10 Worst Holiday Gift-Giving Ideas

Is Your Gift on the List?

Worst Gifts
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Some people agonize when selecting holiday gifts for their friends and family. They shop for months, in search for the perfect gifts. And each year, without a miss, the same people manage to find the absolute worst gifts, ever. 

Are you worried that you are one of those people? If so, our list of the 10 Worst Holiday Gift-Giving Ideas should come in handy.

The "Good Intentions" Gifts

Nutrisystem Food

What you think might be filled with good intentions could ignite deep resentments. Gifts which target a specific shortcoming are generally not appreciated. Such gifts could include:

  • A gift certificate to the newest diet craze.
  • Coaching tapes on how to be successful to someone who is unemployed or in a dead-end job.
  • A month's supply of Nicorette to a chain smoker.
  • Hypnosis tapes for overeaters, smokers, aggressive Type A personalities.
  • Books on anger management.

A Worthless Gadget Gift


There are a million worthless gadgets out there that you may be tempted into believing will make the perfect gift for someone on your list who has no hobbies, no particular talents and who doesn't seem to need a thing. No doubt, such an individual is hard to buy for, but don't believe for a second that anything similar to the cool Ostrich Pillow will end up anywhere but in the bottom of a drawer or more likely, the trash.

A Gift of Expert Advice to Experts

Some people know a lot about a particular topic. They may excel in a sport, pride themselves on their deep knowledge of wine or they could be an expert tailor. Buying an expert-related gift is chancy because they probably already own it, already know it, or really do not need it.

The Gift of Art

cormacmccreesh / Getty Images

I am the proud owner of a huge framed photo of a buffalo. I'm sure it would make the perfect gift for someone, for example, for the person who gave it to me. But it really doesn't fit anywhere in my home and I've never mentioned a particular interest in buffalo, yet I feel compelled to hang it up on the wall when I know that they will be visiting.

Unless someone has specifically requested a particular piece of art, it is best to not assume you know his or her taste.

Framed Pictures of Yourself

Picture Frame
Getty / CareyHope

Every year my aunt sends us a large framed picture of herself. I'm running out of display room, and to be honest, the shelves are beginning to resemble a shrine.

Loving yourself is important, but sending framed pictures of yourself is an odd gift. A better option would be to include a photograph of yourself in with a holiday card. That way you can keep everyone updated on how you look, without making them add on a new room to the house just to display your pictures.

Regifting Blunders

Christmas Sweater

Before you even think of wrapping up that awful present you've had hidden away, check out what the experts say about re-gifting and see if you are up to par with this now accepted trend in gift-giving.

Themed Undergarments

Holiday Boxer Shorts

As tempting as it may be to buy the cute holiday boxer shorts for your significant other, ask yourself, where can he wear them? The gym? Nope. The office? Nope. At home? That's about it and for about three weeks out of the year. And for guys, avoid the impulse to buy the tiny slinky baby doll nightgown, unless she specifically pointed it out as something she would enjoy.

Thoughtless Gifts

I have a friend who buys a ton of gifts at the end of the season because he gets it all at a great price and because he thinks what he is buying are cool or neat. Then, the following year he  does his best to match the gifts to the people on his gift list.

Obviously it should be the other way around — you think first about the type of person your cool friend is, consider their particularities and then try to find a gift to match.

Examples of Thoughtless Gifts:

  • Giving a country CD to a person who loves the blues.
  • Giving alcohol to someone who doesn't drink.
  • Giving perfume to someone who is allergic to perfume.
  • Giving coffee to someone who never drinks coffee.

Gifts With a Message

T-shirt Bun in the Oven

If the impulse hits you to buy your pregnant sister-in-law the t-shirt with the huge arrow pointed at her stomach and the words, "bun in the oven" scrawled on it, just keep walking. If the over-whelming desire to get lawyer Uncle Bob, a t-shirt with the words "I Sue, Therefore I Am" printed on it, do not do it. Unless the person you are buying for is under the age of 16, chances are your wordy gift will end up as a dust rag.

Grab-and-Go Hostess Gift

Getty / Stephen Chernin

Ah! A couple of bags of M&Ms, how thoughtful! Not! The only message this type of hostess gift sends is that you forgot to pick one up and made a quick dash into the grocery store. The goal of a host or hostess gift is to convey the message that you appreciate their hospitality. Avoid embarrassing yourself with last minute gifts and stock up early in the season with gifts that show that you put some thought into it. The gifts do not have to be expensive, just thoughtful.