Christmastime is here, a festive time of parties, presents and gaseous little reminders that humans and buffet tables don’t mix.

Christmastime is here, a festive time of parties, presents and gaseous little reminders that humans and buffet tables don’t mix. Yes, it’s a merry time of year, a time that would be even merrier if not for the “hard-to-buy-for” person.

But, alas, this person does exist, and so we must deal with him or her in a way that does not threaten our happy holiday. Did I say “deal with”? Oops.  I meant to say “embrace.”  We must embrace this pain in the poinsettia, fully and with open arms. Otherwise, we may do something with a sharp candy cane that could land us in the pokey. And who wants to spend Christmas Day behind bars with a bunch of soused Santas?

According to research, there are three hard-to-buy person profiles: The person who has everything, the person who wants nothing, and the person who you don’t know well. 

Although it is mighty tempting to approach each of the above the same, you cannot. You must work yourself up into a different headset for each demanding gift recipient.   
Let’s take the individual who has everything first. As much as we despise this person because, well, they have everything and we do not, we must look on the bright side and think of something they don’t have.

If my analysis of the person who has everything is correct – that they are a serious-minded sort who would not know a whoopee cushion from a hot water bottle – then I’ll bet they don’t have a Tiki Head Tissue Box Cover. What’s so nifty about this item is that it allows folks to access tissues through the nose of the tiki face.  I know – I want one!  But, unfortunately, I am not a person with “everything,” and, in fact, actually need things in my life, whether it be food, water, shelter or a humungous bonus check.

Moving on to the person who wants nothing.  Do you think it’s true? Do you think they really want nothing? Or, are they just toying with us, saying they want nothing, so we’ll for sorry for them and go overboard with gifts? Honestly, I’m torn. On the one hand, I really do know people who want nothing; and, yes, they are hard to buy for. That said, may I suggest, “The Idiot’s Guide to Austere Living,” a practical book that offers up new ways to get by on one article of clothing, two kernels of popcorn and three chaste hugs? As for those who say they want nothing but really want something, I say give them nothing this year. Trust me, they will never whine they want “nothing” again.

Finally, the person you don’t know very well. Of all the thorns on your gift list, I’d say this is the most painful one, especially since you typically work with this Christmas cactus. What makes this gift choice particularly tricky is the element of money: How much should you spend without looking like you are trying to win favor or get a big raise or land a new office? Spend too much and you will look like a brown-noser; spend too little and you will look like Anne Palumbo who works in a van down by the river.  I’m kidding, of course. My superiors are still talking about the adhesive bellybutton lights I surprised them with last year!

So, what do you get this virtual stranger? Give them something that disappears over time, whether it’s wax, wine or edible socks.

In conclusion, buying gifts for difficult people does not have to ruin your merry little Christmas. But if it’s heading in that direction, I say join the shnockered Santas in the slammer and call it a day.

Anne Palumbo writes this weekly column for Messenger Post Newspaper. E-mail: avpalumbo@aol.com.