People Name the Worst Christmas Gifts They've Ever Received
'Tis the season — for terrible gifts.OlgaPonomarenko / Shutterstock
Some people are just bad gift-givers, with no sense of what a person would actually like. From a young age you’ve been told, “It’s the thought that counts,” and to accept any gift with a smile.
But sometimes you have to wonder if there was any thought to begin with.
From the completely last-minute to the not-so-passive-aggressive to the utterly clueless, these presents will make you happy you weren’t the recipient.
They're the worst gifts people writing on Reddit have ever received. See if they compare to your own terrible gift story — because face it, we all have one.
Comments have been edited for clarity and grammar
1. Wish list mix-up
One year, my parents found the Amazon wishlist of someone with the same name as me, but it wasn’t actually me.
They thought it was a bunch of weird and out of character items, but decided not to check in with me, or any other family member, to see if they had the right list.
That's how I, as a 24-year-old male, ended up with a maternity body pillow for Christmas.
I'm pretty sure we ended up returning the maternity pillow and the rest of the gifts so they could get their money back. They ended up using that money to buy actual gifts.
2. What a tear-able present
One year, as a bad gag gift, I was given wrapping paper.
The lead-up was that I had only asked for one thing, from my big family.
All I asked for was a $25 Banksy poster. I was really into street art at the time and just really wanted the poster. That was it.
Well, I went through the whole unwrapping motions and there was a poster box/tube. I was overjoyed. Opened it. Wrapping paper. They thought it was hilarious.
Later that night I was nearly in tears because some of my cousins and siblings got things that were nearly $1,000+ and all I wanted was a poster.
3. Mother-in-law mischief
The very first holiday after my wedding, my mother-in-law sends my wife and me, each separately, the same self-help book on how to survive living with an abusive spouse.
The book wasn’t on how to divorce or anything, but how to live in the relationship with an abusive spouse.
And she sent it to not just to her, not just to me. To both of us. Two copies of the book.
I’ve gotten the same crockpot three years in a row from my ex-mother-in-law.
[My ex-husband's] new wife was gifted one last year. I'm certain that this woman has a pallet of crockpots stashed somewhere in her house.
4. They're not clowning around
Clowns. Every year a new clown. Try to tell my Abuelito I don't like clowns. They are weird. Get a new clown figurine, doll, lamp, picture, or whatever every year for Christmas and birthday.
I have boxes of clowns. Thankfully some time in my mid-twenties my father managed to divert him to kittens — but that was only after four awkward years when he decided I loved cows. I don't love cows either.
On the bright side, since I kept them all on my dresser growing up, I was never afraid of clowns. They're just background noise to me.
I could probably walk into one in a dark alley and just be all, "Oh — it's just one more dang clown."
5. Here's a toast to butter days
My boyfriend’s mom has had trouble with accepting that we’re the real deal and I’m not going anywhere.
My family has accepted him with open arms for five years, gotten him really good birthday and Christmas presents. They spend the same on him as they do on my brother and me.
His mom, the first year we lived together, got me a $1 scarf from Walmart. It had the clearance sticker still on it. His nieces and nephews got me washcloths.
Last year, they showed up to our house with a toaster oven and a bunch of other gifts that were for him.
Last second, she grabs a pen from her purse (at her husband’s urging), crosses off my boyfriend’s name from the toaster oven, and writes mine. Misspelled.
6. A winter joke that went cold
I'll list a few shared between my friends. My ex-friend gave my cousins (they were friends too) a few gifts on New Year's like half used bottles of Hollister spray deodorant.
And a vial of gallium? [Gallium is a soft, bluish metal.] I don’t even know where he got it from, or what gave him the idea to give one of them a vial of gallium, but, oh well.
That's all right though, because I got his sister a custom sweater that I spent $30 dollars on that said, "If being awesome was a sport, you'd be the WINter"
I honestly don't know what I was thinking. I tried making a pun with winter, but it failed horribly. I confused myself to the point where I didn't realize how weird that joke was.
7. Those presents need some polishing
[I got] my aunt's used nail polish that she didn't want anymore. They were not sealed, and none of them were colors I liked or would have worn (tans/browns, oranges, and neutral pinks).
This was common when I was a teenager and I was always very uncomfortable.
Unfortunately, the gifts have not gotten better over time. I would not mind if we just stopped the extended family gifting, aside from the children.
