20 Gifts You Should NEVER Give

Gift Giving

With Christmas right around the corner, it’s time to start shopping, if you haven’t already, for gifts for those on your list. And, if you don’t want to be known as a sucky gift giver, take our advice and take a look at these twenty gifts you should never give.

20. Underwear

Source: Pexels

Unless you’re buying them for your significant other, this is definitely a no-no. Underwear is as personal as it gets, and if you give them to someone you don’t have that kind of relationship with, things could get really weird, really fast. Even if you do plan on giving them to your bae, it still might not be such a good idea–unless you plan on giving it to them when no one else is around. Can you imagine the looks on the faces of your family and friends when your significant other opens up the box and pulls out some racy underwear?

19. Fruitcake

Source: Wikimedia Commons By Jonathunder [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)]

Some people love it, others hate it. And, if you decide to give a fruitcake to someone who hates it, guess where the cake, and the money you spent on it, is going to end up? That’s right, in the trash!

Advice: Skip the fruitcake and opt for some other type of baked good. Here are some suggestions:

Rosca de Reyes, also known as Three Kings Bread, is a spongy, slightly sweet treat made predominantly in Latin American countries and Spain around Christmas and early January. Like fruitcake, it also has candied fruit and rum, as does Julekake, a buttery treat enjoyed in Norway, and Christollen, a traditional yeasted cake containing marzipan baked especially for the holiday season in Germany.

And, if none of those work, you can give them fresh-baked cookies instead. They’re always popular at this time of year.

18. Ugly Sweaters

Ugly Christmas Sweater
Source: Pixabay

Ah, the dreaded Christmas sweater. The gift we love to hate. Unless you’re a grandmother or a great aunt, this item shouldn’t even be anywhere on your Christmas gift list.

Advice: This is best given as a gag gift or for use at an ugly-Christmas-sweater party (yes, there’s such a thing).

According to Time magazine, sweaters have been around since the 19th century, although the Christmas sweater didn’t become a thing until just a few decades ago. In fact, according to The Wall Street Journal, the Christmas sweater started being mass-marketed in the 1980s.

17. Exercise Gear

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If your girlfriend or wife has been asking you lately if she looks fat, regardless of your response (and we hope you gave the right response), it’s probably not a good idea to give her exercise gear for Christmas. While you’re at it, you can cross shapeware, workout apparel, bathroom scale, diet cookbook and gym membership off that list, too. The last thing anyone wants to hear is that you think they need to lose weight. Even if that’s not the message you’re trying to send, it will most likely be taken in that way.

16. Pets

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Making the choice to get a pet is a big decision–and, it’s one that’s usually best left up to the one(s) who will be caring for the pet. Keep in mind that not everyone is ready for such a responsibility. So, unless you’re getting the pet for your kids or someone else who lives in your household, it’s not a good idea to give a living, breathing creature to someone else. Instead, try this tip from MSN: “Try a stuffed animal first, and see how friends do with that.”

15. Re-Gifts

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You know that gift that you got last year that you really didn’t like and now you’re trying to pass it off onto someone else? Yeah, that’s what a re-gift is. No matter how tempting it may be to re-wrap it and give it to someone else, don’t do it. Especially if you don’t remember who gave it to you. You could end up giving the gift back to the original giver, and that would be just plain embarrassing–for them and for you.

14. Non-Gifts

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Socks, toilet paper, frying pans, hair brushes, cleaning supplies and the like qualify as non-gifts, so stop trying to pass them off as “presents.”

Basically, anything that someone would have purchased anyway is considered a non-gift. A Time magazine reader shared her story about receiving such a gift: “After I was accepted into graduate school, I spent months researching which computer to buy and was about to get a Mac when my now-ex husband comes home with a Tandy from Radio Shack. He said it was an early Christmas gift. That gift was awful in so many ways. I felt cheated out of a real Christmas gift, plus it wasn’t what I wanted. He pranced around acting like he was so generous, bragged to his parents and our friends. It was in my school budget all along.”

13. Insanely Expensive Gifts

Car Red Ribbon
Source: Pixabay

There are three reasons why you shouldn’t give insanely expensive gifts: 1) It makes many people feel uncomfortable and sometimes guilty for accepting it and not having a gift of equal or greater value to give in return, 2) It might not be exactly what the recipient wants, like in the above example with the woman who got a Tandy computer from her husband when what she really wanted was a Mac, and 3) You’re feelings likely will be hurt if they reject your gift.

12. Sexual Gifts

Romance Novel
Source: Pixabay

These are okay within the right context. With that said, NEVER EVER give anything sexual to a co-worker! It’s totally inappropriate. Even giving them something like perfume or cologne could give them the idea that you want something more than a professional relationship. And, that’s a definite no-no in the workplace. While it may seem innocent to you, it could actually be a violation of company policy and/or be perceived as sexual harassment. Take our advice and tread VERY lightly!

11. Things Only You Like

Gifts You Like
Source: Pixabay

Does your boyfriend or husband really want that beard oil or do you just want him to use it because you don’t like the way his beard feels? Or, what about those tickets you gave your girlfriend to see YOUR favorite band play? Or, that pricey jewelry you knew you couldn’t afford but you got it because you wanted to impress and/or compete with others. These kinds of gifts are what is referred to as “all about me” gifts.

