There’s nothing better than receiving a great gift from someone you love. The thing with gifts, though, is that they can really miss the mark. Try as we may, some of us just aren’t gifted in the art of presents. But that’s okay because they do make for hilarious stories.
When I was around 12 years old, my mom’s boyfriend gave me a holiday card with very inappropriate themes written in the text. Later on, my mom then pulled me aside and told me that he was almost illiterate and hadn’t read it before giving it to me. Afterward, she told me to never talk about it again, which I didn’t.
When I was about 10, my little brother (only three) was very sweet and told my parents he had a present for me. But, he didn't want anyone to see and wanted to wrap it himself. Christmas morning came and I was very moved by the shoebox-sized gift my little brother taped up as best he could. He excitedly brought it over and I noticed it was pretty light, but his eyes were giddy with excitement.
I figured it was a hand-drawn picture or something, so I made a big show about being excited to see what was inside. As I started to remove the tape from the box I noticed an odd smell. I figured it was just because the old box was in the basement. When I got the lid open and my brother exclaimed "Merry Christmas," I got to see what he was so excited about for the past two weeks. The box contained a dead hummingbird that had run into the window, an earthworm, and a few scattered saltines in case the worm and bird got hungry. Best present ever, but definitely what the heck.
My mother-in-law has given me every messed up, self-help book for the first 10 years of my marriage to her son. She sucks! I started sneaking them back into her bookshelves over the years. It’s sort of become a highlight of laughter for my siblings and I. The good news is that they think she sucks too, so we have that.
It was Christmas in 1993. I was 11 years old. My grandma gave me one half of a pool cue. She gifted the other half to my then-eight-year-old brother. She obviously saw our confusion, but all she told us was, "See? You can only use it if you two cooperate and share!" Well, the thing is, we did not own a pool table.
My very materialistic sister dated (and eventually married) a pretty rich guy. They met on New Year's Eve so by the first Christmas they shared, they were together for a year. The whole first year he showered her with gifts and trips and all kinds of stuff, even paying for her education. He seemed like a great guy, but because he was a little weird and shy, my parents didn't meet him until that first Christmas.
Well, he showed up with gifts for all, really nice and thoughtful things. My sister opened hers last. It was a huge box, inside was another box, and another. That old gag with maybe 10 or 12 boxes. We all thought he was going to propose. When she got to the final box, it was a single roll of toilet paper and a can of Campbell's soup.
I just about wet myself with laughter looking at my sister's dumb face. It was one of the top 10 moments in my life if I'm being honest. We never got an explanation as to why, it wasn't an inside joke or anything, just a weird thing from a weird guy. I like him (maybe even more than my sister does) but my parents definitely think he's a weirdo.
I got a bunch of Tupperware for Christmas when I was 12 years old. My parents thought it would be great because I was the one who did the dishes. Spoiler... it wasn't. But that said, I would just like to say that I still use the very same Tupperware to this day. It may have been a bad gift, but it was still some quality Tupperware.
When I was in college, my sister gave me a Donald Duck cement lawn ornament for Christmas. It weighed at least 40 pounds. I didn't have a lawn and I didn't like Donald Duck. She has an excessive amount of lawn ornaments in her yard. I suspect that she realized that she hadn't gotten me anything as she was getting into her car and just grabbed the closest thing.
I was given a large industrial lightbulb (think of a cylinder the circumference of a soccer ball and about 15” tall) by my uncle. He told me it was worth a lot of money and would be hard to find another one if I ever needed one. It was really heavy, thick glass and came out of a warehouse. There was absolutely no reason I would need anything beyond a floodlight for the house.
My mom called me the day Alan Rickman passed away to ask if I'd heard the news. It was a little after the holidays and she told me later that she had one more surprise Christmas gift she had forgotten to give me. I didn’t realize these things were linked until the next time I visited and she surprised me with a portrait of Alan Rickman as Professor Snape. She said she bought it the day he passed away, just for me. I have no particular affinity for the actor or the character. It's sitting in my closet.
