Bringing Yuletide joy to that special unemployed someone can be an emotionally delicate -- but ultimately very rewarding -- endeavor. While being down on one's luck is certainly no crime, the ravages of joblessness do tend to dredge up some pretty unattractive qualities in the sufferer: self-loathing, feelings of shame and worthlessness, depression, paranoia, panic, and -- in some cases -- a truly homicidal rage (emotions quite similar to those inspired by the holidays themselves). You'll want to select your gifts carefully: Stress the utilitarian, without patronizing or pandering to the recipient's current condition of economic obsolescence.


Give your labor-deprived loved one the illusion of ambitious self-employment... with a genuine metal detector! This easy-to-operate gizmo is the perfect utilitarian gift for the chronically unemployed. Not only does it transform endless tracts of miserable idleness (the real bane of unemployment) into hours of vigorous, concentrated, honest activity -- it pays off, too! Imagine the newfound sense of hope that will arise in the withering soul of your destitute family member while combing the rocky beaches of the Northwest, scavenging for fallen change, lost jewelry, and, just perhaps, a still-functioning Rolex Daytona 500. Very practical and quite sexy!

Available at any Radio Shack, starting at $179.


In the unpleasant event that unemployment brings (as it so often will) the added sting of permanent eviction, you'll want your humbugged family member to be on the ever-ready. And nothing says "I love you" quite like a polyester fleece sleeping bag and polyethylene bedroll combination! This compact, conveniently transportable, and easily maintained back-borne "bedroom" provides adequate protection from all but the most inclement winter nights, as well as a needed sense of self-sufficiency in the laughing face of cruel fate.

Available (in a variety of primary colors) at most camping and Army & Navy surplus outlets for $19.98 and $9.98, respectively.


With an hourly wage starting at a whopping $8, and the guarantee of weekly paychecks, plus benefits and half-price discounts on all food items, Dick's Drive-In is irrefutably the Kilimanjaro of burger joints. With this single-sheeted questionnaire (you may want to include a decorative pencil and eraser), you can initiate the sort of Horatio Alger, rags-to-riches tale that is the staple of Christmas optimism and good cheer. It's a wonderful life, indeed, and before you know it, your formerly busted giftee will have advanced from window cashier to fry cook to the esteemed throne of burger station.

Free applications available upon request at Dick's Main Office, 4426 2nd Ave NE.


Literature for losers! This is the definitive text on the degradations of unemployment, written in unflinching prose that details the grimy, gruesome travails of society's transient population. Not only will the malnourished recipient of this wonderful holiday book receive comfort in the understanding of an international and historical solidarity in poverty, but the careful reader will pick up innumerable handy tips for daily existence as a down-and-out tramp: how to beg, endure a night in a shelter, undergo a delousing, stretch a loaf of bread over a week, and transmute social service meal tickets into cold cash.

Available for $11 at any local, independently owned bookstore.


For those of you wishing to spread a more universal joy to the general -- and generally neglected -- population of unemployed and homeless this Christmas season, may we recommend the gift that keeps on giving, and giving... and giving. A brand-new, bright blue Honey Bucket semi-portable lavatory, placed at the location of your choice! 'Tis always the season! And this is just the thing to combat the Ebeneezer Scrooge-like lack of convenient public facilities in class-divided and ostensibly poop-less downtown Seattle.

A virgin Honey Bucket will run you about $800, but you can find perfectly functioning used ones starting at $200 at Northwest Cascade, 16207 Meridian E, Puyallup, 622-2464.