Just because someone likes a gift doesn't make it a good gift.

Well, lick my splinters

and call me Sally, it's holiday gift-giving time again! Oh my, oh my, how time does fly. It seems like just a year ago since the last holiday season, a season which now spans from the day after Halloween (which used to be known as "All Saints' Day" but is now better known as "Only 53 Shopping Days Until Christmas Day Day") and goes straight through to January 7 and Orthodox Christmas. That's 68 days of Yuletide bliss! It's amazing that we can fit so much joy and credit debt into just under 20 percent of the year. I call it a Christmas/Chanukah/Kwanzaa/Festivus Miracle, and to celebrate this celebration of celebrating, I have prepared a little list of gifts sure to put a smile on the face of your loved ones.


For the Little Ones:

You'd think the youth would be the simplest to shop for. Their tiny brains aren't fully developed, so they are easily delighted by the most basic of gewgaws and havenwhatsits. Why, give a toddler a nail gun and listen to his squeals of delight, followed quickly by the explosive thwack of a high-velocity nail launch and the caterwauling of the family dachshund, now affixed tail-to-ottoman. And this goes straight to my one rule of gift-giving: Just because someone likes a gift doesn't make it a good gift.

Kids get all kinds of stuff they like, so why follow the crowd and give little Stevie or Suzie dollies or dinosaurs when you could give them the gift that keeps on giving, like a subscription to the Kale of the Month Club? Sure, you may have to explain to iddy-biddy Betty what kale is, but what kid doesn't want more iron? If the personal touch is more your speed, why not spend some time with the little bundle of joy? Children love the zoo, the Science Center provides no end to kid-centric entertainment, and Port Discovery is sure to please, but they've probably already been to those places. I bet they haven't been to the Aberdeen Room Archives and Museum and thrilled at the historical documents relating to the rise of Aberdeen, from a simple farming community to a thriving place to stop for gas while headed north on 95. Kids today are just crazy for historic surveyors records. Alternately, how about a visit to La Plata and the African-American Dentistry Heritage Society Museum? Imagine the fun of a trip to the dentist's office with the thrill of quietly learning, and remember, when planning for kids, the more words it takes to describe a museum, the more fun it's gonna be!

For the Ladies:

Most holiday gift guides for the ladies will have all kinds of terrible ideas. Blah-blah-blah, diamonds, or bar-bar-bar, spa package. I'm going to tell you right now, that kind of stuff is a load of crap. Women don't want extravagant presents, and they sure don't want something thoughtful like maybe a weekend away at the spot you where you met while a team of house-cleaners fixes up the place for a return home surprise. That just shows you've bought into what the man wants you to think.

Take this simple advice as a building block: Say it with spark plugs. Sure, she may not need spark plugs right now, but someday she will, and when that day comes, maybe several years from now, she'll be reminded of the Christmas morning she found spark plugs under the tree. Of course, maybe the lady in your life doesn't own a car, but spark plugs still make a great gift. That's one less part of the car she needs! Of course, if you've already given her spark plugs for your anniversary, you can't go wrong with the MLB Package from Comcast and an upgrade to the NFL RedZone Channel. Or maybe a book on dieting.

For the Gentlemen:

Ah, the simpler sex. Lunkheaded and testosterone-addled, we gents are thought to be so simple to shop for. Anything shiny should do it, maybe throw in a power tool, some Ravens tickets, a grill, and an electronical gizmo of some sort. If only it were that simple. To truly win the holiday heart of your Herculean he-man, it's going to take some thought and some time.

Start by thinking about all the projects around the house that need a doing. Does the basement laundry room need painting? With all of these holiday parties, I'd bet good American money the laundry's been piling up. And of course, the garage could use a good going-over, it's an unsightly mess that needs organizing, and getting rid of those dirt bikes will make the whole place feel more spacious. The only reason he's on the couch, watching a rerun of the 1977 Colts-Raiders playoff game is because he's not sure which of the many exciting and just-as-important-to-him-as-they-are-to-you chores to tackle first. That's why the fellas love lists, so write him up a nice long one full of chores, and the best part is it's so easy to wrap. Just put it in a Victoria's Secret box. If that sounds too easy, send him away for a long weekend with your mom and his mom.

And finally, for the boss:

This one is the easiest. Bosses love honesty. Just tell him what you really think of his management style. Let her know your true feelings about this two-bit operation, and make sure to do it in writing. It means more that way. Bosses also love to know you've got aspirations. Send an email to all of management letting them know in detail how much better you could do their jobs. Follow this simple advice and I guarantee you a very special holiday bonus and perhaps even some extra time off!

Well, there you have it folks, the Spitballin' holiday guide. If you've got some suggestions I've missed, send 'em in to the paper! We'd love to hear them. In the meantime, happy holidays and, of course, you're welcome.