Gifts That Make Me Smile

AffirmationIn the spirit of providing uplifting messages during the holidays, I am considering buying an Affirmation Ball. It’s like a Magic 8 Ball, except that it features cheerful messages like “Have you lost weight?” and “Nice outfit!” But there is also a perverse side of me considering the Sarcastic Ball (“Yeah, right.”) and the Dr. Freud therapy ball (“You’re in denial” and “Talk about your mother”).

Unless a gift serves a worthy charity or tickles my funny bone, I am rarely tempted by holiday bargains. Even in the case of the latter, I am more of an amused observer than purchaser, but I am an eager sharer of what amuses me. When you are stressed by the holidays, taking a laughter break with a funny catalog is a wonderful relaxant.

I first started focusing on the amusement factor about 30 years ago when thanks to humorist Dave Barry, I learned about the Archie McPhee catalog (, which features all three of the above variations on the Magic 8 Ball.  According to Wikipedia, the name comes from owner Mark Pahlow’s wife’s great-uncle, although whether he was a cut-up or just had an interesting name is not clarified. What IS clear is that the Archie McPhee catalog offers bizarre stuff.

There are categories, such as ornaments, masks, and inflatables, and there are themes such as bacon (65 items from body wash to gumballs) and mustaches (31 items from a giant refrigerator magnet to ice cube trays), including a bacon-scented mustache. Here is a sampling of some of the other items available for purchase:

  • BandageTree ornaments: glow jellyfish, a unicorn in lederhosen, and a rubber chicken in Santa suit
  • Full head masks: horse, pigeon, pug dog, squirrel
  • Bandages: with images of Abraham Lincoln, Shakespeare with accompanying  insults, macaroni and cheese, crime scene tape, and lips (for kissing the boo-boo)
  • Inflatables: a toupee, unicorn horn, fruit cake, and a Van Gogh painting
  • Sandwich bags: disguises (Groucho mask, etc.) crime scene tape, and lips (for sandwiches made with love)
  • Miscellaneous: a yodeling pickle and underpants for squirrels

Human ingenuity makes me laugh.

P.S. You might also enjoy these novelty catalogs, but be forewarned: some feature rude wares:


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