Somehow, I don't mind missing Christmas this year due to my husband working. It will be spent snuggling with our puppies instead. Also can't afford gifts this year, so I'm making some treats instead.
8. I see London, I see France
This mortifies me to this day.
Eleven-year-old me, chubby and awkward. Gifts under the tree early because Mom was like that.
Beautiful cylindrical tin, printed with some iridescent whatnot and graced with a big glittery bow, made out to me. I was stoked to open this gift for a good three weeks of torture.
It’s Christmas morning, everyone is there, grandparents and brother’s girlfriend and pets and the whole nine. I’m so stoked to open this gift and everyone is wondering what it is.
With the equivalent of fanfare, I open the top of this thing and pull out bright pink granny panties.
I was so mad. I’m still mad.
9. You’re a doll
One time I was out shopping with the ex. I saw a small porcelain doll with an interesting costume.
I spent about five minutes looking at the doll because I sew and was interested in the way the costume was made.
That Christmas, I got the doll as a gift from the ex. He also gave me a little stand to display the doll. So, like a good girlfriend, I put the doll on the stand and stuck it in the bookcase.
Because of the next gift-giving occasion, the ex thought it would be cute to do a treasure hunt. Which was fun, but with every clue, there was another porcelain doll.
So now, I have a collection.
And since I'm now a collector, everyone in the family starts giving me porcelain dolls for every birthday and Christmas.
I have porcelain dolls all over the house.
10. The definition of a terrible gift
My cousin and I always got the same presents so we wouldn't fight. Same little purses, same cutesy jewelry.
My mom showed me what my cousin's present was and it was Kirby for the Game Boy! I was so excited, because that meant I would get it, too!
But my mom said, "No sweety, I got you something a little different — It is kind of crazy."
I immediately knew that my present would be a pet chameleon. Or so I thought.
Mom got me a dictionary. My cousin gets Kirby, and I get a dictionary just a year or two before the internet was good enough to replace it.
11. He had something to wine about
Last year for Christmas my boyfriend wanted to show my family his best self, so he begged me to give him gift ideas for my family.
I didn’t feel it was completely necessary, but he insisted and bought everyone awesome gifts, including my sister.
Her favorite wine is hard to find. After calling dozens of stores, he found out it was only sold at one place in the whole state because the others had sold out already. It was expensive and he drove several hours to go pick it up.
He wrapped it beautifully and included such a nice card.
My sister got him a sample size bottle of garlic and onion sauce for cooking. He is allergic to onions and garlic.
Now he understands why I told him not to bother, my sister is a huge witch.
12. Gifting math that doesn't add up
One Christmas, my millionaire dad and his wife gifted my brother a house and a new Escalade for his family, while they gave me a gift card to Men's Wearhouse for $200.00.
When he turned 40, they gave him a $100,000.00. When I turned 40, they bought me dinner.
They provided him with "college fund" of $250,000.00 for his kids, when his kids dropped out of high school, they handed him the money to spend on cars and stuff.
When my kids (straight A students) graduated high school, my dad and his wife told me that it was my responsibility to pay for my kid’s education.
Once when I asked why there was such a difference in treatment, my dad told me I was being ungrateful.
13. They didn’t loaf that gift
A roommate/friend of mine was dating this really boring guy. He had a job making a lot of money, but wasn’t interested in a lot of things.
My roommate and I were going to spend Christmas together and he decided to invite himself along, no big deal.
I, not wanting to be rude, spent time finding him some things for the few interests he did have.
He got me a bad bread baking kit with a pan that said something about Jesus on it. I’m not religious at all and it was a really bad bread mix.
Needless to say, it immediately got donated.
14. He has his own ideas
My dad gives the worst gifts.
Every year I tell him exactly what I want, even send him links to an item. Every year he still gives me a bunch of random stuff he thinks I will like, but that I have never said I like.
For instance, while I was away at college, he gifted me a children's jewelry case. It was barbie pink with neon green peace signs and purple flowers all over it. I told my mom to give it to my nieces.
The last year he got me a purple masquerade mask and an elf mug. Still don’t know what to do with it.
15. The king of gag gifts
A couple years ago, my brother started a tradition of buying people clever gag gifts for birthdays/Christmas.
Last year, my brother got me a box of about 200 small nails. Before he gave it to me, though, he removed and bent every single nail to a 90 degree angle.
