Beautifully wrapped Wonderbly Christmas presents under a tree

Gifts to avoid this Christmas

Delicious food, cosy Christmas movies, quality family time – the holidays are great, yes, but we all know what this time of year is really about: the to-do list. 

There are things to do, there are places to go, there are prosecco-soaked hangovers to nurse. And every year, there are gifts to get right – which is clearly not an easy task, because some people get gifts very, very wrong. And not just can-I-change-this-for-the-next-size wrong. Gift-wrapped-diet-plans wrong. 

Why bad gifts happen

Of course, festive occasions should not be focused solely on the accumulation of things, and we could all probably be more mindful of our spending habits. But ‘tis the season of the to-do list, and homemade gifts and hand-baked cookies are not always realistic. So we click and we purchase and we wrap (or shove it in a gift bag, if we run out of time.)

Given this, it’s not surprising some people end up with meaningful, well-chosen presents, and others… do not. At Wonderbly HQ we’re all about thoughtful gifts, but everyone’s received an unwanted present or two at some point. It’s highly likely we’ve all given such presents, too. Bad gifts happen. It’s a fact of life.

Still, nobody wants to be known for their terrible gifting abilities, do they? So, to help you out, we’ve compiled a list of items you definitely should NOT get for your nearest and dearest.

You shouldn’t have. You really, really shouldn’t have

To create this list of unwanted gifts, we asked 2,000 adults for their worst grit-your-teeth-and-just-say-thanks moments – and found that 63% receive up to seven gifts each year that they’ll never use. 

What do they do with those unwanted gifts? Many donate to charity (34%), others re-gift (16%), while some just let unwanted items get lost among the detritus of all their other accumulated stuff (15% do that, apparently.)

The to-don’t list: top ten worst gifts

According to our research, partners, children and moms are the best gift givers while friends, in-laws and colleagues are the worst (charming).

But here’s the good news. You aren’t going to be a bad gift giver ever again. Just avoid everything mentioned below and you’ll be golden. Well, you’ll still have to-do lists to work through, but at least you’ll know what not to buy – even if it’s just a Secret Santa present for your colleague.

10. Potpourri

It’s fragrant and moderately festive, but potpourri (that scented, dried flowers stuff) is a big no-no on the gift front. So put it back on the shelf. Yes, and the basket.

9. Hankies

Dry your eyes, handkerchief lovers, because most people do not love handkerchiefs. At least, they don’t love getting them as a present. Not even when they’re monogrammed. 

8. Soap on a string

No, we don’t really know what this is either. Soap is bad enough, but the string adds a whole new and wholly unnecessary element. 

7. New windscreen wipers

This is the kind of gift (and we say gift very loosely) that screams ‘I ran out of time, so I ran to the gas station.’ You know what we mean. 

6. A tie

A gift oft-received by dads and male partners who work in an office environment. Sure, it might come in useful. But there’s very little to get excited about here. 

5. Cleaning products

Oh, come on. Nobody wants to be reminded to clean the house. If that’s what you’re about, do the housework yourself.

4. De-icer

Once again, this present is giving last-minute gas station vibes. It’s a terrible gift, quite frankly. Almost anything would be better.

3. Car manual

Except this, maybe. If they have the car, chances are they already have the manual. This is just unnecessary. 

2. Bad romance novels

Some people love a trashy romance, but those people are probably going to be happier choosing their own novels. There are better gift book options, trust us.

1. Diet plan

The worst of the worst. On the off-chance you’re the kind of person who’d order someone a diet plan and give it to them on a day of celebration: please, just DON’T.


Beautifully wrapped Wonderbly Christmas presents under a tree


What should you give them, then?

Because we aren’t just here to tell you what not to do, we’ll finish off by sharing a few of the best gifts. Ready? Money, gift vouchers and personalized items made by a child (like, for example, a book created especially by them)  are the things our respondents really loved. None of these requires a last-minute dash to the petrol station, either – so check a few more off your to-do list.