It’s that time of year again! Yep, it’s Christmas time! A time for reflection, surrounding ourselves with loved ones, enjoying time with our families, and, most importantly, getting lots and lots of stuff [Editor's note: facetiousness added].
Whether anyone wants to admit it or not, gift giving is a pretty big deal. And while some people are great at giving presents, others (you know who you are) are terrible at it.
Therefore, we've put together some lists to assist those who lack the basic ability to judge what a normal human being would want for Christmas (we also decided to publish this article on Christmas Eve just to heighten your sense of panic).
“But which presents would go over well?” you might ask yourself. As it turns out, there’s a source you can reference to see what items have been popular in 2011.
"Because of Amazon.com’s size and reach, the site’s bestselling items list is an ideal proxy for what is currently popular in the U.S.," writes Charles B. Stockdale of 24/7 Wall St. This could give you a leg up in trying to figure out what to get your special someone (or an annoying relative, whichever comes first).
"The products on the list have all changed from last December’s most popular products," Stockdale adds. Obviously, people are no longer buying the BlackBerry Pearl 8130 or George Bush’s Decision Points with the same enthusiasm they were one year ago.
The “best sellers” listed are updated each hour, and the most popular items will often stay on the “Top 100” list by sales in their category for weeks. Looking at the 10 subcategories listed on Amazon's site, 24/7 writers identified the most popular gifts in 2011.
Hopefully, one of these popular items will help you temporarily satiate your loved one’s never-ending desire for stuff:
5. "21" by Adele
We’re going to go ahead and admit that we just heard of her for the first time.
Days in the top 100: 355
While CD sales have dropped dramatically in recent years, that has not prevented English singer-songwriter from doing incredibly well in Amazon’s music department. Adele’s second album, "21," has been in the Amazon top 100 for longer than any other album except for the artist’s debut album, "19." "21" has also topped Billboard’s year-end list of top-selling albums.
4. Olay Professional Pro-X Advanced Cleansing System
Days in the top 100: 371
Olay’s Pro-X Advanced Cleansing System includes a face brush and exfoliating renewal cleanser. According to the company, the system “is as effective as a system sold by skin professionals for nearly $200.” Olay must be doing something right. The product has been on Amazon’s bestsellers list for 371 days.
3. Just Dance 3
Days in the top 100: 85
In December of last year, Amazon’s top selling video game was Just Dance 2. This year it is Just Dance 3. The popularity of the Nintendo Wii game, where players sing and dance to hit pop songs, represents a major shift in the industry away from just role-playing-games and first-person shooters. The game also features a mode specifically for cardio training.
2. Kindle Fire, Full Color 7″ Multitouch Display, Wi-Fi
Days in the top 100: 80
The Kindle Fire is shaping up to be one of the holiday’s hottest gifts. The tablet has been on the Amazon bestsellers list since its introduction approximately 11 weeks ago. The company recently reported that it is selling one million Kindles per week.
“Kindle Fire sales increased week-over-week for each of the past three weeks,” Dave Limp, vice president of Amazon Kindle, said in a statement.
1. "Steve Jobs" by Walter Isaacson
Days in the top 100: 98
Steve Jobs died on October 5, 2011. Walter Isaacson’s book on the tech pioneer, simply titled Steve Jobs, has been on Amazon’s top 100-bestselling books list since September. The book, based on nearly 50 interviews conducted over two years, reflects on the life of one of the great tech gurus
Now let’s take a look at some Amazon gift ideas you'll want to avoid.
"Yeah, yeah. Nobody would ever buy these things," you might say to yourself, confident that you'd never make such a stupid mistake. But consider this: the very fact that the things we're about to discuss exist means that somebody's buying them. Don't be that somebody.
We’re going to go ahead and say--with an awful lot of confidence--that on Christmas morning, the average American will not want to see any of the following:
[Editor's note: We are fully aware that most of the following items were never intended to be stocking stuffers but, man, could you imagine?]
For the low, low price of just $1,189, you can buy yourself or your loved ones a kit “covering the cost of an urn, transportation and the cremation itself." But most importantly, you'll be buying yourself peace of mind.
You'll also non-verbally tell the person you bought this for: "Hey, look, I've been thinking about you dying . . . a lot. Like, pretty much everyday now. Anyway, I think it would be a big step in our relationship if we both thought about you dying and that's why I decided to streamline the process--Hey! Where are you going?"
Honestly, for a lot less money, you could just buy them a gun and one bullet. It would probably get the same message across.
The general rule of thumb with gift giving is that the act shouldn't be concluded with an earsplitting, “Oh, dear God! What is this?! Where's its head?”
In fact, as general rule of life, if you are involved in anything that results in someone shrieking "Where's its head?" you've messed up somewhere.
But perhaps airmailed headless, skinned-rabbit bunny meat is your thing. If so, for about $46, plus $19 in shipping, you and your loved ones can enjoy "tasty bunny meat" that the seller claims is "lightly flavored [with] a nutty aftertaste [Editor's note: that’s most likely the taste of shipping materials]."
Finally! A gift for your least favorite child.
We're at a loss for words here. Quite simply, this is the worst toy we've ever seen.
"Are you sick and tired of trying to teach your pickles to yodel? Pickles can be so stubborn. At last, the yodeling pickle you've been waiting for...You'll think you're in the Swiss Alps listening to a yodeling pickle," writes the makers of the Pickle whistle, presumably while kicking back a bottle of cheap whiskey and sobbing uncontrollably.
At last! We've found a gift that would make even Edgar Allan Poe say, "Wow, man. Just, wow."
Granted, this is most likely intended for high-school biology classroom, but could you imagine opening this 10 pound bag of assorted "4th quality bones" (we’re afraid to ask what that’s all about) on Christmas morning?
That would be the most horri- . . . hilarious thing we’ve ever thought of. Actually, the more we think about it, this is the best idea we've ever had. Forget it, this entry’s coming off the list.
Price: $189.75 (we’re not making this up)
Ah, what would Christmas be without the opportunity to thrust children headlong into the unpleasant and intrusive world of post-9/11 security checkpoints? What better time to discuss cavity searches with your child than over Christmas dinner?
We applaud Playmobil for trying to teach children about "the real world." Likewise, we praise the publishers of the hard-hitting children's books series “Mommy Drinks Because it Makes the Bills go Away” as well as the manufacturers of the surprisingly realistic “Cancer Ward" action center.*
"Merry Christmas, kids! Death comes for us all!"
*These don't actually exist.