer, which means, I guess, that you can deep fry foods without all the pesky heart disease and that sounds good, I guess. I don't eat deep fried foods now but it sounds spiffy.

I mean, I'd certainly enjoy this, but BELIEVE me when I tell you that I am in NO WAY discerning enough to require a $99 bottle of wine.

It's a big smart tv? I'm not entirely sure what a "smart tv" is, because I just have a regular (although fairly fancy) television and it just seems like a big chunk of plastic or glass or whatever tvs are made of. My caveat is to be certain that your recipients WANT a big tv because giving people large things for their house can be very aggressive and unwelcome, even when they're big expensive televisions.

Another gift for human children and not - God help us - "fur children." 
And these are very cute! My youngest child would like these very much.

A set of four lip glosses and lipsticks and they all seem to be in lovely, generally appealing colours so A+ for this lipstick set.

For the love of God. This is a microfleece blanket with your effing dog's picture on it.

Your dog does not need a $400 blanket. Your dog DOES NOT CARE. Your dog is not a "fur baby." It is a dog.

If you think your dog would like a blanket, go grab him a $5 fleece blanket from Giant Tiger. You can wash it EASILY when it gets foul (and it will because dogs are DISGUSTING). It's practical! and then take the other $395 and donate it to actual human children who are suffering and who have actual needs. This is a time when our moral actions have serious consequences, and buying $400 luxury goods FOR YOUR PET is a moral action.

I guess my exception to this is for the very rich - so, Oprah - who have donated SO much to charity this year and $400 is just a drop in the bucket and a way to dote on their pet. But I'm not very rich (ho, ho) and neither are you, probably.

I am STILL MAD at the dog blanket. But this is, I guess, fine? It looks sort of old-ladyish, but I generally only use that in the most approving of ways, and this looks like a fine thing for the frequent traveler of your acquaintance. Can I imagine Jessica Fletcher using this? Why, yes I can.

I have no clue about this sort of thing - it looks fine, I guess? - but I've heard about this particular luggage A MILLION TIMES THIS YEAR, so good job, Raden's publicity department!

Bath sets in wild ginger, carrot, and grapefruit.
1. Ouch to the very idea of soaking my delicate ladybits in ginger.
2. "Carrot" as a bath scent? 
3. Oprah wrote "Now I get to combine two of my great loves in life: farming and bathing!" and I thought that was fun, so I googled "farm bath gif" WITHOUT SAFE SEARCH ON and my eyes, my poor sweet eyes. Why are you LIKE that, internet?
Instead, here is a sweetly innocent panda splashing around.

Isn't that pretty? That's pretty. I'd truly love to be given a big expensive stack of candy coloured throws. It's not going to happen but it's a lovely photo.
Does anyone actually KNOW what "herringbone" IS, as a pattern?

Pretty glossy boxes to keep all your glasses in. This makes me wonder how many pairs of glasses the average glass wearer HAS - most people in my house wear glasses and have 2 pairs each, max. Hm

It's a mattress! One year my in-laws gave us a boxspring set to replace the futon we'd been sleeping on and it was AMAZING and just writing about it makes me feel like going back to bed instead of yammering on about Oprah's list.

$89 with code
It's a small appliance that turns frozen fruit into sorbet and we were given one much like this last year and have never taken it out of the box because we are clods and not deserving of good health. Also, you can use a blender to do the same thing, and a blender already takes up a preset amount of counter space.

I'm writing this in mid-December instead of mid-November, which is when I NORMALLY write this and mid-December is when I suddenly am cold ALL THE TIME so I would like a slenderizing puffer vest RIGHT NOW THANK YOU VERY MUCH. 

Gingham pajamas and rather endearingly fun in a "I put away all my erotic hopes and dreams" sort of way.

Do people still wear watches? Yes? Here is a watch?

I find Gordon Ramsay's whole THING so unappealing that I can't even imagine spending money on something that profits him.
A man yelling abusively in a woman's face. NICE. So yeah, I'm not buying this.

It's a cute-enough lined backpack/diaper bag and I'm so beyond all of this that I'm going to go someplace else and cry but it would be nice for first-time parents.

