As the saying goes, it’s better to give than receive. But choosing the right gift can be easier said than done. You might think your wife really wants that new power-drill so she can finish up all the projects around the house that you’ve been promising to finish for the past two years… but you could be wrong.
Somehow, year after year, people get clueless, off the wall and confusing presents, some so weird, so insulting, you begin to question your relationship with the person.
We asked our staff to dig up stories about the worst gifts people ever received. The responses were, well, interesting to say the least. After sorting through thousands of submissions on Reddit, we compiled the best of the best.
Without further delay, here are 30 incredible stories behind some of the absolute worst holiday gifts ever received. Click Here To Get Started
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1. A rubber Hulk Hogan figurine glued to an effeminate horse
One Christmas, I got a rubber Hulk Hogan figurine. That would have been fine… but it was also glued to a very effeminate toy horse. It looked like it was a Christmas ornament with the loop snipped off.
An elderly friend of the family gave it to me. They wouldn’t stop mentioning how “they are supposed to look like that; that’s how it came from the store,”
I didn’t voice any doubts., but I definitely had them. Why would you glue a horse to a Hulk Hogan figurine? What stores are you going to that sell wrestler centaur ornaments?
2. $15 cash for Pogs
One year I got $15 cash from my parents. They said it was so I could buy pogs, which are basically milk caps with faces on them.
We went to a store where my dad said pogs were sold at a good price. I went in and bought the only kind they had… unfortunately, they were pretty expensive. I only got 3 of them.
After I left the store, my parents scolded me for spending the entire $15 on 3 milk caps. My dad was the one who said the store sold them for a decent price!
I ended up feeling really guilty, because we were hard up for money and I felt like I wasted $15.
3. Pennies, tobacco, a hair brush, and vodka
My grandma gave us the weirdest holiday presents. She gave my husband two rolls of pennies for Christmas.
That same year, she gave my mom, who does not smoke, a tin of tobacco. When my mom complained about this, she gave her a calendar that was three years old.
My son got a hair brush wrapped in a Pringles can. He was two. He cried because he really wanted the chips.
I hit the jackpot though, I got a bottle of soda. Now that she’s gone, I miss the surprise of opening the wacky Christmas gifts she would be bring.
4. A golden box full of junk
One year, I got a present wrapped in newspaper. It was a wooden box that was spray-painted gold. The paint was still wet ‒ I know this because I got gold paint all over my hands.
Inside were the following items: a bunch of pennies, a handful of potpourri, a sample deodorant, a book of half-completed crossword puzzles, a disposable ballpoint pen, a dull razor, and a half-empty pack of tissues.
I think the box was the most valuable part of that gift. While it may have gotten my hands wet, it’s the only thing I kept from that collection of eclectic items.
5. A light-up ball
The only present I got one Christmas was a little light-up ball. It was white, with two metal tabs on each side. You put your finger on each of the tabs and the ball lights up.
It wasn’t awful… but it was really underwhelming. After I had figured out what it was and how it worked, my dad asked me if he could have a try. I said “okay.” That was a big mistake.
I passed him the ball, and he immediately threw it on the ground. It shattered into pieces.
“I thought it was a bouncy ball!”
6. A vacuum cleaner
When I was a wee seven-year-old, my grandmother placed a long, skinny box under the Christmas tree about a week before the holiday.
I thought it was a stroller. For the next week, I drooled over the idea of a play baby stroller folded up in that box, just waiting to be filled with various stuffed animals.
Once the magical morning came, I ripped the box open only to discover it was a VACUUM CLEANER. Not a toy one, either. A real-life, serious vacuum cleaner.
She claimed that she thought it was a great idea because “I loved cleaning when I visited her house.” Thanks Granny.
7. A Gameboy game
When I was 12 years old, I mowed lawns to earn a bit of money for myself. I did this to save money for a Gameboy advance.
Once I bought it, I played it incessantly every day. Two months later, when Christmas came along, they bought him a Gameboy game… just the game cartridge, no Gameboy.
He didn’t have a Gameboy.
I was frustrated, because this meant that I was forced to share my Gameboy with him, When I complained to my parents, they told me to stop being selfish.
