By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Column: The absurd gifts Amazon, I mean Santa, could bring you this Christmas
Shannon Casas high res
Shannon Casas

Christmas is almost upon us. Wrapped presents are piled under the tree. For now, we can imagine there are the most lovely things tucked inside those packages. And hopefully there will be — but sometimes Amazon, cough, I mean Santa, has the elves dream up some strange stuff.

Your kid or grandkid could soon be riding on this firetruck, which has a “horn sound, siren” — “and a really weird song in a foreign language.” Another Amazon reviewer calls the music K-pop, which is basically the South Korean version of 1990s boy band music. So, you could have not just a loud truck being driven around the house by a kid who is also making “weeowee weeowee” siren sounds — because you can never have too many siren sounds — but it also plays electronic music that makes you feel like you’re in a club somewhere in Asia. OK, the kid probably loves this gift. The parents, not so much. (That said, I think Santa’s bringing a riding firetruck to my house).

Santa has long been rumored to leave coal in the stockings of naughty boys and girls. But apparently coal is all the rage now. You could find a canister of “activated charcoal scrub” in your stocking. It’s infused with collagen and stem cell. I wonder where they get those ingredients, and I’m not sure I want to scrub any of that on my face. But it does promise it will draw out toxins and minimize pores, and it has a four-and-a-half star rating based on more than 2,500 reviews. Maybe it’s worth a shot.

In any case, it’s probably more functional than this scalp massage brush. It doesn’t require batteries. It’s waterproof. It “massages your scalp in the shower to ease itchiness and promote blood circulation.” In other words, it functions just like your fingers. You know you can massage and scratch your own head with your own fingers, right? At least it’s cheap. The charcoal is on sale for $20. The massage brush is $6.

Kitchen gifts is a category full of pointless gadgets.

For example, a meatball maker. You put your meat in the contraption, press down and — voila, evenly sized meatballs. I’ve always rolled out meatballs the old-fashioned way, with my own two hands. But this is reportedly a big time saver — or a complete waste of time, depending on which reviewer you believe. 

Or there’s the watermelon slicer. It’s a strange device with paddles that supposedly evenly cuts out watermelon chunks. Actually, it looks pretty impressive in the video. 

Or the avocado slicer. It’s a best-seller. I’ve never had that much trouble quickly cutting an avocado: Slice around the middle, twist, stab the pit and pop it out, then scoop out the avocado flesh. This video is not impressive. The device is basically a knife. You have one of those already. Spend your $10 on another paring knife, instead.

Amazon also offers a permanent marker tower. That may at first sound absurd, but it’s basically storage for all your colored Sharpies, and it rotates like a lazy Susan. It comes with 54 markers, and it is a beautiful site to behold for anyone who gets excited about crafts organized in small clear bins — which is me. Santa, please bring me this rainbow of colors on a rotating tower.

Then there are the gifts that are supposed to be weird. You can buy a unicorn head squirrel feeder. You stick some nuts in the unicorn head, hang it up and a squirrel will come along, poke its head up there and then look like a squirrel with a unicorn mask on. “Sit back and watch the hilarity!” the description states.

One person trying to buy this product reported it kept disappearing from his cart. Another person answered: “God is saving you from purchasing something you don’t need.” But there are photos and at least one video of squirrels using this product. And it sure sounds more fun than watching squirrels steal from your bird feeder.

If that’s not weird enough for you, there’s a fanny pack made to look like a beer belly, a coffee mug with a basketball hoop and a neck pillow made to look like a shrimp.

Whatever you get this holiday, I hope your time with loved ones is as picture-perfect as the inside of a Christmas snowglobe. Merry Christmas.

Shannon Casas is editor in chief of The Times and a foster parent. You can hear her most weeks on the Inside The Times podcast on iTunes or Google Play.

Regional events