Every family has that one person, usually a bloke, who couldn’t buy a decent present to save their own hide. In Matt Okine’s family: it’s him.
“I once gave my dad a two pack of superglue for Christmas” he happily shares with me, his distinctive radio voice orating his confessions down the phone line, expressing a clear disdain for this time of year’s shopping misadventures.
“I just thought, “Dad’s are into fixing things.” Not a good cordless drill though, or not some kind of sweet buzz saw or something. I don’t even know any hardware terms. I just bought him some superglue.”
Online payment behemoth PayPal caught wind of of the well-known funster’s inability to shop for his loved ones, and decided it was time to put an end to shitty presents once and for all.
“They must have heard about how terrible I am gift giving. When I was working on the radio on Triple J I think I mentioned a couple of times how shit at giving presents I am. They legit tracked me down. I think they needed to guide someone who was as bad as me.”
PayPal’s shopping experts have given Matt a wealth of advice on everything from how to spot a bargain to thinking outside the box, as well as how to shop for tricky rellies (everybody has a 17 year old niece – right?). They’re then setting Matt loose on Bondi Markets on Sunday December 3, to put these newfound skills to the test, as part of their “Shop Off the Beaten Path” campaign, which is championing artisan producers and smaller retailers. The experience is going to be live-streamed on Facebook, just to add an extra element of pressure on the already-nervous comic, though it sounds like PayPal have offered some gems that might come in handy.
“You should be like Siri and be listening at all times when it comes to Christmas. My girlfriend and I just went on holiday and she was talking about her – actually I don’t want to give that away in case she reads this article. But basically have your ears open at all times. Just because someone mentions something in April, keep a little notepad in your phone and have it ready so that when you get to Christmas time, you’ve done all the hard work over the course of the year and you’re not freaking out.
“There’s a few people on the Christmas list I’m a little bit scared about. My girlfriend – I’ve got to get that right. I’ve bought her earrings before and I don’t know whether she’s just too scared to wear them out because they’re so beautiful, but I have rarely seen them upon her ears. At any time. I’m going to try to do a bit better than that this year. My dad, I’m going to get to see this Christmas, and he’s been awesome over the last few years, he works with me on the radio a bunch and he’s been such a good sport, so I really want to nail a good gift for him. And make up for all the years I bought him a five pack of screw drivers and superglue.
“And you know who’s the most terrifying to buy a present for is going to be my 17 year old niece, who I’m seeing at a family function and I just have no idea what to get a 17 year old girl for Christmas. I’m just so out of touch with what’s cool, that’s going to be one of my biggest hurdles. Because I also want to get her something that she’s going to be super proud to take to school and show her friends and be like: “I’ve got the best uncle ever.””
While it sounds like he’s got a gameplan in place, Okine is also quick to admit that he’s still afraid of what the outcome might be, especially as it’s going to be broadcast to the world.
“I’m going to have to try to step out of the boundaries a little bit and go towards the jewellery or clothing side of things. Which to be honest scares the shit out of me. That’s what I’m most nervous about: the live-stream at Bondi markets. I’m going to have to step out of my comfort zone and just go for things, because I know that my 17 year old niece would probably like a really nice piece of jewellery but I’m so lost on that that it’s going to take a big leap of faith for me to give this a go.”
The comedian and radio star may be self-admittedly awful at picking presents, but he’s also well aware that he’s not alone, and says that it’s important for guys to have each others back, as such, and be willing to step in and stop their mates from making terrible decisions come Christmas time.
“I was at a Christmas function once, and one of my family members bought his wife some Nair hair removal. Nair No More Hair. It was just kind of weird, it was like, I don’t know whether or not that’s the most thoughtful gift. Like: “Hey you’re hairy.”
“I’ve also made that mistake as well. Last year I was thinking about getting my girlfriend some sweet gym gear, but I was talking to my friend and they are like: “You idiot, don’t get her gym gear. It’s going to make her feel like you want her to go to the gym.”
“It’s like, no I don’t, I just know that she does exercise, so I want her to feel like she’s wearing sweet threads while she’s doing it. But I bailed on that, it’s just enough that my friend scolded me for it. That’s what friends are for right? Keeping you in check before you make an idiot of yourself in front of all the rellies at Christmas.”
Superglue might be bad, but when pressed on the most embarrassing example of Christmas gifting he’s ever exercised, Okine shares a doozy.
“About 10 years ago, I made this sweet ass little rap EP in my bedroom studio. Looking back it was god-awful, but at the time I thought it was great, and I sent that to a whole bunch of friends. So I literally gave my own CD. Not even a good properly made CD, my own homemade, bedroom studio, absolute piece of flaming garbage. To 15 of my closest friends.” I point out that surely that makes it super rare, and that now he’s famous it could be considered like a famous artist’s underground work, but it doesn’t help.
“Man, I hope it’s rare. I hope it’s so rare that no one f*cking knows it exists and more. If you have a copy, burn it now please. Do the world a favour and get rid of it.”
Whatever he gets this year, we’re all rooting for a happy Christmas for the Okine clan – and hope that PayPal’s expert tips mean no more dodgy hardware for his dad, Mack. As for whether or not that superglue ever got used?
“I don’t know. We might have the most fixed house in the street as far as I’m concerned.”
We’re guessing otherwise. Sorry, Matt.