Dreck the Halls 2014

10th annual guide to unique, strange and just plain wrong Christmas gift ideas

This is the 10th year of the Courier’s annual Dreck the Halls gift guide. And after a decade of scouring the lonely recesses of the Internet and Vancouver’s retail landscape for unique, strange and just plain wrong Christmas gift ideas, you learn a few things. No expense is too big or ridiculous for some pet owners. Nerds and geeks have never had it so good when it comes to gift selection. The Canucks really need to up their merchandise game if they want to expand their “lady” customer base. And much like the Rolling Stones and herpes, there appears to be no end in sight for bacon and moustache-themed novelty gifts. Happy holidays and merry Christmas.

I Hate Everyone Socks
$12.95 at Signed & Sealed, 1988 West Fourth Ave.
Made with 40 per cent combed cotton, 58 per cent nylon, two per cent spandex and 100 per cent disdain for the human race, these sardonic socks promise to warm even the coldest of hearts. Not a fan of the colour tan? Just add it to the long list of disappointing things you’ve had to put up with all these years.


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Stop Smirkin’ at My Mirkin
$8.95 at Signed & Sealed
Add some pizzazz to your pubis with these colourful toupees for your nether regions. Plus if you’ve ever fantasized about making love to a tiger, this is as close as you’re going to get without getting mauled or violating a box of Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes.


Supernova Lighter iPhone 5 Case
$34.95 at gadgetsandgear.com
Finally an iPhone case as dangerous and unhealthy as the person who owns it. Made for the iPhone 5 and 5s — in your oversized face, Samsung Galaxy — this USB rechargeable fire starter will make you even more cool and antisocial while you stand in line not making eye contact with anyone, ride public transit or enjoy Christmas dinner with what’s-their-names.

iphone lighter

Star Wars R2-D2 Carry On Luggage
$79.99 at thinkgeek.com
Is this the droid you’re looking for? Perhaps if you’re travelling to Comic-Con or taking a holiday where you’ll have less of a chance getting laid than Yoda. On the bright side, if the airline misplaces your luggage, you’ll finally have a reason to repeat Luke Skywalker’s bit of exasperated dialogue, “I’ve lost R2!” Yes, life is good.


Big Word Flash Cards
$12.79 at perpetualkid.com
Even if you ain’t be good at no reading, it’s never too late to pump up your vocabulary with some big and fancy words such as catawampus or gonorrhea. I may have misread that last one. This pack of 25 illustrated flash cards features definitions, child-friendly phonetic pronunciations and synonyms for some of the most ostentatious, multisyllabic, Rex Murphy-friendly words in the dictionary.

big words

Bacon-Scented Moustache
$3.96 at baconfreak.com
I think it’s safe to say that novelty gifts, and society as a whole, have finally reached peak bacon and peak moustache. So it’s only logical that the two forces would eventually cross over into one meaty side plate of irony and kitsch.


Stoner Coffee Table Book
$19.95 at Signed & Sealed
Even though pretty much any coffee table book is stoner friendly by nature, or so we’ve been told, this one goes above and beyond the dank call of duty. Pictures of wicked clouds, aerial shots of beaches, birds with rabbit heads, deserts that disappear into the sunbaked horizon, close-ups of dried lentils…. because when you really think about it, aren’t we all just lentils in the vast dal of humanity. And why are our hands so crazy looking sometimes? It’s like each finger is a tentacle working independently from the others, but no one talks about how much humans have in common with octopuses. Or is it octopi? Man, can you imagine eating a pie made out of octopus? That would be crazy. Don’t answer that phone.


Medieval Wrestling: A Modern Practice of a 15th Century Art
$26.95 at Academie Duello Centre for Swordplay, 412 West Hastings
It might not have the shirtlessness of professional wrestling or the Olympic medals and homoeroticism of Greco-Roman wrestling, but medieval wrestling looks pretty darn fun judging by the cover of Jessica Finley’s extensively researched guide to what is considered the foundation of all martial arts. And if you’ve misplaced your Stoner Coffee Table Book under that stack of Pink Floyd albums, this is a fine substitute to keep you enthralled until the pizza arrives.


Bring Back the Paddle — with Counselling, to Get Back Our Safe Streets
$15.99 at Vancouver Police Museum, 240 East Cordova St.
Written under the pen name Expounder, because he “expounds,” this self-published, clumsily named treatise arguing for the return of corporal punishment from a retired police officer might seem a tad insensitive to today’s social climate. And claims that returning to the good ol’ days will prevent home invasions, rapes, robberies and killings are a stretch to say the least. But the book’s chapter titles are worth the price of admission alone and read like the fever dreams of one of Archie Bunker’s drinking buddies: “Sad Facts,” “Sad, Sad,” “Facts,” “Sadness,” “Where is the Justice?” “Machetes,” “Another Despicable Crime.”


