The Good, Bad and Ugly: holidays edition

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It’s time to drop that two-month-old Halloween candy, dump those Thanksgiving leftovers and grab a winter scarf because the weather outside is going to be frightful. Tis’ the season of frantic gift-giving and crying into your college applications, and The Howler can give you a helping hand. So sit down and listen to that fireplace roar while you follow the advice of your favorite trio of misfits, Good, Bad and Ugly.


Dear Howler, everyone seems to be holding secret santas and I can’t afford expensive gifts for everyone. Do you have any ideas for cheap gifts?

The Good: Just because you’re a little strapped for cash doesn’t mean you can’t give someone an amazing gift. If you’re close with someone, try making something by hand for them. Maybe a frame of you and the person you’re giving the gift to, or maybe even some artwork that you create yourself. As long as you’re creative, they’ll be sure to love it. If art isn’t your style, there’s nothing wrong with making a goodie bag full of their favorite snacks and treats. Those gifts can be really great, especially if you give them before finals.

The Bad: Let’s be honest here, secret santa never works. Everyone always finds out who has who and no one ever listens to the price limit. You want my advice? Call secret santa out on its complete lack of secrecy, tell your friends who they all have and start a full-scale revolution.

The Ugly: Take leftover wrappers from your food and pin it to a posterboard. It’s the thought that counts, right?


Dear Howler, I overheard that my Aunt is planning to get me another sweater for Christmas. What should I do when I receive a gift I dislike?

The Good: It’s important that you don’t show any signs of disappointment when your Aunt gives you your gift. Maybe they were in a hurry or they didn’t have enough money for what you wanted, and you can’t blame them for at least trying. Accept your gift with a smile on your face and everything will be alright.

The Bad: The perfect way to deal with gifts you don’t like is simply to pretend they don’t exist. Find out the shape, size and wrapping paper of the gift, and then avoid it at all costs. When everyone starts telling you to open it, act like you can’t see it, and then tell them they’ve been drinking too much eggnog.

The Ugly: Hold a garage sale, invite her to the garage sale and display the ugly sweater front and center with a price tag that reads “free.” That’ll show her.


Dear Howler, my mom will not stop playing Christmas music over the radio! How should I get her to listen to something else?

The Good: That can be a little hard, since a lot of stations like to play Christmas music all the time. Maybe suggest other alternatives like KJazz or even news radio stations. If that’s not an option grabbing a set of earbuds for the car won’t hurt.

The Bad: Forget about just the radio. If your mom loves the holiday season so much, be a good kid and bring it to every aspect of her car. Start small, hang some mistletoe on the rearview mirror. Next, put a Santa hat on her headrest. Then, fill her car with ornaments. Finally wrap the whole thing in wrapping paper.

The Ugly: In the middle of the night, wear all black, break into your car, remove the stereo and sell it on the black market.


Dear Howler, every year, I’ve been trying to catch a glimpse of Santa as he places our gifts around the Christmas tree. I’ve been placing the usual stuff—cookies, milk, a nice letter—and I still haven’t seen him! What else should I do?

The Good: It’s not a good idea for you to always try to be on the lookout for Santa.  I know catching Santa in the act would be amazing, but Santa has been doing this for centuries. Just, sleep through the night and make Santa’s job just a little bit easier.

The Bad: Quit wasting your time trying to catch Santa. If you haven’t seen him in the entirety of your short-lived life, AP Statistics will teach you that you probably won’t ever see him. Instead, give up on all your childhood dreams and try catching something that’s useful to your life, like a decent night of sleep.

The Ugly: Santa isn’t real. Get over it.