Auld Lang Syne, the Hard Way

Happy New Year! Check out these various renditions of the holiday classic.

How to Behave at the Office Holiday Party

Don't end up in a YouTube video after your office holiday party! For more examples of office party "don'ts" check out these.

Handy Office Party Tips

Excellent advice!

Dancing With Myself

Elaine Benes alert! This boss doesn’t seem to notice she has lost her co-workers’ support.

Loss of R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Back to the cubicle for you!

Ungracious Gift Recipients, Part 2 (Videos)

Parents of these children should be kicking butt and taking classes - parenting classes!

Ugly Christmas Sweaters: Personal Favorites (Videos)

Ugly Christmas Sweaters: Where the worst comes in first!

Wait, is that a kitchen sink in the left armpit?

Yes, a ferret. That's what this one needs.

Just tell us about the weather, man!

The jingle balls sweater: just skip the first 30 seconds.

Ungracious Gift Recipients, Part 1 (Videos)

Presented in boy-girl-boy-girl order: Equal time for brats of both sexes.

Hellish Christmas Tree Sagas (Videos)

Tackling the Tree

You have to wonder what this guy was thinking. New rule: you spill, crush, break, smash or otherwise destroy it, you clean it up.

Cutting the Christmas Cord

Word to the wise: before you cut the twine that's holding your Christmas tree together, it's a good idea to watch which way it's leaning. Because they're always leaning.

Setting up for Christmas

Two sisters share their Christmas, setting up the tree for their parents. Next, they learn how to dress themselves properly.

Ugly Christmas Sweaters: The Musical (Videos)

Ugly Christmas sweaters inspire artists of all kinds.

Hellish Holiday Office Parties (Videos)

Self-Employed Office Christmas Party

The Secret Santa just isn't so secret...

Buried Alive at the Office Christmas Party

You might embarrass yourself, but it could always be worse. Make sure you behave at your office Christmas Party.

Apartment Christmas Party Gone Wrong

Proving you don't have to be blonde to act like a dumb blonde.

Sexy Single Ready to Mingle at Christmas Party

She's taking a cab and planning to overdo--plus on a manhunt at the office Christmas party. Sounds like quite the career-killing night. But at least no DUI.

Hellish Christmas Shopping (Videos)

Christmas Shopping at the Liquor Store

This one speaks for itself.

Ideas to Reduce Stress During the Holidays

As the holiday shopping season gets underway, having too little time may cause shoppers to get stressed out. Consumer forecasters project this will lead many to focus on the "one-stop-shopping" strategy.In other words, buy all your gifts at the supermarket!

A Shopping Tale of Three Brothers

Three brothers go Christmas shopping for their parents.

Hellish Christmas Crafts (Videos)

Trailer Park Christmas Fabric Softener Sheet

Jolene Sugarbaker, the Trailer Park Queen, teaches you a quick and easy Trailer Park Christmas craft: how to turn dryer sheets into a pretty white wreath. Jazz it up with some tinsel, some bows and some balls! Merry Trailer Park Christmas!

Make Your Own Christmas Cards

A unique approach to making something shiny. You have to admire this guy's creativity, even if the results are a little...disappointing.

White Castle Christmas Wreath

Hellish on so many levels.

Trailer Park Christmas Card Craft

Join the fabulous Jolene Sugarbaker ( as she shows you how to save money this holiday season by using Jehovah Witnesses pamphlets to make your own Christmas cards!

Get Decked: It's Not Just for Sweaters (Videos)

Mom's Christmas Jewelry

You'll never look at jingle bells the same way again.

Singing Ties

Ready to move beyond the Ugly Christmas Sweater? Try an Atrocious Christmas Tie!

Christmas Hats

Can't get into the Christmas spirit this year? Go out and a get a Christmas Santa hat!

Winning Tacky Christmas Sweater

The winning entry in the tacky shirt contest at a Christmas party.

Originally posted on December 13, 2008.

Christmas Sweaters

It's not just the halls that get decked this time of year. Have you noticed the explosion of holiday sweaters? And they're not just for little old ladies any more. Check out these Christmas sweater party videos on Hellish Holidays.

