Passive Aggressive Christmas Presents


NEW YORK (MainStreet) — I hardly need to remind anyone that Christmas is coming. For the next week or so, many of us will spend hours searching stores, websites and occasionally old closets for that perfect gift. The holidays are, after all, a time to give to the ones you love.

Except sometimes we don't love them. Sometimes we barely even like them, but tradition demands we still buy a gift. So, for every holiday shopper out who needs present ideas for that one cousin he can barely stand, we present The MainStreet Guide to Passive Aggressive Christmas Shopping.

We take no responsibility for December 26.

#1. Do-it-yourself Black Bear Baiting & Hunting

To be honest, I'm surprised half the items on this list are even legal. The rest, such as this beginner's guide to bear hunting, are just spectacularly bad ideas. I'd explain further, but I feel like the product description really does say it all.

Still, as long as someone has decided to sell a bear hunt instruction manual, you might as well take advantage of it.

Everything about this book is a bad idea, from the hastily sketched out cover and the author's vaguely academic credentials, to the fact that its mere existence says there are people in this world who will place a 180-page paperback between themselves and a grizzly bear. Consider this a family IQ test. If someone sees this book and gets the message, it may be time to smooth things over. If the next stop is a trip to the sporting goods store, Uncle Buck may not be ready to babysit.

#2. Lonely Planet: Afghanistan


I can think of no better way to say, "I hope you don't come back from your next vacation." For added impact, try inscribing "Can I have your office?" inside the front cover.

#3. Explosives Detection Kit


The good news about the DropEx Plus detection kit is that it can test for a surprisingly wide range of explosive powders and residues, including dynamite, nitroglycerine and semtex. The bad news is that it calls for situations where you're testing for dynamite, nitroglycerine or semtex.

It's not just that this gift is, under all imaginable circumstances, completely useless. It also tells your loved one that if he ever did face a life threatening situation, you'd equip them with five squeeze bottles and a pair of blinking arrows.

Good luck, grandma. We're rooting for you.

#4. The Perfect Murder


The nice thing about celebrating a passive aggressive Christmas is that it requires little, if any, subtlety. Give the gift of this rather mediocre murder mystery with some pointed eye contact, and the title should say it all. If that doesn't work, a card saying, "I saw this and immediately thought of you" should finish the message.

#5. How to Be Interesting

Based on a popular Forbes article, How to Be Interesting is the emotional equivalent of giving out a gym membership. It not only says that your friend needs to overhaul everything about his personality, but that you only care enough to spend $7 helping him do it.

#6. A Canon

Sometimes the best gifts are the ones we give to others. In this case, I mean your unpleasant family member's child or neighbors. How better to celebrate Christmas than to outfit Cousin Franklin's next door neighbor with his very own piece of heavy artillery? Built out of traditional black powder these are astoundingly, bizarrely legal, and without the ammunition creates one amazing noisemaker.

#7. Lion Tracks II

In the spirit of the guide to bear hunting, we have a similar gift: a DVD instruction manual on how to hunt cougars.


This is the gift for people who don't have the time for all of that fancy reading but still want to go head to head with something that can dismember them. It manages to take bad ideas to an art form, something so elegant that it only took 53 minutes of footage to pack in a lifetime of mistakes. Admittedly, that lifetime is likely a lot shorter if you're hunting cougars based on an instructional video. Accompany it with a pith helmet for family members you'd never like to see again or if you want to send a pointed message about someone's annoying cat.

#8. Build Your Own Landmine Instructions

No link for this one, because we here at MainStreet would like to stay off of government watch lists.

This gift is best for that annoying crafter in your life, someone whose idea of a great present is an annual knickknack he puts together in pottery class. A helpful tip for anyone out there still doing this: pottery is priceless beyond measure when it comes from your seven year old or if we lived in an agrarian society and stored water in an amphora. Otherwise, it takes up space and needs occasional dusting.

So in the spirit of the holidays, say something without actually bothering to say anything at all. Hopefully the person will get the message and settle for a gift card next year.

#9. LipoBlast, the Extreme Weight Loss Pill

Why wait for New Year's resolutions? Dieting can start any time, and there's no better way to make sure your friend stops calling than to remind him of that. Even better, this gift is equally offensive to just about anyone. Great for an office party if you hate pretty much all of your coworkers since it won't matter who gets this. They'll all be mad.

#10. Disease

Give the gift of disease this Christmas season! In a bizarre effort to avoid vaccines, some parents have begun marketing lollipops licked by children with chicken pox. Hand out a couple of these well-labeled treats around the Christmas tree, and no further explanation, or relationship, should be necessary.

Fair warning, however: buy them in person. Sending or receiving these through the mail is a felony.

--Written for MainStreet by Eric Reed, a freelance journalist who writes frequently on the subjects of career and travel. You can read more of his work at his website

Show Comments

Back to Top