1. It's a $400 hair dryer.
2. It looks like a high tech magic wand.
3. It also looks like... um... a toy... for men.... 

Oh, absolutely, yes. (That's the Bronte set but there's lots of incredibly lovely sets to choose from.)

Oh, come ON. Don't give people work-out clothes unless THEY HAVE ASKED YOU FOR WORK-OUT CLOTHES.

Fancy pound cakes! And I'm in the FOOD section of the Oprah gift list, where my critical facilities shut down and I turn into a being of pure yearning.

I wish I was eating a fancy pound cake RIGHT NOW.

A crate filled with 8 bags of potato chips and they were grown in re-purposed lots in Detroit and the whole thing sounds terrific.

I do not approve of flavoured maple syrups - THEY ALREADY HAVE A FLAVOUR AND IT IS MAPLE - but these are likely delicious or whatever. I'll never know, since I only chug maple syrup from Canada, like the SUPER PATRIOT that I am.

When I become off-puttingly, hugely wealthy, I'm going to have to find my own alienating niche rich-person food to suggest to people that isn't truffles because yuck, truffles.

YES PLEASE. I would like this pile of cheese right now, thank you.

Here is a recipe for Christmas crack, which is both kind of gross and irresistible to eat in DISGUSTING quantities. If you gave me multiple boxes of fancy toffee, I'd probably eat too much of that, too.

English muffins and jam? Isn't that... groceries? I mean, maybe you're coming over for breakfast or something? 

It's a set of grapseseed oils for cooking and guess what! I AM ALLERGIC TO GRAPESEED OIL (because of COURSE I am) but anyhow. Before giving people food gifts, check for allergies.

Aw, yes. Eating homemade biscuits (preferably made by my mom) and honey sounds like a great time.

$65 for eight cookies in each of 3 flavours. That's 24 cookies for $65. They are nicely packaged... chocolate chip cookies. I mean, they look nice but I also have faith that you can make 24 chocolate chip cookies for less than $65.

It's a box that looks like a book, filled with fancy chocolates. YES. This is my whole thing RIGHT here. I want to be eating those while everyone heads off to work and school, and laying on the couch in a fancy robe for maximum effect.

I'm not even really sure what a grit is. Would I like them? Are they good?

Very, very predictably: I am allergic to almonds. Please feel free to buy me many of their other baked goods.

I'm not certain what spice rubs are FOR. What am I rubbing them on? Why am I doing this? Is this a good set? I have no clue.


Thursday, November 12, 2015


It's Oprah's Favourites Time Again! My goodness, time is fleeting and this list is crushingly long.

I don't think I'm right and Oprah is wrong, by the way - my posts about Oprah's lists have always only been about whether or not I want the suggested items and generally the answer is NOPE. Of course, everything is seen through the list of my own peculiarities - I hate nuts and jewelry and most perfumes and I'm allergic to pretty much everything and I much, much prefer being the parent of human children instead of dogs. These are subjective opinions and I'm okay not sharing them with everyone.

The only thing I do insist that I'm right about is that you should not give your wife a set of portion control scales for Christmas. THAT IS A BAD IDEA.

Here we go!

Cherry Pie

Hang on, going to fire up "Cherry Pie" by Warrant while I write this.

I don't buy pies, ever. Pies are easy enough to make and pretty much anyone can make a very nice pie and my oldest kid stress-bakes pies by the half dozen on weekends so pies are not an inaccessible luxury item. They're just food and there's no magic to making them and although I don't really have a frame of reference, $60 seems like a lot for a pie.

Now to turn off "Cherry Pie"by Warrant because it is a TERRIBLE song.

Custom Pet Ornaments
"The problem with the dog lovers on your list: They've already got lots of cute framed photos of their furry friends." - Oprah. IS THIS THE PROBLEM WITH THE DOG LOVERS ON MY LIST? Most of the people I know with dogs are perfectly nice, and yet I'm still not getting them an ornament in the shape of their pet with their pet's name on it.

I did scroll through the ornaments looking fore one  in the shape of a morbidly obese, surly cat (which I would have then have engraved with Penny's name) but alas.

