top of page
  • Bella Jabbour & Penelope Kraus

Gifts No One Wants This Year

With the holiday season approaching, people of all ages are eager to celebrate. Lights are put up months in advance, holiday cards are sent out, and vacations are planned ahead. But the most anticipated parts of the holiday season are the gifts we must buy for others and that which we will receive. Many teenagers make slideshows with a wishlist, while little kids expect to get something they will enjoy, and adults expect the bare minimum from their family members.

Although we all enjoy the process of receiving gifts, the stress of getting a bad gift is overwhelming. How do you sound genuine when saying thank you? What facial expressions do you make? Is there a receipt in the packaging? But what is even more overwhelming is the thought of being the person giving the bad gift. Read on for a list of presents to avoid, so that this holiday season, everyone considers you a “good gift giver.”

One of the first gifts is scented candles. You have to know your audience with this one; some find it thoughtful, while others may take offense. The person taking offense to this may think you had harsh intent with this gift. They may think that you believe the ambiance of their home—or even the scent—is off. But this gift could really be interpreted in many ways, so better be safe than sorry.

Another controversial gift is socks. The people to whom it is safe to give these are dads and grandfathers. It is especially a positive gift with a snippy and occasionally harsh saying written on them. But this is also a strange gift in many cases. As someone who has received socks before, the first year you appreciate it as a nice gesture, but as the years go on it becomes questionable. This is because such a simple and easy-to-come-by gift starts to feel like the person who gave you the gift doesn’t know you well enough to give you something personal. Again, when thinking about giving socks, know your audience, since this may be more of a Christmas stocking gift.

For almost any holiday, especially at this time of year, mugs are tempting gifts. All coffee shops display various holiday-themed mugs sitting right by the cashier, enticing customers to grab one as they're buying their daily cup of coffee. Especially with people constantly working around the clock, do we need more mugs for daily pumps of caffeine? Sadly, no. Most people have a vast collection of mugs in their cabinets and simply don’t need another one. If you’re personalizing the cup with pictures for grandparents, I would go for it but otherwise opt for actual coffee or tea instead of a generic mug.

If you're thinking of getting literally any book as a gift for the holidays, I suggest you hesitate to do so. Let’s be real. The chances of the person actually being interested in the book are slim to none. But in the rare occurrence that they decide to read it, you have created an obligation for your recipient to do something he or she may not want to do, possibly in fear that one day you will ask what they thought of the book. Also, make sure not to give books that you think they should read. That’s a homework assignment, not a gift. Instead, recommend the book or offer to lend it to them. On the other hand, if someone asks for a specific book as a gift, then you’re golden (as long as you go hardcover).

The last gift is something that almost everyone has given or received at some point: a regift. Regifting is a common practice that helps in reducing waste, so at least it’s environmentally friendly. However, when you openly proclaim that the gift is “just for you” or forget that the recipient witnessed you receive the gift initially, that’s just embarrassing. To avoid such mishaps, maybe don’t regift within a circle of friends, or to anyone, if the item is not in its original packaging, brand new, and unused. And I’m begging you, please, to remove any labels or writing indicating that someone once addressed this give to you.

It is certainly true that, while gifting, it is the “thought that counts.” It is best for both the gift-giver and the recipient if you avoid these all-too-common mistakes, so that everyone ends up happy with the gifts they receive this holiday season.


bottom of page