2017.12.13 Old fish? New plane? Gifts for any budget


I doubt that I’m the only one who hasn’t finished shopping for holiday gifts. But it’s time to get busy, and I’m willing to share some of the gift ideas I’ve come across. Feel free to add any of them to your own shopping list.

For buyers on a budget, there’s “vintage sardines,” or what I like to call “old fish.” Available from Zingerman’s, they claim that sardines get better with age. While that may be true, it’s also a clever way of getting rid of inventory you couldn’t sell when new.

A tin (totaling about four ounces) of 2014 Portuguese sardines is available for $10. For $11, you can get a French tin from 2013, said to be “a very good year for sardines.”

Zingerman’s website says we have Napoleon to thank (or maybe curse) for canned sardines. Two centuries ago, he had a contest to find an easy-to-carry food that didn’t spoil quickly for use by his troops. Canned sardines won the prize. I suppose it’s unfair to blame sardines for Napoleon’s downfall, but buyer beware. 

Somehow, I have been added to the mailing list for the BUDK catalog and I hope they keep sending them. Their inventory is heavy on various items for hunters, law enforcement, survivalists and the like, particularly knives and swords. But it’s some of the other choices that might make an interesting gift for that hard-to-buy-for person.

One of my favorite items is the surplus Czech gas mask. The listing says it protects against radioactive and biological agents as well as harmful chemicals. At only $12.99, it’s also a bargain. There’s just one catch.

The description adds that the item “May function as intended, but expiration date exceeded; use at your own risk.” And that, folks, is why it’s only $12.99. The upside for the seller is that unhappy buyers probably won’t be in any condition to complain.

Then there are “Auto Jigglers,” which allow you to “Open Doors Like A Professional!” Said to unlock late model and older vehicles alike, the listing invites you to “Use the same tool as many locksmiths.” And, I would guess, most car thieves. For just $19.99, your gift recipient could soon be in jail.

For someone deserving of a bigger gift, BUDK even offers a copper still in sizes from three to ten gallons, priced from $400 to $900. Suggested uses include turning salt water into fresh, making essential oils, perfume, antiseptic and marinade for meat, plus ethanol to run your engines or heat your home. 

Along with all these benign uses, they still make sure to mention that it is a “True Appalachian Moonshine Still.” Not that anyone would think about using it for anything illegal. I’m sure all buyers are happily making perfume by the gallon.

For those of you interested of the current trend of giving experiences, Rolls-Royce has an interesting one available for a mere $610,000. The package includes first-class plane tickets for two to London and two nights in a fancy hotel. Your recipient and guest get to spend a day at the Rolls-Royce headquarters, including lunch with RR’s head of design and a private dinner with the firm’s CEO.

Plus, as a little reminder of your trip to England, you get a 2018 Rolls-Royce Phantom VIII, customized to your personal taste. Not too bad for a parting gift.

Or if you’re shopping for a family of six and don’t mind spending a million dollars, they can be the only visitors for a day at the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation and Greenfield Village in Dearborn. After a personal tour of the museum, a Model T Ford will transport them to Thomas Edison’s laboratory in the Village.

They also get to drive a 1931 Bugatti Royale through the Village, including a stop at the Firestone Farm for lunch, held in the same dining room where the tire company founder used to host his friends Edison and Henry Ford. By the way, the Royale is one of the most valuable cars in the world, so watch your speed. They expect it back in one piece at the end of the day.

Finally, you can place an advance deposit on a Spike Aerospace S-512, an in-development supersonic private jet, able to carry 18 passengers at a cruising speed of 1,100 mph. Total price is projected to be $100 million. Or, if you don’t want to wait for delivery, you could always buy that special someone 10 million cans of sardines. Either way, they’re bound to be impressed.