MONEY Taxes

Why You Can Stop Worrying About the Gift Tax

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Tiina & Geir—Getty Images

You're more likely to be mauled to death by a unicorn than to actually pay gift tax to the federal government.

Most taxpayers will never have to pay federal gift tax regardless of the size of the gift.

I frequently get questions from clients wanting to know how much they can give to their children without incurring “gift tax.” So let’s clear this up: For 99.8% of Americans, under current tax law you are more likely to be mauled to death by a unicorn than to actually pay gift tax to the federal government.

The gift tax was designed to prevent people from avoiding federal estate tax by simply giving their money away prior to death. Here is how the gift tax works.

If you give more than a certain amount in a given year to any one individual (this amount is called the annual gift tax exclusion, and it’s $14,000 in 2015), you are supposed to file a gift tax return. If you are married, you and your spouse can each give $14,000 to an individual each year. That means you can give a combined $28,000 to as many people as you like. Most people understand this part but then fret over what happens if they want to give more than the annual exclusion.

Well, as I already mentioned, if you give more than the annual exclusion amount, you are supposed to file a gift tax return. However, that does not mean you owe any tax to the government. Remember that the gift tax was designed to keep people from avoiding estate tax. Federal estate tax applies only to estates of more than $5.43 million ($10.86 million for couples), and the gift tax shares this “unified credit” with the estate tax. Therefore, when you file a gift tax return, you can either pay the tax out of your own pocket or apply part of your unified credit toward the gift and erase the tax.

This essentially means that the only people who actually pay gift tax to the government are people with very large estates — the 0.2% whose estates are larger than the unified credit amount. Anyone else will file a gift tax return and use part of their $5.43 million or $10.86 million unified credit to avoid gift tax.

This means that a married couple making a $100,000 gift to someone — a child, say — settles with the IRS as follows:

Gift: $100,000

Minus annual exclusion amount: $28,000 (2 x $14,000)

Taxable gift: $72,000

Unified credit (for married couple): $10.86 million

Minus credit used to avoid gift tax: $72,000

Remaining credit: $10.14 million.

So unless you plan to leave more than $5 million or $10 million to your kids at death, worrying about gift tax should be the furthest thing from your mind! But watch out for renegade unicorns. I hear they get aggressive during mating season.

More From NerdWallet:

TIME Family

13 Gift Ideas for New Dads

These gifts will keep them awake and ready

These clever, useful gifts cater to every new dad’s lack of sleep, time-management needs, and wide-open heart.

  • Cold Brew Coffee Infusion Bottle

    Epoca-Primula-PCGBK-1220-Cold-Brew-On-the-GO-20-oz.-Bottle-with-Filter-and-Black-Neoprene-Sleeve-2c6edf68-689a-44d6-a6fb-636ce12c2e4b copy
    Epoca—Overstock

    New dads don’t get much sleep. This cold-brew travel mug puts his much-needed morning joe on autopilot—he can simply fill the mug at night (say, when he’s preparing the baby bottles), then reach for it in the morning on his way to work. The neoprene sleeve makes it travel-friendly; the dishwasher-safe design makes it dad-friendly.

    To buy: $31, overstock.com.

  • Dad’s Playbook

    dads-playbook
    UncommonGoods

    The subtitle—Wisdom for Fathers from the Greatest Coaches of All Times—says it all. Fatherhood is the most important coaching job of his life, and the inspirational and tactical quotes from sports heroes like Steve Young will keep his head in the game, through victory and the occasional defeat (it’s amazing how quickly one caves in the face of a first tantrum).

    To buy: $13, uncommongoods.com.

  • Vader’s Little Princess and Darth Vader and Son

    Darth_Vader_and_Son
    Chronicle Books

    The illustrations say kid’s book, but the laugh-out-loud funny references speak directly to Star Wars fans. Perfect bedtime reading for after the little one’s asleep, these books by Jeffrey Brown are most definitely the gifts you’re looking for. (And that’s no Jedi mind trick.)

    To buy: $8-10 each, amazon.com.