SKITS Providence Brilliant Table and Cords Shoulder Bag
The problem with $425 bags is that you're either in the income bracket where this IS a reasonable price to pay for a purse or you're just not. And normalizing $425 as the amount that purses cost ignores the fact that for most people, this is a damaging amount to spend.
It's a nice enough bag, of course, but if I spent $425 on a purse, I'd expect it to be able to tuck me inside and walk home on its own when I'm tired. This bag can't, so I don't want it.

Modern Sprout Garden Jar Three-Pack Herb Essentials
These plants are self-watering! It was smart of houseplants to evolve to take care of themselves since I've managed to kill every houseplant I have ever owned because I forget to water them. So now someone can give me the gifts of three glass jars and seeds for FIFTY BUCKS. Whoop-dee-doo.

ED On Air Prelit Marquee Word with rustic metal finish
Oh hey, this is by Ellen. Ellen's so affable and nice but the reviews on this are really poor, which I wish Oprah had checked before she put this on her list. Also, I am super over Words As Art, and wish they would go Live Love Laugh someplace far, far away.

Material Girl puffer vests
The word "puffer" seems to be an easy shorthand for "grievously unflattering" and yet "freezing to death" is also "grievously unflattering." So now the torso of your giftee can be warm and grievously unflattered in either gold, silver or rose gold, which either appeals to you or it doesn't, I guess.

Family Jammies

1. I hate cutesy words like "jammies", "veggies" and "undies." I hate this with a skin-crawling horror. STOP IT! TALK LIKE AN ADULT!
2. And YET nothing would make me feel more festive than the look of dawning horror on my teenagers' faces when everyone opens their MATCHING CHRISTMAS JAMMIES. MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ME!

This is one of those wearable fitness trackers.
Christmas is - and it makes me sad that this is something that needs saying but anyhow - Christmas is not an ideal time to really passive-aggressively criticize a loved one with a gift that screams "I think you're fat and need to work out more, lardo." This present is a BAD IDEA. Your loved one will not thank you. Do not buy this as a gift.
Also, Never Give The Following
1. Unrequested diet books
2. Unrequested workout DVDs
3. Unrequested gym memberships.
... and so on. An easy thing to remember, when giving a gift, is to ask yourself "Does this gift in any way imply that I think my beloved's body is bad and shameful and needs fixing?". Should the answer be yes, PUT THAT GIFT BACK.

Hesperides Grapefruit Bath & Shower Gel and Body Lotion set
It took me many years to figure out what the connecting factors were in perfumes that I like. I like perfumes with musk, white floral and warm citrus notes, which doesn't seem like something that I should be finally realizing at 43, but there you have it. Which is a long-winded way of saying that I will never smell like Oprah, who seems to like cool citrus and herbal notes. Should you know someone who also likes cool citrus and herbal notes here is a $43 set of bath gel and lotion for them.

Letters To My... Keepsake Books
So. This is a book of 12 fill-in-the-blank letters that your beloved is then supposed to fill out and mail to you, thus giving them The Gift Of Enforced Expression Of Feelings. People LOVE that! By all means get one of these for your husband and I will sit here in the corner, snickering.
(Actually, Oprah suggests getting them and filling them out for your partner but my idea is funnier.)

NYC Weekender

This is hideous, like a rippling boring-coloured caterpillar or some other segmented, yucky tube-shaped bug that only comes in tasteful neutrals.

The Ultimate Lacquer Wardrobe
Fancy nail polishes! Wouldn't this be splendid to get? Isn't it incredibly unlikely that someone will get me $150 in nail polish? Yes and yes.

IMAX Confetti Three-Piece Book-Box Set

"Oh boy! Books!" Beck rips open the package and then sits there, sad and confused, as the books open to reveal nothingness, much like life itself. - Scene from my upcoming play, Bad Christmas Present.
You know what IS a splendid Christmas present? BOOKS I ACTUALLY WANT.

Skandia Talvi Knife Block Set
I am superstitious enough* to never, ever give knives as a present because that would, of course, permanently sever our relationships THROUGH MAGIC.
*I'm very superstitious. I should probably be ashamed of this but I am not, human nature being what it is.

Andre walker hair Experience Kit
It's a travel pack of nice hair things. It's fine. Thinking of witty things to say about Oprah-list products I like is a terrible burden, and more than once I've stumbled across discussions on friends' Facebook pages ABOUT THIS LIST where THEIR  friends said I'm not as funny as I used to be, which is an odd sort of thing to read about myself. But being snarky about perfectly nice things is very very hard, and I welcome them to try it.

