You've decked the halls, jingled the bells, and rocked around the obligatory tree – festively adorned with a lifetime supply of shiny balls. No matter your belief system (or lack thereof), the holiday season generally shepherds in presents. Presents of all shapes and sizes! Glorious presents…well, not all glorious.
No, the act of receiving is not the meaning of the holidays, but it's often inevitable as we gather with family, toss some Bing on the old record player, and smile at the $8 check Great Aunt Ruth sent you three weeks before Thanksgiving. If only it stopped there! It's easy to smile at Great Aunt Ruth’s generous (yet unadjusted for inflation) gift, but it's quite a bit harder in person when Bubbie gives you a beautifully wrapped treasure that tears away to reveal a Shake Weight.
With this is mind, I've taken it upon myself to ease the gift-receiving awkwardness and offer up some music-related goodies for which to exchange your... well, crappy gifts. This is by no means a fully comprehensive guide, but rather a list of suggestions to focus on when you're face-to-face with a bad gift giver and trying to appear appreciative. Here goes.
Received: Fruitcake, $35.99
No! Just no. Some companies like Williams Sonoma are pushing fancy fruitcake. Perfume on a pig!
Exchange for: one box of Rico Royale Alto Sax Reeds, $27.99, and two packs of two packs of Ernie Ball Regular Slinky Strings, $4.19 each
Silky smooth every time.
Received: Full-sized bunny PJs, $34.99
They didn’t fly in A Christmas Story, and they sure as hell won’t fly here.
Exchange for: 30-minute piano lesson, about $30
Learn chopsticks, chord progressions, or how to play happy birthday for your Grandpa.
Received: Snuggie, $14.99...
The ubiquitous Snuggle. You blanket with arms, you. I, too, hate trying to aim the remote through my blanket, but this is too lazy even for me.
...and a Shake Weight, $20.39
This was a big Christmas. You got the Snuggie and a Shake Weight. You're living the made-for-TV dream. If I need to explain my objections, you might be one of the rare few who actually enjoy the Shake Weight. Namaste to you!
Exchange for: combine the credit and pick up a Korg microKEY37 USB Midi keyboard, $39.99
No home studio is complete without one.
Received: Pet Rock, $19.95
Why? Seriously, you have to be nicer to your family if they’re giving you pet rocks.
Exchange for: Billy Joel Complete Anthology, $20.71
Hopefully this helps put your gift-receiving misfortune in perspective. Happy holidays!
Jonathan Hack is a Brooklyn resident, musician, writer, and ping pong aficionado. His career in the theatre has spanned acting, music direction, production, carpentry, and more. As a marketer, he has worked with major brands in music and fashion. He is a proud member of AEA and NATS. Follow him on Twitter @writerninja and on Instagram @jonnyhack.