You know, it’s impossible for us to get a gift we love every year. While we might not appreciate a set of pens from the drugstore or thrift store slippers, those don’t even scrape the surface of bad gifts. Here, these people share the worst gift they ever received and boy… these are doozies.
My wife used to give me things that were intended for herself. This was a win-win for her and a lose-lose for me. For example, she could give me something, then get mad at me for being unappreciative. One time, she gave me a frilly picture frame, thinking I would never use it. I thanked her and took it to work.
This wasn’t me, but a bad gift that I gave. My wife is a salt fiend. She salts all of her food, even salads. One year for Christmas, I went to the feed store and got a 50-pound salt lick. I wrapped it in a box, then a larger box, then a larger box, and so on. She thought she was getting a brand new TV. When she opened it up in front of her family and finally got to the salt lick, her father and I laughed our butts off. Her mom and sisters – not so much. We all refer to that gift all the time. 30 years later, she’s still angry.
In my family, we have a competition to see who gets the fewest presents. That person gets to whine and complain all day about how no one likes them. Usually, this is my dad, but one year it was my brother. He got almost nothing…. except for a garden hose. After all the unwrapping, my dad looked right at him and said, "Well, you really got hosed this year."
One year for Christmas, I went to open an unusually large present from my grandma. Inside there was a slightly smaller, but also large wrapped present. After about 10 more unwrapped presents later, I got down to hopefully the last one, which was the size of a shoebox. I unwrapped it and yep, it was a shoebox. But, what's inside I wonder? It has to be something good right?
It was one woman's shoe. I looked at her confused and then looked down at her feet. She was wearing the other matching shoe with one barefoot and I hadn’t noticed before. She kind of giggled and put the shoe on. I was 12 at the time so I kind of laughed it off, but was very surprised when she did not have another present to give me. That was it. However, it is a good story now and the look on my family’s faces at the time was priceless. No one knew how to react.
Nothing for 20 years. My family doesn't celebrate Christmas, birthdays, or holidays. My mom was poor and my family is just argumentative and slightly crazy, so I didn't get that many gifts growing up. I mean, I got books from the thrift store and clothes. When I was little, I got toys with my own allowance, but only once every few years would I ever be able to open a gift with wrapping paper.
My family wasn’t really into giving to each other, although I would watch my mom and grandmother thoughtfully select and wrap presents for their family friend's kids. It got to the point where I would buy myself something for my "birthday" and "Christmas" six months in advance, wrap it, and "surprise" myself or address the cards on toys from myself, to myself.
Last Christmas, I spent it with my boyfriend and his family. I wasn't expecting much. They'd only met me twice in the previous six months and I didn't feel I was deserving of anything. I figured I'd get some nice generic stuff and get to watch them all open presents. Welp. My boyfriend got me 20 gifts for 20 years of past missed Christmases, down to what I would have gotten that year. (For example: for my first Christmas, a stuffie. My 10th Christmas, a book. My 17th Christmas, concert tickets).
His parents got me a gorgeous fur blanket, books, perfume, some equipment for my various hobbies. His sister and her boyfriend got me a huge box of makeup and beauty stuff. His grandparents got me various wine, house decorations, makeup brushes. It wasn't the amount of monetary value. It was that it was all thoughtful stuff that they must have drilled my boyfriend about and stalked my social media for months. I started ugly bawling right there in the living room.
For Christmas, my aunt (my first one) gave me and my sister liquid soap that had already solidified. She's known for being "thrifty" and re-giving old gifts, so I don’t know what we were really expecting from her. My second aunt gave my first aunt’s son a shirt for his birthday. After a few years, the first aunt gifted the shirt to the second aunt’s son.
Growing up, I used to hate that my uncle would get all of us kids the same one-dollar pair of cheap one-size-fits-all gloves. I clearly remember thinking how I'd really rather just have the dollar, and yet he never failed to get them for us. It was always the last gift my cousins and I would open. Thanks, uncle Craig.