LuMee Case
A phone case that lights up so you can take really good selfies. Hm. My oldest child has a phone-protecting Otter Box and REALLY loves it and it cost about this much, so I guess this is a fine thing for the teen you know who REALLY loves taking selfies. I have, obviously, no moral ground here.

Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc Salt Cellar
$49 for Thomas Keller's 3 favourite salts in a cute wooden box with a pig on it. Uhhh, I can't decide what I think about this. It's fine and nice and also ridiculous? I would be delighted if I got it but I also would be worried that you don't know how money works.

I Love Sundays Oversized V-Neck Comfy
This is a sweatshirt that costs nearly $100, which always strikes me as a lot to pay for sweatshirts which are, by their very nature, schlubby.
Also: what sort of sicko LOVES Sundays? Sundays are the early-to-bed, last dying gasp of the weekend and no fun at all.

Barbie Fashionistas

Hey Barbie! I love Barbie. I love these Barbie dolls and have no time for anti-Barbie thinkpieces written by cheerful-doll-hating buzzkills. I am also delighted that these Barbies are only $10.

Hakuho-do + Sephora Pro Kan Kabe Perfection Brush Set
"I think this is a fancy set," writes Oprah and my gracious, it is. One hundred and ninety eight dollars!
Of course I love it, being who I am, but it's expensive.

High Camp Vine and Bloom Box
A box of gardenias, black calla lilies and purple orchids and this is also pretty fancy. I can't imagine giving a box of nearly two hundred dollars in flowers - and I also really don't like gardenias - but I don't know your life. Perhaps you and your friends regularly exchange large boxes of gloomily beautiful flowers and then languish about, like gorgeous but bored lovesick vampires in a fairly unwatchable Jim Jarmusch film. If this is your life, here is a nice box of flowers for you.

T-Fal OptiGrill
A dishwasher-safe grill! That's kind of spiffy. We love our grill, for what's that worth, and this looks very nice. It is, as I mentioned, REALLY hard to be funny when you think something is fine and also unremarkable.

Sliced-Sapphire Earrings
I think these look like halved beetles, but it's fine that Oprah and I don't agree on earrings. All the more for her.

Park Avenue Faux-Fur Pet Jacket in Chinchilla


GapFit Motion Pullover Hoodie and Colorblock Motion gFast Pants
$65 and $70
Did the person you're shopping for ASK for work-out clothes for Christmas? Then here are some nice (I suppose.They're both very green.) work-out clothes for them. Did they NOT ask for work-out clothing? Do you want to passive-aggressively suggest that you think they should work out more? Why are you so mean?

Fujifilm Instax Share Smartphone Printer
This is kind of cool - it makes Polaroid-style printed pictures from photos taken with your phone. Of course, for less than it costs you can buy an actual little instant camera. My oldest kid has one of those and if you have a teenage girl, those are a LOT of fun. The pictures the little camera takes are tiny and I think the printer makes proper-sized photos, so I guess it's your call.

Vicki Saywer Wild & Wooly 7" porcelain appetizer plates
These are so weird and I kind of love them. I've always loved oddball china, and these are delightfully silly.

Present Perfect Freesia & Waterlily: The Complete Collection
"Could somebody please give me this for Christmas?" writes Oprah and I find this so wistful that I'm scraping together $126 to send this to her. Freesia and waterlily, by the way, are among my least favourite scents for bath products. Ew.

Arlington Milne Large Wallets
This is the kind of useful, thoughtful and thoroughly dull gift that I despair of getting. Please don't give me a wallet.
Edited to add: I read a draft of this to someone and they disagreed with this entry VERY MUCH. They received a wallet as a gift last year and LOVED IT. I am alone in the world.

7R Global Carry-On Spinner
$650, $750, $850
Oprah herself notes that these wheeled suitcases are pricey, and she's right, but if you travel a lot, you probably do need solid luggage. Spending money on things that will make hard parts of your life easier is a good idea.

