You thought you had it all figured out: Drink yourself into an eggnog stupor and disappear to the basement for two days of detox. Christmas would be none the wiser! But now it’s Christmas Eve, and even if you can’t feel your legs, your guilt hurts like a motherfucker. Time to splash humility water on your face and hit the retail superhighway for the trinkets that’ll save your ass. Just do it, jerk. You’re welcome.
Christmas Eve, 9 a.m.
Got a hard-to-buy-for (but otherwise harmless) creeper on your list? Then you’ll want to check out Skycraft Surplus (2245 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park, 407-628-5634, open Christmas Eve 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.), where you’ll find a mini nanny cam ($49.95) or a wireless inspection camera/borescope with camera mounted atop a flexible scope ($264.95). Don’t want to encourage that kind of behavior in your loved/liked/tolerated one? How about a new Jam Jacket for his or her iPhone ($5.95), then?
It’s quite possible that you should be permanently punished for waiting this long to extricate your holiday head from your prison ass, so to assuage that guilt, you may want to go stand with the record-seekers and common Christmas Eve criminals at the Downtown Orlando Police Department (100 S. Hughey Ave., 407-246-2470, open Christmas Eve 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.). Rather than posting bail for your drunk uncle, consider some of the whimsical wares at the Cop Shop located in the lobby. For a mere pittance, you can pick up a gender-specific OPD sippy cup ($2 and perfect for cocktail driving!), a mouse pad ($5) or a keychain ($5). The volunteers who run the joint – you may have to have reception flag one down – will make you aware that there are certain items in the store (weird figurines, insignia polos, event t-shirts) that are available to cops only.
You might think of Fleaworld (4311 S. Orlando Drive, Sanford, 407-330-1792, open Christmas Eve 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.) as little more than a place to pick up knockoff designer handbags and cheap socks in bulk. But you can also mine the 1,700 booths and vendors for weird, wonderful and white-bread gifts for the person on your list who has everything already. Bet they don’t already have a handmade domino table ($175) or a tambourine painted with a likeness of J.H. Christ himself ($35), both available at Music Zone (booth E-35)! We also found the best nutcracker ever at Kitchen Gadgets & Gifts (booth D-15-22) – Duke’s Easy Pecan and Nut Cracker ($19.95) – suitable for both the grandfathers and ball-breakers on your list.
At this point, you need to think in broad terms, but it’s still early enough that it doesn’t have to be broad drugstore terms. Show that you put slightly above minimum thought into your last-minute gifts by stopping by Colonial Photo & Hobby (634 N. Mills Ave., 800-841-1485, open Christmas Eve 9 a.m. to whenever business dies down), a 50-plus-year-old local, family-owned hobby shop.
Every family has at least one shutterbug (probably your undeclared college niece). CPH’s “Stocking Stuffer Special” is the Nikon Coolpix S220, a slim and sexy little thing that takes crisp (10 megapixel) shots and comes loaded with features. It’s a steal at $79.99.
You know that disturbed nephew who cold-stares through dinner and picks on the dog? Channel his inner Kim Jong Il with an Estes Taser model rocket launch set. For $24.49, you can assemble the lil’ missile in under an hour, launch it up to 1,100 feet high, then watch it parachute back down. Just like that, you’ll be the cool uncle and he’ll sleep tight with visions of sugar plums and his own totalitarian dictatorship!
Need something to bring to your great aunt’s Christmas Eve gathering? Everybody (well, nobody really, but it’s the thought that counts) appreciates a fruitcake, and you can get a genuine British Christmas cake at the British Shoppe (809 N. Mills Ave., 407-898-1634, open Christmas Eve 10 a.m. to whenever business dies down). Get there early, because the store plans to close when the last-minute shoppers stop pouring in the doors.
The longest-standing Jesus joke around, no single entity embodies both the best (“the meaning”) and the worst (the crass commercialism) of yuletide festivities like Orlando’s own Holy Land Experience (4655 Vineland Road, 407-872-2272, open Christmas Eve 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.). HLE offers a litany of gift shops wherein you can purchase plastic artifacts of religious fiction. The chief find would obviously be Bearnardo, the Scribal Bear ($12.99), a Gund toy that posits the importance of writing miracles down. But for your less literate fundamentalist, reach for Qaboo, a stuffed camel ($14.95).
Go to church and go to bed. Or go to a bar and get drunk.
Christmas Day, 8 a.m.