Chewbacca Rugs
$89.99 – 134.99 at thinkgeek.com
Making out on a bearskin rug beside a roaring fire is so cliché. Making out on a synthetic shag carpet made to look like Wookie fur on the other hand… Of course, by making out, I mean French kissing your forearm. Who are you trying to kid?


Drinking Horn
$40 at Academie Duello
Handcrafted out of a hollowed-out bull’s horn by some red-bearded warrior-looking dude who wears pelts and calls himself Ragnar the Trader, these bad boys can hold the equivalent of a can of beer while telling the world you do not take LARP lightly. Going out on a limb here, but I’m guessing anyone who owns one of these likes to drink mead.

drinking horn

Doctor Who Dalek Stress Toy
$14.99 at gadgetsandear.com
Modelled after the extraterrestrial race of cyborgs created by the scientist Davros during the final years of a thousand-year war against the Thals, these foam squeeze toys help take the stress out of years of celibacy and living in your parents’ basement.  


“Does this Sword Make My Butt Look Big?” T-shirt
$19.95 at Academie Duello
Who says practitioners of the ancient art of swordplay don’t have modern senses of humour. Lots of people, actually. And this shirt isn’t helping. Besides everyone knows it’s bodices and codpieces that make your butt look big.


Dueling for Two Class
$160 at Academie Duello

Put some spice back into your relationship or work out some frustration because is it really so hard to wipe down the counter once in a while and stop playing Candy Crush for a few minutes so we can have a real conversation that doesn’t involve your mother? All equipment is provided in this two-hour private session where you and your loved one will acquire the skills of attack and defence with either the rapier or longsword followed by an opportunity to try out your new skills on the instructor and each other, which should nicely complement your already well-honed arsenal of passive aggressiveness, guilt and emotional inaccessibility.  


Van Jail Sweats
$9.99 per piece or $25 for the set at Vancouver Police Museum
Add some hardened criminal street cred to your pajamas and loungewear with these standard issue sweats that are the same ones given to local inmates minus the stylish Helvetica font and Van Jail branding. Don’t worry though, the lowered standards and poor self-image required to wear grey jogging pants is a prison in itself, don’t you think?


Vancouver Morgue T-shirt
$24.99 at Vancouver Police Museum
I guess you have to have a morbid sense of humour to work at the Vancouver Morgue, where “our days begin when your days end,” not to mention a lot of down time to come up with such heavy metal-friendly T-shirt designs. Hey, it’s 100 per cent cotton!


Russian Leader Nesting Dolls
$45 at Russian World, 1003 Main St.
Lenin, Stalin, Khrushchev… the gang’s all here in these handcrafted nesting dolls, which, depending on your preference, feature either Lenin or Stalin as the biggest babushka. For the internationalist, there’s a U.S. presidents nesting doll set, and the currently sold-out modern-era Russian leader set, featuring — who else? — Putin as the top doll.


Cassette Tape Welcome Mat
$49.95 gadgetsandgear.com
Warning: If you go on a first date with someone who has one of these on his or her doorstep, be prepared to talk about how Neutral Milk Hotel’s underappreciated On Avery Island has been wrongly overshadowed by In the Aeroplane Over the Sea before getting to second base.


Punk Rock Oven Mitt
$16.95 at gadgetsandgear.com
Despite the fact these look more like Heavy Metal Oven Mitts, you’re a hero in the kitchen for wearing them. Even if you’re using them to pull a hot tray of tater tots out of the oven. Just sayin’.

oven mitt
Giant Microbes Plush Doll
$9.99 at offthewagonshop.com
Proving that horrible things can come in cute packages, these cuddly plush dolls depict such terrible ailments as E. coli, HIV and cancer. But you can just tell your two-year-old nephew it’s a crazy-looking jellyfish superhero.


Ice Cream Sandwich Pool Float
$49.95 gadgetsandgear.com
Who of us hasn’t taken Psilocybin mushrooms and dreamt of floating in a swimming pool on a giant ice cream sandwich?

ice cream

Bill Murray Shower Curtain
$68 at society6.com
Why is Bill Murray dressed like a Civil War general? And why would anyone want him peering at them as they undress and give themselves a good loofa? Sounds like the plot of a new Wes Anderson movie.

bill murray

Game of Thrones Toilet Decal
$29.99 at etsy.com
Own the porcelain throne with this Game Of Thrones inspired toilet decal. That said, while getting down to business, there is a good chance you will be killed when you least expect it.  


