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A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

42 Funny Christmas Gifts People Actually Received

If you thought some of your gifts were bad, be thankful you never received any of these crazy Christmas gifts.

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Merry Christmas!Moyo Studio/Getty Images

Everyone has a holiday horror story where someone gave a gift that wasn’t quite right. Read on for some of the more interesting holiday gifts you’ve ever had the pleasure of not giving.

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Rolled up blanketAnthonyRosenberg/Getty Images

“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. Follow these gift-giving etiquette rules to make sure you don’t get a reputation for giving funny Christmas gifts.

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Full Frame View of a Group of Neckties Hanging Side by SideGrace Cary/Getty Images

“Cousin Nancy, you shouldn’t have”

“Every Christmas, cousin Nancy sends a box of holiday surprises: rice pasta (I am gluten intolerant), 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. If you’re at a loss for what to give, go with these crowd-pleasing gift exchange ideas instead of resorting to funny Christmas gifts. These gag gifts are perfect for the whole family.

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bootslathuric/Getty Images

Just brush ’em off and saddle up

“Someone gave me a pair of used red suede cowboy boots. And, they came with authentic dust.” –Barbara O’Dair. If you’re looking for an easy gift under $25, these will do the trick.

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aqua present boxChuanpit Poolsawat/Shutterstock

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. Don’t make the mistake of giving these other unintentionally funny Christmas gifts that send the wrong message.

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barbieMaria Spb/Shutterstock

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. Next time her relatives should go with these non-toy gifts for kids.

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Bread machine with loaf on wooden tableAfrica Studio/Shutterstock

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. Sometimes you get bad gifts for Christmas because you never told your family what you want. Here are some gifts you’ll want to add to your own Christmas wish list.

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PuppyAlena Kravchenko/Shutterstock

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. These last-minute Christmas gifts have free overnight shipping.

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Close-up of feet in warm winter socks near the Christmas tree with its lights onSol de Zuasnabar Brebbia/Getty Images

Batteries not included?

“I once got a Christmas gift list that included socks that are warmed by batteries. –Michael Hipwell. Here are some holiday gifts that don’t cost a dime.

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The gift that keeps on giving

“A very nice sweater that someone had worn, stained, and regifted to me.” —Belinda M., Orangeville, Pennsylvania. Not that regifting is always bad.

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WineAfrica Studio/Shutterstock

Sounds like a cheap date

“A book titled 101 Wines Under $5.” —Cindy M., Greensburg, Pennsylvania. These are the wine terms you should know by now

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quarantaineRoos Koole/Getty Images

Things never to say to a woman

“The book What to Expect When You’re Expecting. I was in high school and not even dating.” —Audrey A., Norfolk, Virginia. If you need to, this is the best time of day to return Christmas gifts.

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Toilet Bowl In BathroomGeorge Mdivanian/EyeEm/Getty Images

Not sure what message this is sending

“I once received a toilet seat.” —Julie K., Shellsburg, Iowa. Maybe some funny Christmas jokes would have gotten a better laugh.

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Delicate soft cotton wool backgroundJpegPhotographer/Shutterstock

At least they’re useful

“A bag of cotton balls.” —Claudia A., Columbia Falls, Montana. Perhaps these gifts that won’t cause clutter would have been more appropriate.

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GiftsMediaGroup BestForYou/Shutterstock

Becoming a tradition

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

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Flipping PancakesRyersonClark/Getty Images

 Hopefully, homemade Christmas cookies came with it

“A used spatula.” —Sheila H., Grand Junction, Colorado. These are the only types of cookware you should be using

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High Angle View Of Pink Panties On SandTony Taylor/EyeEm/Getty Images

We’re all about body positivity but…

“A turquoise man-kini. I am 60 years old and weigh 250 pounds.” —Erich P., Phoenix, Arizona. Here is the ultimate gift guide for everyone on your list.

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Antique Book of Etiquette 2DNY59/Getty Images

The irony of this lack of etiquette

“A book of etiquette from my mother-in-law.” —Maureen C., Pleasanton, California. Find out how you really should respond to awkward holiday moments politely.

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Close-up of bookBarbara Silbe/EyeEm/Getty Images

This could take longer to read than expected

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

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Image of second hand, brown leather work boots cutomized with purple shoe lacesmtreasure/Getty Images

Living on a shoestring

Reddit user What_the_Chell once found a single purple shoelace in her Christmas stocking. And that’s it. Just a single purple shoelace, no accompanying shoes. Not even a matching shoelace! This is the reason why Santa Claus wears red.