  • Pillowtop Hammock

    pillowtop-hammock
    Island Bay—Hayneedle

    Baby gets a swing, why not Dad? Few things are more peaceful than swinging in a hammock in the yard, staring up at the sun-dappled trees, sneaking a few pages of that long-forgotten book, or catching a quick snooze. And once the little one is old enough to join him… just imagine the Instagram moments.

    To buy: $130, hayneedle.com.

  • Dresser Valet

    Reed-and-Barton-James-Mans-Valets-and-Storage-in-Brown-Bonded-Leather-Buckskin-Suede-735092227829
    Reed & Barton—Wayfair

    New dads have a lot to think about—make it easier for him to remember where he left his keys, wallet, tablet and smartphone by giving him this catch-all dresser valet. We love this leather one for its classic look, sturdy back (perfect for a leaning tablet) and mousehole charger openings.

    To buy: $42, wayfair.com.

  • Succulent Planter

    Babies require lots of care and feeding. Succulents, on the other hand, do not. Boost his life-sustaining confidence with this tabletop succulent garden. In fact, the whole household might breathe easier: Succulents are one of few plant types that take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen. Talk about a breath of fresh air.

    To buy: $32, etsy.com.

  • Cotton Polo Shirt

    This shirt has it all: a modern take on the classic polo, the perfect stain-concealing gray hue (hey, spit-up happens), and a socially-responsible backstory, thanks to Everlane’s direct relationship with the factories that produce it.

    To buy: $35, everlane.com.

  • Watermint Body Wash

    molton_body_wash
    Molton Brown

    When that alarm goes off just a few short hours after the baby finally went back down, he’s going to need a refreshing wake-up call. The crisp mint, buchu extract and cardamom combo in Molton Brown’s generous-sized body wash promises a cool start to any day. (No word on whether the company plans to make a scent that lulls babies to sleep before 2 a.m.)

    To buy: $30, amazon.com.

  • Guitar Pick Punch

    e91b_diy_guitar_pick_punch
    ThinkGeek

    It’s a universal musical truth that guitar players can never find a pick when they need one (no matter how many they own). And once there’s a baby in the house, the need for soothing music ASAP becomes that much more urgent. With this clever hole-punch, he can turn any sort of semi-hard plastic (think old gift cards) into a tool of tranquility.

    To buy: $25, thinkgeek.com.

  • Modern Mobile

    107183_A2_Modern_Mobile_Kit
    MoMA

    Why should junior get all the fun? This arty, grown-up mobile adds color and interest to a home office or family room—plus it’s fun to put together and can inspire deep thought when stared at for long periods of time (like meditation without the om).

    To buy: $40, momastore.com.

  • Quiet Headphones

    sennheiser_headphones
    Sennheiser

    There’s no risk of waking the baby with these headphones that don’t leak sound. The universal-fit jack is compatible with all smartphones, and the lightweight design promises hours of listening without feeling like his head is in a vice.

    To buy: $46, amazon.com.

  • Cordless Screwdriver

    dewalt_cordless_Screwdriver
    DeWalt

    You’ve seen the shower registry—you know exactly how many things he’ll need to assemble over the next few years. (Ah, who are we kidding? He’ll be assembling furniture and toys at least until the kid’s in college!) Set him up for success with a two-position cordless screwdriver that charges in just one hour.

    To buy: $73, homedepot.com.

  • Digital Camera

    canon_powershot_n_12_1
    Canon

    Some picture-perfect moments are so special they deserve better than his smartphone camera. The Canon Powershot N has 12.1 megapixels, 8x optical zoom and a 28mm wide-angle lens—all packed into a sleek design smaller than his palm. And for instant gratification and brownie points with the grandparents, he can upload photos to social media sites instantly using the built-in wi-fi.

    To buy: $149, amazon.com.

    This article originally appeared on Real Simple.

    More from Real Simple:

MONEY Shopping

The One Big Problem With Father’s Day Gift Guides

ugly ties in a pile
Getty Images

An actual real-live dad was consulted for this story. Imagine that!

We’ve all heard about how hard it is to pick out Father’s Day gifts. “Finding a Father’s Day gift ranks right up there on the difficulty scale with rocket science (at worst) and holding a plank for more than a minute (at best),” states a Glamour post accompanied by the prerequisite list of fashionable Father’s Day gift ideas. “Dads never seem to want anything until something breaks or gets lost.”

