Via the terrific Girl on the Right Blog, these helpful suggestion from A. Nonymous:
Most of us are not doing God’s work trading credit derivatives at Goldman Sachs. You may be stunned when I tell you this, because I sure as heck was when I found out: the TARP program covers none of our credit card bills. Like, zero. All of that means another tough, tough Christmas, money-wise. The desperate economy calls for desperate measures to economize at Christmas. Here are twelve ways for the twelve days:
1. The first thing to do is to keep doing more of what you’re already doing: bitching and complaining. Cry poor mouth to everyone. Tell everyone you know how tough it is. Make a Bill Clinton face while you share people’s pain and make them feel yours. Next you say, “You know, let’s make it easy this year, you don’t have to buy me anything.” Of course, that means you don’t have an obligation to buy them anything! That works with everyone except your kids.
2. Tell your young kids Santa’s not real. Kids as young as four are old enough to get real in this day and age. In Indonesia and Pakistan kids are out sewing soccer balls to support a family at that age! So just explain to them that it’s all a scam meant to con them into good behavior, tell them how much you know they wouldn’t want to connive in such a fraud, and assure them you know they’ll behave perfectly well without bribery. They’ll thank you. Someday.
3. What about the older kids? They’re all so eco-conscious these days, and that’s an opportunity for the canny cheapskate. Just tell them instead of lame games for Wii and Xbox this year, you’re saving the planet on their behalf by planting a tree with their name on it in the Amazon! You can even work up some kind of authentic-looking certificate on the computer! People in the carbon-credit business are becoming billionaires doing just that, by the way.
4. You still feel you need some real gifts? Well how about re-gifts? You’ve been given things you never opened — herbal soap, crème brûlée mix, thermal bags for keeping wine cold — pass the parcel! Just try to remember not to give it to the person that gave it to you!
5. Books are such a popular item at Christmas. So many books can be had for free! Libraries put out boxes of new, unread, unmarked books that they want to get rid of. These include books about business, money, and investing that are still very attractive and were timely when they were published last year, but are entirely irrelevant under current conditions. Also look for container-loads of books about the Bush and Clinton administrations, and anything by Dick Morris. I don’t normally advocate illegal behavior, but one exception could be Saul Alinsky’s Rules For Radicals. Bookstores are full of this one – it’s the Obama playbook! Somehow it just seems right to go in there and liberate a copy or three, comrade!
6. One of my cheap-ass friends used to always joke, “I wanted to buy you a big plant for Christmas, but GM wouldn’t sell.” What a laff riot, and it got him off the hook for ever buying anything! Of course, now GM desperately wants to sell all its plants, so the 2009 revision of that joke is, “I wanted to buy you a big plant for Christmas, but the Chinese bought them all!” Ha ha! Your friends
will be falling over, and they won’t even notice you didn’t buy a round of drinks!
7. Speaking of drinks, ‘tis the season to bend the elbow, so herewith some recommendations from Chateau Wang. First, drink cheap beer. The cheapest stuff in my local is also the original and greatest . . . it’s Miller at $3.99 a six-pack, compared to $5.29 for Miller Light. That make any sense to you? Me neither, they take stuff out and charge you more? Forget that! Next, drink cheap wine. André’s Cold Duck is back, it’s $4.99, and it’s as good as it was when you were fourteen and sneaked it in the kitchen after the Thanksgiving dinner was cleared away. (You know you did.)
8. As for food, the trick to economizing on food is not to cook any. Instead, head over to your brother’s house and scrounge Christmas dinner there. You need to go unannounced, early in the day, in case they have the same idea of coming over and scrounging from you. If that was the plan and your sister-in-law makes no move to put a turkey in the oven, give her one of your Miller’s and she’ll at least come through with some Dinty Moore. Note: If you were to show up on the doorstep at 7:00 AM, there are secondary benefits – you can reconnect with the Christmases of your childhood, when you punished everyone by getting up too early, and you’ll get breakfast too.
9. Here are the hard liquor recommendations from Chateau Wang. You want to drink cheap, cheap liquor too. The venerable and cheap bourbons and ryes from Old Huckaby, Rebel Heaven, and Elihu Walton lack the sophistication of single-malt Scotch, but they have all of the wallop! Also consider cheap and nasty tequila like Don Cheech and Señor Pepe brand – they mix great with green Gatorade!
10. You don’t feel you can scrounge 100% at your sister-in-law’s house? Try this recipe that will cost about 25 cents: Mix two cups of flour with a quarter teaspoon each of baking power and salt, and add up to two cups of water to make a heavy dough. Add a few raisins if you have any, tie it up in a clean handkerchief, and boil it in water until it’s time to go home. Then discard it. Tell them it’s the dumpling Oliver Twist had in the workhouse at Christmas. Your brother’s family doesn’t read! They won’t know! Ha ha! Give them a copy of Rules For Radicals.
11. Christmas trees are $60 at the VFW, and wreaths are $20. That make any sense to you? Me neither, so here you have many ways to go. You could wait until 4:30 on Christmas Eve, by which time the guy working at VFW will have gone home and abandoned whatever Charlie Brown Christmas trees he has left. Freebie! Option two, you may live in a place where trees are plentiful all around – neighbor’s yards, parks, and so on, if you “catch” my “drift” (wink wink!) Freebie! Another idea, if Border’s Bookstore actually survives far into this Christmas season, you may be able to buy one of the jokey artificial trees they had there last year – these things were some kind of intellectual joke, made with like a few bare wires covered in tinsel; this choice shows a certain post-modern hauteur which goes very well with Dinty Moore and Cold Duck. It’s about $5.99. But you can make it yourself, using wire coat-hangers, spray adhesive, and metallic flock or confetti. That’s a good thing!
12. Finally, we have to get control of this holiday again. Twelve days my wonderful arse! Our Jewish neighbors get by with just eight nights for Hanukkah, and even that is way too much noodle pudding. Let’s do away with this business of Christmas as a 3-month long retail opportunity. The retailers have been unloading container loads of useless crap from Yiwu, China into their Christmas displays since just after Labor Day! With the cheap and nasty Christmas I have outlined here, we can let them know that that is just not the way we want to be living anymore.
Have a happy.