2008 Gift Giving Guide: Gifts of clutter

Although this post was published 10 years ago, it still makes us laugh. Over the years we have all received gifts that left us scratching our heads in puzzlement. As today is our usual Unitasker Wednesday post, we thought we would update and re-publish this because we all need a little laugh at this time of the year. Remember, we don’t want you to buy these items. We simply want you to have fun reading about all the awful gifts of clutter you wouldn’t really want to give or receive this year.


Stumped on what to buy your favorite co-worker or loved one? Consider giving the gift of clutter!

Small Kitchen Appliances

Your mother-in-law hates coffee? No matter. Buy her an espresso maker anyway. Get the deluxe version equipped with steamer and grinder. It’ll take up lots of counter space and you can use it when you visit. Heck, buy her two!

Knick Knacks

If you really want to yank the chain of the minimalist in your life, buy knick knack gifts. These small shelf stuffers fit any budget. You can get a $10 Statue of Liberty figurine. Inexpensive gifts not your style? Consider Everyday Objects‘ bone china replicas of a paper cups for only $100 per set.

Arcade-Style Video Games

Who needs smart phone apps when you can go retro and deliver a full size, 275-pound, 1981 replica Ms. Pac-man arcade game to an eager child or adult? Cram it into the living room of a tiny studio apartment for easy entertainment. A fun and educational experience on the history of video games can be had by all.

Obscure Art

Who says you can’t impose your own artistic tastes onto others? Let’s face it, some people in your life need your artful guidance. At big box stores, garage sales, or art galleries, look for bizarre sculptures, abstract paintings, or anything that would leave the recipient asking: “What is it?”

A Pile of Boulders

For your suburbia-dwelling friends, don’t forget the garden. Call your local rock quarry and have a truck dump off a pile of rocks on your friend’s driveway. They’ll have hours of fun trying to pick up the boulders, one-by-one, and finding the perfect garden spot for each to occupy.

Hard-to-Use Electronic Equipment

For the technically challenged on your list, give the gift of complex electronics that will end up tucked away on a garage shelf. Universal remotes that require setup on a computer and web access are an option. Challenge the recipient to sit with the manual until he or she figures out how to program it.

Giant Vases

In his post Too many flower vases, Matt asked: “So what can I do with all of these vases?” There is no need to get rid of them when you can let them collect dust in a cabinet! Add to your friends and family members’ collections with a giant vase to obstruct the entrance through any front door.

Really, the possibilities are endless when it comes to lovely clutter gifts. Large, small, expensive, cheap — clutter gifts span the world over and can easily provide a lifetime of dust, maintenance, and storage fees for your most treasured friends.

What is the most outrageous clutter gift you’ve ever received? Let us know about it in the comments.

65 Comments for “2008 Gift Giving Guide: Gifts of clutter”

  1. posted by Another Deb on

    OK, I actually have boulders on my wish list…

    But Hello Kitty is certainly craptastic!

  2. posted by MissPrism on

    Don’t forget that ALL cat owners will be ecstatic to receive cat-themed clutter!

  3. posted by Laura on

    We got a shop vac one year. We lived in a new rental house; there was no way we needed anything like this. We ended up returning it and taking ourselves out to dinner with the money.

  4. posted by Michele on

    This definitely is clutter….a salt rock lamp that when you turn it on is suppose to give off “healing”…yeah right!

  5. posted by Em Dy on

    I got gifts last year that I haven’t used at all. This year, my wish list is all about a clutter free Christmas.

  6. posted by N on

    I’ve gotten a salt rock healing lamp too! Another really bad one was purple glass candlesitcks. I used to ask for small kitchen appliances for holidays and then one day I looked around the kitchen and realized I don’t use most of them and don’t have space for them! I’ve sold a couple already and I’m considering selling some more.

  7. posted by Dustin on

    I have to disagree with the Logitech Harmony One being a clutter item. It is the absolute easiest to setup remote I’ve ever owned, and it replaced four single-purpose remotes on my coffee table.

    Clutter? I think not.

