They say it’s really the thought that counts, and that you shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth… but what if that horse has really bad teeth?
We’ve all been there – smiling through gritted teeth as we profess great thanks for a truly terrible present.
Madonna famously had a meltdown when she was given hydrangeas (everyone knows she prefers roses!). The Trojans got a giant wooden horse that led to the destruction of their city. That was definitely a bummer.
Thanks to some rather awesome reader submissions, we were able to put together a list of the real stinkers. So without further ado, here is ModernMom’s guide to the gifts that keep on giving:
Gifts That Say “You’re Fat”
“My husband gave me a bathroom scale as an anniversary present. He’s now my ex.” – Tiffany
One major don’t – steer clear from gifts that insinuate a person is out of shape. We all know when we’ve gained a few pounds. You’re not doing anyone any favors by pointing it out. So unless you’re doing a Secret Santa with a fraternity or some bros at the Jersey Shore, don’t give someone you care about exercise equipment, diet supplements or a scale.
“I got an exercise stepper…that I didn’t ask for!” – Kelly
Really, there is in fact only one situation when it’s acceptable to buy fitness gear. And that’s if its for you.
Gifts That Say “You Have Personal Hygiene Issues”
Just like the bathroom scale, personal hygiene items can be one of the biggest insults ever.
Please note, this category doesn’t refer to yummy bath and body gift sets. No, no. It’s when you get something like grocery store soap, anti-dandruff shampoo or anything that calls attention to bad hygiene habits.
“My BFF got me a gift certificate to have my lip waxed. It made me feel really self-conscious.” – Nikki
Maybe you think you’re “helping” them. Maybe you just couldn’t stand looking at that hairy caterpillar on your friends upper lip. Whatever the case, you’re playing with fire when you give a gift that says I don’t like you the way you are.
Gifts That Say “I Don’t Care”
“A used bottle of perfume.” – Stacy
Because nothing says “I care” more than something you don’t want any more. Now, we’re the first to say there’s really nothing wrong with re-gifting, at least in theory. If someone gives you a blender but you already have one, it’s both sweet and sustainable to re-wrap it and give it to your cousin who desperately wants one.
But if you open the blender, make a few protein shakes and then decide you don’t want it, don’t give it away. Put it in the garage like a normal person.
Same goes for something that obviously cost less than the bag it came in:
“My uncle gave me a McDonald’s coupon booklet.” – Katie
“I got Post-it notes and nothing else.” – Rebecca
Gifts That Say “I Don’t Respect Your Parenting”
“My sister-in-law gave my daughter the first season of Sex and the City. It was her ninth birthday.” – Monica
When it comes to buying presents for kids, this is the single most important thing to keep in mind: Don’t undermine parental authority!
Everyone has different ideas about what is appropriate for their children. Some moms love Disney, others think the princess characters can cause long-term damage on the psyche. The bottom line is that all parents should get to make their own choices.
For example, my aunt won’t let her kids watch TV or play video games. I think she’s being overprotective and they’re going to grow up with more difficulties relating to their peers. But it doesn’t matter what I think. They’re not my kids.
So while it might seem like a fun idea to be the cool cousin who gets them “Call of Duty: Black Ops” for Christmas, all you’re doing is driving a wedge between parents and kids. Not a very jolly move, especially when Santa is watching.
Gifts That Say “I Have No Idea Who You Are.”
“My dad once got a beard and mustache trimmer from a relative–he’s never had a beard or mustache in his life!” – Wendy
Does the person abstain from alcohol? Does the recipient have pierced ears? Make sure you know the answers to these questions before purchasing, say a bottle of wine or hoop earrings.
“I once got a big plant as a farewell present before I left for a year of backpacking. Jeez, thanks!” – Sophie
These types of “mismatch” present disasters are actually quite common. Sometimes you have to give a gift to someone you don’t know very well – can anyone say White Elephant at the office holiday party?
When in doubt – think gift cards. If nothing else, you’ll save money on wrapping paper!