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I was once given a book on tantric intercourse for me and my boyfriend, from my brother. I opened it in front of my mom and all my in-laws, great grandparents and teen cousins included. This was three years ago and he's never let up that he wasn't serious. I think it was a thoughtful, "I know you two are having issues as new parents, here's something that might help you reconnect and be happier together and as individuals.” He's a very odd, hippy duck but very sweet in his weird ways.
A pet rat, based on me having told the gifter that when I was in elementary school, I liked the school's pet rat. The problem is, I was 26 years old when I received this gift. Things weren’t at a total loss, though. The rat turned out to be a very good rat boy and we mourned his loss approximately two years later.
Last Christmas, my mum got me a pair of XXL flannel pyjamas. I'd been shopping with her the day she got them (she said they were for an aunt) and bought myself some pyjamas in a medium. The reason being we were talking about how I'd lost weight over the last couple of months since coming off my antidepressants. She also asked that day if I liked flannel and I told her I couldn't wear it because it causes my psoriasis to flare all over my body.
Not me, but my cousin. Her step-grandmother always gave her the strangest gifts but our favorite was when she got my cousin and her husband an intercourse painting canvas. It’s a large tarp where you cover yourself and your partner in paint and roll around on it while having relations to create a “love painting.” My cousin was shocked to get that from someone who was supposed to be a grandmother figure, as well as from someone she didn’t have the closest relationship with. It still makes me laugh to think about it!
It was nearing my 16th birthday and my family kept dropping hints about a car. I wasn't expecting anything newer than ten years old as we were barely middle class. For three months, they kept asking me about what I thought of certain cars. They’d also talk about how I'd have to learn how to do basic maintenance. The day comes and there was a box just big enough to hold a small item such as a car key. They gathered around and proudly handed it to me. As I opened it, I realized it was a Hot Wheels car. They didn’t even spring for a new one. They gave me a broken hot wheels car from a toy box I didn’t realize I still had.
A pair of diabetic socks from my mother-in-law… I'm not diabetic. I think she just thought they were warm socks for around the house and didn't read what they were really for. Now, I did try to wear the socks, but they didn’t work out. Nothing against the socks! Just a strange gift to give with no context or explanation.
I’ve been disabled my entire life. It affects the footwear choices in my life. My mom has bought me dozens of pairs of slippers that I cannot wear. Sometimes multiple pairs per year. I have given up at this point and just give them away. When I was a teen, she also gave me embroidered dishtowels with weird sayings. She also refuses to actually get my size and just holds clothes in the air and looks at them to decide if it looks like it should fit.
Barbecue sauce. I was in the Navy and the MWR reps got $20K to spend on gifts and whatnot for a Christmas raffle. They were giving away Xbox Ones, PS4s, Fitbits, Beats headphones, Bose headphones, designer purses, a lot of good stuff! So all 200+ of us had tickets and were waiting for our numbers to be called out. A pack of Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce got pulled out and I was the lucky winner. Out of all the stuff in that $20k pile, I get BBQ sauce. We were on a ship! We had no access to a kitchen! Also, who buys BBQ sauce for a Christmas gift raffle!?
I got a bunch of clothes one year for Christmas from my grandma. I was super excited about getting all that clothing because my mom was making me buy all my own clothes at that time (I was 12 years old). Then I saw the sizes. They were sized for someone who was six years younger than me. So, my sister got all my clothes.
My uncle is notoriously cheap. One year, he gave me a magazine that had Ichiro Suzuki on the cover. It was a free magazine (as stated on the bottom of the cover). Another year, he also gave me a free t-shirt he had gotten for running a race. Possibly the best was the birthday gift he gave my dad one year — a McDonald’s Happy Meal toy.
My mom put a huge box by the Christmas tree with my name on in that was bigger than me. Being a child, I wanted to open it immediately, but my mom made me wait until everyone opened all the other presents first. I just sat there in excitement, wondering what it could be. Once I finally got to open it, I noticed it was suspiciously light, then I realized it was nothing.