Some other gifts include a portable shovel he gave to my other brother for Christmas, which was a regular shovel he had sawed into a bunch of pieces and packaged in a box with a roll of duct tape.
He also got him a nice set of wine glasses packaged loosely in a box along with some scrap steel and rocks, and then told him to shake it to see if he could guess what it was
16. She almost nailed it
Two years ago, I started opening gifts from my mom. The first was a bunch of screws.
“Okay,” I thought. “Thanks mom!”
“It’s something you asked for!” She explained. “You’ll understand when you open the rest of them.”
Well, I continue to open presents, and some are things I ask for, but others are just strange. Weird brackets and pegs. Hardware type stuff. I remain clueless.
After a while of opening up strange hardware, it dawns on us that the presents I’m opening are for my dad, and they are part of a workbench he had asked for.
As my dad and I have the same name, my mom had wrapped all of his presents and mistakenly given them to me.
17. Dolls by the dozen
One year my brother was at the mall with my 17-year-old niece.
She walks by this porcelain doll that's like $200 and it had her name. She said something like, “That's cool.”
He then tells the rest of our family that she wanted this doll.
Well, first, no one could afford it so he got one that was very pretty, but around $50.
Second, everyone else got whatever doll they could find, some at Walmart, others even got regular little kid baby dolls. That she never wanted in the first place.
Christmas Day, she unwraps his. He tells her he couldn't afford that one she wanted and she tells him that one had her name, so it might have been interesting, but she didn't really want a doll.
Everyone got very quiet. She ended up with 12 different dolls.
18. The dog was trying to be paws-itive
I had an awesome cocker spaniel Lab mix. He was a quirky dog.
For three years he brought my mom a Christmas present.
First year, it was a live squirrel. He laid it at her feet. Of course, the squirrel shot up and ran around the house. It took our entire Christmas Day to get it out of the house.
Second year, it was a rabbit, but learning from his past mistakes, it was dead this time. Again, he laid it at my mom's feet.
Third year, he brought this huge goose down king size comforter. No idea where he got it or where it was from. It was in surprisingly good shape, too.
Christmas was the only time he ever brought in anything from outside, and he always gave it to my mom.
19. That family went crackers
I once went out with a girl whose family all hated each other, and they seemed to have a formalized "rules of war" for family holidays.
I had no idea this was going on, so imagine my puzzlement at receiving (and having to be publicly appreciative of ) gifts like a 50-cent thing for holding a book open, an ice-cream scoop, a pack of AAA batteries?!
They basically gave her a box of stuff that you would find in a Christmas cracker, but they went to the lengths of wrapping the worthless pieces.
She was always hoping there would be a real present, until she emptied the box.
20. Unwelcome soaprise
Every year when I was younger, my family would have a white elephant celebration party on Christmas Eve.
About a month prior to the party, everyone who participated would select names from the hat.
One year, my older cousin pulled my name. I was extremely excited when I found out, due to him being very wealthy, and the gifts he had given in previous years.
The night finally came. I opened my gift, only to find that they had got me soap in the shape of ice cream.
The kicker to it all, I’m lactose intolerant. Not sure to this day if it was some kind of sick joke or not.
21. They shouldn’t have been so negative
One year my dad got into photography, but not like art photography, it was like family photo studio kind of photography.
Specifically, churches would hire him to take photos of the members to put in their directory.
So for Christmas that year, he gave each of us (my sister, my mother, and me) a framed photo of himself holding a camera.
They were large photos too, like the size of a magazine. We all just kind of looked at him in confusion trying to figure out if he was serious or not; he totally was.
And this wasn't even like an extra/side present, this was his major gift to each of us. My sister and I found it hilarious, but my mother was not impressed.
22. A not-so-rockin’ gift
A few years ago my aunt gave me a rock.
She gave presents to me and my two older cousins and said it’s time for the big girls to open their gifts.
She made my cousins go first and they got scarves, and I opened my present, and pulled a rock out of the package and looked up waiting for her to laugh.
She said, "Isn't it wonderful??"
So I had to be like, “Yeah, I loooove it!!”
Then she then told me that she had dug it out of her garden the previous summer and she knew that I would think it is so cool.
The following year she gave me acorn tops because "some people know how to use them to whistle and I don't know how to show you or explain, but I'm sure you can figure it out."
23. The brother was playing his own game
When I had gotten home from college I found myself with some excess cash.