Instead of a heaping pile of presents from Santa, you wake up Christmas morning to a whimpering dog in need of a piss and a few names still lingering on your gift-giving list. At this point, you’re stuck with the tourist-driven Bargain World (6454 International Drive, and various other locations on International Drive, 407-351-0900, open Christmas 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.), which offers some surprisingly not-so-cheesy finds. If you look past the Florida souvenirs and Mickey toys you’ll find fashion belts ($2.99) for her, a pair of singing magnets ($2.99) for a great gag gift and a calamondin orange tree seedling ($6.99) for those not-so-green thumbs.
If you live in or near Orlando, blame Disney Village Marketplace (1780 Buena Vista Drive, Lake Buena Vista, open Christmas 9:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.) for having no last-minute excuses: Money never sleeps, and neither does the Mouse. Open nearly every waking hour of any day, this fantasia of holiday shopping covers all bases: There’s the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique salon for the little princess (the luxurious Castle package starts at around $200), pin trading for the collector, the Arribas Brothers crystal shop for personalized glass crafts and of course the LEGO Imagination Center, where you can scoop up a freakin’ basin of swallowables for less than the gas it took you to get there. If you need to cover a shit-ton of vaguely familiar relatives, then hit up Mickey’s Mart where everything’s under $10.
Face it: You’re fucked. So get fucked. Fairvilla Megastore (1740 N. Orange Blossom Trail; 407-425-6005; open Christmas 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.)
Pass out on the couch from too much tryptophan and too many children. Wait, did you drink enough?
You missed it. May we suggest Duran Duran’s just-released new album, All You Need Is Now ($8.99), available Dec. 21 on iTunes. You’re not a loser. It’s 1982 and you hate your parents.
Dollar Store Christmas
It’s Christmas Eve, and you’re cash poor and giftless, but fear not – the Dollar Tree is open! It’s a real dollar store where every item really is a dollar (as opposed to those imposter stores that just round their prices to the nearest dollar).
Muster your inner Martha and make a Holiday Hangover gift basket by curating a pleasing group of items tied to the theme. The gift-basket approach makes you seem thoughtful and crafty, even if you aren’t. Most adults on your list are probably so disgusted with the sugary music, rotten consumerism and liters of whiskey consumed around the holidays, not to mention the unfulfilled expectations and bitter disappointments, that they’ll welcome your heartfelt sentiments. We promise this will only take 10 minutes and $12.
Grab a basket and fill as follows:
• Swiss Miss cocoa mix with marshmallows
• Festive mug
• Mrs. Fields cookie dough delights
• Hershey’s milk
• Single serve microwave nachos ‘n’ cheese dip
• Air-activated heat wrap for maximum pain relief
• Warm touch warming jelly
• Aleve pain reliever
• Alice Waters and Chez Panisse, a book about the woman who spearheaded the local, organic food movement in the United States
Holiday hangover cured, and Christmas is saved!
Click and Give
Before you know it, it’s midnight on Christmas Eve, you’ve wasted the whole day at FleaWorld and you have nothing to show for it. Gift certificates it is, then. Some retailers will let you buy and print gift certificates from the comfort of your own living room, so you can put off your shopping until 10 minutes before you’re due at the holiday table. (GameStop, www.gamestop.com, denominations of $10 and up, delivered by e-mail; Barnes and Noble, www.barnesandnoble.com, $10-$350, delivered by e-mail; Jet Blue www.jetblue.com, $10-$1,000, printable; Give Anything, www.giveanything.com, $10-$500, printable or delivered by text or e-mail). Now, please stop worrying and go to sleep.
Beyond the hydrocodone and hairdryers, your local CVS pharmacy comes alive with seemingly nonsensical excuses for gifts you can pick up with your apology wine on the way to the family pit. Assuming that your family still has walls, you could luck out with the Lightblast Entertainment Projector ($99), which is, as its name implies, basically a film projector that blows up your modern media to 120 inches. Got a lazy mom? Try the Deluxe MyPlace Cozy ($19.99), a plastic tribute to those bean-bag lap readers of yore, only now including capitalization that invokes technology. It’s for her laptop! It has a cupholder! Dad’s got the DTs, so he’ll need to stay warm. Try a men’s “Genuine” leather jacket ($19.99), because even cheap leather (like cheap cashmere) is great for suspending disbelief. Not as great as the American Era three-tiered chocolate fountain ($19.99), though. Nothing beats a chocolate fountain. Finally, for the brat that has everything, pick up the iCraig Tower Stereo System ($79.99), a 40-inch tall, 4-inch wide approximation of an iPod dock with horrible sound for his horrible music. And pick up some painkillers for yourself. That’s what drugstores are for.