The Art of Giving Gifts of Convenience 

Put off holiday shopping this year? No worries. With some pocket change and an all-night convenience store, it can still be a happy holiday.

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Until today, the holiday season bobbed like a whitecap off in the distance … and now appears like a towering tsunami intent on swamping you and everything you stand for. This fearsome wave is about one thing: shopping for and wrapping and mailing and delivering and going to parties to hand off gifts, gifts and more gifts.



It is an art, buying gifts. An art that few master because money, the root of all evil, is usually involved. To give a gift is to spend money on a trinket or a boring useful item that symbolizes the love and respect you have for a person. No pressure there, right?



Furthermore, gift buying requires that you know someone well enough to intuit what they would enjoy receiving. Not the gift that you yourself want or that you believe the gift recipient needs.



So it is clear, we all need a guide. Gift giving is no trite affair. And that is why the staff of City Weekly has dug deep into its holiday heart to produce this year’s shopping handbook. Here, you will learn how to simplify your shopping mission by visiting a convenience store. Or you can peruse the dozens of nifty gift ideas that City Weekly staff shopped for in our first-ever holiday catalog. How about cooking up a gift for your family and friends at Christmas? You’ll see exactly what selfish bastards hope to find under the tree and how to help the technophobes in your life step up to join the “pod” people. And finally, get the lowdown on which videos you should reserve in advance and what you should buy for the maddening eccentrics in your life.



If you take all this information to heart, you just might have a little more pleasure, a little less stress and a little more time to think about what you’d like to receive for Christmas.



What better gift this year than a prepaid fuel gift card? Tesoro’s gas gift card can be purchased in any dollar amount. Ours cost $1. By the time the giftee gets around to using it in January, gas prices will have hit $5 per gallon and they’ll think it was fuel inflation that rendered your once-extravagant present useless. It’s the thought that counts. To show you’re not cheap, throw in a king-size cigarette-making machine: $5.99.



Here are some fun stocking stuffers from Maverik Country Store for the smoker on your gift list: festive air fresheners in several colors and scents, or a patriotic eagle-and-American-flag lighter. Air fresheners: 99 cents. Lighter: $1.99. To show you care about your friend’s health, throw in some ephedrine-free “herbal energy” packets!



Grouping several items makes a special gift when one alone would just be sad. For the nontobacco smoker, pick up one of these special, tiny vases with a curious hole in the bottom (hanging from basket, facing page). Comes with a pretty plastic flower! “Vase”: $3.99, with rose incense and shrimp cracker snacks from Merit Market, 1035 E. 200 South.



When late-night convenience-store gift shopping, don’t panic! Instead of racing through aisles randomly loading up on beer cozies and antifreeze, go directly to the checkout counter. That’s where you’ll find pocketknives, plastic figurines and other gifty items tantalizingly placed for those who came in for a roll of toilet paper but can’t leave without a cigarette lighter shaped like the Eiffel Tower. Wristwatch: $9.99, from Sunburst Food Market, 75 S. 900 East.



Malt beverages are gifts everyone appreciates. And convenience-store brews come in several flavors. Bottle of Boone’s Farm Mountain Berry from 7-Eleven: $2.59. Couple with pickled meats for added class.



Fresh out of gift ideas? Go ethnic! Convenience stores are great places to find exotic items. Don’t worry if you don’t know what you’re buying'your friends won’t know, either. They’ll just think it was extra thoughtful that you kept them in mind during your world travels. A gift basket of exotic packaged foods or foreign beauty products is perfect for the sandal-wearing, one-world liberals on your list. Incense from Shop N Go, 365 S. 900 East, really an Indian emporium: 99 cents. Dehydrated fungus from Blue Sky Market, 202 S. 900 East: $1.49. You’ll be the only one giving out quince jam, purchased at 99 Cents & More, 1700 S. Main, which also sells African clothing and tea sets. Or maybe go religious with a votive candle at $1.29.



If it’s Christmas Eve, AJ’s Kwik Mart, 270 S. Main, is a one-stop shop. Afghan clothing and rugs are shown alongside Italian leather jackets, a big selection of leftover 2002 Winter Olympics trinkets and lots of Utah-themed souvenirs. Koran or “Utah” shot glass: your choice at $8 each.



For the Wal-Mart of convenience-store shopping, head to the Flying J Travel Plaza, 850 W. 2100 South: Western wear, fleece, blankets, sweatshirts, bass-fishing-themed T-shirts, flashlights, CD players, movies, tiny silver spoons, porcelain-looking figurines, and clocks set inside porcelain-looking figurines. Nothing, however, beats the framed photo montage (below) of the disembodied heads of the 2004 Boston Red Sox floating in the sky above Fenway’s green monster as infants wearing baseball uniforms look on: $10. Also shown, Viagra NASCAR hat at $10, for those moments when you need speed and power combined in one suave fashion statement that sits on your head.

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