Craig was developmentally disabled, and although he was well into his 30s when we were kids, he would come out into the street and play baseball with us. He'd ride bikes across town with us, buy us drinks and dirty mags when we were older. Yet every year, he’d gift those gloves even when we were grown adults, his health was fading, and we all moved away.
This will be Christmas number three without Uncle Craig. As I look back at it now, it makes more sense. He was living in a shack that he was renting for $350 a month there were 15 nieces and nephews. We knew he couldn't afford to get us any toys or anything, but he wanted us to have something more meaningful than a dollar bill, and Christmas was his favorite holiday. RIP, Uncle Craig. I wish there was a poorly wrapped pair of gloves under my tree this year.
I’m gonna speak on my husband’s behalf here. We don’t speak to his family or see them at all, there’s just a lot of toxicity, so we cut them out of our lives. It’s been almost three years of radio silence, which is amazing and it was absolutely the right choice for us. Unfortunately, my husband’s parents live in the same city as us and they know where we go to church. So this year, on my husband’s birthday, my mother-in-law dropped off a gift at our church for him because she doesn’t know where we live and couldn’t contact us any other way.
The gift was the DVD of the movie I Can Only Imagine. If you’re not familiar with the premise of the movie, let me fill you in. It’s about a man who was hurt by his father as a boy. He leaves home and stops having a relationship with his dad. Years go by and the man decides to reconcile and rebuild a relationship with his dad, who was previously toxic. But because he found God, he isn’t anymore. It was really messed up to get that movie from someone who manipulated and hurt my husband until his early 20s. So that gift absolutely takes the cake.
My mom had a rule about making sure my sister and I had the same number of gifts, regardless of cost per child. Looking back, it made sense, but it kind of sucked. To make sure that the number was equal, she gave me a 12-pack of Irish Spring Soap on Christmas. For those of you wondering, it definitely counted as one gift.
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My parents, for whatever reason, got me and my sister school supplies for Christmas one year when I was young. Every. Single. Gift. Notebooks, pencils, erasers, protractors, calculators, etc. I wasn’t even mad. I truly thought my parents believed those gifts are what we wanted for Christmas and I couldn’t bear letting them see my disappointment.
So, I faked excitement with each gift unwrapped and just thanked my parents for what they got us. To this day, I don’t know if those gifts were some kind of punishment for something we did or if they truly were trying to make us happy. Either way, I just showed them I appreciated whatever they got me and don’t regret it.
My parents renovated my bathroom at their house. It was a “surprise.” Thing is, I didn’t live at home anymore. I had been living in a different state for four years. I was visiting for Christmas with my fiancé. The bathroom is connected to my room and every day for the five days we were visiting we were woken up at 8:00 a.m. and had to leave so the construction guys could work. When I sort of complained about being woken up, she called me ungrateful and screamed at me. We didn’t speak for four months.
The worst gift I ever got was last year from a friend from school. I was three weeks postpartum with my first kid and in a motel alone for Christmas. She came by with a bunch of JuicePlus tablets and an ItWorks wraps. Then she told me since I’m “doing nothing,” I could help her sell it. I was cordial at the time but afterward, I thought it was a pretty awful thing to do.
I got a Game Boy. The original. The year it came out. I was, as you could imagine, thrilled, especially as it came from my older brother, who wasn’t always particularly nice to me. I was absolutely horrified and instantly hysterical when I opened the sealed box and it was filled with D batteries, thinking it was another “prank.” Turns out, someone had bought it, stolen it, re-wrapped it, and returned it to Walmart for someone else to buy. Fortunately, they replaced it. I’m still emotionally scarred.
I had only been dating this lady for about a couple of months when Christmas happened. We didn't talk about gifts, so I, being dumb, assumed we weren't doing anything. We had planned to hang out Christmas Eve though, so I thought I would be all clever and sneak in a little present, just to be smooth. Little did I know, she thought this was a full-blown Christmas gift exchange, like a stocking full of stuff and everything.