It’s not that I didn’t want to share with my brother, but they bought him a gift that he could not use without borrowing my prized possession. I don’t think that was fair.
8. A box of garbage bags
When I was 10, I woke up the day before Christmas sick as a dog. I had the flu. When I woke up on Christmas morning, I was getting the worst of it. I felt like I was dying.
I skipped the present-opening and slept until my extended family got to our house. My mother made me come down to open presents with my grandparents.
My grandparents had always given the best gifts, so I was excited. The first few were the usual: candy and socks. When I picked up the main present. I was so excited. I ripped off the packaging and found… a box of garbage bags. My whole family started laughing hysterically.
Apparently my mom told my grandmother I had been slacking on taking out the trash. So my grandmother, not knowing what else to get, just chalked it up to a joke gift. I instantly started crying. My mother told me I was ungrateful and sent me to bed.
9. A DVD player
I’m going to sound ungrateful here, but when I was 12 my mom gave me a DVD player for Christmas.
Thing is… I’d never expressed any sort of desire for one. My mom’s boyfriend bought her a load of DVDs for Christmas. She had obviously told him that she bought me a DVD player.
They were all age restricted DVDs though, so when I asked if I could watch them she told me that I was too young.
The DVD player went straight into her bedroom to go with the TV my dad had bought me the previous Christmas.
Not only did I not get to use my DVD player… I also didn’t receive any DVDs for it.
10. A goat
When I was nine, my grandparents bought a goat for a family in Africa in my name. I wouldn’t have really cared, but the rest of my siblings all got toys while I got a piece of paper with a picture of a goat.
It was white, and I’m sure that family was happy with it. I just wish I got something in addition to the goat picture.
Even as a nine-year-old, I felt slighted. it’s silly to be mad that they gave money to charity. I still felt bad though. Why couldn’t they have given goats to the rest of my siblings too? Oh well.
11. A $10 coffee maker
When I was married, we always decided to stick to a strict Christmas budget. One year, decided to splurge on my husband a bit. I got him new clothes, a new Xbox 360 (they had just come out), and a bunch of gift cards. I was so excited when I wrapped them all up and set them under the tree.
Christmas morning comes, and he’s stoked about the Xbox and immediately sets it up to play.
He got me one gift: a coffee maker. What’s worse, he left the $10 price tag. To make things worse, he spent his half of the budget on Xbox games!
We divorced the following year.
12. A Playstation 2… with a Playstation 1 memory card
One Christmas, my parents bought me a Playstation 2 with one of the Spyro games. This was awesome… but for some reason, they got me a Playstation 1 memory card, so I couldn’t save any of my progress.
Spyro was the only game I had for a long time, and every time I played I had to start from the beginning. It drove me insane. Sometimes I would leave the console on overnight so as to keep my progress, but my parents would always yell at me and make me turn it off.
I appreciate the thought, but that was a terrible introduction to video games.
13. A paintbrush
When I was in fourth grade, we had a gift exchange for Christmas. There was a $5 price limit.
I contributed a travel game system for the car— you could play chess or checkers, it was pretty cute.
So all the gifts go into the bag and each kid reaches in and pulls out a surprise.
What did I get? A 10 cent watercolor paint brush. It was the cheapest of cheap brushed… it only had three bristles in it.
While everyone grabbed cool stuff, I had to sit there and be content with my cheap little brush.
14. A book about scarecrows
When I was in third grade, we had a gift exchange. My mother bought a really awesome Pokemon doll for me to gift.
I drooled over that doll for a week until the day of the gift exchange. When it was my turn, I chose the Pokemon, knowing fully well what it was.
The girl after me was the popular girl that everyone liked. She had the option to choose a gift or “steal” mine.
She stole mine, and I ended up with a book about a scarecrow. I had to pretend to act happy about it, but I was crying on the inside.
15. A chunky silver bracelet
One holiday season, my former in-laws (SIL and MIL) gave me a hideous chunky silver bracelet.
It might not have been so bad — I mean, they bought me jewellery after all — but my mom had died a little while ago, and ever since I had worn her gold bracelet that she never took off.
