Buying a gift for someone can be difficult. Trying to find the perfect thing for them can be stressful, and when people are stressed, it doesn't always go well. Just ask these people.
People on Reddit share the worst gift they've ever gotten. Content has been edited for clarity.
"I had some friends who were secretly trying to raise money to help me take care of my dying dad. They'd told a mutual friend of theirs about it, a very wealthy woman who was an attorney. So, on my birthday, she thought it would be appropriate to send me a woven bag as a gift. Inside, there was a card detailing how I needed to not be a beggar, I needed to pull myself up by my bootstraps, I needed to stop asking people like her who were well off for money (I hadn't, my friends had asked her to contribute to a fund they were making), and how I could eventually be a decent person and not such a poor.
I received the gift during my birthday party, and had a complete meltdown that ended up with sending everyone home. She knew I'd grown up homeless, she knew I'd struggled and was finally doing well enough to rent a house on my own, and I had a wonderful job. She just wanted to 'make a point.'"
"My ex-husband is a horrible gift giver, he puts no thought into gifts. No thought towards others at all. When we were still married, he once gave me a makeup kit, although I never wore makeup. I asked him why he got me makeup and he said the sales clerk said most women love makeup. Do you even know me? Do you even see me?
A year later for my birthday, he gave me a snowboarding jacket. I don’t ski or snowboard, but it could be a really warm winter jacket. I tried it on, it was enormous. I asked if we could exchange it for a size that fit me. He said no, the jacket was really for him and I wasn’t allowed to wear it.
Some other memorable gifts from him include the stolen mattress that we did not need. A cell phone with a new line of service that he got in my name without my permission and to which I received the bills to pay for it. Happy Birthday to me!"
"My brother always brings this up every Christmas. But back when I was going through grades 1-4 (US) back in the 90's, we would do a class gift exchange. It was one of those setups where everyone buys one present to put into a pile at the center of the room, then numbers are drawn and each kid gets the present that corresponds to the number they drew, so it was completely random what present you ended up with.
Somehow I ended up getting a box of dominoes every freaking ear. When I got the box of dominoes in fourth grade, I burst out crying. I still don't really know how to play dominoes."
"My grandma was the queen of bad gifts. Because she would just give you whatever she had, or something she had found at the store but completely related to her and not to the person receiving the gift.
I got a few used (by her) nightgowns, books in English when I couldn't understand English well yet as a kid, books to learn German when I was not learning German in any shape or form at school and already had to learn English and Italian for school. I also got brand pens (like the ones you get in hotels..) old makeup, old used bags or shoes she had found at the flea market, a tourist book about a city I had never been at... the list goes on and on."
"It was Christmas one year. And my mom's side of the family always draws names. That way we only have to buy for one person. Usually, we try to draw names six months in advance, to give us plenty of time to either collect multiple items to give to this one person or to save up enough money to get them that one big thing.
One year, my uncle and I got each other. I made him this really amazing shadow box full of vintage pictures of him and his kids, and all his favorite things that he loves to do. It looked really cool. I also got him this super cool vintage Roman helmet, and when you open it there is a felt lining that has a hole for a bottle and four smaller holes for four shot glasses. I also got him a really nice and some nice shot glasses to put inside it as well.
I was really excited to give it to him, because I love giving awesome gifts. Then he handed me a small bag and I pulled out a hair clip. I tried really hard not to look deflated. I really don't even care about gifts that I get. I'd rather not get anything. But the build-up that I had created by getting him this awesome gift just kind of went poof when I pulled out that hair clip."
"My extended family seemed to forget how old I am, and I rarely receive age appropriate gifts. I’m 22 now, and they’ve since stopped giving me anything at all.
I received multiple baggy velvet track pant sets from the ages of 11-16 for Christmas.
On one occasion, my aunt from Puerto Rico sent me a singing Hannah Montana poster when I was 16 years old. By this time, the show had been of the air for a few years so I don’t even know how she found it.