How awful. Doesn’t Dad know that his stubborn contentedness with what he has is getting in the way of your desire to spend an afternoon at Nordstrom and buy him something?

Certainly, Father’s Day gift-buying guides proliferate because selecting dad presents is such a pain. But that’s not the only reason. Father’s Day gift guides are also everywhere because children and spouses want to show their genuine appreciation for all that dads do (which is really nice), and the fact that retailers and advertisers love the opportunity to prod shoppers into buying supposedly manly merchandise that men wouldn’t buy for themselves (which is less nice).

Wanting nothing on Father’s Day is more or less considered a crime. More importantly, due to a mixture of obligation, guilt, and sincere affection, givers want to get something for the men in their lives. Hence the need for gift guides that theoretically help givers find the perfect “must-have” for a guy who, remember, doesn’t want anything. (Side note: Dads don’t use the phrase “must-have.”)

The big problem about Father’s Day gift guides, then, is that they are created much more with the giver rather than the recipient in mind. What’s more, these lists of Father’s Day gifts often seem to be compiled without any input whatsoever from actual, honest-to-goodness fathers.

This explains why Father’s Day gift guides are overloaded with cutting-edge gadgets, grooming products, luxury watches, stylish clothing, artisanal bourbon marshmallows, and what have you. These items are not necessarily about what dads want, but about what the givers want the dads in their lives to be like. They want dads to be hipper, smell and look better, and generally be trendier and less clueless.

Let’s think about this for a second. On the one day of the year devoted to fathers, the message accompanying many gifts is not simple appreciation for who dads truly are and all they do but nudges that say: Man, you need to get your act together. There would be upheaval if similarly passive-aggressive Mother’s Day gifts were handed out to implicitly tell Mom: You have awful taste and your appearance hasn’t been up to snuff lately.

Dads could be insulted by being force-fed these kinds of gifts. More often, they are received with a forced smile and a sense a puzzlement as to how much of a mismatch the item is with the kinds of things he truly likes. Detroit News finance editor (and genuine-article dad) Brian J. O’Connor recently pointed out many dos and don’ts (mostly don’ts) for Father’s Day gifts, in order to help givers avoid “having to slink back to Bed, Bath & Beyond or to waste your money shipping a return to that twee, ‘personally curated’ hippie store on the Web.” Among the many don’ts are items relating to Dad’s hobbies (if he wanted it, he’d have it), almost any kind of clothing, and anything personalized (coasters, tools, grilling sets, etc.).

To this, I’ll add the advice that if you must consult a Father’s Day gift guide, at least go to a source that the dad in your life knows and respects and therefore has a prayer of jibing with his sensibility. If your dad is a regular on Pinterest or etsy, or if he’s a big reader of Glamour, Seventeen, or Real Simple, or if he shops all the time at Nordstrom, Pottery Barn, or Bed, Bath & Beyond, that’s great. By all means check out their Father’s Day gift suggestions.

On the other hand, there’s a problem if you’re getting a Father’s Day gift based mostly on what you like—or perhaps what you want your dad or husband to be like. This is how dads wind up with scented candles on Father’s Day. They may be “manly” scented candles that look and smell like charcoal, but they’re scented candles nonetheless. And if your dad isn’t a scented candle kind of guy, what in the world are you doing buying him scented candles?

Likewise, if your father never looks at Esquire, InStyle, Details (or MONEY for that matter!), and would chuckle at the thought of dressing like any of the slick, trendy hipsters on the pages inside, then these resources should be dismissed, or at least their recommendations should be considered with extreme skepticism. These kinds of Father’s Day lists swear that your dad really does want a vintage $400 camera, a drone, $1,300 penny loafers, men’s makeup products, and perhaps a fancy wireless digital thermometer with Bluetooth connectivity for grilling meat.

If you truly know your dad, you should know whether these are the kinds of things he’ll like or be annoyed or mystified by. And if he says he really doesn’t want you to buy him anything, maybe, just maybe, you should believe him.

MORE: This Father’s Day, Your Dad Actually Needs a Tie
The Worst Father’s Day Gifts — And What to Buy Instead
What You Wish You Could Give Dad on Father’s Day, But Shouldn’t

TIME Parenting

How Deadbeat are Deadbeat Dads, Really?

