As well-intended as these gifts were, they definitely were not perceived that way!
People on Reddit and Quora share the thoughtless gifts they were given. Content has been edited for clarity.
He Does Not Deserve That Gift
“So I was dating a guy for a few months when Christmas rolled around. He had recently started a new job that required travel and this was before smartphones and built-in GPS in your car were common, so I splurged a bit and got him a Garmin to help him find his way. Thoughtful, useful, but not too sentimental; it felt perfect for where the relationship was at the time.
Due to schedules, we couldn’t get together until a few days after Christmas. In my haste to go see him, I walked right out the door without his gift. I didn’t realize it until I got to his house and I felt terrible, but he said, ‘No worries, I’ll give you your gifts now and I’ll just get mine later.’
Cool. So he goes into the other room and comes back with two wrapped gifts. I noticed some paper was messed up like it had been rewrapped but didn’t think much of it at the moment.
I carefully unwrapped the first package.
It was an MMA magazine. That had clearly been read. I was confused. I do not like MMA. Not even a little bit. Nor have I ever expressed interest in MMA. Not once. He, on the other hand, loved all things MMA.
Trying to move on, I politely thanked him, set the magazine down, and refocused on the next gift.
I could tell it was a DVD from the shape of the package. And indeed, it was a DVD. A ‘Forrest Gump’ DVD. With the cellophane wrapper missing.
Now, don’t get me wrong, ‘Forrest Gump’ is a solid choice. Except, I already owned a ‘Forrest Gump’ DVD. And now here I was suddenly the proud owner of a second copy that appeared used. I again thanked him and sat there quietly, trying to wrap my head around how he could have arrived at the conclusion a used magazine on a topic I didn’t like and a secondhand DVD of something I already owned would make for good Christmas gifts.
He also got a little quiet, then sheepishly volunteered, ‘I, uh, got bored so I watched the movie yesterday.’
I just stared.
‘And then I, uh, hadn’t seen that issue yet… so I went ahead and read through it. I think you’ll really like it!’ he said.
I slowly responded, ‘So… you got me a magazine because you wanted to read it and then watched the movie you got for me because you were bored?’
His only response was, ‘Well yeah, I guess so.’
I left not long after. The next day, I returned the Garmin for a full refund.
About a week later, he called and said he didn’t think it was working out.
‘No problem,’ I said. ‘I don’t think it’s working out either.’
As we were wrapping up the call, expressing well-wishes and all that, he paused for a beat and said, ‘Hey, uh, were you still going to give me that Christmas present?'”
That Story Wasn’t As Bad As Her Gift
“In my family, large and exciting gifts get bespoke riddles and clues leading on a hunt culminating in the gift. One year, I drew a sister of mine in the exchange who HATES frogs. So I purchased her a pair of well-made, stylish scarves as she was about to move to a colder part of the nation.
I also bought her perhaps the most grotesque frog-shaped coffee mug I have ever seen in my life. And then I wrote out a five-step scavenger hunt to the mug.
As I was setting everything up on Christmas Eve, I was telling my dad about what I was doing. He laughed, but then he got a little somber. He then told me about the gift he gave his youngest sister for her 5th Christmas.
It was a gigantic box, beautifully wrapped. In it, he carefully layered pastel tissue paper. As she peeled back layer after layer, her excitement became palpable. The tension was building. What could it be?
It was a single piece of nickel gum.
‘She was absolutely crushed. I’ll never forget how badly I hurt her. So just keep that in mind,’ he said.
In spite of his warning, I didn’t feel too bad–I’d gotten her a real gift too, after all.
So Christmas morning arrived. And, as fate would have it, this same sister drew MY name for the gift. It was a decent-sized box, maybe 8x10x4 inches. It was heavy, but not noisy. There were many things on my list that would have been a good fit in that box.
So I opened it. It was an Amazon box. Within it?
Another, wrapped, box. I opened it. Another slightly smaller wrapped box.
Inside that one? Several rocks embedded in a tissue nest, and another. WRAPPED. BOX.
I opened that one to find a packet of duct tape. At that point, I just looked at my dad. He started laughing and finally choked out, ‘Forget about that story!’
My gift ended up being a gift card, which was plenty and appreciated. And she got a kick out of her frog mug, even if it only gets used by her husband to creep her out.”
That Took Some Effort
“I have three kids, two boys and a girl in the middle of the two boys. My mother-in-law is a bitter, self-absorbed person who cares about no one but herself and her own three children. She is wealthy (family money) and has never worked a day in her life. She also has two boys and a girl. She favors the middle son and younger daughter and takes every opportunity to belittle my husband, the oldest. It has been like this his entire life. She especially spoiled her daughter.