I opened several nice presents from her, nothing too expensive, but she already knew me well and got the right things. I knew she liked chocolate, I think, and felt horrible when all she opened was a single, barely wrapped, large bag of Dark Chocolate M&Ms. That was 12 years ago. She's my wife now and expects dark chocolate M&Ms each Christmas, along with whatever else I actually get her.
It wasn't the worst because the gift was that bad, but more because of the context of it. My little brother is the definition of spoiled. He has been his entire life. One year, when I was maybe 13 or 14 and he was eight or nine, we both asked for dirt bikes for Christmas. I had several friends who went out with their dads on the weekend to the track or out to the desert and I wanted my own bike to go with them.
I wasn't necessarily expecting a dirt bike, but I asked for one anyway. Christmas came and my little brother, who didn't want a dirt bike half as bad as I did, got a brand new Kawasaki KX65 dirt bike. I got a $40 remote control dirt bike, he also got the same remote control dirt bike. I remember coming out to the living room that morning and seeing his dirtbike and almost crying.
I thought they were playing a joke on me so much to the point that I went and checked the garage and side yard to see if there was another dirt bike. I rode his bike more than he did as he really never had much interest, but it was way too small for me so it wasn't very useful for me either other than cruising it around the neighborhood once in a while. The thing sat with hardly any hours on it for years and years before my parents basically gave it away.
For me, I’d have to say it was when I got a bunch of random tools from my wife. Not the tools I needed or asked for. Not the tools I could use for my hobbies. Just random tools she picked out from Lowes because "guys like tools.” I love my wife, she has a ton of amazing qualities, but she's a really terrible gift-giver a lot of the time.
For the last five years my crazy wealthy great aunt has gotten “group” gifts for all the ladies in the family. For the last five years, I’ve been the only lady not to receive one of the group gifts. My mom, my daughter, my cousins and cousins-in-law all get the gift. But not me. She’s never said why she leaves me out. No one asked her what her issue is. My daughter finally was old enough to say something last year. She told great aunt, “Thank you but I can’t accept one if my mom doesn’t get one too.” My great aunt just shrugged. Nothing feels better at Christmas than being left out.
When I was about 11 years old, I woke up one random morning a few weeks before Christmas to find a brand new Super Nintendo on my kitchen table. Just sitting there. I started freaking out. My mom woke up and informed me that the night before was her work holiday party and she won the SNES as a door prize.
But you see, there was this really cool leather jacket she had her eyes on so she was going to return it to the store and keep the cash. But if I really wanted it, I could buy it from her. She convinced me to sell my original NES and all my games and accessories and give her all the money. Then I was allowed to have the SNES.
At the time I was too young and stupid to think much about it. But only years later did I realize how terrible this was. Personally, if I were the parent, I don't think I would've just given the SNES to my kid right away. But I would probably have thrown it in the closet and said, "Sweet. Christmas shopping is done for little Otto this year."
On my birthday when I was around 10, my parents got me this adorable pink and yellow bird. At some point during my birthday party, all my friends were standing around the table. I took the bird out to show him to everyone and he just passed away. Right then. He was acting a little weird. He must have been stressed with all the people? I don’t know. He just collapsed and hit the bottom of the cage with a tiny thud. Of course, I cried like a little baby. My parents went out and got me a new bird that day because it’s safe to say that ruined the party.
Nothing. One year, my very well off (we're talking millionaires) aunt and uncle got everyone in the family a gift except for me. Suddenly, since I was 20, I was "too old" for gifts. But all the other aunts and uncles got gifts, so it wasn't just me being singled out among the many cousins, but among everyone. If they weren’t absolutely loaded and they had also not given anything to the other 18+ people, I might have understood. But they didn't. As an already very stressed out, poor (parents were lower class) college student, it really upset me. I spent most of the celebration crying in the bathroom and trying to hide it.