  8. posted by JC on

    You forgot to add “a pet of any sort” to the list. NOTHING clutters like a pet and all their stuff, except children, but, unless you want to live the ultimate uncluttered life living in a cell block, you probably shouldn’t go about giving them away as gifts.

  9. posted by A. Nonymous on

    I have a friend who will shop at the dollar store to get cheap trinkets as budget gifts. She will fill gift bags with a few small, cheap, items. Some of them are a little useful and thoughtful, but much of it consists of novelty items. I’ve tried to solidify the message to her that it is the thought that counts, and the thought of all that useless clutter drives me insane!

    (I am using an alias on this comment because sometimes I urge her to read this blog…)

  10. posted by Erin Doland on

    @Dustin — We have the Harmony Remote, too, and love it with a passion … but I wouldn’t give it to my grandmother for a gift. I think Sue meant not to give it to the electronically challenged.

  11. posted by Louise on

    We’ve been begging the few people who give us gifts to please, please not give us any “stuff” at all. There simply is no room in our 300 sq ft RV. My Mom really hates that we would prefer the gift of experiences, such as a zoo membership or restaurant certificates. Every year she still clings to a tradition from my childhood of filling my stocking with wind-up toys. Talk about cheap plastic junk clutter! I just quietly give them all to charity in January. I had hundreds in the house before we downsized to the RV. Noisy, tacky, plasticky things; I can’t believe I used to collect them!

  12. posted by Red on

    Oh goodness – my husband’s grandparents are the worst for giving the cluttered gifts. Every year they send us something that is large, bulky, and doesn’t go with anything we own. Everything from ceramic cookie platters in the shapes of mittens to wooden side tables to bulky kitchen gadgets. We finally had to talk to them about how we appreciate the thought, but we don’t use the items. This year, they have sent along a wonderful chocolates sampler and a $50 VISA Gift Card for us to pick out an item to decorate the new house. Much more appropriate for us! (besides, the gifts they have sent will be in the spring yard sale – now I won’t feel so guilty about that)

  13. posted by Kellye on

    This year I will get one or more of the same things I have been getting from my grandparents for the last ten years:

    a) a weather radio
    b) a flashlight
    c) luggage

    You know, just in case we have a bad storm and the other nine weather radios/flashlights I’ve gotten over the years are broken or something…I understand we live in Tornado Alley, but c’mon!!!!

    I’m not difficult to buy for, I swear. I’m into everything – art, cooking, history, literature, music, movies, video games….why do I keep getting the same crap over and over again that ends up stuffed precariously in the top of my closet, threatening me with a skull fracture?

  14. posted by HistoricStitcher on

    We have a family tradition of exchanging the clutter.

    After a year when we discovered we had spent more on the stocking stuffers than on the gifts, we started stuffing the stocking with all the free junk given away throughout the year.

    Sometimes they’re useful, like the time I managed to use coupons for free full-size cosmetics in colors I knew my mother and sister would use, but most of the time it’s an opportunity to see is you can get rid of more junk than you receive!

  15. posted by John of Indiana on

    Uh, OK, I almost (I said ALMOST) like that “Hello Kitty”, but it’s my guilty pleasure. I have probably too many of the plastic ones but I don’t see it that way (yet)

  16. posted by Tiffany on

    In all seriousness, we gave the Logitech Harmony to my parents, and they LOVE it- it has saved them from doing the multiple remote juggling dance, and the interface to program it on the computer is actually quite easy to use- we were concerned that since we didn’t get to program it for them, it would never get used, but they set it up themselves without issue. That said, I wouldn’t give it to my grandma, unless I happened to live next door to her and could reprogram it for her as necessary- she wouldn’t use a computer even if she had one.

    What I gave my grandma was a digital photo frame, which she enthusiastically uses with the digital camera she was initially so afraid of. Sometimes it’s just a matter of finding the right gadget for your digiphobe- you know how grandmas are about pictures of the family.

  17. posted by Susan on

    @Kelleye – I send all my grandchildren the same thing every year too – a $100.00 check for each one of them. Maybe I should send them something different, like a card saying I donated $100.00 to charity in their name.

