Once again, the holiday season is approaching, and since we’re nearing the end of 2010, it seems only appropriate to discuss the 10 worst gifts of the year. After all, it’s hard to suggest the best gift ideas for people you don’t know, but I can tell you with certainty what gifts will ensure that you’ll be mocked, ridiculed or cursed behind your back. Or, worse – giving these gifts will likely ensure that you get equally horrific gifts next year.
Personalized socks. As someone who always loses socks, I theoretically wouldn’t mind receiving socks as a holiday gift. But seriously – what is the point of getting someone socks that will be covered up by pants, shoes or boots? Personalized socks may seem like such a great gift, but when you realize that very few people will ever see them, you should ask yourself if you really want to be the person who gives such a useless gift. I’m guessing the answer to that question is no.
A tie. I know ties are another classic gift for men that are difficult to buy gifts for, but really? What good could possibly come out of giving a tie? You’re either telling the recipient that his current wardrobe is hideous, or your gift may be subconsciously suggesting that the recipient use the tie for unintended purposes, none of which are particularly appealing.
A Potty Putter. As its name suggests, this ingenious gift provides a putting green that can be used while the recipient is sitting on the toilet. The accompanying “Do Not Disturb” door hanger seems extraneous – clearly the person using the Potty Putter is already disturbed enough.
An expensive keychain. I’ve received some pretty expensive keychains in my life, and I must admit that the reason that people keep giving me keychains is probably because I keep losing them. I’ll go out on a limb and say that giving anyone a keychain is like giving them a free ticket to the loony bin. Every time the recipient embarks on a wild goose chase for his keys, he’ll be cursing the day you gave him that gift (even though you didn’t lose the keys, of course). And if the keys are lost permanently, he’ll just bemoan the fact that not only did he lose his keys, he also lost a costly gift.
Anything marked ‘As seen on TV’. Let’s just say that the reason it’s been seen on TV is because it’s not popular enough to sell it in a serious store. And that should be enough of a reason to choose something else.
Workout videos. What good can possibly come from hinting to the recipient that he or she could use a workout? It doesn’t matter that you’re trying to save a loved one the money of an expensive gym membership – chances are good that you’ll be scarring their psyche permanently.
Designer fragrances. There’s no question that designer fragrances can be expensive, but do you really want to send the message that the recipient smells? And because different fragrances smell different depending on the wearer’s skin chemistry, there’s no real way for you to know that the fragrance you choose will work well for the recipient (or that the recipient will even like the smell), so you may end up paying top dollar for a useless gift. By the way, knockoff fragrances are an even tackier gift – in case you were curious.
A cookbook. Are you trying to score an invite for a free dinner to defray the cost of your gift? Are you trying to hint that the recipient can’t cook? If the recipient loves cooking, he or she probably has enough inspiration for meals. And if he doesn’t, giving a cookbook can be a recipe for disaster.
Gourmet chocolates. Don’t be confused by the Godiva holiday ads – the last thing anyone needs after a holiday filled with food is another 5,000 calories. It doesn’t matter if the recipient is skinnier than Kate Moss, chocolate is wasted Christmas gift. It’s not specifically useful during the holiday season when food is abundant, and it kills your ability to use it again during Valentine’s Day, when you’ll once again be looking for a gift.
Lottery tickets. If you purchase scratch off lottery tickets, the chance of your gift being a good one is about one in 35. If you purchase Powerball lottery tickets, the chance of your gift being good is about one in 80 thousand. Enough said.
Guest Contributor Sari Holtz is a blogger for Billy.com, an online savings website that provides savings on everything from moving companies to milk. She is also the recipient of several of the gifts on this list.