My husband and his brother both are wonderful, hard-working people, well-liked and respected in their communities and job fields. My husband has had to fend for himself his entire life and shielded his younger siblings from his mother’s behavior up until he left for college.
When I came into the picture, I was his first girlfriend, his brother and sister had never had a partner either, so I was pretty much the first to ‘enter’ the family. I was met with hostility, of course. When my husband introduced me to his mother, she stared at me for a moment before turning to my husband and said, ‘Why do you bother? She’s a college freshman, she’s going to lose interest in you and leave you for the first thin, good-looking guy that comes along.’
We’ve been together 14 years now, and I love my husband, big belly and all.
She favors my daughter ENORMOUSLY, and gives her lavish, age-inappropriate gifts, like a huge, fancy dollhouse that’s more suited for an eight-year-old than a two-year-old. That dollhouse was destroyed in six months, just because a two-year-old, even a gentle one like my daughter, is not going to understand the limits of fragile items. Not to mention, we do not have the space for big, fancy toys. My mother-in-law is aware of this and takes the time to make jabs about how we need to stop living like serfs and get a bigger house.
The boys? She often ‘forgets’ to give them gifts. When she does remember, it’s usually used clothes (which we don’t mind because we get thrift store clothes for the kids already, but it just goes to show the difference in gifts for the boys and my daughter) and used toys or cheap, already-broken toys.
My oldest son (five-years-old) is a sweet, gentle kid who loves cars, animals, dolls, dollhouses, and the colors pink, purple, and green. My mother-in-law takes every opportunity to try and ‘make him into a real boy.’ He overheard her say this once and was upset because he thought he was a ‘real boy’ already and didn’t understand why Nana said he wasn’t.
He is also old enough to notice the discrepancy in the gifts Nana gives him and our youngest son, and the gifts she gives our daughter. It hurts his feelings, so we’ve started to hide and check Nana’s gifts for our daughter so we can get gifts for the boys that’s as good as what our daughter gets.
I hate this. I’m perfectly fine with cutting the woman out of our lives because there is nothing that benefits us in continuing this. But my husband doesn’t want to. I think a small part of him believes and hopes she will have a change of heart.
Not to mention- in the 14 years my husband and I have been together, she has never once remembered my birthday. For the first 5 years of our lives together, she would misspell my first and last name, even giving me entirely new names on occasion.
For Christmas gifts, she will give my husband a gift and say it is for both of us when it’s clearly for him, or clearly used to make a jab at me. Once, she gave us used cleaning tools and said it was so he could try and help me keep the house clean.
Last year, she gave ME a gift. It was only because my brother-in-law had his first serious girlfriend and she was spending Christmas with them. My mother-in-law likes her. She’s thin, beautiful, and comes from a well-to-do family. So, my mother-in-law got her a gift, a really nice, expensive gift. She knew my brother-in-law would have chewed her out if she didn’t get me a gift too, so she got me one. I opened it, and it was a stack of dirty old magazines. Not ‘dirty’ as in nudes, but dirty as in she pulled it out of the garbage bin.
I burst out in uncontrollable laughter because this was creative and took her a lot of EFFORT. She had collected magazines that were all related to how to decorate houses, how to design and stage luxury homes, how to keep homes clean, etc.
I just feel so, so bad for my husband because he’s the sweetest person and to have endured the emotional and mental abuse his mother put him through growing up.”
Who Was In The Wrong?
“My youngest brother asked me to commit to caring for his three-year-old daughter. He and his wife wanted to enroll her in a pre-school program near where I live, but they had no care for her before and after her day at the center, which ran from 9 am to 1 pm. I was thrilled to do it, I adore her, so it came to be that every weekday he dropped her at my home early in the morning. I fed her breakfast, we hung out until 8:20 a.m. and I drove her to pre-school where she had a blast until I picked her up at 1 p.m. and kept her with me until 5 p.m. when he picked her back up to go home for the night. Naturally, she did everything with me and shared all kinds of regular activities with me each afternoon. We shopped, went to library story time, played at the park, etc.
It was December, Christmas was just around the corner, and we were busy with a shopping list filled with the names of loved ones for whom we wanted to buy little. She listed her pet dog as the top priority for a present, so off we went to the pet store. I told her to pick out the perfect gift and I would buy it. She led me to the dog toy aisle, where she proceeded to test out the possibilities. After thoroughly looking, she chose a plastic chicken shaped like a bowling pin that had a bikini on it, squeaked when she squeezed it, and danced to a chicken song. She picked it, I paid, and the store wrapped it. She could hardly wait to give her pet the gift.