  18. posted by Kristin on

    Small Kitchen appliances! arrrrrg! Sweet, another crockpot/food processor/smoothie blender/bread machine/electric can opener. Just what I always wanted…

  19. posted by cc on

    Candles!! I have serious allergies to many scents and a friend who says, “Try this one. I love it and I’m sure it won’t bother you.” These don’t even make it out of the car. I take them to the local senior center. Some of the regulars enjoy smelly things, the price is right for them, and I don’t feel guilty about throwing a gift away.

  20. posted by Annette on

    I have no idea what one would call it, but it rotated and undulated. It looked like an 18 inch long piece of dryer hose covering a bent wire with a black painted base made of wood and a silver plastic disk at the top. When it was plugged in it undulated, obscenely. My then boyfriend gave it to my mom for Christmas one year.

  21. posted by Laura on

    @Susan … your grandchildren will most likely be upset for a while, but I’ll bet their parents will love it.

    I know I would.

  22. posted by infmom on

    Um… my daughter actually did get me an espresso maker a couple Christmases ago. Fortunately, it’s the small solid metal stovetop kind, so I can store it neatly in a cupboard when I’m not using it. Which I do have to admit is most of the time. πŸ™‚

  23. posted by Carrie on

    Umm, I’ll take the boulders. My last birthday list had 4 things on it. A rock, a tree and 2 new shovels. (Still waiting for the rock) To a gardener, large rocks are never clutter!

  24. posted by Sue on

    I don’t have any truly outrageous clutter-gift stories, but my favorite was a gift from my sister-in-law. Once, I needed to make a whole slew of cupcakes and I have one muffin pan. So I borrowed another pan from my other sister-in-law, which allowed me to have one batch in the oven and another waiting to go. This made first sister-in-law decide that a set of two muffin pan would be a perfect Christmas present for me. So for the last 8 years I’ve had 3 muffin pans, when at most I need 1. I finally gave away the other pans.

  25. posted by Emma on

    My ex in-laws were the ultimate clutter givers. One Christmas they gave us a clock shaped as a wrist watch, and a combined radio/toilet paper dispenser! Both supremely ugly, and not our style at all! The next year I said to them “we’re not sure what to get you for Christmas, could you perhaps write us a wish list”. They did, and asked us to write one in return – problem solved!!!!

  26. posted by tabatha on

    my mother almost always ends up giving me clutter. she’s a packrat in a bad bad way. she did make me a nice hat and scarf last year which i loved, but this year she said she was going to make me another one and i tried to give her the hint that i didn’t need another one and gave her an idea about something else she could make me. usually i end up with nick nacks i don’t need, i used to collect clutter so she things me not wanting the stuff anymore is just a phase or something, she still things i am going to end up a pack rat like her.

  27. posted by Marlene on

    The Christmas I was 30. I liked unicorns when I was 13 and they were the in thing, but I had outgrown them by the time I was 30!

    Unfortunately, this item was “broken in the move” shortly after.

  28. posted by Stephanie on

    My grandparents are the absolute worst at this. Counting up their children, children-in-law, and grandchildren, it comes to about 40 people. Unfortunately, my grandparents have almost no money. Everyone would much prefer that my grandparents keep the little money they have instead of getting presents for all 40 of us, but no luck so far. Every year my grandparents give the cheapest, most clutterific presents you can imagine. So much of it is cheap junk that my grandmother picked up at thrift stores, auctions, or garage sales. So much of this stuff just goes back to the thrift store whence it came, if not the trash. Last year I was at my grandmother’s house to help her wrap some of the presents and toys for some of my younger cousins, and I was shocked at the stuff she was giving as presents. When she wasn’t looking, I managed to throw some of it away – these were things you wouldn’t even imagine giving to a thrift store, let alone as presents.

    My mom made what I feel is a very good suggestion to my grandparents for this Christmas, and I hope my grandparents follow the advice (though I somewhat doubt they will). She suggested they buy one gift for each family, instead of each person. She showed my grandmother how Amazon has board games for great prices (a very big selection less than $20), and they ship for free. I hope my grandmother follows this advice – each family could get something they genuinely enjoy and can use (our families loves board games), and the total for everything could be under $100.

