To Give or Not to Give

Written by Guest Blogger Barb Beacham

Today I welcome first time guest blogger, Barb Beacham. Barb lives in the Sierra Foothills and works as an accountant for an El Dorado winery. She writes when she is not working, tooling around her garden, or whipping up something wonderful in the kitchen!


Do you find yourself inundated with catalogs wanting to sell you stuff they think is a “must have” for Christmas? Even though I have yet to order anything, year after year, I find my mailbox stuffed with a multitude of catalogs which represent a complete waste of paper, postage, and printing costs. Here are some of the pickings that really resonated with me. Be prepared. These may end up in YOUR Christmas stocking.

The winners of this year’s list of what I don’t want, and what I don’t want to give are:

  • The sign with a little girl’s photo, in black and white with a red rose that reads “my face hurts, from pretending to like you.” Enough said. Price…$69 plus tax and shipping.

  • For women only: How about a case to carry tampons in? With a photo of a good looking guy on it that reads, “If there is a God, please let this guy be my ob/gyn.” At $23, this could be the deal of the decade. For the manufacturer.

  • How about a sign that reads, “Well, today was a total waste of makeup!” I know my girlfriends are dying for me to give this to them. I can buy this item for the low cost of $13 plus $6 in shipping. Note that this does not include sales tax and the cost of losing a good friend.

  • What do you think when someone gives you bath soap or scented oils for the holidays? Do you think I smell bad? For a measly $28 plus tax and shipping, you can give someone a 3 bar pack of lavender soap that will soothe and soften the wrinkles of the skin. For a mere $30 the soap can be personalized. Which means it will last a lifetime, because who wants to watch their name go down the drain?

  • The Christmas Pickle. This was a tradition in Germany where parents would hide a pickle in the Christmas tree. You too can follow this lovely custom at a mere $9.00. Plus shipping and tax. Hmmm…that must be one heck of a pickle!

  • The Knife Handler. Who wouldn’t want a 15″ figure of a person that you can “stab” out your aggressions when replacing the knives in the body of the figure! This comes with a variety of sharp instruments and is yours for only $99 plus shipping. It does not include attorney’s fees and court costs but it might be the perfect gift for the mystery author in your life.

I would love to see what other “cool” items I might have missed. Or you might have received! Leave a comment by midnight, December 19th, and you will be entered in the drawing to win a $10 Amazon gift card.



  1. Jacqueline Seewald on December 16, 2011 at 8:49 am

    Hi, Barb and Cindy,

    This is why my husband and I have resorted to cash presents for the most part.
    As the saying goes: one person’s treasure is another person’s trash. I hate to give gifts that force people to stand in line for returns.

  2. Barb Beacham on December 16, 2011 at 9:07 am

    My Mom once bought me a sweater with Zebras running across the belly and mountains that peaked oddly. I was so glad that it didn’t fit! Have a great holiday!

  3. Pauline Baird Jones on December 16, 2011 at 9:26 am

    The chia “pets” are my personal “hate.” The commercials make me want to scream, so of course, my husband got me one. now it is re-gifted around the family as a joke.

    that’s a pretty whacky list! i am a bit dumbfounded. i guess i should look through my catalogs before tossing… =8-0

    • Barb Beacham on December 16, 2011 at 9:37 am

      I got a chia pet once. It was a head. It started to grow and was looking good until the cat ate all the “hair!” I was amazed when I looked through the catalogs what kind of things were offered!

  4. Elaine Fagundes on December 16, 2011 at 10:31 am

    My mother-in-law is a big Figi’s gifter–which would be fine–IF she chose a gift box that contained anything we’d actually eat!

    Why in the world would anyone skip the CHOCOLATE gifts for pancake mix and a hunk of pork?

    Can you say RE-GIFT?!

  5. Barb Beacham on December 16, 2011 at 10:56 am

    I will take chocolate anytime! Just make sure that if you re-gift that you do not give it to the person who gave it to you!

  6. Lauren Hetrick on December 16, 2011 at 10:58 am

    Well, this just makes me feel better about the gifts I am giving this Christmas. At least it’s not a tampon case or a pickle… Thanks for sharing, Barbara! 🙂

  7. Dana on December 16, 2011 at 11:00 am

    The only thing on that list that wouldn’t have be doubting the sanity of the giver is the soap set. I actually love receiving soaps and lotions ’cause I enjoy that sort of thing. I hope people haven’t been giving them to me to imply that I’m stinky…

  8. Joyce Mason on December 16, 2011 at 11:07 am

    I pride myself on the skills I’ve honed my whole life to give just the right gift, so I’m rolling my eyes at these along with you, Barb. I still think the world’s worst gift is fruitcake, unless it’s some special miraculous recipe that doesn’t taste like it was made of chopped old shoes. I agree with this: “There is only one fruitcake in the entire world, and people keep sending it to each other.” – Johnny Carson.