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Leather handbagsMesquitaFMS/Getty Images

You say “ugly” like it’s a bad thing

“A family member got this ugly red and brown purse for Christmas one year,” recalls Reddit user GhostToast96. “She complained about it and said how ugly it was.” Guess what GhostToast96 got as a gift the next year from that same family member? “Maybe it’s more your style,” the re-gifter wrote in the accompanying card.

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Candy tubes perspective, Pastel candy conceptPiti Tangchawalit/Shutterstock

Why does such a thing even exist?

Reddit user Laser Lens 4 recalls receiving an off-brand M&M’s-like candy. “They were from the dollar store, and they came in a plastic tube.” So far so good, yes? Then Laser Lens 4 took a taste: they weren’t just off-brand, they were made of lentils!

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Casino slot machine : three seven jackpot detail of rollsfullempty/Shutterstock

The gift that keeps giving…reasons to complain about it.

One Christmas, Reddit user VictorBlimpMuscle got an electronic slot machine game from his ex-wife’s grandmother. The perfect gift, right? Wrong. It was used and had been purchased from a yard sale (it still had the $1 price tag on it)…and it had the wrong name on the card. Also? It needed batteries. Here are some places you can donate Christmas gifts that you can’t return.

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Baby and diapersmrs/Getty Images

Here, you play with this, while she changes Baby’s diaper…

One Christmas, Redditor MommysABaby got a big box of diapers as a gift from her mother-in-law. Not the most exciting gift in the world, but certainly useful, given that MommysABaby and her husband had recently become new parents. And very much appreciated…until the husband opened his gift from his mother: an XBox!

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Statue of Hindu elephant goldenmarstockphoto/Getty Images

That was awkward

“My mother once gave my husband a truly tacky statue of two elephants in coitus,” recalls Redditor Ipsquibibble. Hilarious, yes. Inappropriate, and then some. Got someone who’s impossible to shop for? Here are dozens of ideas for their Christmas gifts!

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Obese boy trying to do up his trousersPeter Dazeley/Getty Images

Because…it’s the thought that counts?

“One Christmas I only got clothes as gifts,” recounts A GuyThatDoesStuff, who saw no problem with this until he tried them on and every single article of clothing was too small for him. And none came with a receipt. So the entire haul ended up going to his little brother. “Put me in a sour mood, and then my dad sent me to my room for being ungrateful.” These are secrets you never knew about your own clothes.

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Directly Above Shot Of Old TypewriterOrcel Anthony/EyeEm/Getty Images

That’s not the type of gift they had in mind

“The year the Nintendo 64 came out, it was all me and my brothers wanted for Christmas,” remembers Reddit user Mr._Panzer. When Christmas arrived, he and his brothers saw a box that was just the right size sitting under the tree. Could it be, they wondered? Could their parents have gotten them the gaming system? Nope. It was a typewriter.

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Inner view of a steel grater in the kitchen.Emreturanphoto/Getty Images

Speak up?

“I usually never request Christmas gifts, but when my mother asked one year, I told her I needed an electric razor,” says Major_Halfsack. Mom must have needed her ears cleaned, however, because when Major Halfsack opened his mom’s gift, it was an electric cheese grater.

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Mobile gas stationastudio/Shutterstock

Isn’t it ironic, don’t you think?

In a tale that brings to mind The Gift of the Magi, Reddit user B3LYP2 was given the generous gift of a Mobile gas station gift card. Only one problem: “I didn’t have a car.”

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Christmas coalagafapaperiapunta/Getty Images


Back in college, Reddit user CupofTia gave her best friend an Mp3 player for Christmas. In return, she was given a literal lump of coal. “It’s the gift of warmth,” the (former?) best friend said. Check out these Amazon Prime gifts for everyone on your list.

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Close-Up Of Multi Colored Pencils In Desk Organizer On TableNattakorn Maneerat/EyeEm/Getty Images

Pencil it in

When you think of Christmas gifts you wish you’d get, is a pencil holder at the top of the list? Is it on the list at all? Well, if so, then you’ll be jealous of Redditor Don’tknowwhoate, who got a pencil holder from her dad for Christmas a few years ago. Her sister got one too.

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Spam canned meat stacked vertically in store shelf. Spam is...Roberto Machado Noa/Getty Images

Vegan appreciation

“I lived in Korea, where Spam was highly regarded,” says Reddit user PineapplePantyParade. That being said, PineapplePantyParade is a vegan, for whom Spam is pretty much at the bottom of the list of desirable gifts. But when your boss gets you a 5-pack of Spam as a Christmas present, that’s probably not the best time to remind your boss you don’t eat meat. Here are some great gifts for Mom under $50.

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Animals: Maine LobstersJodiJacobson/Getty Images


A gift certificate to Red Lobster would seem like a great Christmas gift…unless, of course, you’re vegetarian like Redditor Beeblebroxtrillian. Even worse? The gift giver knew Beeblebroxtrillian was a vegetarian. Even worse than that? It was a re-gift…from Beeblebroxtrillian the year before.