There's something about novelty clothes that just feels wrong to me. Reindeer, giant snowflakes, Mr. and/or Mrs. Santa Claus, Christmas trees, stockings (with or without a fireplace), nutcrackers, candy canes, mistletoe, nativity scenes, wreaths, adorable puppies and kittens with big red bows around their necks--all perfectly appropriate on cards and wrapping paper. All absolutely hellish on sweaters.

The ladies (and others) who wear these sweaters have made a conscious decision to face the world in a conversation piece. They have chosen to make a statement: "I love Christmas! Please love me. If you can't love me, at least talk to me. Here's a topic we can discuss: Christmas. Seriously, if you can look at this sweater and walk away without mentioning how cute the puppy is, well, you're just a Grinch and I hope you don't get what you want under the tree."

OK, maybe I'm imagining that they all just want to be noticed. What they're probably really saying is: "Thank God this still fits after all these years." Because you just know the same sweaters are trotted out year after year, party after party, Christmas Eve after Christmas Eve. After all, they're expensive. And one truly is enough.

Of course, with irony running rampant in our society, we are now seeing people in Christmas sweaters who aren't being sincere about their statement. They're saying something different with their sweaters. Maybe: "I like to think of Christmas as an extension of Halloween, and this is my costume. Boo!" Or: "I had to wear a tacky Christmas sweater to get into my friend's party. I'm not really feeling it. Although you have to admit, the puppy is pretty cute."

Does anyone know how the Christmas sweater trend started? I have a feeling the first one was something hand-knitted by a grandmother in Middle America. She got requests from friends, then branched out into one of those home businesses you're always hearing about. From there it snowballed into the dire situation we have today. Christmas sweaters for dogs. Hanukkah sweaters. Easter sweaters. Valentine's Day sweaters. Any holiday with a logo (e.g., a shamrock) is now a sweater day. Or, in the case of Christmas, it's a sweater month, because the first sightings happen just after Thanksgiving.

The worst offenders feature sequins, lights (for example, a light-up Rudolph nose) and three-dimensional decorations, such as miniature Christmas ornaments or the bow around that poor puppy's neck. But really, they're all pretty awful. A company called Susan Bristol Inc. even had to recall a line of Christmas sweaters with marabou feather trim: it was dangerously flammable.

There's an important lesson here: If you want to be festive, show some cleavage.

Originally posted on Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The Holiday Birthday Dilemma

My birthday is in December. I'm not complaining, at least not too much; after all, it's in the first week, not shared with Jesus. But still.

We December and early January birthdays are a special club. Only we know the dismay of the "combination gift," the back-burner treatment of presents, the celebrations postponed until "after the holidays" without a hint of the concept of "belated."

Of course, as I get older I'm just as glad to have my birthday get overlooked or combined with another, snazzier holiday. A nice dinner out, a piece of jewelry - once you're a grown-up, you can make these happen at will, making birthdays potentially redundant, right? In fact, why acknowledge them at all? Another year older and closer to death...

Except that some part of us never gets over the childlike excitement about birthdays. Your birthday is uniquely yours, a chance to celebrate YOU that just doesn't happen any other time in your adult life, other than on your wedding day or at a tribute dinner. There's something touching about that recognition, and everyone deserves to have it unimpeded by bigger events.

People with birthdays in late December or the first week of January have it the worst. They truly get lost in the shuffle, and would probably do well to celebrate their half-birthday six months later. So if you know someone whose birthday is within a week of Christmas or New Year's Day, make a special effort to acknowledge it. Be sure to buy a separate card, not just scrawl "& Happy Birthday!" on a Christmas card. Because a combination gift might actually work in the recipient's favor, but a combination card is just plain cheap.

Not Your Ideal Thanksgiving Dinner (Videos)

Fire in the Hole

The oven is on fire, the alarm is blaring--and the turkey is raw. Think Martha Stewart could pull that off?

A Very Vegan Thanksgiving

The narrator asks, "A raw Thanksgiving, can you believe it?" And the answer: A resounding no!

