The gag gift contains multitudes. Is it a troll? Good harmless fun? A cheap way to check someone off of your holiday shopping list? A deeply thoughtful reflection of how well you know a friend or family member’s sense of humor? All of the above?
Better still, it’s a gift for all seasons — as appropriate for Christmas as it is for a birthday, an anniversary, a retirement or any other occasion that requires gift wrapping.
There is really only one rule: It must be funny — or so bizarre or outlandish that the recipient can’t do anything but laugh. According to that logic at least, the suggestions below more than fit the bill.
Celebrity Prayer Candle
Christmas stopped being a religious holiday a long time ago, so what better way to celebrate that most secular of seasons than with a celebrity prayer candle? Did you and your partner binge Tiger King during quarantine? Get them a Joe Exotic candle and say a prayer for that trashy icon. Does your buddy have big dick energy? Send them an Anthony Bourdain candle to salute that shlong. Were they tweeting #FreeBritney? They’ll go nuts for a Britney Spears candle. Or if their favorite vacation spot is Flavortown, let them light it up with Guy Fieri.
It’s hard to precisely describe which kind of celebrity is right for a prayer candle, but it’s probably someone with good meme-ability and who is likely the subject of an inside joke between you and your friends. But really, when it comes to choosing the right celebrity prayer candle, you’ll know it when you see it. — Brian VanHooker, Staff Writer
Bubble Soccer Balls / Orbs
A few years ago, as part of a friend’s birthday, we all dawned inflatable bumper bubble balls, had some drinks and proceeded to bounce off of each other in ways that I’m convinced caused irreparable damage to our brains. The game is called bubble soccer, and it’s one of those gifts that’s as much for you as it is the person you’re giving it to — unless you just give them a single inflatable bumper bubble ball and watch them cause irreparable damage to their brain.
The full-on game isn’t cheap, but neither are the laughs that come with watching your friend be catapulted into the air and across the field, rolling down the hill into a ditch.
If you’re thinking bubble ball is too bro-y for you, you’re probably right. And not just because those rentable bubble balls smell like Formula 409 All-Purpose Cleaner and gym socks — it’s rancid inside those inflatable orbs. It’s the accident that’s waiting to happen, too. Just speaking for myself, it’s been three years, and my back is still barking from the blindside bounce that, thanks to the shots of whiskey beforehand, I didn’t even feel until the next morning. — Andrew Fiouzi, Staff Writer
Skywriting Their Name
Many men would like to have their name be known, to have a little more clout in this world, to be recognized, to be set apart somehow, for their name to be as big as the sky. So why not give that gift, literally?
Skywriting is typically reserved for cringey couples and local sales events. But it doesn’t have to be. Give a man in your life the gift of his name written in the clouds — up where everyone for seven miles around can see it. Imagine all the questions: Is that the title of a new A24 movie? Is it a new podcast, a show streaming on Paramount+? Who is [fill in name here]? Go big, and go dumb. For some real kicks, have their phone number written in the sky as well.
Plus, it’s a solid way to help small businesses. For instance, in the Southern California area, there’s Cristina Jacuzzi, president of The Sky Writers, who promises, “I’ve worked with a lot of advertising formats over the years, but nothing measures up to huge skywriting and digital skytyping.”
When it comes to a gag gift, there’s no better person to take advice from than a Californian named Jazuzzi who makes her living writing in the sky. — Zaron Burnett III, Staff Writer
A Jar of Dirt
What man doesn’t want a piece of land to own?
Of course, with today’s real-estate prices, who can afford to give someone a significant tract of land? Instead, get yourself a really nice jar or vase — preferably something with a top, for reasons that will become obvious — then drive out or hike out to a place that’s special to the recipient. Find a spot that feels just right, bend low and gather up some land, shovel it into the jar, maybe add a few small stones for color and texture, and boom, there you go — the gift of land.
It’s a gift that’s inexpensive, and yet, can also be funny, thoughtful or however else you want to play it. For example, it would be super impressive if some friend gave me a jar of land from Dodger Stadium, Big Sur or the Berkshires. If you need a little help, you can turn to sites like Dune Jewelry, or on Etsy there are creators who make tiny gifts of land. To say nothing of those who sell “ethically-sourced grave dirt.” So, you know, you have options. — Zaron Burnett III, Staff Writer
If you’ve spent any time on Nextdoor recently, you know that there’s been a wave of catalytic converter thefts across the country. And so, if you have a friend or family member who’s a gearhead, living in a major metropolitan area, maybe find out the make and model of their car and pick ‘em up a used catalytic converter, or an after-market number. (You can also find a few standard units on Amazon.) It’s not a cheap — or light — gift, but it’s a thoughtful one.