Your Drawing As Foil Art Print
$120 to $447
Letterpressed, foil-pressed or standard art prints of your child's art and my gracious, that's quite a bit of money to spend on your child's drawings and I say this as a mother who has her children's art framed around her house. I find the idea of gilding your children's art fairly off-putting, in the same way I find mothers who always refer to their daughters as "their princess" off-putting. I think that my children's art is perfectly nice on its own and no further embellishments are needed, and I think the same thing about my children themselves. Fully loved! Good enough!

African American Literature and Ernest Hemingway Elephant Sets

Juniper Books makes the most gorgeous book sets I have EVER EVER seen and I could easily spend myself into serious financial hardship just on Jane Austen sets alone. The Oprah sets are ALSO lovely and if I had $395, I'd get the Hemingway set for my dad, since Ernest Hemingway is the Official Author of Dads.

Women's Expedition Down Parka
It's a very nice parka and I could USE a new parka - especially the navy one. That is what you may consider a "hint." (i.e. a direct request) Although I am allergic to down, so don't get me this one.

Teavana Oprah Chai Steep Good Thoughts Set
I do like cute teapot and mug sets and chai is one of my very favourite things and this is obvious from the punishing number of teapots and interesting tins of chai I currently have cluttering up my kitchen so probably I don't need any more until I break some of my current collection.

360 Cookware 6-Piece Stainless Steel Set
Does anyone actually get $450 pots for Christmas? HAS THIS EVER HAPPENED? I'm sure they're lovely pots but I think the whole scenario of receiving pricey pots for Christmas is fictional, and strictly the territory of made-up husbands who don't quite GET why their storybook wives look so sad on Christmas morning.

p.s. Don't get your wife pots for Christmas.

Moroccan Long Scarf in Antique Mustard

Oh boy, mustard! The colour of baby poop and the 1970s, decade of dusty macrame and grody orgies  and NEVER EVER the colour of my scarves. Change the colour*, though, and it's lovely. I love a good fluffy scarf.
*acceptable colours, in declining order: Black, grey, purple, ivory, blue, possibly a very soft, gentle pink. That's IT.

Little Creature Boots
Fluffy-wool lined animal boots for kids and my youngest daughter SHRIEKED when she saw them so they are obviously AMAZING.

Beats by Dr. Dre Powerbeats2 Wireless Active Collection in-ear headphones
Two hundred dollar earbuds! It's a risky move, since the lifespan of earbuds is a fleeting, danger-filled thing. These are apparently a very good under-$20 earbud, should you not be in the $200 earbud class.

Black Titanium Five-Piece Set

$60 or $300 for 20 piece set with storage tray
My mom admired these as she flipped through the magazine, which is a whole new side to my mother that I never knew about. Huh. I can't reconcile the mom I know with a love of dramatic black flatwear.

Melange Drawstring Sweatpants
Pricey sweat-clothing BOGGLES MY MIND. The word "SWEAT" is IN THE VERY NAME! Throwing money at it doesn't suddenly make you look like you're not depressed if you're out in public in sweatpants. Having said that, these are pretty nice, even if I am incredibly unlikely to spend CLOSE TO TWO HUNDRED DOLLARS on a PAIR OF SWEATPANTS.

Boxed Letterpressed Coaster
Has anyone in the history of the world opened up a box of coasters and had their heart leap with joy? The answer is no, of course not. I can see contexts where coasters are an appropriately indifferent gift (mostly at workplace gift exchanges, I'd imagine) and coasters are ALWAYS on gift suggestion lists and yet NO ONE LIKES THEM. It's a mystery!

21-Day Meditation Transcendence Trio


 I don't want this to such a life-affirming extent that it feels delightful simply not to own it.

What I do want, however, is this and now I have put it out into the universe and it will surely come to me. Magic!

Personalization Strap Key Rings
"Your plain Jane rolling suitcase can stand out from the baggage carousel crowd when adorned with this beautiful leather luggage tag," writes Oprah, master of hyperbole, because this is a plain leather loop and so boring that I burst into tears when I got to this part of the list and realized how much longer I have to go.

Play 5
A lovely wireless speaker and my very favourite thing on the most boring page of gift suggestions, which started with the mom-approved flatwear and goes all the way to the odd shot glasses. It's $500, though, so there's no way I'm getting it.