When I opened it, they made some unacceptable comments… “We know you wear your mom’s bracelet, but you might like a change.” I appreciate the sentiment, but it really hurt for them to say that.
16. A baggy jacket
When I was 15, my mom gave me the ugliest jacket I have ever seen. It was baggy, with acid-washed denim, shoulder pads, and fake turquoise beads.
My mom knew how awkward I felt, and in her mind buying me something fashionable would help me fit in. She had saved her tip money for months to buy me something cool to wear to school. She was so proud and hopeful looking at me when I opened it.
It was the worst present i ever got, but it was also the best, because she really meant well.
17. Acne treatment advertisements
I had a grandmother who was the exact opposite of the kindly grandma stereotype. Every Christmas, we would go to her place.
One Christmas, when I was 12, we received personalized scrapbooks. I had bad acne at the time, and one of my cousins had buck teeth, and my dad had almost gone bankrupt recently.
My scrapbook contained dozens of ads for acne treatment. My cousin’s had dental ads, and my father got a finance for dummies book. I don’t know if she was trying to be helpful or trying to be snide, but the gifts were hurtful either way.
Needless to say, my family had their fair share of Christmas morning arguments.
18. A piece of wood
On my son’s 2nd Christmas, his grandma (my mother) got him a piece of wood. There was nothing special about it… just a 10-inch 1×8 plank. She had wrapped it up like it was something special. She even put a bow on it.
She also got my 3-year-old daughter a homemade DVD of vacation pictures. When my mom gave it to her, she said she hoped my daughter enjoyed looking at her “favorite Grandma.”
I’ve never seen such disappointment on my kids’ faces before, and we now check all gifts beforehand to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
19. An old computer
About 10 years ago, right before Christmas, I noticed that my parents had bought a brand new computer. I accidentally saw the box when they left their closet door open.
As a 15-year-old nerd who had to go to the library each day to borrow a public computer, I got really excited.
When it was time for the presents, I all excited imagining that brand-new computer in my room.
I was handed the box, and I teared that bad boy open like there was no tomorrow.
Inside was their old desktop computer, a machine hanging on for its dear life. The thing would take over half an hour to start up.
The brand new computer was installed under their desk.
20. An RC car
I had just become a teenager when the Super Nintendo came out. About a month before the holidays, I started dropping hints that I wanted the Super Nintendo.
The holidays gets closer, and my sister clues me in that I’m getting one really big gift. I’m over the moon, because the only thing I’ve suggested is this Super Nintendo.
When it’s time to open presents, I rush to my box under the tree, open it up, and… it’s a radio controlled car.
This would have been a cool gift if I was 8 to 10 years younger than I was. But my parents had such joy on their faces that I had to feign being excited about it.
The worst part? The car cost the same as the Super Nintendo.
21. A foam football
When I was in fourth grade, my class did a Secret Santa gift exchange. Unfortunately, the kid who got my name was the one who liked to annoy people.
When Christmas rolls around, he comes in without no present. The teacher won’t let him have his until he buys one for someone else. He says he shouldn’t have to buy anything for anyone, because he deserves his gift.
My big request on the list was a pack of football cards. So three days later, he comes in with one of those $0.99 foam footballs and grudgingly tosses it in my direction. I’m glad he got me something, but I wish he would have taken my wishes into consideration.
22. A door hanger
My girl scout troop had a Christmas gift exchange. All of the girls in my troop were friends with each other… but none of them were friends with me.
When Christmas comes around, we’re instructed to buy a $5-10 gift as part of the Secret Santa gift exchange.
Our family was very frugal, and $5-10 doesn’t get you much. But to our credit, we spent the maximum amount. I went with my mother to the store and ended up getting a nice set of notebooks and matching pencils. The gift was practical and pretty.
On the day of the exchange. I’m really excited to see what I’m going to get. As we go around, I watch in mild horror as girl after girl opens up these huge, expensive gifts.
My gift was very flat and very small. When I opened it, I held it up so the rest of the girls could see.
It was a door hanger.
23. A coat
My wife struggles with small gestures. When given the chance to be spontaneous and giving, she often passes. It makes her attempts at gift giving strained.
