I think we all can agree that Christmas should be a prank-free zone. Our parents had plenty of opportunities to screw us over with bad presents. So, we decided we’d do them a vicarious solid by compiling a list of bad presents to stay away from these holidays.
Pay attention: avoiding these bad presents will save you a year’s worth of hard feelings (unless, of course, your recipient has specifically asked for one of these items).
15.) Exercise Equipment Makes for Bad Presents
Exercise equipment is a big slap in the face to any member of your family. Nobody wishes to be reminded that the holidays may have left a few pounds more on one’s hips. This is, of course, unless your brother won’t stop hinting about how he needs some new dumbbells.
There is more to exercise equipment that makes it a bad present than just the potential insult: exercise equipment will need to find a new permanent residence in your home. If you buy a Bowflex, you’ve essentially paid $650 for six shirt hangers. Not to mention that the new unwanted furniture will serve as a daily, visible reminder of the weakness of its recipient.
14.) Romance Novels Are a No-Go
Talking about bad presents: a book can absolutely tank and prove to be a stinker of a gift, thanked only with an embarrassed “You shouldn’t have. No, really.” Just imagine all the shades of red your mom’s face is going to cycle through when she’s unwrapping your gift in front of the entire family.
However, Christian Grey would approve of this smart gift idea for adults: wine! Wine me, dine me, you get the idea. Therefore, we’ve come up with some creative ways to gift everyone’s favorite drink!
13.) Coupons You Made Yourself
Nothing is worse than a coupon for friendly services you promise to provide for your family members. Well, except maybe a booklet full of them! Sure, we’d all like a back rub, but no one should need to use a piece of paper for a “Really Nice Compliment”. Making this gift will make you look cheap, so this last-minute gift is a no-go for anyone over the age of 10.
This Christmas, if someone asks you to help with the dishes, just do it instead of making bad presents year after year.
12.) No One Deserves Matching Sweaters
Of course, this is the only option if you’re in a cult. Otherwise, please steer clear. It’s pretty much a one-way ticket to Lamesville, and your unwitting family gets to serve as steerage.
Perhaps, if the person selecting the sweaters could ever stick to solid, muted colors (sky blue, charcoal, tan, etc.), this wouldn’t be such an issue, and sweaters wouldn’t moonlight on the list of bad presents. However, most people don’t like the kinds of patterns that are available for matching sweaters, and most people don’t want to match with their family members or significant others. For most of us, these kinds of sweaters are only fun at ugly sweater parties.
11.) Just Stay Away From Any Kind of Clothing
You’re entering a danger zone, especially when gifting clothes to female friends or family members. You don’t want to see the look on her face when you bought a size 12 and she wears an 8.
Instead, consider our gifts for moms to find an option that she’ll love without the potential of embarrassment or returns.
10.) Air Refreshener? You Can Do Better Than That!
Candles at least have some built-in, seasonal sentimentality. Giving someone an air freshener is basically like saying to someones face, “Your house stinks — please fix it!”
If you’re choosing an air freshener because they’re inexpensive and easy, consider some of our favorite DIY holiday gift ideas that will save you money without being tacky.
9.) Bad Presents to Avoid: Self-Help and Diet Books
Giving self-help books to a friend or family member (when it wasn’t specifically asked for) sends a frank message: “I am well aware of your flaws and short-comings, and they’re really starting to annoy me. Please change.”
This gift is passive-aggressive and, worst of all, giving these books will probably have the opposite effect from the desired outcome.
8.) DVD’s Are So 2004
Getting someone a DVD used to be cool, but thanks to media boxes like AppleTV, CD drives are basically extinct these days. You’d be better off wrapping up an antique record player (no, really!).
Instead of giving an out-of-date present, consider giving a subscription to their favorite streaming service or a movie night pack with popcorn and other treats.
7.) A Puppy Is Not a Good Idea
If you think giving anyone a puppy is a good idea, you should also agree to buy them new carpet and a couch sometime over the coming year.
Sure, you may own or have owned a dog and wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. But not discussing it with everyone involved beforehand is a bad idea. Giving a dog is kind of like giving someone a baby. Would you give someone a surprise baby with no time to prepare for the new family member? Then you should wait to get a dog when everyone is ready.
6.) Cash. You Can Do Better Than That
Some people like to lessen the risk of making bad presents by simply giving their family and friends money. Kids or teens might love the idea, but giving adults an envelope with dollar bills is just weird! Christmas shouldn’t be about money in the first place. Not only may gifting cash fail to convey intimacy, but it can also send a message about the unequal status between the giver and recipient.
Instead, consider these great gift ideas under $25, so you won’t even go into debt trying to find a great present.
5.) Gifting Picture Frames Is Only Ok If You’re Under 10 Years of Age
You know the kind: those plain picture frames that just scream “re-gifted.” Even if you add your own photo, gifted picture frames are almost guaranteed to become dust-collectors.
Instead, try something more personalized or something that serves a specific purpose.
4.) If You Never Again Want to Talk to Your Mother-in-Law: Give Her Wrinkle Cream
Let’s face it, drugstores and department store beauty counters are last-minute shopping saviors. But I mean, really? What about a nice, seasonally-scented lotion, hand cream or shower gel instead?
Skin care products make fine gifts, but make sure that what you’re giving isn’t insulting.
3.) Lingerie Is for Lovers, Not for Your Niece
If you’re giving it to your lover, that’s cheeky and romantic. If you’re giving it to your niece, that’s creepy and weird. Even if you’re giving someone something sexy that is meant for your eyes only, do not give it to them to open on Christmas morning in front of everyone else.
Maybe you should just stick to socks so cool that your partner won’t want to take them off again. Why not spread some happiness and gift them some creative and fun socks?
2.) Gift Office Supplies if You Want to Prove How Lame You Are
It’s not cool to nab your co-worker’s gift from the supply closet. Nor is it cool to give them a present that is the equivalent of something they can nab from the supply closet.
Not sure what to get that work colleague for Secret Santa and don’t want to waste money on bad presents? It’s okay; we’ve got you covered!
1.) Candles Are Only for Bad Teachers
Candles can seem like a foolproof gift, but just because you’re addicted to wax that smells like sugary birthday cake doesn’t mean your gift recipient is too. Candles are the very antithesis of festive thoughtfulness, being utterly impersonal.
We’ve all gotten some bad gifts over the years. I remember how we laughed about my brother getting coal one year — until he threatened to burn down the whole house. Fortunately, we got him some therapy sessions for the following Christmas.
Unless you want to be in the headlines on the 26th, though, it may be in your best interest to avoid of these awful gift ideas unless you know your loved one is an exception to the rule. Instead, consider our list of best gifts for family members. Merry Christmas, and best of luck!