Now, the recipient may look askance when they first unwrap this hunk of metal, but later that evening, when they discover that their catalytic converter has been sawed off from underneath their car, they’ll appreciate your foresight. And until that day comes, they can use it as either a conversation piece or a door-stopper. — Zaron Burnett III, Staff Writer
Reindeer Cock Ring
There’s no time like the holidays to put a ring on it, and the Rockin’ Reindeer cock ring is sure to make anyone’s heart flutter. It’s one-size-fits-all, so you’re not gonna spoil the surprise if you don’t take measurements. It’s rigged with a battery-operated bullet vibe, so there’s no need to take stock of your power outlets either. And it’s obviously outfitted with antlers for a seasonal flare — you’re in for a real treat when it’s eyes light up. But of course, the best gift of all isn’t the ring itself — it’s whoever’s carrot you slide it onto. — Ian Lecklitner, Staff Writer
Cameo from an Athlete on an Arch-Rival Team
Why give a simple gag gift when you can be downright evil? Obviously, the appeal of Cameo is you can get your buddy a personal greeting from one of their heroes. But wouldn’t it be funnier to buy one from one of his enemies?
If your pal has a favorite team, the chances are good that that team has an archrival — the one opponent they despise above all others. So, for instance, if he loves the Boston Red Sox, spring for a Cameo from former New York Yankee (and current Yankee manager) Aaron Boone, the man whose home run broke their heart in the 2003 ALCS. Does your buddy root against the Green Bay Packers — or maybe he just despises Brett Favre? You’re in luck: Favre is available for the low, low price of $500 to wish him a Happy Birthday or a Merry Christmas or a Bitchin’ Flag Day.
Some of the most divisive athletes of all time are on there as well — John Starks, Lenny Dykstra, Pete Rose, etc. — but you should do some exploring yourself to find the one best suited to infuriating your friend. That sort of personal touch will let them know how much you love giving him shit. Just be sure to tell your Cameo selection how much your friend loves him. It’s not really that funny unless the celebrity honestly thinks he’s talking to a fan. — Tim Grierson, Contributing Editor
55-Gallon Drum of Lube
Somewhere along the line, “gag gift” became synonymous with cheap shit at a novelty gift shop. It’s time we put an end to that. Much like an engagement ring, the recipient of your gag gift should know its purchase stung a little — because the more aggressive confusion you’re able to stir in the recipient, the better. Which brings me to the best gag gift you could possibly buy somebody: a 55-gallon drum of lube.
“Why did they spend almost four grand on a 55-gallon drum of lube?” your loved/hated one will say after Amazon drops it on their doorstep. “Uh, haha, I don’t know what this is?” they’ll lie, stuttering to the frightened children building a snowman next door. “It’s probably a gag gift, I think…”
To be sure, #LubeLife’s $3,969.69 (nice) drum is the most expensive 55-gallon drum of lube you can buy on Amazon (they also offer a 275-gallon option for $9,696.96, but that might be overkill). A cheaper option would be this one from Passion Lubes for $1,774 — upgrade to the option with “warming sensation” for just $220 more! Now, if you find yourself eyeing this rusty, unlabeled toxic-waste container of lube at a bargain-basement price of $363, don’t get too excited. That’s industrial oil for machinery, which isn’t as much fun as making your giftee lug/roll a 650-pound vat of sex lube up their driveway. — Quinn Myers, Staff Writer
“I placed them tenderly on my feet, and when I tell you it was like I was gently slipping my feet into a large fish’s mouth, man, let me tell you… it was!” Amazon reviews can be brutal, but the overwhelming majority of 6,921 customers are in agreement on one thing: There are few gag gifts better than the humble Fish Flop.
Forget sandals, slippers and sliders. In fact, banish every potential footwear stocking stuffer to the back of your mind and just hear me out. These are comfortable, lightweight slippers that give the illusion of having a huge, dead carp swallowing your feet. They’re hideous in the best way possible — I mean, they come with gills and fins. These aren’t just slippers, they’re mood-enhancers. If you don’t believe me, take it from Cindy in Arizona, who says they always “bring a smile to those I meet in the grocery store!”
If you happen to be buying for a giftee who truly hates fish, fear not — there are also bread slippers, cabbage sandals and taco slippers (and for those looking for an alternative within the underwater family, there are lobster slippers as well).
For my money, though, Fish Flops are still the best; they offer all the aesthetic beauty of glimmering, iridescent fish scales without you having to worry about someone wanting to gnaw your foot off. — Jake Hall, Contributing Writer