My mom was filming me and got a video of my crying my eyes out because this huge present under the tree was actually nothing. My mom thought it was hilarious, but my dad was understandably angry. Later on, my mom pulled out a PS3 (with LittleBigPlanet , one of my favorite games ever), and I immediately forgot about the big box of nothing.
When I was a kid, I was obsessed with film and wanted nothing more than a video camera. In the late ‘90s, they weren't cheap for a young teenager. I told my parents for two years that I wanted a mini DV camera, as their old VHS was horrible quality and enormous. Christmas came that second year and I got some clothes, candy, and a video game.
Then they said, "Oh yeah, we have two more things for you. Open this one first." I opened the first gift and it was a nice camera tripod. I opened the second smaller box and it was a nice camera bag. Then I looked at my parents confused and they said, "When you buy your own camera, these will come in handy."
My mother every year for Christmas buys one dishtowel for my sister’s (long-term) boyfriend. One. Like, clearly it’s part of a tacky set, but she only gives one. You’d think she’d just complete the set in subsequent years but you’d be wrong. He thinks it’s hilarious and loves to show them off. He’s such a winner and I admire the heck out of him.
When I was a kid (around six) I had surgery on nearly all of the fingers on my dominant hand. It was a scary surgery for a kid, though pretty simple and mostly boring. After a few weeks of pain, my aunt (who I love) sent me a coloring book in the hospital as a "cheer-up" gift. If it's the thought that counts, I like to say, we should think hard.
My son passed away suddenly as a toddler, I found the body I'm unable to be around children (PTSD). My mother was pressuring me to adopt while I had decided I'm vehemently childfree. So, my 28th birthday rolled around. She gave me a gift bag with socks in it and a letter I had written when I was nine years old, spewing hatred toward a class I had left mid-school-year. It was not a nice letter. She grinned like she had given me a sacred relic from my childhood. Then she said, "You can show it to your children one day!"
My mom organized a complete wardrobe as a gift for me — from the Kathie Lee line K-Mart had. I was 12. My clothing choices at the time were tie-dye and band shirts, baggy jeans and Airwalk sneakers. Everything was something you’d see in a church mom’s closet. It was all hideous and I was expected to be super grateful.
I went to my aunt's wedding (mother's sister) as a kid. I can't recall why I was upset, but apparently, I was grumpy the night before and during the wedding. That Christmas, my aunt sent me a book on etiquette for girls while my siblings got decent presents. I cried and my dad was livid. A few years later, my aunt apologized and said it was uncalled for.
A co-worker of mine won a radio show contest where people were invited to describe the worst office gift they ever got. My friend was the secretary of an IT company and her boss gave her a plastic bowl for Christmas. It wasn't even a nice plastic bowl. The first time she put it in the microwave, it melted. She won the contest and got a $100 gift card to Outback Steak House. Her boss insisted she take him since it was his gift that caused her to win the contest.
Maybe not the worst, but at my old company, we had a secret Santa gift exchange. The manager drew my name and gifted me with a very clearly used Zoodler. He proceeded to explain, in front of everyone, that he thought I would have more use for it, as he only ate “real noodles.” Luckily, I don’t work there anymore.
A pair of red crotchless g-string panties by my Portuguese mother-in-law. I opened the gift with all the family around me. I held it in my hands, trying to figure out what it was because I couldn’t reconcile the thought of a crotchless g-string with my mother-in-law. Everyone else was laughing. It was her subtle hint that she wanted to be a grandma, I guess. The thing is, it was three sizes too small so I couldn't put it on without snapping it in half.
I never complain about gifts. I’m grateful just for my friends and family to be apart of my life. My fiancé’s sister and husband sent us our engagement gift as opposed to bringing it to our engagement party. A couple of days after the engagement party, we got a package and my fiance thought it was from them.
We opened it and it was one towel. One single towel. My fiancé was confused for a second but then forgot she ordered a towel for herself. We laughed about it and we joked about why would they order us just one towel? A couple of days later, we got the actual gift from her sister and husband. It was a towel. One monogrammed towel.