For my 16th birthday, my best friend gave me a box that he had dumped his nightstand contents into. It had things like bouncy balls, paperclips, loose change, a social studies book from the third grade, etc. It was pretty hilarious when I asked, “Did you just dump stuff into a box?” and my friend was like, “Heck yeah I did. My aunt said I had to clean my room.” I enjoyed it nonetheless.
Around Christmas in college, my fraternity would do a Secret Santa exchange. We had a $20 limit on the gifts and would exchange them at our annual Christmas party. The first year, my fraternity brother got me a framed picture of him sitting on Santa's lap at the mall. Not one from his childhood, but one he went to the mall to get earlier that week. It was a terrible gift, but it was hilarious.
It wasn’t really the gift itself, but what my dad said after I opened it. It was one of those ninja blenders that a lot of people starting using instead of juicers. I was 16, even though I had never expressed any interest in wanting or needing one. After I opened it, he said he chose this gift because he wanted me to live a healthier lifestyle and hopefully lose a few pounds. At the time, I was taking ballet classes five days a week and I often performed with my dance troupe on the weekends. So, I was pretty fit at the time. It didn’t help that he said this in front of his entire side of the family.
When I was eight, I told my grandma that I liked jeeps. So every year, for Christmas I got a worse jeep. The first year was a model. Okay, I like models I put it together it was fun. Next year was a remote. Then a matchbox and so on. When I was 15, she gave me a jeep calendar. I love my grandma, so I hung the calendar and told her I loved it. On my 16th Christmas, she gives me a key ring that says Jeep. Ugh . Then she asked me to go out and get some preserves from the barn. In the barn was a brand new 86 jeep! Gran plays the long game.
I was living in Korea and we did a gift exchange at work. A female co-worker got me shoe lifts. It is, or was, rather common for shorter men to wear them. I'm only 5'8" and, naturally, some people assumed I was shorter and was just wearing kkalchang. I opened the box and the look on my face said it all. Her expression went from joy to terror thinking she had insulted me. I threw on a nice face and slid them on, I was almost 5'11". It was at that moment that I realized a good deal of people assumed I was 5'5", pretending to be 5'8". I was not super happy.
My wife and I got a wildlife painting from her mom for our wedding. For reference, think of the wildlife paintings you would see in a dentist’s office. Like, it wasn’t anything that fit with our lifestyles, designs or interests at all. The icing on the cake was that her mom forgot to take the two-dollar garage sale sticker off the back.
One Christmas, my mom asked us if we wanted to buy our cousins a gift. As kids, we didn't have much money, but we had some, whereas those cousins' parents were on welfare and they were all poor. My brothers and I said "Nah" and moved on. On Christmas night, those same cousins gave us gifts! Mine was poorly wrapped in paper. I don't even think it was "legit" wrapping paper.
It was a handmade clay ashtray. It looked super bad and I didn't even smoke (I was still a teen). I think one corner was already chipped off, it was warped and unpainted. It was the worst gift I ever received. But that cousin still gave me something! Something he spent time making himself! And my brothers and I, when offered the occasion to give him something, just scoffed and moved on.
One year, my husband’s stepdad's mother gave me a pair of dirty socks, all wrapped up in pretty paper. I knew they were dirty because they were stained and I could smell the stench the second I unwrapped them. Another year, my mother-in-law was so excited to gift me a fancy cake decorating set. I opened it up when I got home and it was very obviously used. She must have used it for her deviled eggs and didn't clean it well enough. I never used it because I have no idea who had it before her.
I figured out my parents were planning to get me the PS4 when it came out. I asked them not to get it because my husband had just gotten one and we really didn’t need two, especially since I played maybe once a year. They just played coy and said they don’t know what they were getting me. So, I ended up getting the PlayStation.
Not only that, but every single family member also gave accessories to go with it. Special remotes, special headphones, all different games. Every present I opened, I got sadder and sadder because everything was PlayStation related. I feel bad and it sounds so unappreciative but I just really don’t play. I’m sure for a gamer it was a dream, but my husband had a good Christmas that year at least!
