How to Be a Bada$$ Santa

As for the procrastinator who waits until Christmas Eve to buy a gift that says “I love you” … face it, you’re hosed.

The holiday presents under the tree. The twinkly lights. The glittery wrapping paper that promises great riches in the boxes it conceals. The anticipation! What have our loved ones thoughtfully given us this year?

Giddy with excitement, we open our glittery gifts and find...

A paisley scarf or tie.

A book titled, “Shut Up, Stop Whining & Get A Life.”

Any number of Swiffer products.

The dreaded fruit cake, possibly re-gifted from last year.

Pleated slacks (Huh?? From the Ghost of Christmas Past?).

An Okemo lift ticket?! (wink)

Or, as I unwrapped one year, a weed whacker. 

(Confession: I asked for it but only because my husband deems lawn mowing the only yard work worth doing.)

Were we that naughty? We thought we were nice…. What happened to the iPhone 13 Pro Max? The Bose headphones? Even a FitBit would have been nice. Or a fluffy robe. A Hulu gift card?

We look at the gift-giver and mutter, “Um, thank you?”

In an effort to spare you from receiving Bad Santa gifts—or, worse yet, giving them—I dug deep to come up with a list of items that will likely make any skier or snowboarder say thank you with sincerity. And some of these ideas won’t cause you to miss a car payment (i.e., they’re under $100).

For your girlfriend/wife/significant other: Kari Traa long underwear, or any baselayer in a fun print. Not feeling quite that flush? Try a floral Skida neck warmer. Or, if you want to splurge, heated gloves. She will love you forever. She’ll stay out on the slopes longer, too.

For him: it’s always good to update his wardrobe with a trendy new fleece (Mammut, Kuhl, Patagonia … and no, I’m not getting a kickback for plugging specific companies). What about a boot dryer? Or a multitool that makes him feel like MacGyver. 

Got kids? If they’re really young, try one of those helmet covers that makes them look like an alien/frog/Viking/panda/unicorn/…. For teens, go for heated socks. I know, I know, that blows the $100 limit out of the water. But what’s the price of warm toes when you’ve already forked over far more than that for a lift ticket or season pass?

For your spouse/partner who does more than their share of child-rearing, create a Holiday IOU that promises to acquiesce the next powder day (or any day on the mountain).

As for the procrastinator who waits until Christmas Eve to buy a gift that says “I love you” … face it, you’re hosed. Break out the credit card and buy them the heated socks AND the heated gloves. Plus: who doesn’t need new goggles? Better tack on a spa treatment, too. You’re playing catchup after all. 

Looking for something for the diehard Killington fan? Try a Killington ornament. It’ll add a little something special to that cheap bottle of Apothic Red Winemaker’s Blend you brought as a housewarming present.

Killington friends with a sense of humor might like a “Royal Flush” trail sign. For the bathroom. Right?

For the person who has everything, check out this hand-carved topographic model of Killington created from local hardwoods by Treeline Terrains, a company founded by three Middlebury College grads. If you’re looking for a more utilitarian gift that will earn you Bada$$ Santa status, give a Yeti wine mug or beer koozie.

One of my favorite recent gifts is CBD balm made by Luce Farm in nearby Stockbridge. Made from organically-grown hemp, this body balm is, well, the bomb. The warming rub—with arnica—is also great. Rub it on sore, tired legs before bed, and voilà, you won’t feel quite as old the next morning. Even if it makes you feel like a stoner.

And if you’d like to get off the commercial train and give experiences rather than things, spend the holidays on the hill as a family. Even if it’s like last year, when a monsoon brought 60-degree temps and sideways rain to Vermont on Christmas Day. But bad weather keeps everyone else off the hill, making it more of a gift, right? Right?? It also teaches the youngins that we take what the mountains give us, even if the gift is a little soggy. We’re Vermonters, after all.

Once your shopping is complete, wrap everything in glittery paper and impossible-to-unravel ribbon. The little bits of glitter will embed themselves in the carpet fibers or floorboard cracks (and somehow defy the physics of suction, forever evading the vacuum cleaner). Which means your friends and loved ones will remember you—and your thoughtful gifts—for eternity. Or at least for the next year.

Peggy Shinn is an eighth-generation Vermonter, writer for and recent inductee into the Vermont Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame. Her column “Vermontness” will be published regularly throughout the year. If you like it, please let her know.

Peggy Shinn is an eighth-generation Vermonter, writer for and recent inductee into the Vermont Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame. Her column “Vermontness” will be published regularly throughout the year. If you like it, please let her know. Just don’t look too lustfully at her World Cup VIP parking pass.

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