They say it's the thought that counts. But some presents are unbelievably bad. Maybe they were clearly bought last minute? Maybe it's a regift of a bad present they got last year? No matter what, the person getting the gift just has to put on a smile and say thanks. The people in these stories got some really horrible gifts, whether they were mean-spirited, sad, or just plain thoughtless.
Here are the best Reddit stories about the worst gifts people have ever gotten. Content has been edited for clarity.
A Total Bait And Switch
“Before my grandma passed, she decided to give part of her inheritance to the family so she could watch them enjoy it. She knew that I REALLY wanted was a computer. She made a big show of passing out cards to everyone all of which contained a check for $10,000. Except mine. Mine had a note stating my gift was in a box under the tree.
My father brought me a very computer shaped box for me to open. I tore into it and found… A book of 1001 free computer programs ‘with a bonus CD.’ The rest of the box was filled with wadded up paper. That was the year I learned what a cruel bunch of people my father’s family could be.”
Close But Not Close Enough
“When I was 10 in 1995, I really wanted this new fighting game that all of my friends had. I remember watching the commercial for it over and over again that holiday season. My mom told me we couldn’t afford it and I very sadly accepted the fact.
Come Christmas Eve, Mom told me I can open one of my presents early. She handed me a distinctively game-shaped box and told me she asked the clerk at the store what game every boy wanted. I tore open the present more excitedly than I’ve opened any gift in my life before or since…
..to reveal a copy of Lee Carvallo’s Putting Challenge.”
Now, Don’t Get Mad…
“Not me, although I’ve received plenty of bad presents. But a colleague just told me what her gem of a husband got her for Christmas this year. Keep in mind, they have been married for less than 6 months.
She received a fishing rod even though neither of them fish. She also got a book on how to create a happy and successful marriage. He asked her not to get mad before she opened the presents. Surely if you have to ask your significant other that, then you should rethink your gift?”
“When I was little tykes, one of my favorite things to do was roller skate around the neighborhood. I spent half my childhood in skates. But that was the 80s and it was a sleepy suburb down south where quad skates were still the thing. I’d never even heard of inline skates, nor imagined such a thing could exist.
When we moved to the Big City up north in the early 90s, everyone had rollerblades. Absolutely everyone my age had them. I guess I wanted them in an abstract way, in the same way you tend to want what your friends have, but I don’t remember ever voicing this want.
But, my parents saw people skating on these things on every sidewalk and bike trail and decided that us kids had to have them. So that first Christmas, along with our gifts, came a special notice that we would soon be getting rollerblades. That meant that they were too costly for my parents to afford at the time. I was quite grateful for the promise of such a nice gift and more than willing to be patient.
The years went by and every Christmas, it seemed there would be some mention of the fabled rollerblades but later, when there was money for them. I think I must have worked out in my head that they were ridiculously pricey and was more than willing to forget the whole thing. Except now, the friends I’d managed to make since the move had rollerblades and I did want to go skating again. I figured I’d have to learn to use inline skates at some point.
Whenever I mentioned the rollerblades to my parents, I would be told they were coming for Christmas. ‘Don’t you remember?’ Then every Christmas they would have forgotten.
By the time I realized they weren’t coming, I was probably 16 and no longer interested. Frankly, I could have bought them myself if I was. I have to wonder why my parents kept the rollerblade charade going for so long. What was it that compelled them to constantly promise but never deliver this one specific gift?
I’ve never learned how to rollerblade, for the record.”
Not The Bike She Was Looking For
“Leading up to Christmas one year when I was about 9 or 10, I begged my parents for a mountain bike. Come Christmas, whilst opening gifts, I looked around and realized there was no bike. My dad handed me this one gift and had a big grin on his face. I got excited thinking it must have been something really cool. I opened it and it was a little toy pink Barbie mountain bike. He started laughing his butt off. His laughing coupled with the fact I had been duped led me to tears.
This made him start laughing harder pausing every five seconds to say, ‘I’m sorry.’ My mom didn’t know about the gag and was not amused. My dad is really cool and I have no idea why he did that to me. He has never done anything that mean to anyone besides for me.”
You Really Shouldn’t Have
“When I was about 12, maybe 13, I was at my step-father’s parents house. My step-father was always so rude to me and apparently had learned his ways from his parents. Despite being in this family for ten years, they never seemed to think of me like family. They considered me more like just my mother’s daughter. Well, these people were never hurting for money. Years of being greedy lead to a nice retirement. Funny enough, only my rude step-dad and his parents thought this way. Everyone else loved me and I loved them.