    I do have a contribution to A Good Laugh, But I Wouldn’t Be Caught Dead with It in My Window, holiday or otherwise. That’s those “leg lamps” that replicate the “major award” the dad received in the movie, A Christmas Story. This year they have out strings of lights with tiny replica, plastic leg lamps. Hilarious but tasteless, LOL! Well, OK. They probably taste better than fruticake.

    Your clunkers are a real find and should be saved for the stockings of the naughty! Great post.

  9. Suz deMello on December 16, 2011 at 11:10 am

    Check out the chocolate loverboy 🙂
    Lick him all over…anytime

  10. Barb Beacham on December 16, 2011 at 11:12 am

    For me, I have always wondered…But then too I have received some soaps that were really stinky! The wackiest soap I received was from my brother. It turned your face a funny color!

  11. Mickey Hoffman on December 16, 2011 at 11:17 am

    My dad used to do all his shopping with catalogs. I’ve received many strange and useless items. It’s really difficult to thank people for their presents when you get strange and completely useless things. The ones you listed are funny. I rather like the tampon case.

  12. Camille Minichino on December 16, 2011 at 11:29 am

    That’s my biggest fear, Barb, that I’ll regift to the originating giver! I’ve started to keep a log as things come in that I know are destined to go back out! Like the strange bag of coffee from a -stan country and the . . . oops, I’d better not say in case someone’s reading this.

  13. Barb Beacham on December 16, 2011 at 11:34 am

    My brother was given back a bottle of wine that he had given to this gal the Christmas before. He knew it, but she had forgotten! Ooops!

  14. Alyx Morgan on December 16, 2011 at 11:39 am

    Funny post, Barb! I actually snorted when you described the Knife Handler.

    I, too, have always found these catalogues to be a waste of paper & money (were I to ever purchase one of their wares). I often find myself saying “Who on earth would buy this crap?!”, but I’m sure someone must, or else these companies wouldn’t keep sending these catalogues out.

  15. Barb Beacham on December 16, 2011 at 11:40 am

    Joyce – I have to agree with you on the fruitcake. It was probably the world’s worst baker who came up with that and everyone was too polite to say how bad it was! Then they honored her by asking for the recipe. Hmmmm…maybe that was the original white elephant gift?

  16. Barb Beacham on December 16, 2011 at 11:41 am

    Mickey – glad you liked the one on the tampon case! Aren’t those things still free in the boxes of tampons when you buy them?

  17. Barb Beacham on December 16, 2011 at 11:42 am

    Alyx – I was thinking that maybe Cindy could build a story around that knife block….

  18. Roxanne Smolen on December 16, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    I’m always amazed at the number of catalogs I receive without ever having asked for them. Usually they go into the recycle bin. But one year I got a hippie catalog filled with peace signs, love beads, and tie dyed bell bottoms. My granddaughters had a ball going through it. Thanks for the fun blog post!

  19. Barb Beacham on December 16, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    One year, Roxanne, I ended up with a Horse Rider’s gift catalog. I am not an equestrian at all! Hmmm…how did they get my name? Gee, and I remember living through those hippie days! Did the catalog have any God’s Eyes in it?

  20. Paisley Kirkpatrick on December 16, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    Enjoyed reading all of the different gifts. Sounds like some have vivid, if weird, imaginations. After a while, it gets difficult to come up with gift ideas. I am terrible at it because I hate malls and never go into the stores.

    Nice to meet you today. I live up in the Placerville area as well. Nice to know another author up this way. Merry Christmas to you.

  21. Barb Beacham on December 16, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    I hate the malls too! Too crowded! It can be difficult to come up with great gifts, and actually downtown Placerville has some wonderful spots to pick up some unique items! Happy holidays to you too!

  22. Conor Bofin on December 17, 2011 at 12:51 am

    Hi Barb,
    When I was a rebellious early teen, my grandmother gave me vouchers for a Dublin bookstore, Easons. They also sold cigarettes. You can guess the rest. Accidentally inappropriate and done with the best intentions.

    • Barb Beacham on December 17, 2011 at 9:44 am

      As they say — it is the thought that counts!

  23. Linda Lovely on December 17, 2011 at 4:20 am

    I’m NOT a shopper. However, when two other authors and I shared a booth at a three-day Holiday Fair, I spent all my “profits” and then some at other vendor booths. It’s hard to say no to free food samples. Best find–local honey “creamed” with blueberries for a nephew who loves both. Yummy. Of course, chocolates are never regifted. I make homemade chocolates for friends/family.