Animal Shot Glass Holiday Collection

$80 for 5
LOOK AT THESE THINGS. They are JUST the angular, slightly satanic-looking gift for the supervillian on your gift list. I don't currently know any supervillains, but my middle child promises that he might be the kind of computer genius who eventually goes bad. If this does happen, I will both despair AND get him these shot glasses for his evil lair's bar cart.

Oprah suggests giving these with a bottle of tequila, and ever since she wrote about fine sipping tequila a few years back, I've been giving people bottles of tequila and requesting that they sip some in front of me. This gets a mixed reception.

Oprah's Favourites Lip Gloss Set
Thank goodness I'm on a new page now. These are very nice! I have nothing sarcastic to say about them. Lovely. Moving on.

iPhone 6 Plus and Watch Sport 38 mm rose gold aluminum case with lavender sports band
$749, $349
Normally I'd worry about spending so much money on something that is going to go out of fashion as quickly as rose gold will certainly do, but since iPhones become obsolete almost instantly, my concerns are moot.

Philips Avance Pastamaker
My oldest child - the piemaker mentioned earlier - also likes to make pasta and roll it out by hand. This has nothing to do with this expensive pasta maker, which I'm sure is fine, but it's more fun to brag about my kid then to than to endlessly write about luxury goods that I do not want.

Layflat Photo Album
"Gayle went gaga" over these, the description starts, which is both descriptive AND a fun tongue-twister. I like giving photo books to the kids' great-grandmothers, who already have enough of everything else.

Golden Rabbit Enamelware Swirl Roasting Sets
The word "Rabbit" in this roasting pan's name keeps throwing me. Am I to roast rabbits in it? I mean, that's FINE - I'm sure rabbits would be tasty roasted... having read the description, it's meant for lasagna. That's a bit of a let-down. I was hoping that roasted rabbits would be this year's Love Sandwich but alas.

Peace Love Oprah Fleece Zip Hoodies
The front says "LOOK AHEAD IN A NEW DIRECTION" which is good advice. WATCH WHERE YOU'RE GOING. I don't particularly want these, but maybe you do.

Creative Co-Op Stoneware Mini Bakers

Oh my gosh, those are adorable. Making wee individual shepherd's pies for everyone is EXACTLY the sort of thing I enjoy wasting my time on and also exactly why more high-minded people despair of me ever making something of myself.

Foot Treatment Gift Set
I find this expensive for what it is: cream, soaking salts and socks - but nice footcare products are both pleasant to own AND disturbing to receive as gifts. I mean, I'd happily use it but I'd also wonder what you were saying about my feet and perhaps this is more about me being really touchy. Hm.

Personalized Large Vertical and Round Cutting Boards
"For a yummy girt, I would load up these personalized cutting boards... with an assortment of cheese and salamis," writes Oprah and I am making a very Homer Simpson-esque doughnut noise right now because I pretty much would love the cheese and salami aspect of this, while remaining coolly indifferent to having my name on a cutting board.

The Color Purple on Broadway tickets
This would be a fine, thoughtful gift for a friend who is able to attend.


My children love playing with Siri to a distressing extent and I have to wander away from my computer to be annoyed at the VERY MEMORY of this, so obviously what we REALLY need is a permanently-on Siri installed in the middle of our living room that my children could pester FOREVER. BUT ALAS! This is not available in Canada. Woe.

Women's Cashmere Aran Turtleneck and Men's Cashmere Cable Crew
$369, $398
If you're going to spend close to $400 on a cashmere sweater for me - and please don't do this, I'm too much of a Calvinist to ever enjoy it - please do not get me a bulky and unflattering turtleneck fisherman's sweater. No, get me a black trim v-neck sweater so I can look really fetching as I am racked with undeserving guilt.

"It may look like a regular water bottle," writes Oprah, "But when Adam told me this triple insulated stainless steel vessel... is the perfect size to tote a carafe's worth of rosé , I was sold!"

Icons Gift Box

These are 2 pounds of chocolate in the shape of gilded religious icons and they cost $120. What is with Oprah and her desire to have people eat religious statuary? Does anyone else find this as off-putting as I do?

Sonic Snow Tubes
Did you know that Oprah has a sledding hill at her Telluride house, and if you visited her, you could use these plaid snow tubes for sliding? Doesn't that sound nice? It does! Much nicer than eating blasphemous chocolates, by a long shot.