Marshall Amp Beer Fridge
$449.99 at Canada.marshallfridge.com
You’ve had a hard day practising “Fly by Night” and “Limelight” with your Rush cover band Geddy or Not, formerly known as the Peart Locker before you were sued for copyright infringement. Time to crack open a brew and mould a new reality… closer to the heart. Modelled after the iconic guitar amplifier, this durable beer fridge contains 4.4 cubic feet of all chiller and no filler. And, yes, the nobs go up to 11.


Canucks 3-Pack Ladies Nail Polish
$29.95 at shop.nhl.com
So giving your wife Zack Kassian’s autographed jock last year for Christmas did not go over so well. Especially when she discovered several strands of evidence that he goes commando. No worries. She’ll blush at the three-pack of “ladies” nail polish done up in the sexy Canucks colours of Blue Believer (bright and opaque blue), Attack the Ice (light and creamy grey) and Just Add Ice (bright white). She’ll also be thankful that you didn’t get her the 1980s Canucks colours of Glen Hanlon’s Freckle (dusty orange), Garth Butcher’s Bean Casserole (burnt yellow) and Sergio Momesso’s Back Hair (midnight black).

nail polish

Canucks Ladies #1 Hair Scrunchie
$7.95 at shop.nhl.com

I’m not sure who the marketing geniuses behind the Canucks hair scrunchie are, but I think they’re on to something with this casual, some would say misguided, approach to hair fashion. Even more mysterious is the absence of a Canucks banana clip.


Autographed Canucks Cam Neely 1984-85 Hockey Card
$139.95 at shop.nhl.com
Celebrate arguably the worst trade in the history of the Canucks franchise with this autographed hockey card from Sea Bass’s second-to-last season in Vancouver before going onto greatness with the Boston Bruins. Knife sticking in the backs of Canucks fans not included.


Cat Tank Playhouse
$16 at fab.com
Sure you can get an old cardboard box from the liquor store for free and your cat will be just as happy. But a cardboard box tank? This is about you and your needs. And sometimes you need to see your cat commandeering a replica tank before you catch a glimpse of yourself in your microwave’s reflection and realize you haven’t bathed in three days.

cat tank

Kim Jong-Un and Vladimir Putin Scratching Posts
4,500 £ at thepussycatriot.bigcartel.com
Described as “a one-of-a-kind protest product and the ultimate feline satirical statement,” these lifelike scratching posts are reportedly handcrafted by a team of artists and took more than 200 hours to complete. And while the price tag might be steep, proceeds go to the Index on Censorship in its efforts to promote and defend the right to freedom of expression. So there.

cat scratch

Cat Keyboard Scratcher
$11.99 at perpetualkid.com
Everyone’s favourite Internet cat meme is now a household pet appliance. Although it’s unclear if the creators of Keyboard Cat have anything to do with this device, your feline will look like a regular “Cats” Domino whenever it feels the need to tickle the ivories. I was also thinking of going with “Cats” Waller or “Cat” King Cole, in case you were wondering.


Bulldog Pillow
$29.99 at perpetualkid.com
The bulldog had been mangled over the past 100 years due to questionable breeding practices, so why not continue the streak by stretching its sorry image across a creepy looking pillow for you to sit or sleep on. The way nature intended.


Wine Barrel Dog Feeder
$135 uncommongoods.com
You like the finer things in life — like an oaky Pinot Noir with leathery tannins, blackberry jam-stained denim on the nose and a balsamic finish. So why shouldn’t your dog, even though he occasionally rubs his itchy behind across your Chewbacca rug. Made by hand from “upcycled” wine barrels, this decadent kibble and water dish decanter is way more sophisticated than giving your pooch a lame sweater or jewel-encrusted collar. That would be pretentious.

wine barrel

Mooning Birdhouse
$24.95 gadgetsandgear.com
For too long birds have flown high and easy on their reputation as majestic, freedom-loving creatures. Not anymore. The Mooning Birdhouse seeks to humiliate our feathery friends for the amusement of humankind by enticing them to live inside a porcelain replica of ourselves, essentially saying, “We own you, birds. You live in our butts now. Bow down to your novelty joke loving masters.”




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