🚗 🚙 Turn your trusty old car into trustworthy journalism Learn more

How to have a happy holiday, from the Dinner Party Download

Marketplace Contributor Dec 15, 2011

Tess Vigeland: Let’s start with a small sample of the week’s headlines:

Headline montage: Giant retailers Best Buy, Wal-Mart and Amazon have expanded their trade-in programs to include so much more than old video games. The stronger dollar today is weighing on energy and materials. Gold and oil are both trading sharply lower. More than 3,000 people were killed last year due to distracted driving. But is eliminating all cell phone use behind the wheel the answer?

Oh dear. I say… YES!!

But you know what, we’re starting this week with something completely different. As we make our final run into the holidays, we could all use a little help making a splash. Heaven knows I need it this year. Which is why I invited two of my favorite guests to the studio: Brendan Francis Newnam and Rico Gagliano of the Dinner Party Download are here for a little this, a little that. Greetings, gentlemen!

Brendan Francis Newnam: Hi Tess. I’m This.

Rico Gagliano: I’m That.

Vigeland: Welcome.

Newnam: Thanks for having us. We’re happy to help out.

Vigeland: All right. So this is the season of giving and, well, sometimes spending a lot of money.

Gagliano: Even in this down economy. Surprising.

Vigeland: Yes!

Newnam: It’s anxiety producing.

Vigeland: It’s pepper-spray inducing!

Newnam: Exactly.

Gagliano: If you’re a certain type.

Newnam: Well, pepper spray is always a great gift.

Vigeland: Oh really?

Gagliano: Effective.

Newnam: Yeah, that’s right.

Vigeland: I think you have to be on Santa’s naughty list for that one.

Gagliano: That’s true.

Newnam: You’re right. I have now three nephews and two nieces. I mean these are a lot of gifts and then my sister expects… I mean it’s wild. So here’s something that we learned this week. We have Emily Post. Her great-great-grandchildren to this day continue to publish a manners book. And we had them on our show. And this week, they told us that re-gifting is OK.

Vigeland: What?!

Newnam: That’s right.

Gagliano: You heard it here.

Newnam: There are a few ground rules. The first one is: You can’t have used the word “hideous” or “ugly” when you first got the gift.

Gagliano: It has to be a nice gift.

Newnam: It has to be something that’s actually not bad.

Vigeland: OK, but can I think that, as long as I don’t say it out loud?

Gagliano: Well, I think this about ethics, right? You really shouldn’t re-gift something that you honestly believe is a lousy gift.

Newnam: Yeah, sorry.

Vigeland: But then why wouldn’t I just keep it?

Gagliano: Well, what if you had two of them?

Newnam: There’s that.

Gagliano: And also, if it is something maybe that you think is better for another person.

Newnam: And there’s another rule: The gift, first of all, it can’t have been homemade.

Vigeland: It can, of course.

Newnam: No, no, it can’t.

Vigeland: It can’t?

Newnam: It was homemade for you, specifically for Tess. You cannot give it to Rico. That’s sad.

Vigeland: So even if I don’t like pickled carrots in a can…

Newnam: You never gave me any indication you didn’t like them.

Gagliano: I think the idea is if the can was monogrammed to me…

Newnam: Yeah, you can’t scratch it off.

Gagliano: That would be bad.

Newnam: So those are the basic rules. But the important take away is re-gifting is OK, if you follow certain guidelines.

Vigeland: OK. And you guys will have more of those guidelines on your show this weekend.

Newnam: That’s right.

Gagliano: DinnerPartyDownload.org. Blatant plug.

Newnam: What a pro.

Gagliano: Thanks you guys.

Vigeland: So that’s tip number one. Tip number two.

Gagliano: Well, while we’re on gift-giving, here are some ideas if you do want to spend money on an actual gift instead of a re-gift. First of all, you may have heard of the Steve Jobs book.

Vigeland: Yes.

Gagliano: Hard not to.

Newnam: It’s on a lot of lists.

Gagliano: You do not need to get anybody that book.

Vigeland: Why not?

Gagliano: Because what about that book do we not know at this point?

Newnam: Yeah. Thank you Internet, it’s all been summarized.

Gagliano: The guy was a little meaner than we thought and also a genius.

Vigeland: Right. And that’s all you need to know.

Newnam: End of story.

Gagliano: But while we’re on the subject of Apple…

Vigeland: So you just saved us 25-30 bucks.

Gagliano: Right there! But you can take that money and apply it towards another often Apple-themed product, which would be an MP3 player.

Vigeland: Yup, on a lot of lists.

Gagliano: Now, we’ve got a suggestion for not-your-average MP3 player. It is called the Eco Media Player Spin. It’s a four gigabyte MP3 player, it’s very bulky and clunky, is the size of an older cellphone.

Vigeland: Can I have on please?

Newnam: Perfect for re-gifting.

Gagliano: It’s also like $25 to $50 more than an iPod Nano.

Vigeland: Rico, you’re not giving us the reason why we would want to buy this?

Newnam: Yeah, buried ledes.

Gagliano: Here it comes: The savings comes after you bring it home. It is a hand-cranked MP3 player.

Vigeland: Like an emergency radio?

Gagliano: Like an emergency radio, but for a new generation of consumers.

Vigeland: A new generation of earthquake victims.

Gagliano: That’s right.

Newnam: You can listen to black metal when the earth goes post-apocalyptic.

Gagliano: If that’s what you need to get through the apocalypse. And I’m guessing within 10 years or so, you will save the amount of money you might’ve spent on the iPod Nano on your electricity bills.

Newnam: But you will have definitely dropped a notch in the eyes of aforementioned nieces and nephews and children. I mean, c’mon, this is like velcro sneakers. This is kind of embarrassing.

Gagliano: I’m just saying it has a built-in flashlight. Pretty cool.

Newnam: So you can go look for your dignity with that.

Vigeland: All right, so we’ve got re-gifting, we’ve got a few interesting gift ideas — if you actually wanna spend some money. Now the other thing that a lot of folks are spending money on is parties.

Newnam: That’s right. Holiday parties.

Vigeland: So how od you keep that budget down? And I need to ask this personally

Gagliano: One word:

Newnam: Potluck.

Vigeland: Potluck? Oh dear.

Newnam: This is a tradition that comes from 16th-century England.

Vigeland: All great ideas come from 16th-century England.

Newnam: I like your corset Tess.

Vigeland: Thank you very much.

Gagliano: It’s really fun — and my wig is just beautiful right now. Powdery.

Newnam: But no. If you hold the potluck, people are going to bring all this food. They can’t possibly eat all of it and you’re gonna have free lunches for weeks to come! You’re gonna have leftover lasagna, you’re gonna have cranberry sauce. It’s a brilliant move. And you can actually police the potluck, like, “Are you really gonna eat that?” You can fend people away from things you wanna keep. You can even ask them for specific things. “Could someone please bring some filet mignon, please?”

Gagliano: “We need that.”

Newnam: “I’m opening up my house to you.”

Vigeland: So what you need to do is actually send out a list of the things that people are supposed to bring to your potluck.

Newnam: Exactly.

Vigeland: Rico, Brendan, always fun.

Newnam: Tess, thanks for having us.

Gagliano: Happy holidays to you.

There’s a lot happening in the world.  Through it all, Marketplace is here for you. 

You rely on Marketplace to break down the world’s events and tell you how it affects you in a fact-based, approachable way. We rely on your financial support to keep making that possible. 

Your donation today powers the independent journalism that you rely on. For just $5/month, you can help sustain Marketplace so we can keep reporting on the things that matter to you.