I got a half of a box of chocolates for my birthday one year. Yep, I opened it and half of them had been eaten already. It wasn't from a child, it was from adult family members. The reasoning was that they knew I would share them when I opened them, but I was away on a business trip on my actual birthday and they couldn't wait to eat some.
My mother and her friend came to stay with me last year for Christmas. I got them both standard stuff like scarves and bath products. My mom’s friend got me one gift, which I opened on Christmas morning. It was a package of ground espresso, which I don’t like. I was nice about it, said thank you, then put it in my cabinet and went about celebrating the holiday. The next day, I woke up late and went to go make coffee. She had opened the espresso and made it for herself! I remain deeply offended.
I was in the seventh grade and dating my first ever boyfriend. He lived in the next town over. His friends were dating my friends (there were several of us girls all dating these cooler out of town boys.) We spent our Christmas gift-giving night at the bowling alley and took turns making out in the alleyway behind the bowling alley. It was my first kiss and I was awful. It was like an open mouth shark breaching for a seal.
I got a spray that you use against foot odor from my sister last Christmas. She packed it in a box for a power tool I wanted, so I went from excited to disappointed. She got quite an expensive set of fancy soaps, body products, and a gift card from me. Apparently, she gave the power tool to a friend and gave me the box.
I met my wife in January of 2010. For her birthday in July, I bought her a crockpot. She was appreciative but later told me she was upset. Her sister told her to break up with me because what kind of guy buys his new girlfriend kitchen appliances? About two months later, she found a recipe she wanted to try and busted out the crockpot. Inside it, she found a smaller gift. It was a brand new iPod touch. She was quite angry.
My grandmother made a doll that was supposed to look like me when I was around six. The doll was porcelain, very fragile, and hand-painted by my grandmother in a slightly off-putting way. It also wore a frilly blue dress like the twin girls from The Shining. Because it was fragile, this doll was for display only. I was required to display this doll in a prominent place in my room for years. This doll stared down at me from my dresser with its creepy doll eyes that promised to butcher me in my sleep.
The first time my (now ex) boyfriend and I fought, he came over to my place to apologize and bought a box of liquor chocolates. I thanked him politely but also informed him that I absolutely loathe liquor chocolates. I liked very few boxed candies and he was better off getting me normal milk chocolate bars. We'd been together for almost four years and we broke up. He then, on the next day, tried to win me over and he brought to me... guess what? Boxed liquor chocolates.
My mom is always cold. One day, she and my dad were at a friend's house and she complained she was cold. The friend went and got her a hot water bottle, which my mom loved. She gushed on and on about how great it was. My dad paid attention. Come Christmas time, he was so proud of himself because he had taken note of the stupid hot water bottle.
He was then going to get one for Christmas. On Christmas morning, my mom, dad, teenage me and my brother were all sitting around Christmas tree when my mom opened her gift. My dad was smiling because he finally got it right. My mom opened… a douche kit. He had purchased her a douchebag. I lost my mind.
My mom gave me a purse that was so hideous and obviously for herself because I was 10 and it was an oversized bag that I could never carry. I had to get this while I watched my cousins unwrapping all the presents that I actually wanted. I was so heartbroken that my mom didn’t think of me after I told her how much she really didn’t know or care to know me. She just proved it again.
Well, I tried to seem thankful in front of everyone but I really couldn’t handle it at that age. So, I just said I was going to sit in the car for a while. After maybe 20 minutes, my dad came out and gave me a $100 bill. I was better after that but my feelings were still hurt. To this day, she’ll never acknowledge that she really just didn’t care. The worst part was that my mom just got the purse for herself, knowing I wouldn’t want it. She wore it for a couple of years, which just made me feel even worse.