  29. posted by April E on

    Can anyone explain to me why my mother buys me kitchen appliances as gifts – and then is annoyed that I do not use them – when I do not cook – at all- ever?

  30. posted by Monique in TX on

    How about a coffee maker which allows one to make a pitcher of super-concentrated coffee which is stored in the fridge? When one wants a cup of coffee, one adds hot water to the concentrate. Way to clutter up the counter *and* the fridge! Not to mention that I bet the concentrate gets rancid pretty quickly. I wouldn’t know… No one in my house drinks coffee! Out it went.

  31. posted by Sarah on

    A picture frame with a sunflower, stationery sets with pretty flowers (at 27 I’m not really going to use those anymore, maybe when I was 12), great karaoke hits (I do not sing), a picnic backpack – I do not understand the value of those things! I have also received ugly vases, soap dishes, candles, and fluffy pink diaries. I’m not remotely girly, it disturbs me that friends think I should be…

  32. posted by Ken Silver on

    Please, enough with the tacky mother-in-law references! For the past 35+ years I have had a delightful MIL who nowhere fits the stereotype.

    But kudos to the person who brought up the Visa Gift card – that’s an absolutely perfect solution!

  33. posted by Janine Adams on

    I think our most outrageous clutter gift was a pair of his-and-hers eyeglasses holders in the shape of human nose. Not attractive and certainly a unitasker.

    Loved your list!

  34. posted by 12 Days of Clutter on

    Where am i supposed to put

    Twelve Drummers Drumming
    Eleven Pipers Piping
    Ten Lords a Leaping
    Nine Ladies Dancing
    Eight Maids a Milking
    Seven Swans a Swimming
    Six Geese a Laying
    Five Golden Rings
    Four Calling Birds
    Three French Hens
    Two Turtle Doves
    and a Partridge in a Pear Tree?

  35. posted by Emily on

    Even as a semi-minamlist… I don’t care how much space it takes, some day I would like a Ms. Pacman game for my home. Maybe House of Dead III and an X-Men/Marvel Comics game, too.

  36. posted by Emily on


  37. posted by Another Deb on

    Ahh, the teacher gifts we get…

    A 4 inch stature of Venus De Milo in its own acrylic display cylinder.
    A genuine leather-oid cigarette case (right after I taught the anti-smoking unit).
    A brand new tote bag to accompany the continuous flow of tote bags I get from every conference and workshop.
    A gift card for a gelato shop about 40 miles from the neighborhood of the school.
    Religious literature.
    Engraved tree ornaments shaped like apples.
    Mugs, mugs, mugs.

  38. posted by Jay on

    My brother, his wife, 5-year-old son, and 3-year-old daughter were living in a small apartment. His mother-in-law, who lived nearby, gave his daughter a HUGE kitchen set (oven, sink, refrigerator). Although it was not as tall as a real kitchen set, the components took up almost as much floor space. The only place to put it was the living room.

    It was an inappropriate gift for them in that apartment.

  39. posted by just me on

    Is it bad that I actually think one of those floor vases would be nice? In my defense, I do have a totally random, tiny, odd angle corner that would fit a floor vase very nicely.

  40. posted by A. Nonymous on

    A whole series “personalized” pottery items from Clay Design (http://www.claydesign.com). Not only are they ugly, but you can’t give them away, because they have your name on them!

  41. posted by momofthree on

    Money gifts cards–the only way to go!!
    Let the recipient buy what they want, in the color/style they like!!

    Not as much fun to wrap/unwrap, but think of all the money saved by not having to buy and store large rolls of wrapping paper, ribbons, tags, etc!! (sorry Hallmark)

    One envelope…HOW simple!!!

  42. posted by Another Deb on

    Informal surveys at yard sales and Goodwill can be a guide to “What Not To Give”. Stoveburner grills seemed to lead that list several years ago.

    Things in overly decorated picture frames “World’s Best….” lead the pack now.

