Dave Barry's holiday gift guide

The Miami HeraldDecember 19, 2011 

The holiday season is a time of traditions. Here in America, the most popular holiday tradition, observed by millions, is to celebrate the birth of Jesus by going to a Walmart at 4 a.m. on the day after Thanksgiving and getting into fistfights over steeply discounted TV sets.

But many other nations around the world have equally colorful holiday traditions of their own. For example:

In Spain, on Christmas Eve, children traditionally fill their parents’ best shoes with yogurt, then hide in the woods for two to three weeks.

In Austria, instead of Santa Claus they have “Father Wurmwerfer” — a man dressed in a duck costume who rides a unicycle around tossing earthworms to everyone he sees. Legend has it that if you catch one, you will soon wash your hands.

During the holiday season in Finland, people get naked and sit around sweating in hot little rooms. They do this the rest of the year also, so it might have nothing to do with the holidays. It could just be that they get hammered a lot in Finland.

But the point is, there are many fun holiday-season traditions. And one of the most traditional of all is our annual Holiday Gift Guide, now in its 856th year. The Holiday Gift Guide is a collection of truly unique gifts that we have acquired via a painstaking process of personally visiting a wide range of prestigious locations on the Internet. Every one of these gift items is an actual product that is for sale. We know this because we actually purchased them, although not with our own money, because we are not complete idiots. We have, however, picked up each of these items and held it in our own personal hands, and we can assure you that, in every case, we immediately put it back down.

That is why we are able to offer you our Holiday Gift Guide Pledge of Guaranteed Quality Assurance Warranty, as follows: If you purchase one of these items, and you are not completely satisfied with it, simply give it to somebody else, and maybe that person will be completely satisfied with it. Although quite frankly, we would be surprised.

But enough with the legal disclaimers. Let’s get to the items that "made the cut" for this year’s Gift Guide.

To see the complete gift guide, visit www.miamiherald.com.

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