Got a Monster High makeup set at 18 by a random family member. It was the type of kit with chalky eyeshadows and lots of lip balms. I gave it to a friend’s kid."
"A half full container of chili powder for Christmas. It was from my girlfriend's mom, straight from her pantry. She was trying to come up with last minute gift ideas and that's what I ended up with. Funny part about it is my girlfriend had just told me about how I needed to act more appreciative when receiving gifts, as to not offend her parents.
So I sincerely thanked her mom after opening it, despite being very confused and wanting to just laugh after unwrapping it. Meanwhile my girlfriend's dad was cracking up the entire time. It wasn't a gag gift either, her justification is that I like chili, so she thought I would enjoy it.
"It was my eighth birthday.
What I wanted: A big red Piggy bank that was around 3 dollars. A $10 barbie doll. Five dollars in quarters. Also, some wonderful batteries.
What I got: A green jar. A dollar store 'Barbie' that had that cheap plastic hair. A five dollar bill, and dollar store batteries.
The Green Jar: there was a crack on the corner, and I sliced my finger on it.
The "barbie": Hair was tangled right out of the box. Couldn't brush it, and it's limbs kept popping out.
Batteries; Died after ONLY 10 minutes of use.
Oh, and I owed my brother five dollars, and he took the bill. The reason my parents gave me the money was because I owed him. The cake was a small, personal white cake. Not even marble, which I wanted, but white. The frosting tasted terrible, and the cake was very dry.
I was upset, and my folks told me not to be. They told me that they didn't have a lot of money that month, so I should be happy that I got anything at all.
Next month, on my brother's birthday, they took him out to dinner, they gave him a freaking game counsel, and two games for it. Also, 20 bucks.
Yeah, I was upset. I told them why I was mad, how I got horrible items, and my brother had gotten great gifts. Heck the reason why they didn't have money for my birthday, was because they already bought my brother his gifts.
Yeah, once they had time to think it over, they admitted that they dropped the ball there. They did make it up to me.
But for the next 10 years, at every freaking birthday, they ask 'Well! Was this better than your 8th birthday?'
They made it sound like I was a little brat. They stopped when someone finally got through to them how rude that was."
"For one of my birthdays when I was a kid (probably around 1990, when I was turning 13), my little brother (11) came to me the day before to tell me he only had $10 to spend, but he was going to the mall to get me a present and wanted to know if I had any requests.
I was into music, but stuff like DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince back then, so I suggested to my brother that he could get me a rap album and I listed him a few ideas. I also gave him an extra $10 of my own money so that he'd have $20 in total to spend on something better for my gift.
The next day at my birthday party I get my present from him. When I opened it, I was like 'What the heck is this?'
It was a copy of Led Zeppelin's 2nd album. The cover art was this weird faded photo of what looked like old-fashioned army men, and I had never heard of this band before. My brother was like, 'I don't know. It was on sale and it was all I could find that I could afford.'
I had to laugh a little, because he had left the price sticker on the case, and it read, 'SALE: $9.99.' My little brother had kept his $10 and used my own money to buy me a sketchy looking bargain-bin album from a band I'd never heard of, that wasn't even in the genre of music I liked. The little turd.
Not wanting to let the money go to waste, I decided to give the album a listen. The intro to Whole Lotta Love started up, and it was different to anything I'd ever listened to. It was the riff from Heartbreaker that really hit me. By the time I got to the end of side-2, it had blown my mind and changed my life.
I completely and immediately fell in love with Zeppelin, and started collecting their other albums. After starting down the rock n' roll rabbit hole I found that my musical tastes had swung a complete 180. This branched out to listening to other rock bands, and eventually I even saved up to buy my own guitar (which I taught myself to play mostly by playing along with my Zeppelin tapes).
I think of how much I still enjoy this music, playing the guitar, going to rock concerts, and all the fun I've had with friends and music over the years. I think of how it all came about because of a thoughtless gift from my 11-year-old brother. I really do believe it's the butterfly effect of one small action causing huge effects in unexpected ways."
