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Fine, Have a Passive-Aggressive Christmas!

A recent blog post on ScaryMommy.com, "Passive Aggressive Gifts For Kids of Parents You Hate," got me to thinking about the holidays. Christmas is a time of love, family, peace on earth, good will toward men (and women), except for those we really don't like.

Of course, we're not supposed to say things like that, but that doesn't mean many of us aren't perpetually annoyed at certain people in our lives. Like the "friends" who pretend they're overjoyed to see us, but when we're out of earshot, trash us to anyone who cares to listen.

They're the ones who insult us in a way that we're not really sure if we should punch them or thank them — "Have you been losing weight? It's about time, I was beginning to worry about you. Your pants finally fit well."

These are the people we're supposed to be kind to, because it's Christmas. We don't want to, we really just want to drink too much egg nog and tell them what we really think, but they're family, so we can't. Instead we fret over family gatherings and friends' parties, which can ruin the holidays.

This is where being passive-aggressive helps: you get to stick it to the people you don't quite like without actually coming to blows.

In keeping with the Christmas spirit, let me give you a few pointers to help you abide by the spirit of Christmas, or at least the letter of the law. Follow these carefully, and you'll get the one thing you really need: plausible deniability. As in, "what do you mean, milk chocolate isn't vegan? It's made from chocolate!"

1) Give their kids gifts that make a lot of noise or leave a big mess. ScaryMommy.com recommends toys like an electronic voice changer. The fun will last until the battery dies, or his parents snap and smash the thing with the minivan. Glitter and Moon Dough (a never-drying knockoff of Play-Doh) are great for messes that will never truly go away.

2) Give a basic starter kit to a much larger activity. For example, give a Thomas the Tank Engine train to a three-year-old boy, and his parents will curse you for the next seven years as they buy every toy, clothing item, accessory, and DVD about the little British steam engine and his pals.

Similarly, give adults a beginning jewelry kit, home brewing kit, or the first book of a 24-book series. Better yet, make it the seventh book, so they're forced to go back in both directions.

3) When extended family visits, serve everyone the same foods you give to that one diet-restricted person in your immediate family. If you or your child is lactose intolerant, only serve soy egg nog and almond milk hot chocolate.

But don't offer these same arrangements if someone in their family has a diet restriction. Ask them to bring their own food to accommodate their stupid kid's stupid potato allergy.

The same is true for those relatives who insist their precious snowflakes can only eat organic, free-range, grass fed foods. Serve mac-and-cheese with cut-up hot dogs as a side dish. Put the mac-and-cheese in Christmas tree shaped dishes, and use the hot dogs as Christmas balls. Then, no one can complain about the food, because they would be complaining about Christmas.

4) Buy clothes that are too large. Not grossly large, but a couple sizes too big. You can say, "I thought this would look nice on you" but the underlying message is "We all think you're this big." Don't get something too big, like an XXXL bathrobe for your petite sister-in-law. She'll recognize what you're doing, and call you out on it. This defeats the purpose of plausible deniability.

5) This one is a double-reverse. Many people with a November or January birthday learned to hate their birthday, because of cheap relatives who would give a single gift to cover both days.

Don't do that. That's not true passive-aggression.

If you want to be really zing someone, give those people two gifts, one for each special day. This makes you look like the cool, awesome friend or relative, and embarrasses the people who cheap out and only buy one. And that's what we really want this season, right?

Ultimately, Christmas is about giving, not receiving; sharing, not greed; love, not hatred. If you're going to be passive-aggressive, try to do it with a little love and kindness so you look like you're actually a kind person. Or can at least claim to be.

Especially when you're picking my Christmas gifts. Just don't get me Starbucks gift cards. Especially the $25 ones.



The second edition of Branding Yourself: How to Use Social Media to Invent or Reinvent Yourself (affiliate link), and No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide to Social Media Marketing are both available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million, or for the Kindle or Nook. My latest book, The Owned Media Doctrine is now available on Amazon.com
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