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Old 12-12-08, 02:11 AM
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Common gifts you should never give anyone, ever, but especially around the holidays

Common gifts you should never give anyone, ever, but especially around the holidays
by Jennifer Romolini

Friday, December 12, 2008

It's not just a cliché. No one wants in this most sacred of seasons, the spirit of giving is meant to be infallible, and a giver's generosity beyond reproach. I learned this the hard way right before Thanksgiving, when I shared the worst presents I'd ever received. This story caused many readers to call me ungrateful, materialistic, and things that are not appropriate to repeat in a family blog.

But, you know what? I'm continuing the crusade. Because it's OK to say it: Some gifts are bad. They should not be given. Even if you hate the person, even if you picked them in the work Secret Santa game and thought "Wait, who?" and, yes, even if you can't think of anything to buy. Some gifts are just lame or thoughtless or hurt people's feelings or end up in the trash or—worst of all—get re-gifted. So, here is the second post in the series, this time, just the 10 most loser-ish presents ever.

1. Theme gifts (more than 2x)
Say you know someone who likes fishing, or golf, or model airplanes. Most likely, everybody in that person's life knows about this hobby. And, probably, each of these people have given person A an item that relates to the thing that he/she loves. Which means that—for example, in the case of my dad—person A now has more fishing junk than he knows what to do with. My dad has been gifted everything from fishing hats to ceramic fishes, Gone Fishin' license plate covers to rod-and-reel beer cozies. Point is, we should value when someone enjoys something, but we should not inundate them with so much junk that their hobby becomes a storage chore.

2. A holiday sweater
Why would anyone want a sweater that is a.) ugly and, b.) completely impractical?
Unless it's, perhaps, your family's tradition and you're all in on the joke, please don't purchase holiday sweaters. Please. We can't encourage this jolly-dorky industry anymore.

3. A gym membership
I don't have to explain this to you, do I? By giving the gift of exercise you are saying to your loved one, "You're fat." or at least, "You're out of shape and you need to change."
Bummer! No one want to hear that on a day off, much less on a festive day when they're ostensibly about to devour a huge meal. Don't give gym memberships (except if you are specifically asked and even then, I'd wait for pleading).

4. A subscription to a magazine you don't know that they read
In theory, this could work. But in practice, getting magazines that you didn't ask for can be a total bust. If you don't like it, you're reminded of not liking it every month, you're guilty over not reading it, and you feel obligated to display a copy when the gift bearer comes over, or bring up the latest issue when you see that person for dinner.

5. Your old pots and pans (your old anything)
One Christmas my friend opened a gift and found an old frying pan. Her completely lucid mother-in-law had wrapped said cookware and when she saw the look of surprise (and perhaps horror) on my friend's face said, "It's a lot better than yours."
Don't give anyone your old stuff. And, while we're at it, don't re-gift your new stuff either.

6. A stuffed animal to anyone over the age of 8
Because it's cheesy and infantilizing and weird. Because grown-ups shouldn't own stuffed animal collections. Because also, from a man to a lady, it's usually a pretty lazy gift.

7. An I.O.U. for the gift you plan to give
LAME. I don't care how cute the card is, I don't care if you've framed the picture of the TV we're getting or the shoes you want to buy me. I really don't mind if you can't give me a gift, but I don't want your (usually unredeemable) I.O.U.

8. A dusty tin full of edible stuff
This is not a tin of just anything—everyone loves getting homemade cookies or candies or a favorite cake and holiday tins are great for storage.

I'm talking about when you're in the dollar store and you see some extra-dusty tins on the bottom shelf filled with, say, those chocolate turtles. And you have no idea how long they've been there, or if what's inside is even edible. But you buy a couple anyway because you're desperate for a few last minute gifts. And the person you give it to opens it and the chocolate-whatever inside is stale and the candy breaks their tooth.

These are bad gifts.

Common gifts you should never give anyone, ever, but especially around the holidays on Shine
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