My sister is notorious for giving the worst gifts. She’s a millionaire, but you’d never know it. One year, she gave me a used pie pan that still had food on it, along with an expired box of cake mix. Another year she gave me a membership to the Smithsonian Museum (she got it for free). However, I live in Indiana and the Smithsonian is in DC. Another year she got me used king-sized sheets and my bed is a queen. This year she gave me my Christmas gift early… a small wooden cutting board from Groupon that has my wedding date on it… except it's the wrong date.
I once got a three-foot-tall stuffed Mr. Peanut doll from my 89-year-old grandma for Christmas. I mean, it would be weird in any context, but I was 23 years old. She said, "I know how you like to collect things like this." To be honest, I’m not sure what she was talking about. I did kind of love it though and still have it 12 years later.
A Secret Santa gag gifted to me was one of those cards that are supposed to explode with confetti. It was a "dud." The person who gave it to me waited a minute to yell, “What the heck? Let me see that thing.” I knew what it was and kept the trigger mechanism held down with my finger. It exploded with confetti in their face. In your face, Shawn!
It was Christmas morning and grandma rolled in for gift giving. My sister was 12, I was nine, and my brother was five. My grandma was a bit nuts and played favorites like some old ladies play Bingo: loudly and aggressively. The order of favoritism follows our birth order. My sister’s gift was $100 cash and a gift-wrapped scarf and glove set from Macy’s.
I got $20 cash in a regular postal envelope. Just cash, no card or anything. My little brother, though? He got nothing more than a Kid Cuisine in a Food Lion bag. The poor kid even opened the box hoping upon hope that there was some cash in the TV dinner box. It’s funny now, but dear God was he sad that morning.
When I was growing up, my grandpa would spend Christmas with me and my parents but never got me a gift. I never thought anything of it but asked him one year before Christmas. He said something along the lines of, "I'll get you sardines." Then he laughed, I thought he was joking, and the conversation was over.
Christmas day came and there was actually a gift from him for the first time ever. I was an only child so most presents were for me. It was a weird shape, but I managed to open it. Sure enough, it was a can of sardines! As a seven-year-old, I was really angry. He and my parents thought it was hilarious. That can of sardines sat in our pantry for years for some reason until I threw it away because I was tired of looking at it. 25 years later, we laugh about it, but together this time.
My boyfriend's aunt gave me a “build your own insect terrarium” kit for Secret Santa. It was the kind where you had to go outside and find bugs with a cheap magnifier glass and put them in a plastic fish tank. It’s a cool gift for a ten-year-old, not so cool for a mid-20s female professional with a well-known fear of bugs. When we got home, I realized that the box had been previously opened. I'm pretty sure she regifted something her son had received.
When I was 18, I once went out of my way to figure out on my own what my ex would want for Christmas. I got her a collection of Harry Potter books with the awesome hardcovers. She loved it. She, in turn, got me a bottle of BBQ sauce because she and I quote, said, "How am I supposed to know your interests and then pick a gift based on that?!" I didn't even eat BBQ or grill at the time. Her family was upset with her.
My first boyfriend gave me a wooden box with a padlock on it for Christmas one year. He handed me the key and told me not to open it until I got home. I opened it and inside was a little jar of his DNA and a little jar of his tears. I was 17 and mortified. I also couldn’t fathom how he got enough tears to fill a small jar, so I asked him. Turns out, he’d plucked all his nose hairs and eyelashes to gather them.
I got a teddy bear for Christmas when I was nine from a great-aunt whose face I can't (and couldn't then, either) remember. Being a strapping lad of ten and still interested in taking my parents' suggestions, I wrote her a thank-you note. It included that stuffed animals might not be a very good gift for a boy of my advanced age. The next year, she sent me a hardcover copy of Les Miserables .
I got married in June of 2019. Last Christmas was the first time I've spent Christmas with my in-laws. I have a big beard, so my mother got me a pack of fancy shaving cream. I mean, clearly I don't shave, but on closer inspection, it was shaving cream for my member. Definitely a hilarious mistake and I never even told my wife. But at that moment I definitely thought, “What the heck?”