Will It Blend? - Thanksgiving Dinner

It's Thanksgiving time, and we don't want toothless Uncle Floyd to feel left out. Here's how he can enjoy an entire Thanksgiving dinner in a glass.

Black Friday 2009 (Videos)

If this year is anything like 2009, here's what you can expect. Good luck out there!

Black Friday Trampling

White Girl, Black Friday (Rap)

Waste of Time

Amped Up Target Crowd

Hotels: Worth the Price

An anonymous and hellish Thanksgiving memory from New York state.

We were visiting the in-laws and were told to stay in a borrowed hunting trailer in the driveway as the house was "too full." There was no heat, and the water in my glass actually froze overnight. After surviving first night, we told the in-laws we were going to go to a hotel. We were offered a space heater and an extension cord. I imagined the headlines: "Family burns in freak trailer/space heater accident!" and refused the offer. We have reservations at a Marriott for this year.

Going for the TKO (Videos)

Whipped Cream: Not Just for Pie

Ah, the traditional Thanksgiving food fight!

Mashing the Potatoes

Sisterly love.

Thanksgiving Fight

As bad as the fight it, it’s not as bad as that horrible apartment.

Thanksgiving Cooking Experiments (Videos)

It’s a Turkey Made out of Tofu, Not a Freakin’ Double Rainbow!

>How Long to Bake a Turkey in a Toy Oven?

Step 1: Peel the Thanksgiving Garbanzos. Wait, Garbanzos??

Step 2: Get the Straw Ready. Wait, Straw??

A Thanksgiving Potpourri (Videos)

The Gobble Song

Makes you yearn for The Chicken Dance.

Thanksgiving Comedy

Please, don't keep us in suspense!

Thanksgiving "Don't Ask"

Grandma is a woman of few words. Happy New Year!

Pseudo Black Friday

It's beginning to feel a lot like...Black Friday! Yes, the buzz is starting even though Thanksgiving isn't until November 25th and Black Friday not until the wee hours of the following morning.

Some retailers just can't wait, though. They're using the name Black Friday in vain, to entice recession-weary consumers back under the fluorescents.Check out this Sears weekly circular masquerading as an early Black Friday promotion.

Too Much Time on Their Hands (Videos)

The Ultimate Transformer

Where Did I Put My Gardening Shears?

For Geeks Only

New Uses for the Economy Roll of Foil

How Long Did It Take to Carve That?

Hellish Halloween Flashback

Halloween is coming and I can handle it. That's because I know this year will be a walk on the beach compared to Halloween 2006. I remember it vividly...

We woke up to no internet. It was out until mid-morning due to a Roadrunner problem. My then-husband sank into a foul mood and mine wasn't much better.

His car was in the shop so I had to drive him to work. Of course he was in a big rush and complaining about various issues, so he needed to get there ASAP. As usual, I was ready before he was, but he acted like I needed to speed it up. It was a testy drive.

Because of the 1:00pm street closures for the West Hollywood Halloween Parade, my son's school would be closing at noon. Chloe, 12, with whom we carpooled at the time, convinced him the street was going to close earlier than expected and that her babysitter wouldn't be able get through to pick them up. So my son, then 13, called me and said they would be walking to the Beverly Center, a massive mall about a mile away. I told him to stay where he was and then had to go pick him up, killing an hour of my day when I wasn’t supposed to have to drive. (Chloe made her break for freedom and had to be tracked down later.)

He told me he had no Halloween plans and was mopey and blamey. He said his mask had been stolen out of his backpack at school the day before, and now he had no costume for the evening ahead, but since he'd made no plans anyway he was upset for all kinds of conflicted reasons.

We stopped to load up on candy for the hordes we expected after sunset. That put me back at home with less than an hour to spend working before I had to go out again and pick up my husband. Time to eat about six pounds of "fun size" candies but not to get anything else done. Then, just before I had to leave, there was a brownout that disconnected me from the internet and almost stranded my car in the driveway. When I quickly opened the driveway gate so I wouldn't be trapped, the dog escaped and had to be chased down.