"When I was in middle school, my friend group decided to do a Secret Santa. We all pulled names from a hat. I got my Secret Santa a gift, and then I got a little something for everyone, because I considered them all to be my really close friends. So they all got little gift baggies and my secret Santa got her gift.
Anyway, we exchanged gifts during lunch and I never received a gift. I found out later that my Secret Santa was the girl I really admired, and she just didn't know what to get me so didn't get me anything. She kept saying she was going to get me something and it would be here 'soon' but it never came."
"Five years ago on Christmas morning, I superglued my fingers together while wrapping up some presents. The whole family was panicking if I had to go to the emergency room. But after soaking them for an hour in nail varnish remover, I managed to pull them apart. My stepdad thought it would be funny to gift me some more superglue.
He's useless with presents tho, my mum got two head and shoulders dandruff shampoos, and he didn't see why everyone was laughing. Or he got her some nail clippers. So random but some of them are so funny."
"Last Christmas, my housemates and I did Secret Santa. We were all students/graduates so we didn't really have a big income. We left it at a maximum of a tenner for the gift. This other person and I had each other. He didn't have a gift for me yet, which was fine, but I let him open mine. I got him an album of The Strokes (a band he likes) where I edited the album cover with a Peep Show (a show we both like) reference.
A few days later, he gave me my gift. I opened it to find a gray shirt with the meme 'My name is Jeff.'
With Channing Tatum's face on it.
It's the dumbest thing I've gotten from a friend, and it's now been my favorite shirt to wear around the house. It's made him happy that I've actually been wearing it and I've been happy by the fact that the shirt has been making me laugh by how awful it is."
"I was in the hospital for a few months due to unsolvable chronic pain (Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, which we didn't know as a diagnosis at the time), and my family gave me lots of books to read. Most were great, and that's when I started reading Game of Thrones. But I was given a book called Unbroken which is a true WW2 story about a soldier surviving being a prisoner of war in Japan despite torture.
I'm a WW2 history buff, so sounds like a good idea right? Well the problem is that the soldier gets over his experiences by becoming religious and deciding to be a preacher. As an atheist, it was very counterproductive in cheering me up or inspiring me. So it was a gift I wish I was never given. Imagine reading the whole thing in the hospital and then getting to that unexpected ending. Was not a happy camper."
"I keep getting clothes that neither remotely suit my tastes, nor actually fit, from my dad's girlfriends. It's been a running thing ever since my parents split up about 15 years ago, every single one of his girlfriends gets me clothes/accessories for my birthdays. It's rare that I even could hypothetically physically wear them without them being impractically (and sometimes comically) ill-fitting, let alone actually like them.
I mean stuff like, flip-flops with enormous plastic bows on them, size nine; my shoe size is seven, and I just plain don't wear flip-flops, nor anything with bows that are not purely functional as a tie.
Hot pink capri pants, size eight; I'm pants size three, and have never worn a pair of capris in my life beyond trying some on a few times and always discovering that I hate how they bunch up in my knees within 30 seconds or less. This was gifted in the middle of my Goth Phase, when I absolutely did not wear pink anything.
A top with 'dance all day and then rosé' written on it, size 'medium,' but with arms too small for me to wear. In addition, I am not particularly a dancer, and rosé gives me hives.
I have to wonder if it's my dad making all the bad suggestions. But the swing of too large/too small is so chaotic from girlfriend to girlfriend that it makes that seem less likely. He might just have a habit of dating women who are bad at gifting. My mom is not great at it either, but at least... when she gets me clothes, they're within the label size range that I normally get for myself. And mostly she just asks me what I want and then gets what I asked for rather than guessing poorly, anymore. I don't get surprises from my mom but I do get gifts of things I want to have, instead of random things I actively do not want. I'm ok with this."
"So, I went to college for a year. I hated the university, and wasn't interested in going back to that school the following year. Which means I didn't enroll in classes for the Fall Semester. Well, at some point during the spring, my parents went antique shopping and found an old glass bottle with the name and seal of my university on it. They bought it for me, even though they knew I wasn't happy with the school.
