Gifts to Avoid this Holiday Season

OK, it’s that time of the year again. Sale signs have started to go up as the stores begin to woo customers and their holiday shopping dollars. Whether you are an early shopper or a last-minute person, here is a handy list of what gifts you should avoid this holiday season!

Puppies and kittens are so cute and cuddly – so they make perfect gifts, right? Wrong! For one, the choice of a pet is a very personal decision. Pets come in all shapes and sizes and it must be up to the pet owner to decide whom to choose for a life-long friend. Second, the cost of owning is pet is ridiculously high and you must consider if the person really wants to spend that much money before giving them a pet. Third, pets require a lot of time and attention – can the person receiving the gift really take care of the pet? Finally, if the person does not like your gift, what do they do with it? It’s not like a toy that you can return back to the store. A lot of pets given as gifts end up in shelters and this holiday season don’t be someone responsible for another abandoned pet.

Hi-tech items, when you are hi-tech challenged.
If you are hi-tech challenged, you should in general stay away from giving hi-tech gifts. Hard-core gamers have very specific favorites and unless you know enough about gaming yourself, picking a computer game at random just because it is on sale or on the hot-item list is a bad idea. A laptop can be configured in any number of ways, and unless you know whether the person whom you are gifting a laptop wants a lot of memory or processing power or a great graphics card, you may end up with an expensive gift that no one is happy about. If you don’t know a 16MB USB Flash from a 1Gig one, it may be better to stay away from giving flash drives! Same goes for digital cameras, MP3 players etc. And oh, blank VHS tapes are so old news. Gift cards are great alternatives. But if you think they are impersonal, and want to give the real thing, at least, try dropping a few hints and check out the reaction before you blow your money away. Or see if you can recruit a spy and a consultant (usually a sibling or spouse of the person receiving the gift) to help you select the right gift.

Exercise Equipment
I don’t know why anyone would do this. Particularly, avoid giving exercise equipment to women. While nobody likes being told that they need to start working out, women are particularly sensitive to someone hinting to them that they are “fat”. Even the skinniest ones of us will secretly hate you, if you give us exercise equipment as holiday gifts! In addition, the choice of what equipment to buy is again personal. So unless someone specifically asks you for particular equipment as a gift, strike this one off your list!

Gift cards to specialty stores
I know that a cousin of mine I am meeting for the holidays loves coffee. So I can’t go wrong with buying her a starbucks gift card, right? Well, here’s the catch – she goes to school in a small town which is probably one of the few towns now in the US with just one starbucks coffee shop in the whole town. It’s a town with old world charm where people love their local coffee shops which either boast live music, or mini-libraries and or great bakeries with pastries to die for! With a starbucks gift card, I would probably end up cramping her lifestyle! Another risk with gift cards to specialty stores is that the recipient may not have the specialty store in their town at all, or it may be one very long drive to get to the store! If you do choose to go for gift cards, make sure they are to stores that exist in the town of the recipient, or can at least be used online without having to pay hefty shipping charges.

Items that kids love but parents hate.
If you are buying gifts for someone else’s kids, be careful not to alienate the parents in your eagerness to impress the kids. For instance, you might want to skip that cute-but-loud clapping singing money for your colleague’s 2-year old kid, unless your real intention is to annoy the living day lights out of your colleague. And before you buy roller blades or skate boards or other high risk items for your nieces and nephews, you might want to consult with your sister/brother first.

What are some of the worst gift you have ever received? What are some of the worst gifts you have ever given? :)

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Jeremy said...

One of the worst gifts I have ever received was a gift card to Burlington Coat Factory when I was about 15. Yeah, that was exactly what I wanted for Christmas.

On a different note, I haven't even started shopping and am not looking forward to it. It's so hard to pick out gifts for people, especially without spending a fortune

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Shadox said...

Loud toys should be outlawed! Toys that are bound to make a mess should also be avoided.

plonkee said...

I've been known to give noisy toys before. But only if the battery can be removed ;) .

Pets are by far the worst Xmas gifts. If I get one, it'll go straight back to the giver.

Strange Bird said...

From personal experience: men, do not buy your girlfriends lingerie for the holidays if you've only been dating for two months and neither of you have ever talked about it before. She won't thank you.

Matthew Paulson said...

I definitely agree on the pets, unless you know specifically that the person you're giving it to wants that particular type of pet and the pet is particularly adorable! You'd better have a plan B for the pet if the person you give it to doesn't want it. It reminds me of that Christmas Vacation movie where the grandma gave the family a stray cat...

ispf said...

Jeremy: I will trade you a stinky perfume for that gift card to Burlington coat factory :) At least, with the gift card I can *choose* the perfume I like :)

Shadox: I'm with you on that one!

Plonkee: Giving only toys with removable batteries is a good idea, but I doubt that would work with my nieces. If they found out they would create such a ruckus, that the noisy toys will probably sound like a better option :)

Strange bird: Ha, Ha. To add to that, even if you are married, be on the safer side and buy your wife a Victoria's Secret gift card, and let her pick her own lingerie :)

Matthew: Agree. Pets as gifts is one of my pet peeves (pun intended).

Jessica said...

Hi Ispf,

Gifts should be something very simple yet attractive and that which would seem to be precious to one who receives it.

I usually go the Kris-Kringle way wherein you need not buy gifts for each one of your friends and invitees to the Christmas party. Rather, each person picks up a paper from the hat and buys gift for the person who's name is written on the paper.