Story last updated at 3:16 p.m. Thursday, December 12, 2002

Surviving the gift-giving season requires proper strategy
Nick C. Varney
The holidays seem to throw some men into such angst that they freeze up until Christmas Eve trying to decide what to give significant others or wives who are still speaking to them. Such procrastination is dangerous, especially if they start their shopping frenzy late in the evening and the only thing left upon the shelves are, Mr. "T" Chia Heads and Bubble Wrap lingerie.

Thus, The Homer News presents: Uncle Nick's Holiday Gift Ideas for Men To Seriously Avoid: Let's start with the "Don't even think about it" group.

Giving these items as personal gifts will garner you the same endearment the family pet receives when it leaves a "surprise" on the new living room rug:

1- Anything from an infomercial, especially if it stars co-hosts with a combined IQ lower than the product they're selling;

2- Any $19.95 feminine gift suggestion that has been constantly hawked on television since last August. Women grow to hate those things (my wife inadvertently received a singing carp last year that was immediately taken outside and shot before it could twitch, much less sing);

3- Bulk cleaning supplies really suck, along with anything claiming to be industrial strength, especially perfume;

4- Lumber for a storage shed would not be considered in good taste;

5- A log splitter will buy you more couch time than Fido;

6- Anything made by Ronco that slices and dices, or a set of spectacular ginsu knives. Remember such items make excellent weapons should one's lady cop an attitude about the reconditioned engine block you gave her for her '72 Pinto instead of a new minivan. Power tools to install the block are not a good idea either, since they fit into orifices other than for normal bolt fittings.

7- A lifetime membership in a Weight Watchers Program would be a serious mistake, especially if she thinks it refers to the purchaser's particular lifespan;

8- Hair removal and anti-wrinkle cream will probably not be on her list of preferred cosmetic gift selections;

9- Warning: Homer Simpson watches available with fast food orders will rate right up there with zirconia engagement rings advertised as "Free, plus shipping and handling" in weekly newspaper inserts;

10- Please be very careful with gift subscriptions. Popular Mechanics and Monster Truck Monthly may not be on her wish list. If they are, the warning to never give her sharp objects or power tools triples to red alert;

11- Finally, plug-in deodorizers, the infamous "Clapper" device mistakenly given by men to women because they think it shuts down discussions rather than electrical outlets, and meat processing machinery should not be under the same tree along with a gift certificate for automatic weapons training.

Hopefully, the aforementioned warnings will be of some help, gentlemen. If, for some idiotic reason, you already have some of these items gift wrapped, simply change the name on the giver's card to one of the kids or family dog. It's your only chance.

An emergency backup coupon book for oil and lube discounts on the '72 Pinto will not save you. Before I wander off to finish decorating my dog Howard for the holidays (we rent him out to advertisers like Goodyear does their blimp), I just want to thank those of you who have taken the time to write us via

Unfortunately, I can't print most of those e-missles, because this is a family newspaper. Some of you better crank up your meds and go to decaf.

For those of you who have a life and don't see men in black following you through the checkout line at the grocery store, I have a request: Please send me your New Year's resolutions. If they aren't against the law and won't cause heart seizures amongst our more staid readers, I'll pick some for inclusion in the next column.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Gift Meister Nick C. Varney drops into this space every three weeks or so. He can be reached at