Fast-forward to Christmas time, when I took the semester off and stayed at home with them, they still gave me the bottle. When I opened the gift, I thought, Wow, literal garbage, from the place I hate. Thanks, guys."
"I'm a massive foodie, so my friend's mom as a 'thank-you' makes the most amazing chocolate chip and walnut cookies you'll ever have. She gifted me those specific cookies since I helped her train her new puppy when she wasn't home, and her son wasn't good with animals at all, plus they are my favorite. But then she added something to them. Thank god I didn't eat one yet, and was planning to save them till I was home.
I'm allergic to coconut and she added coconut flakes on the top of it. But she spent so much time making them I didn't have the heart to tell her, so I just gave them to my family. I watched them eat them with joy and glee, as I looked longingly at it like a dog who wants something but knows they can't have it.
All I said was that it wasn't my cup of tea and she never made them with coconut again. I didn't want to just tell her that outright because work was stressful at the moment and she spent hours making the cookies (caramelizing the walnuts, making, flavoring and chilling the dough from scratch, and forming the chocolate into chunks for the cookies). She goes all out when it comes to baking."
"I was about nine-years-old. My Wednesday night kids' bible group (that my dad ran) had a gift exchange for Christmas. It's a church thing, so none of the presents were really cool at all. For example, the present I gave (that my mom picked out and wrapped) were a couple of kids books. I don't remember what I got, it was that unforgettable. I remember feeling bad for whoever got my present though, since I knew I'd be super disappointed if I got it (really, what kid wants books like that as a gift).
My school was also having the same type of gift exchange a few days later before holiday break started. I think the present I took for that one was a couple of those $5 LEGO sets wrapped up together. So, being a kid, I was expecting something pretty sweet in return. Gift exchange time happens, and I instantly get a sinking feeling in the depths of my stomach. My gift doesn't seem like it'll be that great. It's kind of thin, coloring books and crayons maybe? I rip it open once all the other kids start to open theirs. What do I find? Those dang books from a few nights before. Whoever ended up getting those books was apparently in my class, and they just re-gifted them at school!
I was furious. Who gives such a terrible gift to a kid?"
"My boyfriend lived in his mother’s rental property, and she would come over to the house every few weeks to 'check up on things.' I had bought a couple of boxes of cake mix for a summer party my boyfriend was hosting, and I ended up not needing so they stayed in the pantry for a few months.
Christmas rolls around and my only gift from my boyfriend's mom was a wrapped box of cake mix, the exact brand and flavor that I had purchased months before, and forgotten was still in my boyfriend’s pantry. I went back to my boyfriend’s house late,r and there was only one box of cake mix left in his pantry. The expiration dates between the leftover box and the 'present' were almost the same."
"My father had a red bicycle, which I had to ride whenever we had to visit him and went for a bike tour. My siblings had other bikes in black and blue. I hated that bike (it had some issues with the gears and the chain, and overall it was ugly and not made for me). I always fought with him about it, that I don't want to come for a bike tour if I have to ride the bike because I hated it and had problems riding it.
I got it for my birthday."
"When I was a little kid, my mom and I were eating lunch at a restaurant in the city. In the middle of the meal, an older man started talking to us and gave me a creepy Halloween statue, and told me I should keep it. It was nowhere near Halloween. My mom made me throw it away immediately, and little me was sad for a long time about my Halloween statue because I wanted to put it in my room. Now that I look back on it, I am very thankful my mom got rid of that thing right away and it never made it into my bedroom.
"Earlier this year, my sister threw me a surprise 40th birthday party. That was an amazing surprise, actually. One of the attendees was a woman who’s had a thing for me for a long time. I’ve just... kinda never been into her. At all.
She made me a member warmer. It was a fleece sleeve that I was supposed to slip over my junk to keep them warm. That’s not a normal present. Like, a six-pack that would have probably been less awkward.
I laughed and said, 'Holy heck this is awesome!' but felt really weird.
It still confuses me."