5 Presents Not to Give Your Family This Holiday Season

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Even the most vindictive among us think of Christmas as a prank-free zone. I mean, our parents had plenty of opportunities to screw us over with Duplos instead of Legos, or Ataris instead of Nintendos. So, we decided we’d do them a vicarious solid by compiling a list of presents only the dullest of tools in the shed would even give a second thought. If you yourself are such a blunted ax, then pay attention: this will save you a years worth of snide remarks and uninvitations. Oh, and try to go easy on the eggnog, because that’s the best gift you can give your family this Christmas. Now, here’s the worst…

5 Exercise Equipment

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For the same reasons as a self-help book, exercise equipment is a really big slap in the face to any member of your family. (Unless your brother won’t stop hinting about how he needs some new dumbbells.) The reason it gets its own special category is as follows: while a book takes up less space than anything except a toothbrush, exercise equipment will need to find a new permanent residence (probably in the middle of the living room). If you buy a Bowflex, you’ve essentially paid $650 for six shirt hangers. Not to mention that your new furniture will serve as a daily, visible reminder of the frailty of its recipient. Youch!

4 Coupons You Made Yourself

Throw this also into the pile of misguided romantic gestures. What’s worse than a coupon for friendly services you promise to provide for your family members (with no expiration date)? A booklet of them! Not only do you run out of good ideas after about two — We’d all like a back rub, but no one should really have to find a piece of paper for a “Really Nice Compliment”— but the staple you use to hold them together makes the whole operation look cheap and last minute as all hell. This idea especially runs afoul when you write out coupons for obligations you already have. If someone asks you to help with the dishes, put on your big boy pants and do it.

3 Matching Sweaters

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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. Somehow, anyone crazy enough to buy five of the same sweater will inevitably pick the sweater with cats and/or sequins all over it. This usually occurs sometime before the family photos. The rest of your family looks like dejected torture victims; you look like the Marquis De Sad.

2 Self-Help Books

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Self-Help Books send a specific message to your loved ones: “Not only am I aware of your perceived flaws and short-comings, but they’re really starting to piss me off, too.” The ultimate in passive-aggressive gifting, there is no exception to this rule. Perhaps worst of all, they will probably have the opposite effect from the desired outcome. Allow me to set the scene — Your entire family gathers around the tree on Christmas morning. You hand your son a wrapped box and he tears the paper from it, opens it, and finds a copy of How To Overcome Your Inadequacy, You Loathsome Moron. Your wife is unsure if she should ask him to hold up the book while he sobs through another Christmas.

1 A Puppy

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If for no other reason: if you buy your family a puppy, you’re pretty much also agreeing to buy them new carpet sometime over the coming year. On the other hand, if your family members all want a puppy, you could become a yuletide hero. I own a dog, and wouldn’t trade it for the world. But not discussing it before hand is basically handing them an obligation with a penchant for tattering dad’s slippers and knocking over priceless vases. It’s kind of like giving someone a baby. Would you give someone a baby? Only if you couldn’t sell it for a couple of crack rocks. (Be honest.)


We’ve all gotten some bad gifts over the years. I remember how we laughed about my brother getting coal one year. Well, all of us except my brother. He cried and threatened to burn the house down, shouting something along the lines of, “That would really make your yuletide bright!” 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. Merry Christmas, you sadistic freaks!

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