  43. posted by Amie on

    I hate getting generic bath sets or candles. People seem to think those are great gifts if you have no idea what to give to someone and feel obligated to give them a gift, but I am allergic to the fragrances and have to get rid of them right away. I used to save them, wrapped up tightly, to regift, but now I don’t even bother. They hang around too long.

  44. posted by Sue on

    Thanks for all of the replies about the interesting things you’ve received over the years and why you like or dislike them. This is educational gift giving material for all.

    Over the summer this year a relative of mine wanted to give away many of her things. She opened up her cabinets, garage and drawers, offering me free range. I was happy to receive the practical things–six dish towels, and two large glass measuring cups in one cup and two cup sizes, all of which have been handy. Then she urged me to take ceramic items that she had painted. While I appreciate her love of painting, I didn’t want all of the vases, figurines and steins piling up in my garage and I knew I’d give them away. I selected one ceramic fruit bowl, which is currently filled with bright green apples on our dining room table. Much to my relative’s dismay, I declined to receive the three-foot-high Santa and Mrs. Clause statues, the Seven Dwarfs garden statues, etc. (You cannot even call these figurines–they’re huge!) She pleaded with me… I made it a point to decline with kindness until she let it go and passed them on to someone who will enjoy them.

  45. posted by gypsy packer on

    My late mother was notorious for giving kitchen clutter out of mail-order catalogs.
    And, seriously, don’t give a middle-aged gal with love handles a see-through nightgown, especially in mildew green. This one made “Xmas Gifts from Hell”.

    I request “No Gifts” now. If I want useless s*&[email protected], I’ll pay the Salvation Army for it.

  46. posted by Karen on

    Not a Christmas gift, but when my husband and I got married, his grandmother (who had lost most of her money in a dance-school scheme) gave us a hand-held clothes steamer that had to be at least 30 years old…in the original box. She gave the same thing to my sister in law, who married the same year. She also gave us two very ugly statues of Greek gods and goddesses, which she claimed had been brought back from Europe by her father-in-law and were very valuable…on the bottom of both statues was a little sticker that said, “Made in Taiwan.”

  47. posted by Ruth on

    HAHAHAHAHAHA! Thanks for the laughs. I’m so glad I found your site. I’m always looking for inspiration and tips for decluttering.

  48. posted by Katieinthemountains on

    I have an Amazon list with a range of items to accommodate different price ranges. If you can’t guess something I might like…then don’t. πŸ™‚
    The only problem occurs if more than one person purchases an item in a store instead of through Amazon because it stays on the list until the recipient receives the present and deletes it.

  49. posted by Peaches on

    This gift was only “clutter” because I literally couldn’t touch the package to give it away… my husband finally intervened a couple of months (!) later.

    It was a box of flavored sesame oils from my mother-in-law. Unfortunately, I’m allergic to sesame in the same way that some people are allergic to peanuts… I can’t even touch something that’s touched it or my throat swells up and I stop breathing.

    And my mother-in-law KNEW that!!

    We still joke about the Christmas she tried to kill me. She swears she thought it was “just a little allergy.” I think that’s like being “a little pregnant,” but what do I know. (And even if she thought it wasn’t a severe allergy… aren’t there 800 million billion things out there on the internet she could have ordered instead?)


  50. posted by B on

    After our wedding, a family friend gave us a large glass paperweight with our wedding invitation engraved in it. Our apartment is so small we don’t even have room for a coffee table, and now we have a toddler who does gravity experiments on everything she encounters. I felt bad that they spent the $$, but eventually tossed it into the recycling bin.

  51. posted by MGA on

    Clutter, clutter, and more clutter. When I do a scan of gifts over time– I think of the dinner out certificates, mall gift cards and more and I know that those certificates are here somewhere but I can never quit locate it when I need it. One restaurant has now gone out of business! Yikes. I think the best gift is a ‘date’ with an old friend, family member or whatever to see a show, enjoy a meal, visit an exhibit, whatever– just enjoying each other’s company. I always feel guilty about sending those cutsey clutter gifts off to the recycle world– like maybe my DNA will be tracked back by a sad but earnest gift giver… could that really happen?

