2019 Offbeat Gift Guide: 20 holiday surprises for grownups of all ages

The weather is colder and they’re playing those songs again, which means it’s time for Americans to spend money they don’t have on stuff their loved ones probably don’t need.

Oh, was that too Grinchy? Apologies. Yours Truly didn’t get much sleep last night because of that chain-clad ghost that keeps nagging him to change his attitude.

Annnnywho, you know the situation: You have about three to four weeks to find some perfect things and get them perfectly wrapped up to ensure a perfect holiday, just like in those coffee ads. Adding to the challenge: the realization that some in your tribe won’t be content with, say, Apple Air Pods or a hot pot. They want unique. They want memorable.

And yes, they might even want useless.

Because last year’s was so well-received, here’s another roundup of offbeat gift ideas for your shopping list. All were lovingly curated by the crack staff at the WTOP Holiday Desk.

A CHRISTMAS STOCKING FILLED WITH RANCH SALAD DRESSING. You’ll get 52 ounces of wing-dippin’ goodness from the hard-to-find folks at Hidden Valley. That much should last you through Super Bowl Sunday. ($35)


DJ CAT SCRATCHING PAD. Though they suck at playing the clarinet, cats are naturals when it comes to spinning vinyl. Put them in charge of the playlist at your next dinner party, and rest assured: Your furniture won’t get damaged. ($35)

CONFETTI HIGH FIVE. The high-five is a life-affirming, HR-friendly way to express loving camaraderie. Why not add some visual pop when you go up top?

EMERGENCY CHICKEN. You’ve been subpoenaed to testify before the House Judiciary Committee, but Capitol Police won’t let you bring your chicken. What to do?! Simple: Reach for an Emergency Chicken. It fits in your pocket, and pays for itself in just weeks. ($9.95)

HUMUNGA CHOMP DOG TOY BALL WITH TEETH. Have a laugh at your pup’s expense while they play a seemingly innocent game of fetch. ($17.50)

“GOLDEN GIRLS” PRAYER CANDLES. You have the action figures. Now, recognize Dorothy, Rose, Blanche and Sophia for the saints that they are. Our Ladies of Blessed Wisecracks, hear our prayer! ($55)

NISSIN GIANT INFLATABLE CUP NOODLES. Does grandma love ramen noodles and inflatable stuff? If the answer to both of these questions is “yes,” this big boy — available from Nissin Foods’ fan store — should be sitting under the family tree. Good luck wrapping it. ($35)

POLAROID ORIGINALS PHOTO PRINTER LAB. Print out your smartphone photos on Polaroid film. And, because this is 2019, you can add filters before you print it out. Nice. ($130)

HUMAN ORGAN INSULATED LUNCH BAG. No longer will that thieving co-worker poach your leftover liver and onions. ($14)

LUNCH BUG BAGS. Here’s another layer of protection against work fridge thieves. If the Human Organ Insulated Lunch Bag won’t keep them honest, these sure will. ($7)

BIKE DUCK ART PRINT. Dude, check it out! It’s a duck on a bike!  Etsy is a great source for the offbeat, and the bonus here is that you’re supporting independent artists and entrepreneurs, as opposed to funding renovations on Jeff Bezos’ 25 bathrooms. ($15)

FACEBOOK LIKE/DISLIKE RUBBER STAMPS. Bill Gates’ vision of a paperless office has not quite come to pass, which makes it awkward to approve and disapprove of things that aren’t on a timeline. The “Like” rubber stamp is guaranteed to provide that little dopamine bump we all crave after sharing photos of food. Regardless of context, the “Dislike” stamp is guaranteed to result in the same reaction: “Why won’t Facebook add a ‘dislike’ option?” ($11.47)

BATMAN DECK THE HALLS SWEATER. As we learned in the song “Jingle Bells, Batman Smells,” things didn’t end well for our caped crusader: “Batmobile lost a wheel, and the Joker got away.” This year, however, the Dark Knight triumphs. O Holy Night, Batman! (around $50)

“STRANGER THINGS” BARB POSTER. Poor ol’ Barb. Not only did she miss the internet and the Cubs’ 2016 World Series win, but she also missed seasons 2 and 3 of the classic Netflix series. May her memory be eternal. ($10)


LIGHT SWITCH IPHONE CASE. Don’t let the photo fool you. That is actually a two-dimensional image. The cases originate just down the road. Williamsburg, Virginia-based Trotter Hardy has a variety of other phone cases available in his Etsy shop. ($22)

BANANA FLASK. You already love the bluetooth banana phone accessory. Now reach for this guy when the Christmas Eve sermon hits the half-hour mark. ($16)


“YOU SUCK AT PARKING” CARDS. If you’re cool with the R-rated language, keep a few on hand and remind that BMW owner that it’s poor form to take up two disabled spots. ($4.50)

BARK CORGIONA BEER WITH LIME DOG TOY. Happy hour isn’t just for humans. This combo of dog toys go together as well as citrus fruit and a certain brand of beer. ($10)

FRAMED TWEETS. Twitter’s character limit sometimes results in some pithy bon mots. These folks will frame a tweet for you — including essential life lessons from such modern thought leaders as Kanye West, Kyrie Irving and Elon Musk. Or, frame one of your own deep insights. ($55–$75)

TOHO GODZILLA PRESS CONFERENCE FIGURE SWING KEYCHAINS SET. Here’s a hard-to-find collectors item that is well worth the steep price: Small likenesses of four famous Japanese movie monsters, each standing behind a lectern apologizing for the destruction they caused. And if you line them all up, it looks like they’re contestants on a game show! I won’t say I want these, but I will say I need them. (~$300)

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