Ask Ceil – The Gift of Fries

Dear Ceil,

My dad is one of those hard-to-buy-for people when it comes to gifts. Do you have any suggestions?

Confused in Conshahawken

Dear Confused,

It is a person’s duty to get involved with at least one hobby or interest, so when we’re shopping we know what the heck to get them. If you can’t come up with anything, don’t blame yourself. It’s their fault. Some people just deserve another coffee mug. (By the way, wondering if you’re hard to buy for? Go look in your kitchen cabinet.)

Because the gift-giving season is nigh, I give to you:

Ceil’s Top Ten Cheap and Unimaginitive Gifts.

  1. Magazine subscription. This gift is often free for the first year! When someone calls you tomorrow to ask if you’d like to try a magazine, say yes. Give them your mother-in-law’s address. Order three random magazines. Law of averages says one of them has to be a winner.
  2. Something from the thrift store. There is a wide variety of affordable things at the thrift store, with many choices that you would never have thought of at a conventional store. For instance, a relative once gave my brother a brush that still had hair in it. If you are giving a “gently used” gift, please try to remove all bodily evidence from previous users.
  3. 3. Gideon Bible from a hotel. It’s free! (Gideons love giving away bibles. You’re doing them a favor.) And if they already have a bible, they can use it to hold down papers, or a small dog. You can also take the bible apart, book-by-book, and give them as individual presents! Stocking-stuffers anyone?
  4. Stuff from a charity. If you’ve ever given five bucks to a charity, they’ll send you stuff to guilt you into giving them more cash. If you’re lucky, you could get a notepad, a nickel, or a calendar. Who doesn’t like a calendar, especially if it features a monthly set of sweet animals, who will almost surely be put to death without your support? Each month, your loved one can turn the page and think, “How cute. Bet they’re dead.”
  5. Cleaning set. Feather dusters, dish towels, toilet brushes…everyone needs to clean. No matter how nice they are, though, they still say the same thing: “Your house is dirty.” If you know someone who needs this message, a gift-giving occasion is the perfect time to send it.
  6. Underwear. Everyone wears underwear. Well, almost everyone. If you’re not sure what size to get, just look around the store for someone about the same size as your gifting target, and ask them what size underwear they wear. Make sure you smile. Not the creepy smile, the other one. (Or you can just try handerpants.)
  7. A picture of yourself. They love you! You love you! Who wouldn’t want a picture of you? I sure would! It’s better if you get a professional sitting done. Dress up in your holiday finest. Make sure you don’t have spinach in your teeth. Get a nice frame.
  8. Anything involving pee. There are games you can play in the bathroom, various things that pee, talking toilet paper dispensers…any of these gifts are appropriate for anyone. Anyone.
  9. Something from around the house. If you’re in a spot and you need a gift fast, just look around. Have a vase you don’t need anymore? A picture frame you’re tired of? Maybe an old bottle of wine that’s been hanging around for several years? (Bonus! It’s aged!) Grab it, wrap it in a dishtowel, and you’re all set!
  10. A mug. The universally hated gift. Is there anyone on earth who’s thought, “Gee, I’m running low on mugs.” For best gifts of the season, I am torn between the “Jesus Shaves” mug, and the Disappearing Civil Liberties mug.

Remember, they brought this on themselves.


Dear Ceil,

I understand that Burger King is making its fries thicker. How can I possibly contain my excitement?

Fatted in Fargo

Dear Fatted,

I have to admit, I was a little excited at this news. I mean, they’re larger. Who doesn’t want larger fries? Not just because it’s more potato-per-bite, either.

If you’re a french fry afficionado, then you know that fries are good for lots of things. For instance, Burger King’s thicker fries will help you build a much more robust french fry tower. It will also bring new dimensions to the growing area of french fry art. You can sculpt a much larger fry skull. Based on the lack of (to my satisfaction) a broader range of french fry art, perhaps the art world has just been lacking sturdier materials. Finally, here they are.

The downside, though, is that it’ll make playing the Fries Game a little harder. I guess we all have our crosses to bear.


Ceil Kessler consults on business intelligence software, markets and publishes the magazine “Business Perks”, and runs the Laurel Highlands Vegetarian Society. Follow her on Twitter at @ceilck.

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One thought on “Ask Ceil – The Gift of Fries

  1. 1) It is probably a good thing I didn’t get a birthday present from you this year. There’s no telling how far you would have taken the “severed foot” concept. The USPS may have had some objections and you may have had some explanation to do

    2) Personally I prefer skinny fries, like those served at McDonald’s. My Dad prefers wedges. It is my mother’s theory that skinny people (like my Dad) prefers fat over skinny. This gives me hope that I may yet find Mr Right.

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