So, Christmas rolls around and they’re handing out presents. My two cousins and I are sitting there. The one to my right gets a present, then the one to my left gets a present, then the one to my right, back and forth but missing me in the middle. The whole family is watching as they get a huge pile each. In the end, I get one box. Now the fun part, there are two prepaid gift cards on the tree. My rude grandpa jokes around for a few minutes about it and then hands one to each of my cousins on either side. There’s an audible gasp from the rest of the family as they realize that I got nothing for Christmas and he had just joked about it.
In the end, I got a $5 sweater; they left the markdown tag on it, that was a size 2XL. I am nowhere near that size. I could have fit another person in there with me. Somehow, he was confused as to why I just walked out without saying a word. He was offended I didn’t say thanks for a bad sweater when the other two cousins got about $200 each worth of presents. I was always taught to be grateful for every present because the giver didn’t have to do anything, young me wished he didn’t.”
Politics And Family Always Ends Well
“A few years back, my aunt gave everyone in the family political books as presents. Not as her gift to us, but as my grandmother’s gifts to us because she couldn’t get out herself to buy gifts.
So I ended up getting something like ‘The Desecration of the Constitution by Barack Obama.’ I didn’t bother taking it home with me.
This year, I saw that my 7-year-old nephew got a gift directly from this aunt: Rush Revere and Brave Pilgrims. She’s apparently incapable of doing anything these days that doesn’t have a political component.”
It’s The Thought That Counts?
“Not me, but my brother. One year, when we were kids, we were opening up our presents. My mother had this all-too-proud-of-herself look as my brother unwrapped a box. He suddenly got this puzzled expression on his face. I looked at what he got to see what was the matter. He picked up the box, turned it upside down, and shook it, almost as if expecting something previously invisible would suddenly fall out.
But much to his disappointment, the completely empty box was his present! My mother, in all her wisdom, thought she was so clever to give him an empty cardboard box because he could use it to store baseball cards. No, she didn’t include any baseball cards with the box. The look on my brother’s face…I will never forget it. He still can’t laugh about it to this day.”
An Appropriate Ending For This Gift
“My uncle gave me a single Fruit of the Loom t-shirt. The type of shirt that comes in packs. But, it was just one. It wasn’t even wrapped, it was essentially in a shopping bag. My family is by no means poor. It was just a terrible last minute gift since this uncle also gave my sister a fancy purse/day-planner.
So then my parents made me put on the shirt, and a little later I’m hit by a wave of nausea and I throw up. But I don’t want to get it on my grandma’s floor so I catch it with the shirt. RIP Fruit of the Loom shirt.”
Dad Continues To Disappoint
“My parents split when my brother and I were young, 6 and 10, respectively. Every year, our biological dad, who wasn’t really a ‘father’ to me at all, would give us each $100 in cash or gifts.
I had disassociated myself from my biological dad after a few years; it was clear that he didn’t love me or want me in his life. I was the unexpected child that turned his life upside down. My brother, on the other hand, was truly his ‘son.’ They bonded, spent time together, etc.
One year, for Christmas, my brother brought both of our gifts back from a weekend of custody visits. I had stopped going some years prior. The gifts were smaller than usual – $60 each. I accepted mine, didn’t care if I got a gift from biological dad or not, but I wasn’t going to turn down free money. In a car ride with my mom a few days later, she mentioned that we didn’t each get $60 – I was supposed to get $20, and my brother the full $100.
He took it upon himself to say that the disparity wasn’t ‘right’ and gave up part of his allotment to make us equal. At 12 or so years old, he was making some important and heavy decisions. He eventually cut off ties to our bio-dad, too, after this. I took ‘my’ $60 that day and bought him a video game he’d been wanting for a few months. I still don’t know if he knows why I did that, or if he knows that I know what he did too split the gifts. That $60 was a horrible gift to realize that, truly, my biological dad hated me. It was a great gift to realize that my little brother loved me.”