Typhoon Vision Electronic Scales

This is LITERALLY a way to restrict the amount of food that goes into your loved one's mouth. Hey, wanna know what's not in any way loving? Giving someone a gift that says "YOU NEED TO RESTRICT HOW MUCH FOOD YOU PUT IN YOUR MOUTH." And yes, maybe they DO need to restrict the amount of food they put in their mouths. Christmas Day is NOT THE DAY to deal with this.
Now, maybe the person on your list SPECIFICALLY ASKED for this and in that case, by all means, but maybe get them something fun to go with it, too, because portion control scales as a Christmas present seems MUCH TOO EMOTIONALLY LOADED.

American Beagle Outfitters Antler Beanie
"Dog owners love when you love their dogs," writes Oprah, and dream on, dog lovers! At best I will find your dog bearable but it's far more likely that I'll find your dog annoying and wish fervently that it was spending my visit romping in a nice yard or napping in another room or living on a faraway farm with a gentle, soft-headed farmer. The only dog I feel any degree of affection for is my parent's hard-working Border Collie, Buddy, and I have too much respect for him to get him a silly reindeer hat. I'm getting Buddy a nice box of dog treats instead because he's a GOOD BOY.

Pave Birthstone Stacking Rings
$22 each or $48 for 3
I linked to the peridot ring - my birthstone - to show my primary issue with birthstone jewelry, which is namely that the peridot looks like a shiny booger and is never included in any non-birthstone jewelry for that very reason. These are, I say very grudgingly, nice enough.


"I told my therapist about you"? Get me a nightshirt that says that and I'll be crying quietly all Christmas morning - or even worse, nobly pretending to be brave about having hurt feelings. Festive! Mean humour is a great way to openly insult the person you're obligated to give a present to but don't like, and this shirt is a great way to be really nasty at Christmas. Perhaps you should not do this.

Coltellerie Berti cheese Knife Set in Red Lucite
"Pair it with the recipient's favorite cheese for a truly personal gift." I think the issue here is how each of us defines the word "personal," which apparently now means "3 expensive knives and some cheese." Do I think a selection of my favourite cheeses is a good gift? MY GRACIOUS, YES. Feel free to skip the knives. I'd like us to stay friends.

Special Edition Keith Haring Mia 2 in Dance, Love and Pop
A Clarisonic face brush printed with the art of late artist, Keith Haring.
Three things that Keith Haring was passionate about
1. AIDS awareness and research
2. The non-marginalization of gay sexuality
3. Rich ladies having really clean pores.
Finally! A product that brings all 3 together!

In all fairness, these raise money for very worthwhile causes and if the person on your list really wants a Clarisonic brush, this is a fine one but I still find using artists' works in contexts like this off-putting.

VertuoLine Evoluo Esoresso and Coffee Maker
"There are pod people, and there are espresso people, and never the twain shall meet," writes Oprah.
Pod people!

Love Letter Keychains

Well, that's cute. My mom, who is wise, always keeps her keys on a Daffy Duck keychain, so she can easily find them in her purse by finding Daffy's little splayed legs. I imagine a big pompom would easily serve the same purpose and would make a nice stocking stuffer.

Kristin Classic Slim Ugg Boots
They're UGGs, although they're not as strongly Goodbye To Sex! as most Uggs. My main concern with them is the "subtle wedge" which seems to strongly contradict my primary goal in winter, which is to not wipe out on the ice.  It's no good looking tall if I'm laying on my butt in the snow, IS IT.

Women's Touch Sensor Fleece Gloves
They're fleece gloves in cute colours and that's all I can think of to say about them.

Maison Pebeyre Truffle Set
"Anyone who knows me knows I love my truffles," writes Oprah. I feel like that about the Big Turk chocolate bar and yet I'm still unlikely to gift all of my loved ones with them because a) I'm greedy and b) they're leaden souls who do not appreciate the subtle deliciousness of the Big Turk chocolate bar and so it is with truffles, which are yucky.

Ginger Syrup and Ginger Infused Honey Gift Set
Ginger has "healthful benefits"? THIS IS AMAZING NEWS. Now, while I'm burning my sinuses out eating a whole bag of ginger candy in one go, I can totally justify it to myself under the all-important umbrella of Good Health. Hooray!