On the way to my husband's office, my son called to tell me the house next door was on fire and six fire trucks and an ambulance had converged. I told him to go see what was going on, but he said our neighbor yelled at him to mind his own business when he tried. (It turns out there was a small fire, which they put out quickly.) When I got home, my neighbor and about six other people were sitting outside and it was all I could do not to scream at her for being such a bitch.

On the way back from picking up my husband (he dropped me at home and headed to a meeting), he talked to Audi, who had no information on his car, and to a business partner who yelled defensively through the BlackBerry the majority of the drive home.

I had to call a friend of a friend's to tell her we didn’t want to invest $25,000 in her planned dating site. After the call I somehow ended up having to write her an email detailing my issues with her approach. (Writing that email, which essentially shot down the overall approach as well as the specific details of the service, turned out to be the highlight of my day.)

Somehow it did all end. And somehow I believe that next time Halloween won't be so bad.

Originally posted on October 28, 2006.

Halloween Hodgepodge (Videos)

Don't Stop at This House!

Stephen Lynch is just a little too dangerous for trick or treating.

Halloween Pranks

Just disregard that Easter basket and thank Halloween thoughts!

Be Careful Who You Prank!

Good reflexes can be a bitch.

An Animated Halloween (Videos)

Boop Boop Dee Boo!

A (Simulated) Halloween

A Very Independent Pumpkin

When Halloween Tricks Backfire - Literally!

The Season of Pokemon

Some years back, when Pokemon ruled the world and my son Greg was in second grade, Halloween took an ugly turn. It started out pleasantly enough, with three boys heading out together to trick or treat.

The cast: Jason, Harry and Greg.

The scene: A pleasant residential neighborhood teeming with costumed kids and hovering parents.

The backstory: Greg and his friends had been going to Pokemon tournaments for a year or so. Each had a collection of trading cards whose cost, coupled with the miracle of compound interest, would probably equal a year of college when the time came. (Better not to think about that part.) They had all planned to trick or treat together, and each would come as his favorite Pokemon character.

The costumes: Poliwhirl, Pikachu and Charmeleon, respectively.

Yes, the Age of Nintendo had dawned in these boys' lives and there was no looking back. Forget the Scooby-Doos and Supermen of yesteryear, 2000 was all about Pokemon.

All three chose an evolved Pokemon: The blue, frog-like Poliwhirl had begun life as the tadpole-like Poliwag. Pikachu evolved from Pichu. And Charmeleon, with its flaming tail, was one step up from Charmander, but still well below the all-powerful Charizard.

The boys convened at our house. Each got along individually with the other, but the three together had sometimes led to flare-ups in the past as each jockeyed for position against the other two. Factor in the competitive nature of Pokemon and the high spirits surrounding Halloween and you were looking at a tinderbox of juvenile emotion. Still, as the group's escort I was sure I could handle it.

It all went smoothly for a while. We made it down the block and around the corner, as bags filled with candy and everyone was happy. Then, for some reason, at one of the houses Harry lagged behind. The rest of us were on the sidewalk waiting for him but he was still lingering at the door.

"Come on, slowpoke!" Greg yelled.

Now, you may not be familiar with the entire Pokedex (basically the database of all Pokemon, which at the time numbered 151). A quick lesson: Slowpoke, at number 79, was perhaps the slowest and dumbest creature of them all, requiring patience just to tolerate it. Harry heard "slowpoke" as "Slowpoke" and lost it. He felt deeply insulted. He started crying. He didn't want to walk with Greg any more. He wouldn't listen to any explanations. (He may not have been aware that the word existed outside of Pokemon. Of course, Greg may not have either.)

The trick or treating ended quickly after that. Harry insisted on going home, which meant we had to head back to our house and drive him there. Greg and Jason protested, but were too young to be on their own. The candy-gathering ceased and the night was ruined. Not only that, but Harry never wanted to be friends with Greg after that.

If there was a lesson, I couldn't figure out how to teach it. I tried, "Be careful with your words," and told Greg that sometimes what you say can be misconstrued. I had him apologize. Nothing worked. Eventually we all moved on to ignoring each other. Greg continued to see Harry at school, of course. They were cordial but didn't have much to say to each other, and that was OK. They went their separate ways after fifth grade. And the lessons have only gotten more complicated since then.