A few shirts in a size three times my size from my mother-in-law. I wear a small. She insisted that they'd fit because they were just a “little too big” for her. (She probably was a 2X or XL). I put one of the shirts on and it fit like a tent. My husband and kids were laughing hysterically, and my mother-in-law said that it looked great and it really hid my hips. Yeah, and pretty much the rest of my body. She sulked all day when I turned them down. Sorry for not wanting your non-fitting castoffs, lady.
My first boyfriend got me a cute stuffed toy puppy because I said that he looked like a spaniel puppy with his long wavy hair. A week later, he left me and said, "You have the toy now, you don't need me as your spaniel anymore.” He then proceeded to tell me what a waste of his time and resources I had been, as well as insulting my gift to him (lovely thick wool socks, as he always had cold feet in the winter). He said they were boring and impersonal and that I would have to improve myself if I ever wanted to date anyone ever again. I was going to give the stuffed toy away to some poor kids or something, but for some reason, I kept it and it's still somewhere at my parents' place.
When I turned 19, my friends got together and turned with this massive rectangular box. When I say massive, I really mean it. It was easily 2m (about 6 ft 6 in), and they just turned up to the restaurant holding that and put it next to the counter for the entire restaurant to look at it. They didn't let me open it until we were done with dinner.
So naturally, I was really curious all dinner long to find out what the heck that was. So we got down to opening it and they had filled the whole thing with old newspapers. So, I had to dig through to find the actual gift, making a mess of the restaurant at the same time. Finally, I felt something hard and grabbed it.
It was a picture frame with only a condom and the words "In case of miracle, break the glass.” I thought it was the funniest thing ever, but my then-girlfriend obviously thought my friends were dumb. I think she actually felt offended by it. I still have it at home and I still have it intact. Because I really like it… obviously.
I cared for a friend's cat while she went away. Shortly before my friend returned, I accidentally crushed half of the cat's tail in a screen door. The vet said either the tail would heal or the injured part would fall off. I told all of this to my friend when she returned and begged forgiveness. She forgave. Fast forward two weeks. It was almost Christmas and my friend came for dinner. She brought me a present wrapped in shiny red paper with a red bow. I opened it immediately, excited. Inside was the part of the cat's tail that fell off.
My rich and irritating aunt once gifted my then-four-year-old a four-pack of “pretty toilet paper” for her birthday. That was the whole gift. This past Easter, she gifted my two-year-old with a plastic cup, since the last time she was at a family gathering, she noticed my child playing with one. A plastic cup.
A guy once gave me a real stuffed kitten on а cushion. It was delivered to me with flowers and I screamed when I saw it. The guy was a "secret admirer,” and turned out to be a friend of a friend of a friend. He was 37 and I was 17. Another shocking thing is how many people mentioned how much they would want one when they heard the story.
My girlfriend got arrested two days before Christmas. I spent all of my shopping money bailing her out. So, she got the bright idea that she needed to buy me presents (with what little money I have left) as a way of saying she was sorry. She went to our local grocery store and bought me a $30 teddy bear and a $10 bottle of some awful cologne. I think I said, “What the F?” 100 times that night.
It wasn’t my present but one my dad gave to my aunt. We were doing a white elephant for the family Christmas years back, everyone drew a name and had a $20 limit. My dad drew his sister. The present? A red rubber ball gag. When asked how he ever thought this was appropriate in any way, he said, "Really it's for your husband. Maybe he'll be able to get a little peace and quiet."
I was 14 and a freshman in high school. My grandmother who was very, very senile, sent me a Pot Belly Pig training video and Hooked on Phonics for first graders. I don't own a pig and I was pretty okay at reading at that point. I didn't even know how to react. Suffice it to say, lots of Hooked on Phonics jokes followed that day.
One time, when I was seven, I mentioned how cool it would be to have a horse. So for every opportunity for a gift to be given, I was gifted horse figurines. The first couple were cool…. that is until you reach 40 of them and your parents make you display them on your walls like you’re proud. Of course, you don’t have any say in the matter. So, you just have a collection of horses that you’re sick and tired of looking at, but wait till Christmas! You’re going to get a new one.
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