  52. posted by ConfusedNazgul on

    My father-in-law generally only gives money as gifts, which is very nice, but for the last few years he’s insisted on stuffing stockings with junk he found at the dollar store. He thinks it’s funny and makes us (myself, my husband, and his sister – all of us in the 21 – 26 age range) open everything in a big ceremony before dinner. It’s always junk like those cheap, inedible chocolate Santas (made from probably 0.5% chocolate), flashing Rudolph noses, and plastic “travel games” with instructions written in Engrish. Last year’s haul was two plastic bags full! I’m hoping he won’t be able to do it this year because he has to travel across the country to do Christmas at our house this year… I’ll be unpleasantly surprised if he packs his luggage with all that junk.

  53. posted by Mara on

    Last Christmas my mom gave me a sweater with Celtic knotwork on it (lovely, but a style I haven’t liked since I was 16), a teapot shaped like a pincushion with a Beatrix Potter mouse on it, and a chipped wall vase shaped like leeks.

    I did ask her to get me a set of viola strings — which she did. The stuff above was all from her thrift store; it went to my neighborhood thrift store in short order. I’m trying to get her not to give me any more clutter, but haven’t been very successful.

    We (three daughters) got Mom a rice cooker last Christmas, and a bread machine this year. She loves them. But then, she’s gluten-intolerant and is also the world’s worst cook, so anything that improves her quality of life / food is a good thing. I love my own rice cooker, but that’s because it allows me to work on other stuff while it’s cooking the rice.

  54. posted by Hippolyta on

    A common theme here seems to be that so many gifts can be either wonderful or awful depending on the recipient. Some people think receiving money or even gift cards is disappointing. For others those are absolutely ideal. Personally I’m with the other gardeners in that I would seriously love to receive a load of boulders! πŸ™‚ But yeah, that gift is certainly not for everyone.
    Another gift I love, either for giving or receiving, is a donation to a charity that both the giver and the receiver would like to support. But again, it’s not for everyone: some people would be disappointed not to get something that is for them personally, or they would feel preached-at. I would only give this gift to someone I know shares my views about clutter and improving the world. The idea to make the recipient happy, after all.

  55. posted by You shouldn’t have! - Simpler Living - timesunion.com - Albany NY on

    […] Unclutterer has a humorous roundup of gifts that say “I had to get you something.” All of them are gifts of clutter. On the list: […]

  56. posted by Alex on

    Bath and Body Works “stuff.” How much scented lotion and soap can you possibly use? I take it to work and give it away.

    Cookbooks. At 50, I pretty much cook what I cook, or use online recipes. I think I’m giving them to the library book sale…

    Also, there are about 150 DVDs on the shelf. So why do we seem to always rent movies? What am I doing with all these.

    Stacks of CDs without cases. Cases without CDs.

  57. posted by Natalie in Western Australia on

    Its my 40th year and instead of gifts, I am asking for each person who is valuable to me to please do a scrapbook page with a photo of themselves and some words for me which I will put in a big album on the night of my party. That means more to me than some gift I will look at occassionally, eat or eventually use.

  58. posted by Melissa on

    I’m going fairly anonymous on this, as my mother may someday learn to use Google.

    Growing up, my single working mother bought me lots and lots of cheap presents for Christmas, thinking that the number of presents opened was the important part and helped make up for us being poor the rest of the year. Every year since I’ve lived on my own, I’ve asked for and failed to receive fewer, more selective gifts that I will actually use and enjoy. (It’s particularly irritating because she complains about how she has no money [which is true] but then continues to buy me stuff I don’t want or need, despite her awareness of the fact that I am more able to buy such items for myself than she is.) For years, I’ve kept these “best daughter” and angel-related plaques/suncatchers/jewelry boxes/ceramic plates around, because she’d visit and wonder why they weren’t being displayed (as if I had room to dedicate entire walls to these pieces). However, when she was helping me unclutter my craft area (ironically, she’s very good at keeping her own space free of crap), she lectured how I had too much stuff!!