Set For Life On Something They Didn’t Want
“One day, I was shopping with my mom and grandma when my grandma asked if there was anything I needed for school. I said no because I didn’t need anything. She then asked about video games and the such, but being a busy student I told her even if I had them I wouldn’t have the time to play them. Mind you, I had no idea she was trying to get a Christmas gift for me. I just thought she was trying to remind me of anything I wanted to buy while at the store. Eventually, we get to the lotion section, and I told her that the Aveeno lotion works really well for dry skin and that she should buy that instead of the generic lotion she usually gets. So she got me two big bottles of Aveeno.
Opening that bag on Christmas day was the most adorably hilarious Christmas experience I ever had. That was about 5 years ago, to this day I’m only about halfway through the second bottle.”
Being Cheapskates Almost Lost Them Something Important
“In a white elephant gift exchange last year, I received a used loofas and shower gel set for women from my Aunt. She had received it in a similar exchange the year before from her daughter, used it, and decided she didn’t like the scent of the soap either. So, she rewrapped it and gave it out the following year.
The same aunt and uncle are so cheap, they nearly gave away an heirloom. The first year of doing the white elephant, my aunt sent my uncle down to the basement to pick something out to wrap. Unbeknownst to her, he grabbed an antique and wrapped it. When somebody got it and opened it, everybody just shook their heads. It turns out he grabbed an antique dutch oven that was my grandmother’s.”
He Played Himself
“I got a Nintendo Power Glove.
What made it really bad is that I specifically begged my parents to get it for me. It was so expensive for my parents budget that I bargained with them to get me the Power Glove in lieu of getting other presents. It was my only present from them that year.
The novelty of glove wore off after about a week when I realized that I had been duped and that it was a total piece of garbage and useless as a controller. I think that set a sour taste in my mouth regarding early adoption of novel technology.”
A Cheap Misunderstanding
“This last week, it was my secret Santa gift from my coworker. She was going to lunch one day to KFC with another coworker and I was like ‘KFC?!?’ as in ‘Oh that’s gross and I would never want to eat there and deal with that gut rot,’ but she heard it as ‘I LOVE KFC!’
At the Christmas party, everyone opened up their gifts together. Some were nice bottles, body butters, candles, a mini garden starter kit. It was all super creative and cute stuff in the $15 budget.
My gift? A $12 KFC receipt that says ‘Gift Card’ in pen. It was inside a chicken wrap wrapper, which was inside a used necklace box. Apparently, the $12 gift card was not $15 because $3 was spent on the box for it.
My coworkers were all silent and I was very confused. Then the person next to me was like, ‘Hey, aren’t you Paleo? Can you even eat that stuff?’ No. No I can’t eat it. I don’t want to eat it. And NO, I do not like KFC.”
They Gifted Themselves, Really
“My Aunt and Uncle once gave me a note saying they donated $50 to their own charity in my name.
Their charity involves them driving around the country sightseeing and ‘spreading the word of god.’ I respect their beliefs and desire to share them with others but they’re just traveling around the states enjoying themselves and are far from having financial difficulties.”
Hand Me Downs In The Saddest Sense
“My parents once sent me a box of what I can only assume were used items from their own house. I knew they couldn’t afford to send anything. I was surprised/excited to see a package from them. Then, I opened it and found their used, but very clean, kitchen items such as a funny mug, a mug warmer, etc. I couldn’t stop crying because I felt so miserable that they felt they needed to send me something so much that they sent their own things because they couldn’t afford to send anything else.
I love them and I cherished the presents, I just felt terrible for their circumstances that I have no power to fix.”
Definitely Not Equal
“Well, I didn’t get the gift, but this sure must have felt like the worst Christmas ever to my brother. We had gone down to our grandparents’ house for the season. I had asked for a PS3. I saw a PS3-shaped box under the tree and I was hyped. Come Christmas Day and sure enough, a brand new $300 PS3 awaited me. Well, my little brother opens his present and it’s a marble racing kit.
Mind you, my brother was 12 at the time and his brother, who is only 2 years older, just got a $300 console. He was mad. My mom actually had to take him out later that week and buy him a PSP. Funny enough, I’m back at my grandparents for Christmas, and we open presents tomorrow. I also brought my PS3, which my brother has enjoyed playing GTA 5 with me.”
Just What He Always Wanted!
“My parents gave me a card that was an advertisement for getting a $20 gift card when you purchase $100 worth of gift cards from Outback Steakhouse.
So they bought $100 worth of gift cards for people, got another $20 gift card for free, and then gave me the ad for that scenario. It’s the thought that counts.”