I decided to invest in some new video games for myself and had them sent to my house.
The strange thing was that I had only received half of the games. I emailed the suppliers and told them I hadn't gotten my packages yet and was growing quite sad.
Well, Christmas morning came around and I was opening up my presents. I got to the one from my older brothers.
I tore the paper away and open the box. Inside there were several other packages that had been mailed to our house. With my name on them.
My brother had taken half of my games and hid them from me until Christmas.
24. That gift really knocked his socks off
The first year at family Christmas with my now-wife, her Nanna gifted me one pair of socks.
But the best part was it was one pair of sports socks you get in a pack of 10. So she must have bought a pack, and just wrapped one pair for me. A single pair.
Of course, at the time I wanted to act all super grateful, so I pulled off my current socks, super enthusiastically, and put on the new ones as soon as I opened them.
I think my current socks were actually a little damp from the winter anyway, so it worked out.
25. Bling bling
My parents went on a cruise, and they won a whole load of money in the ship's casino.
They bought me a gigantic gold chain necklace for Christmas. I mean, Mr. T style, but with the thickest links I had seen. With a matching bracelet.
I have never worn any form of jewelry or anything around them, and never given any indication I would wear a huge necklace.
I opened it and chuckled like it was a joke, but their faces said "honest present." They left the price tag on it, and it was surprisingly expensive.
They also told me how good I look in it, so I don't have the heart to cash4gold it. I've worn it twice, both times in a Flavor Flav costume style.
26. The whole world with a bow around it
When I was 7, I received a bad gift.
You know when you're a kid and you see a big present and you're like, "Oh man, this is going to be good"?
Well, it had a huge gold bow around it in a giant box, so I was all excited and waited to open it last.
It was a globe. A brown globe, that you see in libraries. By no means was I a history aficionado at that age, and my parents knew I hated the geography subject in school.
It wasn't a joke gift, they honestly thought I'd love it and it would be a great homework tool.
Yeah, just what a kid wants for Christmas, something that refers to homework.
It is still just a decoration on a mantle in our house, and I can't think of a single time in the past 20 years when I went, "Hmmm, well, that's a tough question, better consult the globe to be sure."
27. He didn't get a charge out of it
My mom once gave me half a pack of batteries.
It wasn't really a big deal because I usually don't do the gift exchange with my family, and my mom had some left over batteries from one of the kids' toys, so she gave them to me.
I still like telling people about it though, because it sounds horrible.
Runner up would be the year my mom regifted a set of measuring cups to me that someone at her office had given her.
She neglected to take the little card off of it, so for a moment I was left wondering why my mom's assistant was giving me measuring cups.
28. Just the ticket they wanted?
I have a super duper cheapskate aunt. She's the kind of person that goes to Chili's (I could stop right there) and orders a $3 bottomless chips and salsa and doesn't leave a tip.
For Christmas a couple years ago, she gave me a discount Cinemark movie ticket. Just one. And it wasn't for a free movie. It was a 50% discount movie ticket, only valid at Cinemark brand theaters.
In the city we live in, there is only a single Cinemark theater: the dollar theater on the north side.
Thanks aunty. I can now go by myself and see a dated $1 movie for fifty cents. Yippee.
29. He grandmas just didn't get her
My paternal grandmother converted and became a Catholic. Since then, she keeps gifting my family prayer cards and rosaries.
My parents are Christian, my siblings and I are agnostic.
Same woman would always give me makeup, jewelry, girly clothes, hair accessories, and so on. I was such a tomboy that strangers often would mistake me for a boy.
I got a Lindsey Lohan CD from my maternal great-grandmother.
Never once mentioned to anyone I liked her and I've never been a real fan of pop.
My cousin ended up unwrapping 2 CDs and a stereo system that included radio, cassette player, and held 6 CDs at a time.
30. Their message was clear as plastic
I was a step-grandchild and my grandmother sold Avon jewelry.
While the other six grandchildren got real leather jackets, diamond jewelry, motocross lessons and one year, an actual motocross bike, I got plastic Avon jewelry.
I got placed with my grandparents two weeks before Christmas when I was 16. I watched everyone open up their gifts and then one aunt gave me a Walmart bag with some socks in it.
Another one told me I should be grateful that the family was taking me in instead of leaving me on the street and that was my present.
Seven aunts and uncles and their spouses, along with my grandparents, and that's how they treated me in a situation that was out of my control.