Fast-forward, her Dad picked her up that evening and they put the pet gift under the tree to save for Christmas morning. So far, so good – we are full of the gift of giving, which seemed like a nice thing to encourage in a young child.
My brother called me Christmas afternoon to let me know that the bikini-clad chicken pet chew toy was highly offensive, totally inappropriate, had been opened in front of mixed company, embarrassing him and everyone else. He went on about what the heck was I thinking and berated me with comments to the effect I am a bad influence on his daughter and the toy had been promptly dispensed into the garbage pail.
I have to say, I felt like a brat and started to cry. He hung up. My Christmas was spent worrying about the whole thing which ruined it for me.
The following days, I asked everyone I knew if they thought I made a poor judgment call, including the clerks at the pet store. The only responses were ones of disbelief that the chicken was in poor taste. I did apologize to said brother, and we moved on back to our regular routine, though I still (to this day three years later) feel bad about the whole thing. At the same time, I can’t shake the feeling that he’s the one who should have felt bad.”
Trying To Make Up For It
“My parents adopted my sister when she was about five years old (and for reference, when I was 15). Prior to staying with us, she lived in a fos-adopt family with her two-year-old brother for about six months. During that time, they told her how much they loved her and how they were going to be her new parents. In the end, they decided they only wanted to adopt her brother, and she went back into a temporary home for a brief time before she came to live with us.
During her first few weeks with us- while she enjoyed staying with us- she would frequently cry at night and ask to call her previous foster family. At first, my parents allowed it, and the other family would tell her how much they loved and missed her. This caused her to be more distressed when they hung up, and she would cry even more. Eventually, my parents decided this was setting unhealthy hopes for my little sister, and stopped letting her call them.
During the next few years, my parents would still invite these people to her birthday parties, mostly so she could see her younger brother. They would always get her extravagant presents, like giant stuffed animals that dwarfed (often literally) everyone else’s gifts to her.
Eventually, my parents stopped inviting these people to events, although they still sent my sister gifts. My parents have never been into flashy gifts, and my stepmother eventually asked this couple to limit their gifts to $10 or under.
The worst instance was one Christmas when my parents got my little sister a portable CD player (this was over a decade ago). My little sister was about 10 years old, and I remember coming into the house and seeing her having a great time wearing her new headphones and dancing to one of her CDs. My other siblings by birth and I would spend Christmas morning with my mom, then head over to my dad and stepmom’s house in the early afternoon to exchange presents. They didn’t want my little sister to have to wait all morning to open presents, so she would open their gifts first, then gifts from others when we arrived. One of the gifts was from this old foster family – and they sent my 10-year-old sister an iPod. I remember seeing the excitement on her face – and the awkward faces of everyone else. The CD player was quickly forgotten.
This gift bothered me for a variety of reasons. Firstly, my parents had specifically given a price limit that was not unreasonable for a gift to give a 10-year-old, but even if it wasn’t, it was completely inappropriate for them to disregard it. Secondly, being that it was very much in the same category (but obviously far more expensive and more modern) as the gift they gave, it ended up completely overshadowing their gift (especially considering they are not the kind of parents to give their adolescent children fancy technology – again, this was over a decade ago).
But lastly, the biggest thing that bothered me about it was that (the way I see it) these despicable people used expensive or attractive presents to ease their own guilt for building up and smashing the hopes of a young child with complete disregard to the consequences it would have on her mental well-being. They also had a complete disregard about how it was straining her relationship with her new family by making them seem like the bad guys/stingy during what should have been happy occasions. I also suspect these presents stirred memories of sadness/rejection.
In this case, the receiver paid the bigger price for these fancy gifts.”
At Least Their Friends Cared
“I remember my brother and sisters all having a really nice 18th birthday. My family always threw quite the party for them but yeah, not for me.
I don’t really know what triggered it, but I was always sort of in charge of my own birthday. I still remember one year my parents straight up forgot it and gave me a $50 cheque as an apology like literally six months after.
But yeah, my 18th birthday. My parents had just returned from an expensive 1.5-month vacation. I was, kind of like, giddy with anticipation thinking they’d returned on my birthday on purpose because they didn’t want to miss it.
Nah. I waited till noon to mention it, and my mother just suddenly tried to act all cheery and gave me a plain bag, with just beans inside. Just beans. Not ready to eat or anything like that/ I mean, it was just something she picked up on her vacation because she wanted to make a meal with these beans when she got back.
I didn’t express my disappointment, but it was probably felt. As a consolation, she tried to invite me to lunch, something I kind of proposed anyway as a last-ditch effort to save my birthday for myself. I kind of realized this wasn’t going to be a good birthday, at that point already.
