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Worst holiday gifts

These real-life examples go way beyond fruitcake and socks.

By Karen Datko Dec 9, 2009 5:15PM

One oven mitt -- half of a cheap set. A loaf of store-bought white bread. A used breast pump. These are some of the “worst” gifts we found on the Web.


For a thorough examination of how to avoid the most common pitfalls and also extreme gift-giving mistakes, read MP Dunleavey’s “15 worst holiday gift ideas” at MSN Money. But we thought it would be fun to find real-life examples.

Sure, what constitutes a good or bad gift is subjective. For instance, says men should never give women a set of pans, but we know of some pans we’d be happy to receive. But we do agree with Bukisa’s point that major appliances are a home improvement, not a present. (On the other hand, Michelle at Find Your Balance wrote at MomGrind: “My husband and I have agreed to forgo gifts and instead get a house-cleaning service for 2010. I can’t wait!”)

Here are some real-life “worst” gifts we rounded up:


From Lansing MomsLikeMe:

  • "SpartanMama" said a boyfriend once gave her a value pack of queen-size pantyhose -- 20 pairs -- and she weighed 115 pounds. Time to read “20 money-saving ways to reuse old pantyhose” at Wise Bread.
  • A Zippo lighter with a photo of a man bowling was presented to “Suey59” by her husband.
  • Barbies for a seventh-grader. Age-appropriate -- maybe 40 or 50 years ago.
  • That loaf of white bread.
  • Instead of the engagement ring she expected, “StephanieM-K” received a label maker so she could make labels for the boyfriend’s professional stuff.

Stylelist is running a worst-gift competition. The winner gets a J.C. Penney gift card, and any woman unhappy with her gift can nominate the offender for Penney’s virtual doghouse. Some of the entries:

  • A used breast pump.
  • A scale -- presumably the bathroom variety. (As they say, is that a hint or a mint?)
  • A green polyester track suit decorated with cowboy hats and boots.
  • Toilet paper. (More than one person mentioned this.)
  • A necklace purchased for another woman. She had dumped the gifter before he could give it to her.
  • Hangers.
  • A bat-shaped candy dish.

From Rainy-Day Saver’s list of worst gifts:

  • An Andy Gibb doll.
  • The single oven mitt -- half of a set -- from a dollar store. That’s beyond frugal.

At MSN’s Tech & Gadgets site in Canada, the “Worst holiday gift ideas” post includes:

  • A back shaver.
  • A scented toilet seat.
  • A pillow with a beating heart.

Real examples left by readers at MomGrind’s post “Worst Christmas gifts” include:

  • A Starbucks gift card for a person who hates coffee.
  • A device that allows women to urinate while standing up. Handy, but a tad too personal, perhaps.
  • A stocking full of outdated packages of nuts from a mother-in-law who cashiered at a gas station.

From miscellaneous sites:

  • Control-top panties from an MIL. 
  • A grave plot. Lovely.

Can you top these? What is your solution to unwanted gifts? Cash? We like the charitable gift card idea.


Related reading:



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