    I immediately lost any guilt about wanting to get rid of the junk she’d given me over the years. This Christmas, after she left, I simply sorted through the stuff and immediately placed all the new items that I knew I would not use or did not like enough to keep into a box to donate. It was quite liberating, and I hope she DOES start asking where these things have gone before next Christmas, so that I can (nicely) let her know that I was serious when I told her I didn’t want many things for the holidays. Since asking didn’t work, maybe seeing that I don’t keep most of the things she spends her hard-earned money on will convince her.

  59. posted by Malcolm on

    Not so much outrageous – but mysterious – we have old friends who ALWAYS give us bowls or platters. Always oddly shaped, with very pointy corners or wavy sides. All colours. Every shape you can think of. Dozens of them by now. They mean well …. but why does it always have to be a bowl ….

  60. posted by Loren on

    I know this is from last year but I can’t help but add to this hilarious list.

    My sister every holiday swears up and down ‘I hate presents, don’t buy me anything, I hate buying presents’. But for every holiday she insists on buying ME cheap plastic crap and kitchen equipment I don’t need. Despite obvious hints that I make about sustainable, renewable, presents she could buy me (including statements like ‘Look how gorgeous these fair trade scarves are. OH and they are only 20$! I would LOVE to have one of THESE!’ and flat out saying ‘I updated my Etsy.com account last week, maybe you can order something off my favorites list for my Birthday! And filling my favorites with reasonably priced artwork, hand made goods, and vintage things.)
    I still receive things like this DIY plastic Triceratops lamp… http://www.thinkgeek.com/homeoffice/lights/ae04/
    I usually retaliate with something fair trade or organic because she LIKES fair trade and organic. But if this Christmas doesn’t go any better I may have to actually follow through with “Oh, well I didn’t get you any presents because you ‘hate’ them”.

  61. posted by ohwolfman on

    I ask for the same thing every year: Candles, Uniball pens and coffee. Nothing fancy – nothing expensive. Just basic candles, and storebrand coffee. They’re all gifts that are consumed and I enjoy immensely.

    What I get instead: A yodeling pickle, A plastic garden gnome that looks like he’s taking a crap, a set of glasses that say “I’m Bob’s Wife”, coffee cups with udders, snowglobes…

    I’m told that giving “just pens or coffee looks cheap” and “you can buy those for yourself. I wanted to give you something special.”

    This year, I’ve asked for NO gifts. Let’s see who listens. So far, I’ve netted some homemade cookies, which is my favorite gift ever.

  62. posted by Battra92 on

    @Emily: I would love an original Ms. Pacman machine as well. There’s also that 20th aniversary which was bundled with Galaga.

    A college friend of mine is refinishing an old arcade cabinet to become a MAME machine or something, which would be the perfect solution, I think.

  63. posted by Jenny on

    My worst Christmas gift ever was fake hair, lots of fake hair. My mom bought me lots of those ponytail hair add ins to make your hair look thicker, and scrunchies with fake hair attached. She thought they would be great for me because I don’t style my hair and these would be easier. Well, if I don’t style the hair I have (which I like to think looks perfectly fine just washed and brushed), I’m not going to figure out how to style these into my hair. My other gift that year was a fish stuffed animal that makes kissy sounds when you press its lips. I was 22-23 at the time.

  64. posted by heather on

    I don’t get why people always say they hate giving gift cards – yet who likes that sick feeling of getting (or giving) a gift that you can tell by the recipients face fell way short of the mark. We all have so much stuff already – why do we insist on killing ourselves going out into mall-hell to get more. We should all just make movie – coffee – dinner – drinks dates with each other. And for out of town family and friends – send a letter, photos, or phone cards so you can call one another.

    Enjoyed reading this roundup! But it makes me a little sad to hear of all the not-so-well-off people struggling to have a gift to give someone. Home baking would be lovely (most of the time!)
    Merry Christmas everyone.

  65. posted by God help us, every one... on

    My heart aches for the grandparents who scrimp and save to give something personal and tangible to grandchildren who prefer Visa gift cards, or cash, and who will go online to make snarky, eye-rolling comments about the gifts their grandparents eagerly wrapped up.

    Susan’s suggestion is wonderful. I hope these grandparents donate to charity in their grandchildrens’ names instead of feeding the money-grab Christmas has become.

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