On Hollow Promises and Last-Minute Gifts

It’s not that I wasn’t thinking about what to get my girlfriend for Christmas far enough in advance- I’ve had quite a few ideas in mind for months. In fact, I’ve been keeping a list of gift ideas for her for probably the past half a year on my iPhone, ranging from the silly (onion goggles) to the ludicrous (she really wants a Vespa). The problem is I am one of the most indecisive people in the world, and my girlfriend… well, she’s a woman of discriminatin’ taste, so I wanted to make sure I picked out the right thing for her. Plus I wanted there to be an element of surprise— I had already blown my hanukkah gift (damn intra-denominational relationships) in a slip-up while talking to my brother in front of her, so I didn’t want to get her one of the gift ideas she had planted in my head. So it’s the day before Christmas Eve, and I am still without gift. What’s a romantic bad planner to do?

Well, here’s a nifty idea for those of you who can’t quite make up your mind or want to put the onus of your next (valentine’s day / memorial day / bar mitzvah) gift in fate’s hands: make a scratch-off lottery ticket.

There are a few places online that’ll sell you premade scratch-off stickers that you can simply stick over any portions of your ticket that you want to obscure ( looks good), but I was too late to order them I really wanted to go the extra mile and actually make the scratch-off stickers myself. I found a couple of tutorials (this one is the one I ended up using), all of which said to put clear contact paper over your printed-out card and then to make your scratch-off solution out of a mixture of 2:1 silver acrylic hobbyist paint to dish soap (like joy). I set to designing a christmas-themed lotto ticket in Inkscape— a free, open-source vector art editor a’la Illustrator (but it’s FREE) that i grew to love quickly (did I mention it’s FREE?). Grab some clipart and a few occasion-specific fonts for extra pizazz— I found this handy Christmas font. After a little bit of tinkering, I came up with the following:


Once you’re admiring your handiwork with the same pride as Ralphie admires his ‘What I Want For Christmas’ essay in A Christmas Story, save your document as a PDF and send it to the nearest Fedex / Kinkos or print shop that will print cheap color copies on card stock. While you’re on your extended lunch break to pick up the printouts, stop by your nearest dick blick / pearl paint and grab some silver acrylic paint (this stuff was pretty cheap) and a cheap brush, and then run to K-Mart to pick up some dish soap and clear contact paper. Then simply apply the contact paper to the printout, summon your best inner fourth grader in arts and crafts and cut out the printout. Then prepare your paint mixture- as I mentioned, 2:1 paint:soap. You’ll most likely need to do a few layers so paint one on, eat some pretzels, get some work done, and repeat.

In the end, you’ll probably end up with something like this:


Now, since you don’t actually have anything to show for your sorry-ass self, you’ll want to put extra care into wrapping the card (hey, even throw in a bow) and make sure you hide it and all evidence of any files you used in designing it & your fedex / kinko’s receipts until the cat’s out of the bag. And keep your fingers crossed that she doesn’t scratch off the all-expenses-paid trip to Austin.

You’re welcome for saving your Valentine’s Day.