The Best Worst Christmas Gifts We Ever Got

...And you thought the loot under your tree was bad?

Compiled by Perri O. Blumberg
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    Electric Bug-aloo

    "I know my best friend meant well when she gave me an electric bug vacuum, because she knows how much I hate insects. You trap a bug in one end of a tube, then press the trigger to suck the bug into wherever part collected the dead bodies. The whole idea grossed me out so much I never even opened the box!" –Beth Weinhouse, Health Features Editor

    Not Sold In Stores!

    "One of my relatives is known for giving horrible gifts, and the year I was 16 I got a plain fleece blanket—the type that rolls up for easy transport. Clearly I wasn't thrilled, so I tried to return it. Well, that failed when customer service told me the blanket hadn't been sold in stores... for three years!"  – Alyssa Jung, Assistant Research Editor

    Cousin Nancy, You Shouldn't Have

    "Every Christmas, cousin Nancy sends a box of holiday surprises: rice pasta (I am gluten tolerant), bars of Ivory soap, or perhaps Trail Mix. But this trout tie? Yes, Nancy remembered that I love to fish, but it's as ugly as sin. I haven't had the nerve to wear it for 15 years, yet I put it on now so you don't think I'm making the story up." –Fran Lostys, Research Manager

    Just Brush 'Em Off and Saddle Up

    "Someone gave me pair of used red suede cowboy boots. And, they came with authentic dust." – Barbara O’Dair, Executive Editor

    When a Joke Goes Way Too Far

    "My ex-boyfriend used to call me 'Larry' as a joke instead of 'Perri.' For the holidays one year, he gave me a Tiffany's robin's-egg blue box. Exciting! Inside, I found a beautiful, initial necklace...but an 'L,' for Larry. I tried wearing it, but it was too hard to explain why the pricey jewelry had the wrong letter. To this day, I'm still in search of a best friend whose name starts with an L so I can pass it along." –Perri O. Blumberg, Assistant Editor

    Slightly Creepy Bedtime Barbie

    "Christmas 1993 was the season for this popular gift—if you dabbed Barbie's eyes with water, they would magically open and close—and that year I received four of them from various friends and relatives." –Caitlin O' Connell, Assistant Editor

    I Thought It Was a Back Massager

    "A few years ago, my sister tore into a present from our parents and saw "deep knead" on the box. 'Is this what I think it is?' she excitedly exclaimed, tearing the final piece of paper off to reveal...a bread maker."  –Drew Scarantino, Rights Assistant

    Easy Come, Easy Go

    "I was given the greatest gift a child could ever hope for: a puppy. And then it became the worst when I had to give it away shortly thereafter because my family and I were horribly allergic to it. Talk about a total bummer!" —Lauren Gniazdowski, assistant editor

    Batteries Not Included?

    "I once got a Christmas gift list that included socks that are warmed by batteries. –Michael Hipwell, digital production and design associate

    And, a Few from Our Readers:

    Everyone has gotten a rotten gift. We asked our readers to share with us the one present that had them running to the store’s returns department.

    1. I once received a toilet seat. —Julie K., Shellsburg, Iowa

    2. The book What to Expect When You’re Expecting. I was in high school and not even dating. —Audrey A., Norfolk, Virginia

    3. A fifth of whiskey, even though I’m an alcoholic. —Clark H., Magdalena, New Mexico

    4. A very nice sweater that someone had worn, stained, and regifted to me. —Belinda M., Orangeville, Pennsylvania

    5. A donation in my name to a cause I don’t support. —Marci E., North Richland Hills, Texas

    6. I got my own Christmas gift back the next year. —Carol E., Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

    7. A subscription to the Nutrisystem weight-loss program. —Rosemary G., LaGrange, Kentucky

    8. A bar of soap. —Shirley B., Macomb, Michigan

    9. A turquoise man-kini. I am 60 years old and weigh 250 pounds. —Erich P., Phoenix, Arizona

    10. An iron and ironing board from my (now ex-) husband. —Nancy M., South Attleboro, Massachusetts

    11. A book titled 101 Wines Under $5. —Cindy M., Greensburg, Pennsylvania

    12. A bag of cotton balls. —Claudia A., Columbia Falls, Montana

    13. A Christmas tree ornament. I’m Jewish. —Cary L., Royal Oak, Michigan

    14. A pill vial designed like a white elephant and filled with the baby teeth of my friend’s children. —Marcia A., Carlsbad, California

    15. Legos. I’m 34. —Lisa A., Boise, Idaho

    16. I received a book on Chinese culture written in Chinese. —Phil H., Carmel, Indiana

    17. A doorknob. —Sweet I., Jefferson, New Hampshire

    18. A used spatula. —Sheila H., Grand Junction, Colorado

    19. One slipper. —Robin R., Smithfield, Pennsylvania

    20. A book of etiquette from my mother-in-law. —Maureen C., Pleasanton, California

    21. Dental floss. —Lisa C., Alpharetta, Georgia


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    Your Comments

    • ben no


      • for 47 yrs,

        join the club

    • Lillian MacCannell

      My ex once gave me an outfit I had commented on in a Sears flyer. My comment “Oh, that it so ugly and some of the old ladies at work wear them!”. I was about 30 then but I still don’t wear that style which is still in the stores Then there was the Christmas he had his sister beautifully wrap a coat I had bought for myself several months before. That was certainly a surprise gift!

    • Angie.Evan.

      oh god, shut up people. ok some gifts were not suited for their recipients, but the senders actually spent some money on some. it’s the thought that counts. you can still return or sell on ebay what you don’t need.

    • Checkmate1952

      I have received and given fleece blankets and think they are nice gifts! I also asked for and received a pair of battery-powered heated socks and loved them…they kept my feet so warm.

    • Kay

      Talking of worst Christmas gift…. I just got a comic book (I am an adult who does not read comic books) from someone I am in some sort of relationship with. I was also given a small dessert recipe book for dinner parties (which I never give by the way). Both were sent separately by Amazon. No gift wrap. Billing details included – A whopping total of £11.43. My gift to him: stuff he likes, which was worth 4 times as much as his useless gifts. Very disappointing.

    • Dave Rickerson

      I once got my son a bag of potting soil. He opened it and looked at me inquisitivly. He hadn’t worked or wanted to in some time and was living in his car. I suggested he put the bag in his trunk and no matter where he went whether it be key west or Pinellas park he could boast owning property there.

    • island girl

      A ‘onesie’ from my 34 year old step daughter. I’m 54. Crotched teddy, no snaps, impossible to pee and the colour of puke. And several sizes too big.

    • Mr. G

      #6. If your worst gift ever was receiving the gift you gave, then maybe you shouldn’t have given it in the first place.

    • HotTea

      I received the worst wedding gift ever…but it had a Christmas theme! Even though I was married in October I received a dark green padded toilet seat with Garfield the Cat wearing a Santa suit.