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Candle and open book on table inside.Matthieu Spohn/Getty Images

A used candle

When Reddit user Circle-oflife got a used candle as a gift, she would have laughed because, well, who gives a used candle as a gift? But it was from Circle-oflife’s grandma, so she let it slide. Here are really nice Christmas gift ideas for grandparents.

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Allegiant Stadium Prepares To Host First Las Vegas Raiders Home GameEthan Miller/Getty Images

Never say never

Reddit user Warren54batman loves the Oakland Raiders, but the oversized Raiders jacket he got when he was 14 still doesn’t fit…and Warren54batman is 36 now. “It must have been crafted to fit a 300-pound man,” he says. “It never even came close to fitting, but it hangs in my closet to this day.”

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Cover doll wearing a red felt hatmitza/Getty Images

Naughty more than nice

“My father-in-law gave me a ‘time out doll’ for Christmas, dressed up to look like me,” recalls Reddit user DrFiveLittleMonkeys. In other words, as DrFiveLittleMonkeys puts it, “my FIL gave me a mini-me that was being punished.” These gifts for men will make you look like a hero.

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The steam from the humidifier night in a child's bedroom, a lot of volume pairkomokvm/Shutterstock

Flaky or funny: you decide

Redditor Happycamper82’s parents were either very flaky or very funny; we’ll leave it to you to decide: “Three years in a row my parents bought me humidifiers. The fourth year they checked in before Christmas to see if I had any last-minute wishes. I said, ‘You didn’t get me a humidifier, did you?’ My mom enthusiastically replied, ‘No! Do you need one?’ I told them I was fully stocked.” Another time they gave most of Happycamper82’s presents to his brother by mistake. Then there was the Christmas they forgot and left all his presents still in their hiding spot. They apologized profusely, but you have to wonder if they meant it, as they did it again the following year. “Now that my brother and I are adults… my brother made a comment about how he doesn’t remember us fighting like his kids do. Without missing a beat, my mom replies, “Well that’s because you were an only child…” Can you blame Happycamper82 for developing a complex?

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Closeup of medical tools on a tray in a dental surgery.Mint Images/Getty Images

Message received

One time, kddenman’s boss gifted him with an oral hygiene kit, complete with a tongue scraper and dental tools as well as a toothbrush. “Message received,” thought kddenman. Love a good gag gift? Here’s one for everyone!

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Bottle of wineAgustin Vai/Getty Images

Whine cooler

“When I was 18 I received a Christmas gift from my stepmom’s mom—a wine cooler bag from the dollar store,” Reddit user Yaeae recalls. The gift, itself, was fine. But the card, which said, basically, “I’m sorry I forgot when your birthday was, but I hope this makes up for it” kind of undermined the effect.

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Christmas pullover texture pattern backdrop.Alice Fox/Getty Images

Her previous fiancé

There’s a reason Redditor Twogunrosie ditched her fiancé: after a long conversation about Christmas presents they hated, during which they both confessed to hating itchy wool sweaters, an itchy wool sweater is precisely what he gave her for Christmas. Even worse? “He said it was my duty to follow certain protocols set by his family.” This is what Christmas looked like 100 years ago.

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Close-Up Of Dog On SofaFrancesco De Palma/EyeEm/Getty Images

The “perfect” present

“For Christmas last year, the guy I was dating had been telling me for weeks that he had gotten me the PERFECT gift and that he was so excited for me to open it,” says Redditor Laurakates. And what was this “perfect” gift? An electric shock collar for her puppy, and no, she didn’t even consider using it. Here are homemade crafts-y gifts you can make with love this Christmas.

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It’s all about perspective

When Reddit user Averageordinaryguy thinks of the worst Christmas gift he ever got as a kid, it’s precisely what he considers the best Christmas gift to get as an adult: socks. Read on for some of the most inspired Christmas gifts ever received.

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Cockroaches in the sink.NeagoneFo/Getty Images

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 collects the dead bodies. The whole idea grossed me out so much I never even opened the box!” –Beth Weinhouse. Avoid the unintentionally funny Christmas gifts by learning science-backed ways to give a meaningful present.

Lauren Cahn
Lauren Cahn is a New York-based writer whose work has appeared regularly on Reader's Digest, The Huffington Post, and a variety of other publications since 2008. She covers life and style, popular culture, law, religion, health, fitness, yoga, entertaining and entertainment. Lauren is also an author of crime fiction; her first full-length manuscript, The Trust Game, was short-listed for the 2017 CLUE Award for emerging talent in the genre of suspense fiction.

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