Clockwise from left: Alice S. Hall/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank/Getty Images; Jordin Althaus/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank
'Tis the Season
Finished with your holiday shopping yet? So paralyzed by the enormity of the task that you haven’t even begun? Check out our list of TV’s best and worst gift-givers for inspiration–and a few very cautionary tales. (Hint: avoid birds and guns.)
Jordin Althaus/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank
BEST: Danny to Mindy, The Mindy Project
(Season 2, Episode 11, “Christmas Party Sex Trap”)
The best things in life are free, like when your best friend and almost-but-not-quite love interest forgoes his customary gift card to perform word-perfect choreography to Aaliyah’s “Try Again.” The meaning of Christmas is Chris Messina’s pelvic range of motion.
Alice S. Hall/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank/Getty Images
WORST: Chandler and Joey to Everybody, Friends
(Season 2, Episode 9, “The One With Phoebe’s Dad”)
When a trip to see Phoebe’s biological dad takes longer than planned, Chandler and Joey run out of time to do their holiday shopping. Their gas station-sourced gifts for the gang (windshield wiper blades for Rachel, two cans of soda for Ross, ribbed condoms for Monica) are not a hit – except with Phoebe, who is thrilled to receive a packet of toilet seat covers.
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BEST: Leslie to Ron, Parks and Recreation
(Season 4, Episode 10, “Citizen Knope”)
Leslie Knope is a world class gift-giver, but she outdoes even herself with Ron’s automatic double door closer. It displays such a perfect understanding of and affection for her boss and friend that it moves the normally stoic Ron to (manly) tears. In turn, he and the gang put together the sweetest gift in return: a gingerbread recreation of Leslie's beloved Park Department.
WORST: Andy to Erin, The Office
(Season 6, Episode 13, “Secret Santa”)
The Office's Andy Bernard attempts to woo work crush Erin with a faithful recreation of the 12 Days of Christmas – six of which involve real live birds. Pecking ensues.
BEST: Luke to Lorelai, Gilmore Girls
(Season 1, Episode 10, “Forgiveness and Stuff”)
Local diner owner-slash-human Grumpy Cat Luke’s soft spot for snarky single mom Lorelai isn’t exactly the world’s best kept secret, but it’s perhaps never more obvious than when he indulges her love of Christmas by constructing her a “Santa Burger” out of ketchup, cream cheese, and Wonder Bread. It’s truly disgusting, and truly beautiful.
Abed’s stop-motion search for the meaning of Christmas leads him to Santa’s workshop… and a DVD of the first season of Lost. “It’s a metaphor,” he explains dejectedly. “It represents a lack of payoff.”
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BEST: Liz to Jack, 30 Rock
(Season 4, Episode 8, “Secret Santa”)
Liz Lemon rises to boss Jack’s $0.00 gift challenge by calling in a bomb threat to Penn Station so that his high school crush will have to stay in town another night. Illegal? Very. Heartwarming? Very.
WORST: Bart to Marge, The Simpsons
(Season 1, Episode 1, “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire”)
Bart’s impulse “MOTHER” tattoo nearly ruins Christmas when Marge has to spend the family’s holiday savings on a laser removal procedure. It all works out in the end because love, family, the meaning of Christmas, etc., but seriously – don’t get a Christmas tattoo.
BEST: Summer to Seth, The O.C.
(Season 1, Episode 13, “The Best Chrismukkah Ever”)
It’s a very merry Chrismukkah for Seth Cohen when dream girl Summer Roberts dresses up as Wonder Woman and nearly short-circuits that nerdy, horny teenage brain of his.
WORST: Stan to Steve, American Dad!
(Season 7, Episode 8, “For Whom the Sleigh Bell Tolls”)
American Dad Stan Smith gifts his son Steve an assault rifle for Christmas; Steve accidentally riddles Santa with bullet holes; a vengeful Santa returns with an army of out-for-blood elves. It’s all very festive!