As a small child, I got a water bottle and a helmet for Christmas. I was totally upset because I thought my mom just thought I was extra special and needed a helmet to not hurt myself while running around and that I was especially underhydrated. Turns out, I had actually gotten a bicycle for Christmas but all of my presents were stolen except for the helmet and water bottle. The worst gift I received wasn't those presents, it was the knowledge that the world is a cruel and uncaring place.
When I was 15, my dad, who is an awful human being, gave me a DVD set of The Rockford Files. It wasn’t a bad gift, but as soon as I put one into my DVD player, he cracked a drink and camped out in my room. When I asked if I could do something else, he called me awful names, told me I was ungrateful and didn't deserve anything. He took my DVD player out of my room, which was something I saved for because in those days they were new tech, and said, “Merry Christmas.”
My grandma went to a paint and sip thing in which she got tipsy and painted the world’s worst flower. She then found a framed stitching of a bird in her closet. She wrapped both of these things and gave them to my sister and me, while she and my parents were pretending that she was losing her mind. My sister and I sat there pretending how great the gifts were and how talented a painter she was. She may suck at painting, but she’s a pretty decent actor. We had a good laugh about it after the fact.
My sister got me a rat as a gift. I'm terrified of rats but I decided to let it be and see if it helped curb my fear of them. It did not. Instead, while I was sleeping, it got out of its cage, crawled up on my bed, and started chewing on my lip. I didn’t sleep for a week after that. It was a thoughtful gift in the sense that she was trying to help, but dear God. It made my fear so much worse.
My buddy wrapped up his junk drawer one time for a white elephant party. I got tons of random papers, pens, rubber bands, old keys, sticky notes, markers, 50mb flash drives, and just straight-up junk. A terrible gift to most people, but a gift has never given me so much joy and laughter. I was crying from laughing so hard.
My family has a traditional gift that gets recirculated through our white elephant exchange. It's a set of deer plates painted in China. It’s painted with, that's right, you guessed it, lead paint! So every year, someone gets a set of plates with whitetail deer on them (lame as it is) and on top of that, you'll lose your life if you use them.
When my boys were five and six, my mother (the self-proclaimed humanitarian) gave them each an envelope for their Christmas gift. The first envelope contained a card that a donation had been given in his name to a charity. It provided half a goat to an African village. The second was a similar card that showed that half a beehive was donated. Explain that to a five and six-year-old. Good times. Thanks, grandma.
Whenever I think of the worst gift, this is the first thing that comes to mind. One year, my mom got me a Widows Mite when she visited Israel. For those of you who don't know, the Widows Mite is from a story about Jesus. We're Jewish. As a bonus, she took it away later because I didn't appear appreciative enough.
My grandfather showed up to Christmas Eve dinner with a jar of pickles. As in, there was one pickle left with a bite taken out of it. He proudly handed the jar to my mother, exclaimed, “Merry Christmas” and immediately passed out on the floor from being hammered. It wasn't funny at the time, but it's sure as heck funny now. Flash forward 29 years and it's standard in my family to give pickles or pickle-related items as gifts.
My uncle’s family gave me and my sister a little purse) and food flavored lipgloss from Claire’s when we were in our 20s. The worst part was my cousin worked at Claire’s and used her employee discount on these items that were already in the five-dollar and under bin. So they spent less than two bucks on us. We got them $30 gift cards the same year. We don’t do gifts with extended family anymore.
On my sixth birthday, my parents forgot it was my birthday. My parents gave me an already opened pack of gum said, “Happy birthday.” Worse than that, years later for my 13th birthday, my parents offered to rent out a skatepark for me and my friends. On the day before the party, my parents said they weren’t going to pay. So, I had to cancel or spend all I had saved to keep the reservation. I spent all my money to keep the party.
My ex-girlfriend surprised me with a waterbed. I'm not a huge fan of them, but I set it up and filled it, as it seemed to be something she was excited about. We broke up not long afterwards. Soon afterwards, I started getting calls from a collection agency. Turned out, she hadn't actually paid for it, just ordered it with my name and address on the order.
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