Giant and Signature Turtle Baskets
$500 and $90
15 pounds - FIFTEEN POUNDS - of chocolate turtles in a 5 pound edible basket? That sounds like one of those ancient Roman recipes for suicide. Eat two pounds of salt! Eat 20 pounds of turtles!

Beyond that, who WANTS this? Would't they get all dusty and nasty before you ate half of them? Wouldn't you get profoundly sick of chocolate turtles and of life itself?

Gift Set of Six Artisan Cheeses
These sounded delicious until I read that they're made of raw cows milk and now I must say no thank you because I like pasteurization.

Elvis Drizzle Cake

This cake has a lot going on - it's a vanilla cake with banana custard and peanut butter buttercream and chocolate ganache and PICK ONE THING AND GO WITH THAT, CAKE. I feel the same thing about complicated cakes that I feel about complicated men: no thank you. I like my men (all one of them) to be cheerful and easily understood and THE SAME GOES FOR CAKES.

A&B American Style Three-Pack of Original, with Garlic, and More Heat
A three-pack of hot sauce and I actually have someone in my life who would ADORE this. People who like hot sauce REALLY like hot sauce, I find.

Best Wishes Steak Banquet
Good gracious - 6 steaks, 6 fancy stuffed baked potatoes and 6 chocolate molten lava cakes? I think much of my household would weep with sheer pleasure to get this because we are a simple people and this sounds PERFECT. Of course, this comes with the SERIOUS caveat to make sure that your gift recipient is a red-meat eating non-vegetarian but that's my only concern.

Square One Vodka 5 Pack
Imagine getting a 5 pack of flavoured vodkas for Christmas. I mean, it would be nice if you could drink vodka (I can't and neither can a lot of people that I know), but even if you could, wouldn't it be a shade strange to be given so much vodka in one go?

Chelsea Market Baskets Torres Black Truffle Chip Basket
"I discovered these potato chips in Spain this summer," writes Oprah and I've spent my life rapidly alienating people as quickly as I can and yet even I know that saying that you found your favourite kind of truffle potato chips while on holiday in Spain is a mite alienating.

Challah Menorah

My thoughts about this are fully expressed by this excellent, five-star review: "Oprah agrees; nothing beats a Menorah artistically handcrafted using the subtle shapes of intertwining bread penises."

Ilvento's Proprio Italiano Doppio Delizioso Basket
Every year, my review of the Oprah list winds down with me hungrily liking everything on the last bit of it, because that's where she keeps the food suggestions and I am always STARVING. Still, pasta sauces and pasta aren't precisely luxury items and I don't generally give groceries as gifts.

Pappas Seafood Co. signature crab cakes
"Stedman can't get enough of these," apparently, and there is the lone appearance of my favourite man of mystery in the whole list. I've never eaten a crab cake so you'll have to let me know how much I'm missing out.

Gourmet Jam Set
Fancy jams are a nice enough sort of thing to give to people you don't know very well, and I'm sure these are fine. If you make jam, that's an even BETTER gift, of course.

Oprah Bruffin Bundle
$85 for 12 muffins! It's a deal!
Muffins - and I say this more in sadness than in anger - are not hard to make. They are very, very easy. If you're so rich that money is now only an abstract concept: here are some muffins. They cost an apparently random amount of money and are possibly made of gold.

11 pound panforte wheel
It's full of nuts! Nothing makes a baked good like throwing in handfuls of gross nuts so I can pretend that I'm chewing on a mouthful of nasty gravel. And although food gifts seem like an inoffensive, safe thing to give people you don't know very well, a lot of people - like me - are SUPER allergic to nuts OR wisely just hate nuts (also like me) so probably skip the nuts in baked goods for people unless you know for sure that they can eat them.

Xocolatti Tower
Well, these are expensive but nice and with "unexpected" flavours like mango paprika and rose almond, I can have a really fun time playing food allergy roulette.

AND I AM DONE! I am at my very favourite part of the year, the part where I am the longest length of time away from having to write this wretched list for A WHOLE YEAR! I AM SO HAPPY! And I hope you and your family are as well. Merry Christmas! Happy holidays!