I used to have a great barn coat that I finally wore out. The patch jobs outnumbered the original fabric. So, I gave it up.
When Christmas rolled around, my wife got me one present: a heavy wool overcoat.
I live in Texas. It often gets to 100+ degrees here. Chances are, I’ll never really have a chance to wear it.
24. Assorted junk
One Christmas, my grandma gave me an odd assortment of junk that she must have found in the back of her closet. I got a tarnished silver tray, chipped candles shaped like acorns and leaves, and a wire-bound journal with the Statue of Liberty on it.
I was flying home the next day, and had no room for this stuff in my suitcase… so I dropped it off at Goodwill on my way to the airport.
It was really odd because, my Grandma is usually a good gift giver. I spent the year questioning whether she was starting to lose her mind a bit… but the next year she got me a really nice Vera Bradley purse, which I love.
I’m still not quite sure what happened that year.
25. A seashell
My house burnt down about a month before Christmas. My family only had time to evacuate with our pets, photos, and a some clothes. Come christmas, we didn’t have much, and still needed a lot of things.
When Christmas came, I opened the presents my grandparents had bought for me.
I opened the first one, and it was a very large seashell. I looked at it, puzzled, but said thank you nonetheless. I get to the next box and find not one seashell, but hundreds of little ones. Again I said thank you, this time a little more aggravated.
That’s when grandpa said, Oh, we forgot one, come to the car with me!”
When we get to the car, he pulls out an old seashell identification book.
That was by far the worst gift I ever received.
26. A headboard
One Christmas, I wanted was an electric guitar. I had been taking lessons on my acoustic, and I was really hoping for an electric guitar and an amp.
I thought my parents were aware of this. I was mistaken.
My mother started hinting that she got me something really special for Christmas. She said that it was something that all my friends would be jealous of.
As the presents started going under the tree, I asked which was my special present. She said that it wouldn’t be under the tree, because she couldn’t wrap it. I was certain that it was an electric guitar.
When Christmas morning rolled around, she brought out my present… it was a headboard for my bed. I was really disappointed, but I didn’t show it. I just said, “Oh wow, this is cool.”
I spent a decent amount of money one Christmas on my dad and my brother, who is kind of a deadbeat.
I knew my dad doesn’t really “do” Christmas, but my brother kept swearing he had something great in store for me. So I was pretty excited.
When Christmas came, my dad and brother spent 20 minutes opening gifts.
They didn’t get anything for me, so I sat there uncomfortably. I eventually went into the kitchen and made some waffles.
I wish they would have at least made some kind of gesture to show they cared about me. Oh well.
28. An electric piano
One Christmas, my mother bought me an electronic piano. It was decent and had a function to record multiple tracks on the keyboard.
It was a really thoughtful gift that allowed me to continue to compose music in my dorm room since I was months away from going to college.
Unfortunately, the piano wasn’t as nice as the one my father had gotten me. That one sounded better, and had to stay at his house while I went off to school.
I had to tell her that I didn’t want the thoughtful gift she had bought for me. It wouldn’t fit in my dorm room, and it was worse to play on than the one I had. It just have wouldn’t sat well with me to keep something I didn’t want to use.
29. A dead spider
A few years ago, my friend saw a large spider in my garage. He caught it and decided to give it to me as a gag gift for Christmas. The holidays were a few months away though…
Long story short, he ended up unwrapping this dead spider in a jar in front of my entire family. Of course, the lid came off, and the spider fell to the ground in a disgusting heap. A few people screamed, and I had to throw it away immediately.
I still tease him about it from time to time. We’re still good friends, even though that was a definite low point in our relationship.
30. Two clocks
5 years ago, my family and my best friend’s family celebrated Christmas eve together. We held a gift exchange game, and we invited my friend’s family to participate.
We were excited to have new participants in our game, so we bought some really nice, expensive gifts.
When the exchange began, I opened the first gift brought by the other family… it was a clock.
I opened the second package… another clock.
They weren’t nice clocks either. They were cheap… the kind you buy at the dollar store.
Me and my brother were so frustrated. That was the worst Christmas ever.