Advice: Instead of thinking about yourself, actually put some thought into the gifts you’re buying for others. Get them something that will make THEM happy.

10. Passive-Aggressive Gifts

Passive Aggressive
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We understand that you may not like your in-laws or step family, but that’s no reason to intentionally get them a sucky gift in the hopes of crushing their ego. Here are some examples of what we mean:

-The mother-in-law who gives her son a lavish gift but gives her daughter-in-law something cheap and tacky.
-The stepdaughter who gets her new stepmother a hideous shirt.
-The jealous friend who gives junk food to the friend she knows is on a diet.

9. Cash or Gift Certificates

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Unless you’re planning on giving these to your teenager (trust us, they’ll thank you), it’s probably not a good idea to give cash or a gift certificate to your significant other. People like getting gifts that required some thought and effort on the part of the gift-giver. Even if you have to get creative and give them something homemade, it’s the thought that counts.

TIP: Cash gifts are often seen as tacky and awkward. Our advice? Just don’t do it.

8. Clothes

Clothes In Drawer
Source: Pexels

This could go wrong in a number of ways. First, everyone has their own unique style, and you run the risk of getting them something they don’t like. Second, you might end up getting the wrong size. And, fellas, you know you’ll be in a lot of trouble if you bring your size 5 girlfriend and size 10 dress because you thought it would fit her. And, ladies, the last thing your man wants is for you to dress him like your celeb crush, which is exactly what you’ll probably end up doing. Plus, if he hates what you pick out for him, and most of the time they do, your feelings will be hurt.

7. Candles

Four Candles
Source: Pexels

Candles are the perfect gift to give to a co-worker or an acquaintance–not so much when it comes to your significant other. Candles scream “we’re just friends,” so unless that’s the message your trying to send to the person you’re romantically involved with, candles are a no-go. Besides, most people have a ton of candles in their home already, and the last thing they need is more candles–no matter how good they smell. Another thing to keep in mind is that strong-scented candles can be quite bothersome for people with sensitive noses.

6. CDs and DVDs

Cd Dvd
Source: Pexels

These gifts used to be all the rage at one time, but thanks to the growth of digital downloads and streaming services available through iTunes, Netflix, Hulu and the like, these once hip items are now outdated. Plus, giving CDs and DVDs to certain people might send a not-so-nice message. According to 99.3/105.7 KISS FM in Richmond, VA, giving CDs and/or DVDs to your co-workers can send an “I didn’t want this so I’m gonna give it to you” message.

5. Calendars

Desk Calendar
Source: Pexels

This is another outdated item. People just don’t use paper calendars as much as they used to. Nowadays, they like to keep track of all their important dates and appointments electronically. Besides, most people who do still use paper calendars prefer a particular type, for example, they may prefer a desktop calendar over a wall calendar. But, here’s a tip if you insist on giving out calendars: Use a photo site to create a personalized calendar with a collection of family pictures.

4. Picture Frames

Picture Frame
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Speaking of family pictures, did you know that people print fewer pictures nowadays than they did some years ago? That’s likely because most of us store the pictures we take on our mobile phones and our computer’s hard drive. And, according to The Washington Post, when most people do print a photo, they also buy a frame at the same time.

TIP: Instead of giving them an empty picture frame, give them one with a special photo in it, like a family photograph or a photo from some memorable event.

3. Stuffed Animals

Teddy Bear
Source: Pexels

Okay, so we know we said that you should try a stuffed animal first before a pet–but that was for CHILDREN who may not yet be ready to care for a pet. So, unless the recipient is a child, it’s best to stay away from the stuffed animals. “My wife gave me a stuffed teddy bear the first year we were dating. It completely threw me, I thought maybe she was saying I was a little boy or something,” a Time reader said in an article on the magazine’s website.

2. Well-Meaning Gifts

Well Meaning
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You know the kinds of gifts we’re talking about here–the ones you give with the intention of helping someone but instead that person ends up feeling embarrassed or offended. Examples include giving Proactiv to someone with skin problems, or giving a fertility charm to a couple trying to conceive, or buying someone a self-help book. Oh, and those weight-loss-inspired gifts we mentioned earlier? They fit into this category, too.

Again, put some thought into your gift-giving. Try putting yourself in the recipients’ shoes. If you know it’s not something you’d want, then it’s probably not a good idea to give it to someone else.

1. Gimmick Gifts

Gimmick Gifts
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Who doesn’t love a good laugh? But, that’s pretty much all you’ll get out of gimmick gifts. I mean, seriously, when is anyone ever going to use unicorn hand puppets or shaving cream that smells like bacon or a ‘knit your own beard‘ kit? You’ll just be wasting your money when you could have spent it on something more useful. Plus, it’ll probably end up in a corner somewhere collecting dust until the recipient decides to get rid of it.


Make sure you get your loved ones a gift they’ll like or else they’ll be forced to return it. And, that can make for an embarrassing situation, especially if they run into you while they’re returning it or at some point down the road you ask them if they’re enjoying the gift and they have to make up some lie to save themselves and you from embarrassment. Whatever you get, just be sure to put some thought into it. Thanks for reading, and happy shopping!