What's the Most Interesting Gift You've Ever Gotten for Christmas?

Share your experience with those of us who are still looking for things to give people ....


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  1. I think a Chia Obama would be a wonderful gift

  2. It wasn’t the gift but the way it was given. One year my parents put a small item in each stocking. The item was a clue that led to a series of items until we got to the real present. They wouldn’t give more information than was provided with each item found. It took me most of the morning investigating leads until I found a bicycle in the neighbor’s back yard. His acting when I asked if I could look in his yard deserved some kind of award.
    I returned the favor years later when I gave my parents a small piece of their present. They had to figure out what it was for before I gave them the gift.

  3. Mine was someone else’s gift: My little sister had wanted a guitar. Mom couldn’t for the life of her figure out how to wrap it so it wouldn’t look like, well, a guitar. I suggested that she wrap it so it looked totally like a guitar, but put the card on it: to Joe [me]. Little sister walked around for several days looking like someone had shot her dog. On the right day of Chanukah, the card got switched.

    Best thing ~I~ ever got was just a card from a very good friend who clearly knew me well, and it was for a birthday, not end of year. The cover of the card said, sappily, “on the day you were born, the angels all got together and said….” I dreaded opening the card, because I knew it was going to be the usual goo, but was surprised when I looked and it said…

    “Let’s f**k with this one.”

    Sure explained much of my life, for which I was appropriately grateful.

  4. I don’t get Christmas gifts. But I do give a few.

  5. The gifts that had the greatest impact on my life were undoubtedly books. Some of them were key to forming my entire outlook on life. For me, the most notable ones were probably Heinlein’s “Stranger in a Strange Land” and Dale Carnegie’s “How to win friends and influence people,” but the right book is very dependent on the recipient. Try to pick something that’s both thought-provoking and an enjoyable read.

    For kids age 8-15 (and sometimes older), I like giving games as gifts, but I happen to be a boardgame connoisseur who knows all the right ones. Don’t give crap games like the old classics Monopoly and Risk, there are vastly better games out there. (Quick tip: It’s hard to go wrong with anything that won the German “Spiel des Jahres” award).

    1. Reimagine those classics. Have you ever played Riskopoly? “You may own Boardwalk but my troops occupy it.”

  6. I was a fairly typical twelve-year-old and my grandmother got me a book entitled “Speaking with Animals: How Horses Can Unlock the Secrets of Autism.” I’ve never had anything to do with animals, horses, or autism. That same year my grandfather got me a flip chart to recognize animal scat in the wild.

  7. When I was young, I always worked holidays. I had no family, and working kept my mind off that. If I worked, another employee could spend the day with family. Working on holidays paid well and made me look good. I became known as ‘the guy who works Christmas.’ Putting my name on the holiday schedule before it was posted became a tradition.

    When I was 22, I got a girlfriend. She also had no family with whom to spend holidays. All we had was each other, so she was sad when I told her I would work on Christmas (and Christmas Eve). School was out. Campus was dead. It dawned on me that those days would be worse for her than for me.

    She drove me to and from work, so everyone in the newsroom knew her. I asked whether she could spend those 2 days with me at work. An editor bent the rules to put her on the security list.

    A few days before Christmas, one of the assistant editors asked me to check the board, ‘see if it’s right.’ My name had a line through it on Christmas and Christmas Eve. As I saw this, he came up behind me. I told him the schedule was wrong, that I would work both days.

    ‘No, kid,’ he said. ‘You’re off. You spend that time with Jane.’

    ‘But who’s going…’

    ‘This newspaper published for almost 100 years before you got here, kid. We’ll manage.’

    He then wrote his name above mine for Christmas, the editor’s name above mine for Christmas Eve.

    ‘About time Al and I did some actual work around here, don’t you think?’

    Those 2 days off were my most interesting present.

    1. What a coincidence, there are many here who would love to see a line through your name and send you on a holiday! Happy holidays and Jane sounds like a saint!

      1. why, thatd be a backward clinger christmas miracle! only thing better would be a shiny new spittoon, what catches all yalls spit, or a wrasslin marathon on the tv. ahyuck!

      2. Are you guys trying to alienate the non-wingnut visitors to reason.com?

        Happy holidays, AJ. Perhaps Santa will put some libertarianism and progressive preferences in your stocking.

      3. AJ_Liberty, that was a pretty petty comment for the subject material you were responding to: totally digressive and off-topic.

        Almost like someone else around here, y’know? Maybe even someone you’ve criticized recently for doing just that. Hard to take people seriously when they become that which they want to criticize.

        Nice story, AK. Enjoy your Chistmas this year, presumably/hopefully not in an office.

  8. It would have to be the go-kart. Starting up a new tradition of spoiling the next generation, we are getting the nieces and nephew a go-kart this year.

    However…nothing compares to the gift of the Volokh Conspiracy!

    Surprised no one has gotten a firearm.

  9. For secret santa, someone once gave me their mixtape on a USB stick. This same person also gave someone else sex toys the year before.

    1. Matt Lauer is such a creep.

  10. The most consistently useful Christmas gift came from my father, who each year (from my age 7 until his death) gave me a roll of stamps and a wallet-sized leather-bound Day-Timer-style calendar. The combination was interesting, in that the stamps enabled messaging to others while the calendars enabled self-messaging: I still have each calendar and the collection provides an awesome insight into what was happening each day of my life.

    The most interesting Christmas gift, though, was a group of seven identical boxes, each wrapped for re-gifting, given to me by a college buddy. A note attached to the collection instructed me to share the spirit of the holiday by giving one box to the person who sat to my right at whatever bar I visited during the week before Christmas. Begin near a military base, there was no shortage of bars… and no shortage of patrons who seemed to me to deserve an extra present. I followed the instructions and dutifully delivered each of the seven boxes. Back at the bars several weeks later, I learned from (uniquely proud, yet somewhat puzzled) members of the Marines, Army, Navy, and Air Force that each box contained a Clone-A-Willy kit.

  11. Probably the Christmas my girlfriend, who very actively resented the time I spent restoring my ’62 Triumph TR3, presented me with a new, correct steering wheel for the car and set of lifters for the engine rebuild. To this day (20+ years later) I have no idea how she found it, or even knew what I needed to complete the engine and interior.

  12. The Grove Dictionary of Music in 20 volumes.
    A lifetime of musical information.

  13. It’s what I didn’t get, switches and extra tracks! I’ve never gotten over it!!!!

  14. Maybe sort of lame for you high priced lawyer types, but I got a home-brew kit one year. Hit all the right areas.

    1. Beer
    2. Learned more about the process
    3. Busy and entertained
    4. Great conversation starter

  15. I think I’m more of a good gift-giver than a getter. I can’t remember getting any really good christmas gifts since childhood. But a few times I have given people items that they loved. Once, I gave my sister one of those zen fountains in a ceramic bowl with little river stones and she told me that it was *exactly* what she wanted, and that in fact she had spent hours scouring the stores for one exactly like the one I gave her, unable to find one. After that, she was convinced I could read minds.

    This year, I gave everyone in my family a set of hoodie-footie pajamas.

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