Got to the fast food place, and my mom organized for my sister to meet us there for food. After sitting down with food, my mom and sister just start talking about themselves and my parent’s vacation. I’m sitting there, kind of just devastated, eating my food as fast as possible, and without a word just got up and leave.
I walked the two-mile trip to my at-the-time best friend’s house, just locked in my own head about how I was hoping something would redeem my family by my 18th birthday.
On the way, completely by accident, two of my other friends also just happened to be on their way to my best friend’s house. They were driving by and recognized me on the sidewalk, pulled over, and picked me up. I sat down in the back seat, and my friend in the forward passenger seat turned around and handed me a styrofoam plate with a slice of cake on it.
I bawled, man. I cried like a little girl. It wasn’t even a cake I liked, but the fact that I just happened to be more of a thought in my friend’s heads at the time, than my own family… I ate every bite of that cake and made myself love it. Still makes me cry every time I think about it.”
They Put No Thought Into This
“The present wasn’t sent to my child but to my nephew. I was highly offended, and he was quite clearly distraught when he realized what the present was.
My nephew came to live with me at 16 a rocky relationship with his father.
After about six months, my nephew decided to make contact again with his family. His father, my brother, never apologized for the beatings, But his mother seemed to be trying to build a bridge. Christmas came soon thereafter, and we received a large parcel addressed to my nephew.
The parcel was full of a number of small wrapped gifts, and I use the word gifts very loosely. I suspect that she had simply cleaned out what was underneath the sink in her bathroom because the gifts were things like scented soaps, a used razor, shampoo, deodorant, a book of spiritual poems with a floral design on the cover, a broken tape measure, and several other items of a similar nature.
Most of the items had been used or at least opened. At first, my nephew was so excited because he thought this was their way of making amends.
But as he opened each individual gift and saw yet another used piece of trash, he became more and more withdrawn and upset.
He actually looked at me at one point and said, ‘Is this what they really think of me?’
After a while, I made him stop opening the gifts because it was just clearly too upsetting for him. At that point, he didn’t even want to open the gifts that we had purchased for him. He went to bed on Christmas Day at about 6 PM. I’ve never seen him so depressed.
It was a year before I allowed my brother and his wife to contact him again, and I gave them a piece of my mind about their idea of a gift. They continued to deny that any of the items were used or regifted, but given many of the items were suitable only for a female even if they hadn’t been re-purposed they were thoughtlessly purchased.”
She Made Her Hatred Clear
“My husband’s stepmother gave me, a 36-year-old at the time, a kindergarten size backpack. When I opened it she said, ‘I actually bought that for ——- (a child) a few years ago and she hated it so I threw it in a closet and I saw it and thought you’d like it. None of us did, we all think it’s ugly.’
That same year, they gave my three kids gifts totaling all together $15 with the clearance stickers on them, while her biological granddaughter opened a $300 unicorn. Which they made sure we knew cost $300, and then they pointed out to everyone our clearance stickers and what great deals they were (they weren’t), and then they made my kids leave the room so the granddaughter could take pics alone with her unicorn.
It was the last Christmas we visited them.”
That’s Not Balanced
“When I was 12 I bought myself a Kindle. My sister and I spent an entire summer working for our grandpa and stepdad to save up for them, each of us spending about $200. My mom got all three of my brothers a Kindle for Christmas, and I got some clothes from old navy.
I was livid and when I talked to my mom about it, she told me that my sister and I had been excluding our brothers from hanging out while we played video games and it was unfair. She never apologized or saw anything wrong with what she did, and I honestly still haven’t forgiven her almost a decade later.”
Clearly Playing Favorites
“At the time, I was really into Green Day and the emerging ‘alternative’ music of the mid 90s. And my mom bought me a few CDs (back when CDs were something stupid like $20 each). Wow! Awesome gift! Except the CDs were Toni Braxton and Mariah Carey and something else I’ve completely forgotten.
Or the Christmases when my brother would get a pile of presents or something pretty expensive (foosball table, air hockey table, etc.), and I’d get a couple of books and lip gloss. I love those things, so the gifts themselves weren’t bad, but I was clearly not the favored child.
In the aftermath of gift opening, mom would look at the pile my brother got and the few gifts I got, then make a big show of stomping around the house claiming she knows she got more for me, she must have misplaced all the other gifts! Without fail, for several years in a row, she ‘misplaced’ my gifts. Because she realized at the moment that she spent way more on my brother than me. Never once did she find these ‘misplaced’ gifts.
And to make it worse, my birthday is shortly after Christmas, so I never got much for my birthday because the budget was blown on Christmas. My brother claims he remembers me getting terrible birthday gifts, and I was always jealous of his. I don’t have any memory of that, but it very well could be.”