New study suggests they give stuff rather than money

There are fewer pariahs more deeply loathed by society at large than the deadbeat dad, the fully-grown man, who, having had his fun, abandons his responsibilities. And the numbers of men who pay little or no child support has always been staggering. In 2011, only 61% of child support payments were made by men to the mothers of their children.

But as with most pariahs, things are more complicated than they seem. The Census reports that in 2011 about the same percentage of moms who didn’t live with their kids paid all the child support they owed as dads who didn’t. And a new research paper suggests that baby dads are not quite as useless as the numbers and their popular image would imply.

The study, which appeared in June in the Journal of Marriage and Family, finds that many fathers who don’t pay child support in cash, nevertheless make a significant contribution in kind. Almost half of the fathers in the study who were cash-poor nevertheless tried to contribute in other ways—providing baby products, clothing, school expenses and food—worth an average of $60 a month.

“The most disadvantaged dads end up looking like they’re completely distanced from their kids but they’re actually giving quite a lot,” said one of the authors, Kathryn Edin, a sociologist and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg Distinguished Professor. “I was really surprised by how much these disadvantaged guys, these truly marginally employed men, are putting all of this thought and what little resources they have into showing their children that they care.”

Of the 367 lower income, noncustodial dads studied in three different cities, only 23% gave what the courts would recognize as child-support through the system, but 46% contributed in-kind support and 28% gave cash straight to the mom, says the study, which is the first to look specifically at the more informal ways dads try to look after their kids.

Sixty six of the dads in the study were what’s considered the full-on deadbeat, giving absolutely no cash support to the 95 children they fathered between them. But the researchers found they gave $63 per child a month through in-kind support — support that doesn’t show up in statistics.

Edin, with her husband Timothy J. Nelson, has done extensive study of so-called deadbeat dads; together they wrote the book Doing the Best I Can about inner city fatherhood. She may be one of the nation’s foremost experts on non-custodial fathers and is certainly one of the group’s biggest (female) defenders.

Many sociologists believe that the current system of child support payments often leads mothers to deny fathers access to their children until they have paid what they owe, thus souring the relationship between all three. Indeed, the study found that fathers who did not visit their kids gave only about half as much in-kind support as those who spent at least 10 hours a month with them.

Why do dads prefer to buy stuff for their kids, rather than give money to the kids’ moms? Because they get more recognition for these acts from their children. It’s a way, says Edin, of bonding. “We need to respect what these guys are doing, linking love and provision in a way that’s meaningful to the child,” she said in a statement accompanying the release of the journal. “The child support system weakens the child/father bond by separating the act of love from the act of providing.”

For the most interesting parenting news from all over the web, subscribe here to TIME’s weekly parenting newsletter.

MONEY Toys

This Might Be LEGO’s Cutest Set Ever

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SMYTHS / smythstoys.com

At least until the Minions get their own collection.

Images of what appears to be the new official Wall-E LEGO set are online, reports Gizmodo.

Thanks to a pair of giant, anthropomorphic eyes, the Pixar character model might be the cutest LEGO set ever, or at least in recent memory. This conclusion is based on a perusal of the toy company’s current and discontinued themes. (Not even Dora the Explorer or Baby Mickey Mouse can compete.)

Irish retailer Smyths Toys will start selling the set for about €58 ($65) on December 1 of this year, though LEGO aficionados predict Wall-E will likely cost the standard $40 for a set of its size. Though the image could potentially be a placeholder, it seems more likely that the box shown on the Smyths site is legitimate, writes Gizmodo.

The inspiration for the Wall-E set came from a design submitted to the LEGO ideas site, where fans can share concepts for new themes. This time the fan was Angus MacLane, an animator who actually worked on Pixar’s team for the film.

If you want even more cute LEGOs, don’t despair that the design for a Minions-themed set didn’t make it off the ideas site: You can always just make your own.

