One of the highlights of my holiday season is the Tacky Gift Party. For years, my friends and I have scoured the world for the most useless, ugliest, most sick and wrong gifts we can find for less than $5. Then we wrap them up nicely and exchange.
In days of old, the Friendly Toast restaurant, in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, home to some of the worst art ever created, served as the backdrop to Tacky Gift. Our wait person would judge the contest (we tipped well). Times change, however, and this year Tacky Gift will be held at a friend’s house. The host has instructed guests to bring the items like Twinkies, Tab, spray cheese, cocktail weenies, Boone’s Farm “wine,” Natty Ice, and Devil Dogs for the festivities. We won’t eat or drink, but merry we shall be.
A continual work in progress, there are no hard and fast rules to Tacky Gift. The following guidelines, however, are enforced:
- The lower the cost, the higher the Tackiness Quotient. Tie will go to the cheapest gift. Hence, re-gifting always lends an advantage.
- Kitsch is not the same thing as Tacky. Kitsch is too cool to be truly tacky.
- In order to qualify, gifts must be something that people can conceivably imagine someone giving as a present.
- The Uselessness Factor is always appreciated. A puzzled “What is it?” uttered upon opening is a sign of a truly tacky gift.
Memorable prize-winning gifts have included an orb of undetermined substance and origin; a clear Lucite rose ring holder, with hideous blue perfume in the flower—this thing also lit up and played a tinny, electronic Für Elise; a gigantic portrait of a copule’s eldest son; and a two-videotape set of the Left Behind movies, starring ex-child actor Kirk Cameron of Growing Pains fame and badly based on the biblical book of Revelation.
The recipient of the tackiest gift pledges to display the gift in a semi-prominent place for a year (that plastic flower gizmo was an eyesore, but I really feel bad for my friend who had to display Left Behind for an entire year), and the giver of the tackiest gift gets to bring home the plastic drunken Santa wine goblet as a trophy. The trophy is currently in my possession. I’m fairly confident that I will get to keep it, because here is my gift.
I discovered this patriotic Thomas Kinkade, Painter of Light™, bear, clearance price $2.99, while taking one for the team. If you don’t know about him, Thomas Kinkade is a strange bird. He’s an “artist” of the cheesiest order known for some bizarre outbursts. Take this story from his Wikipedia entry.
“In 2006 John Dandois, Media Arts Group executive, recounted a story that on one occasion (“about six years ago”) Kinkade became drunk at a Siegfried and Roy magic show in Las Vegas and began shouting ‘Codpiece! Codpiece!’ at the performers. Eventually he was calmed by his mother.”
Like I said, I’m going to win. If a patriotic bear designed by a drunken Siegfried and Roy fan obsessed with codpieces and his mother isn’t tacky, then I don’t know what is.