  24. Barb Beacham on December 17, 2011 at 6:03 am

    Mmmmm….Homemade chocolates! Aren’t you my long lost Aunt? 🙂

  25. Teresa on December 17, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    These are some gems, for sure. The Christmas Pickle is puzzling…how hard could it be to find a smelly pickle? Then again, if the custom hails from the days when a Saturday bath was the norm, maybe it was kinda hard to follow your nose. I’m definitely going to have to read my catalogs better. 🙂 Fun post!

    • Barb Beacham on December 18, 2011 at 10:31 am

      I wonder if it makes a difference if it is dill or sweet? Glad you liked the post!

  26. Sharie on December 17, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    ahhhh…………and where is Jesus Christ in all this?……………is He invited to the party?

    • Barb Beacham on December 17, 2011 at 3:34 pm

      He has yet to arrive, and his day is coming!

  27. kat on December 18, 2011 at 1:52 am

    I find it impossible for me to say I hate a gift. I love laughing and I love jokes! So if I were to receive a ridiculous gift (along with a very nice gift hehe), it would just make me laugh! One year, all I could talk about was wanting a pink Snuggie, and my boyfriend who vowed to never purchase one actually bought me one for Christmas! I was thrilled!! I know a lot of people hate them and make fun of Snuggies, but they really are super cozy. This year, I would love a Forever Lazy, you know the adult-footed pajamas, one piece sleepwear with a built in back flap (for the toilet!) 🙂

    ps. great job on this post!!!

  28. Barb Beacham on December 18, 2011 at 10:40 am

    May all your dreams come true and I hope that you get your forever lazy!

  29. Mary Beth Magee on December 18, 2011 at 11:13 am

    Loved the post and the replies! What fun-a great reminder that what one (giftee) disdains, another acclaims.

    To all of you: thanks for the laughs and chuckles this column evoked. The gift of laughter is the richest give one can receive without either adding inches to the waistline or breaking the law.

    May your Christmas season be as filled with joy as you have shared today and may your New Year find a line of readers flocking to buy your book!

    Mary Beth

    • Barb Beacham on December 18, 2011 at 1:09 pm

      Thank you Mary Beth! As Victor Borge said, “Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.” I am glad that I shortened the distance!

  30. Bev Moglich on December 18, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    Every Christmas for 31 years my husband gave me gifts of elegant lingerie. In 1979 I was shocked at the gift of a yellor foul weather jumpsuit to wear on our planned sailing trip to Hawaii for the summer of 1980. He thought I was going to be thrilled when I held it up to my extra small body. I thought I looked like the Groton’s fish commercial. We had the money, it was just he felt our getting ready for the trip would be a good time to start collecting things . After all it was going to be romantic our sailing from San Francisco to Hawaii together. I am not a complainer and put on the best act I could: he got the point from the expession my face.
    Christmas 1980 gift -1.10 solitaire diamond ring. Gorgeous. It has never left my finger.

    We have been married almost 64 years.

    • Barb Beacham on December 18, 2011 at 1:11 pm

      But was the jumpsuit your color? 🙂 Congratulations on being married for 64 years!

  31. Penny on December 18, 2011 at 2:33 pm

    I have always believed somewhere there were poor people locked up in rooms until they came up with weird things for the rest of us to spend money on (anyone remember the pet rock?) Anyway, this year I got my first ever ThinkGeek catalog. So much useless stuff to choose from but my personal favorite (Honey, I so hope you are reading this.) is the SPAM Lip Glaze Meat flavored lip gloss. Guaranteed to not clog your inbox and is Officially licensed by Hormel! According to the add: “SPAM Lip Glaze makes your lips happy. It protects them from only the stresses of life (hey, it’s got some Aloe in there) and tastes like real meat.” Now I ask you, who could ask for anything more? Well that and of course world peace.

    • Barb Beacham on December 18, 2011 at 2:44 pm

      Would you like eggs to go with that? If so, how would you like them?

  32. Cindy Sample on December 18, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    Okay, I have to comment on this one and it’s taken me almost 10 minutes to pick myself off the floor. Finally, a way to woo a man. Thank you, Penny and Hormel!

    • Barb Beacham on December 18, 2011 at 6:55 pm

      Thank you to Cindy for giving me the opportunity! Great comments from all!

  33. MoJo on December 20, 2011 at 4:49 pm

    OK Barb…don’t shoot me now…I’m about to admit to re-gifting a gift I received from you! But, you should know, and I believe you’ll be pleased to know that the foam ‘Cinderella Wine Glass Sandal, “which won’t leave rings on your tables and helps you keep track of which wine glass is yours…,” was re-gifted (of sorts) 2 days ago in a silent auction fund raiser! It auctioned off for $10! Had to tell you!

    • Barb Beacham on December 20, 2011 at 5:48 pm

      Thanks for the comment Mojo! I guess you forgot that you gave that sweet gem to me about 10 years ago! 🙂

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