Read Next: Here’s How to Get a Free Jurassic World Lego Toy

TIME Gadgets

7 Great Father’s Day Gifts for 7 Different Kinds of Dads

Show the old man how to be a kid again by giving him a new toy

What do you get a father who has a kid as great as you? If your answer is “another tie,” then you’re not as great as you think you are. Instead, you should give your father something he’s never even thought about before, because the man works hard, and can probably buy anything he wants, anyhow. What he really wants is to be appreciated for putting up with your hijinks for all these years.

The best way to do that is to recognize him as more than just the guy who changed your diapers, coached your soccer team and taught you to drive, and instead as someone with interests all his own. For a little inspiration, here are seven dad stereotypes with a gift idea to match. Some of them are expensive, but hey, it’s not my job to tell you how much you should love your old man.

The Drinker: Every old fella loves a cold beverage on a hot day — whether it’s a macro beer, micro brew, or just a can of soda. No mere koozie, Arctican is a $19 drink-cooling extraordinaire that keeps beverages three times colder using a double layer of vacuum-insulated steel and an ice-cooled base. It’s some pretty chill technology for a 21st century pop to be hauling around, whether it’s by the barbecue or on the riding mower.

CorkcicleArtican

The Duffer: Mark Twain reportedly said “Golf is a good walk spoiled,” but your dad is only a humorist when he claims to have finished a round under par. Arccos Golf might just make an honest man out of him. A GPS-enabled iOS app, Apple Watch app, and collection of club grip sensors, this $399 learning tool will improve his game or… or… or his game stinks. No pressing of buttons or tapping on screens, you just play your round and the app collects data like stroke count, shot distance, and and club average.

ArccosArccos Golf Apps

The Lawn Mower Man: For all the money you’d spend on a Robomow robotic lawnmower, you could probably get your dad a very good landscaping service for your dad. But no man worth his grass stains derives joy from seeing another guy tending to his lawn when he can have a machine do it instead. Starting at $1,199, Robomow’s RC line connects to dad’s smartphone via Bluetooth, has steel blades, an edging mode that actually reaches beyond the wheels, can conquer 20-degree slopes, and has a rain sensor so it knows the most crucial part of lawn care: when not to mow. Speaking of that, it can also be locked via PIN-code. So no, you can’t take his new wheels for a spin.

RobowMowRoboMow

The Retro Gamer: We’ve heard it all before. “When I was a your age, I had a paper route, and I had to dodge dogs, bees, jack-hammering road workers, Model T cars, hearses, and the grim reaper to make some spending money.” Give him the gift of video game nostalgia with NES30, an authentic-feeling game controller that can connect to everything from mobile devices to game consoles via Bluetooth and USB. Programmable to work with touchscreen games, the controller can be paired with a second NES30 to play multi-player games on iOS, and it can even step in for Wiimotes on Nintendo’s gaming system. With four buttons on the top and two shoulder triggers, the $45 accessory is not a perfect imitation of the original Nintendo Entertainment System gamepad — it’s actually better than before.

nes-s30-controller
feiji—8bitdoNES30

The Music Man: At some point in your life — probably around the time you start changing the words to your favorite songs so as not to scandalize your own child — you realize that your dad’s taste in music isn’t all that bad. When you reach that stage, get dad a JBL Charge 2+. This rugged, rubbery, $149 Bluetooth speaker is splash-proof, making it great for all sorts of uses, from washing the car to working in the yard to fixing a leak under the sink. With excellent bass and a 12-hour battery, it rocks hard and long. Just be sure to wipe it down when you’re done with all those chores. There’s no reason to make a mess of his things when you borrow them.

JBLCharge 2+

The Lazy Boy: If you want to do something special for dad this year, take his lineup of old, tired remote controls and lay them to rest in the back of his entertainment center. Swapping these broken-buttoned clickers with a universal remote like the Logitech Harmony Smart Control is not only more humane, it’s also better for your home in the long run. That’s because Logitech just announced a free software upgrade that makes all its hub-based remotes compatible with its home control software. Translation: This $129 universal television remote just gained the ability to connect your smartphone to more than 270,000 home and entertainment devices, like the Nest Learning Thermostat and Philips Hue LED bulbs. (And as a bonus, now you have a whole other category of gifts to buy on future Father’s Days.)

 Harmony
LogitechLogitech Harmony

The Numbers Guy: One thing every Dad can go for is a little more organization. If your old man is strapped with the newest tech from Apple, that means he’s aching for a quality Apple Watch dock. The only problem with that is there aren’t many out there, yet. Moxiware Apple Watch Dock Duo outdoes most others on the market because it provides a home for both the Apple Watch and an iPhone. (Question for product developers: Every Apple Watch requires an iPhone, so why are you bothering with making standalone watch docks?) Fitting Lightning-connector iPhones with and without cases, the stand can adjust to make sure any backing thickness can be accommodated. And if your Father’s Apple Watch is on back order, fear not: Moxiware’s dock can hold a regular watch in the meantime, and will ship in time for Father’s Day.

 Apple Watch Dock Duo
MoxiwareMoxiware Apple Watch Dock Duo
MONEY

Amazon’s Discounted Gift Cards Are Like Free Money

envelope of money
Mosay May—Shutterstock

Spend $40 and get a $50 card.

What with high school and college graduations, weddings, and Father’s Day, spring and early summer are hectic gift giving seasons. Assuming you don’t have the time, creativity, or insight to handpick the perfect present in each of these obligatory gift-giving events, it’s inevitable that you’ll at least consider the gift card route in some instances.

It’s understandable, then, that retailers and restaurants regularly offer special promotions on gift cards at this time of year—and also November-December, the other big gift-giving period. In a typical deal, when you purchase a $50 gift card, it’ll come with a $10 bonus card, which the buyer can also give away or keep for himself as a little reward for being such a strategically generous gift giver.

A new series of gift card promotions from Amazon (thanks for head’s up, dealnews) tweaks the concept mentioned above. Instead of including a bonus card with a purchase, cards for restaurants and retailers bought via Amazon are simply being sold at discounts.

Now through June 22, $50 gift cards at T.G. I. Friday’s, J.C. Penney, PacSun, Steak ‘n Shake, Legal Seafoods, and Jiffy Lube are available for just $40 when purchased via Amazon. A $25 card at Cold Stone Creamery, meanwhile, is selling for $20, while the purchase of a $50 card for Longhorn Steakhouse comes with a $10 credit at Amazon.com.

Note that there are no physical cards included with these “card” promotions; instead they’re all email gift cards. They’re just as valid as any plastic card, of course.

However, the fact that the cards are being discounted in a way that’s tantamount to a flat 20% discount might give you an idea of how big the markups are at these stores and restaurants—and also how likely it is that some electronic gift cards are never actually used.

TIME consumer spending

Here Is Proof the Class of 2015 Is the Most Spoiled Ever

Graduation
Getty Images

These numbers are staggering

For all the parents who have spent four years gritting their teeth and writing checks to pay for their kids’ college tuition — sorry, you’re not done yet. This year’s crop of graduates are going to be raking in a record $4.8 billion in graduation gifts, according to the National Retail Federation’s annual survey.

The NRF has been tracking spending on college graduation gifts for a decade now, and the outlay has never been higher.

After hanging out below $4 billion from 2009 through 2011, Americans’ collective spending on graduation gifts shot up in 2012. Last year, people gave $4.7 billion in graduation gifts, the survey’s previous record. The amount spent by each individual on graduation gifts also hit a new high this year, rising from a tick under $98 last year to $102.50 this year, and the average graduation gift-giver is shopping for two people — so those new grads will have to share the wealth.

Cash is the most popular gift — more than half plan to give it — so it’s possible some of this largess could be going towards the student loan debts many of these young adults have accumulated over the past four years. But the Benjamins are just the tip of the iceberg: More than 40% will give new grads congratulatory cards, about 30% will give gift cards, 13% will give clothes (that interview outfit might be a subtle hint) and more than 10% will buy them electronic gadgets, an increase over the 8% who bought new grads shiny new devices last year.

NRF results show that the ones giving the most green might be mom and dad: More than 60% of people between the ages of 45 and 54 who plan to give graduation gifts will give cash, and they’ll spend an average of $126.43. Older adults are also more likely than the overall pool of gift-givers to give gift cards.

MONEY Holidays

5 Ways to Get Back at Your Ex and Celebrate Being Single on Valentine’s Day

name label with cockroach on it
Sarina Finkelstein (photo illustration)—Getty Images (cockroach); Eric Hood (label)

There are many ways to celebrate one's love on Valentine's Day. But how about some ideas for folks who want to spew hate at their exes, or at the contrived holiday in general?

Rest assured that there are plenty of ways for embittered haters to participate in Valentine’s Day too. Here are five possibilities:

Name a Cockroach After Your Ex
The San Francisco Zoo has a couple of unusual Valentine’s Adopt-an-Animal specials for those eager to get over a relationship gone bad. For a donation of as little as $25, the zoo is encouraging spurned lovers to adopt either a Giant Hairy Scorpion or a Hissing Cockroach and name it after one’s ex. “Nothing says ‘I’ve moved on’ like adopting a giant cuddly cockroach in the name of your favorite ex,” the zoo’s sales pitch states. “With a little luck, this generous donation will release your bad love life karma so that you never have to encounter a cockroach again.”

After adopting and naming one of these creatures, zoo patrons are given the opportunity to enter the names, addresses, phone numbers, and emails of anyone they’d like to notify about the event. Hmmm… now who might you want to tell?

Machine Gun Memories of Your Ex
The new “Just Divorced” Experience from a Sin City-area shooting range called Machine Guns Vegas welcomes customers to fire a choice of automatic weapons at items from their old relationship, “including (but not limited to) wedding dresses, tuxes, and marriage certificates.” The package, which is available starting February 14 for a limited time, costs $499 for up to four guests, and comes with 40 rounds of ammunition and transportation to and from the range.

The owner of Machine Guns Vegas—who, believe it or not is named Genghis Cohen “because his father admired Genghis Khan,” according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal—said that while most personal articles are fair game for blowing away, there are restrictions: “They’re not allowed to shoot a picture. They can do it privately, but if a nut job shoots a husband or wife in the light of day, we don’t want to be involved in a lawsuit.”

Donate Stuff from Your Ex to Charity
Instead of blowing mementos of your old relationship to bits, you could do some good with them by participating in Donate Your Heartbreak, a program from WebThriftStore.com. The New York City-based site is asking people to consider donating gifts and other valuables. It will sell the items online and turn over 80% of each sale to one of five dozen charities.

Jewelry is a particularly popular category for “Heartbreak” donations, and one participant explained to the Daily News why it was so easy to hand over a watch that was given to him by his ex. “The gift was ‘you’re always running behind so I thought I’d buy you a watch,'” he said. “I think at that point I knew most of the sugar is gone from this relationship.”

Send Some Hate Mail
Valentine’s Day isn’t just for proclamations of love. It’s also a fine time for unleashing other kinds of feelings—like how much you loathe your ex or Valentine’s Day in general. Luckily, there are virtual and physical cards out there allowing celebrants to issue forth all these messages and more.

The Just Wink greeting card company boasts Valentine’s cards with messages such as “Besties Before Testes” and “Most Guys Are A******,” the latter slogan encapsulated in an oversized pink heart. Someecards, meanwhile, offers a dizzying number of funny and quirky messages to be shared in mock celebration of the holiday, including “This is the most special of the estimated one billion cards that will be sent this Valentine’s Day” and one intended especially for exes: “It’s not you, it’s someone else better than you.”

Party at an Anti-Valentine’s Event
No matter if you hate your ex or simply detest how forced and fake the Hallmark holiday of Valentine’s Day can seem, you’ll be welcomed at the many anti-Valentine’s dinners, happy hours, and parties happening around the country. Anti-Valentine’s themed events have been popping up for years, particularly in cities with large populations of young people. This year, there are plenty of options for Valentine’s haters in Dallas, Portland, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and beyond.

Some anti-Valentine’s events are basically just drink specials (with festive and colorful names like the X-Boyfriend), while others are mixers for those eager to get back into the game, and still others award prizes for people willing to share their worst “dumped” stories. Perhaps most unusual of all, a radio station in Wisconsin is hosting an Anti-Valentine’s Gaming Party. What better way to celebrate singlehood and make your ex jealous than by playing Mario Cart for hours on end? Or something. Plus, it’s a benefit for the Make a Wish Foundation.

 

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