Most of the time, it's the thought that counts when it comes to gifts and when someone receives something they don't like or don't want, they smile, thank the giver and move on. Maybe they regift it or maybe they find out there was more thought behind it than they realize. Then there are gifts like the ones these poor people received. Thoughtless, stupid and in some cases, just plain mean! There are no thank you card needed for these horrible gifts. Content edited for clarity.
She Took It All Back!
“When I was 11 or 12, my father’s fourth wife would constantly give gifts to me and my sister, but would often take them back when we were out of the house and return them. So, like, she’d give us really cool things, like a DVD player or even once a slot machine, but in a week or so they’d be gone… and we were expected to be totally okay with that.
The only gifts that she gave us (permanently) were her old clothes. And that would have been fine, except that she was a size 20 and at the time I was a size 8/9. She fully expected me to wear her clothes, which were often wrapped and in gift boxes, and stopped speaking to me when I said they were too big to fit.
She would post photos of the Christmas tree, with all the presents underneath, before Thanksgiving. She made my sister and I read style and home living magazines to learn how to professionally wrap presents and would make us wrap presents for her (adult) friends while they drank at 11a .m. It was a really, really strange part of my childhood.
Anyway, my father’s married to his fifth wife now.
I’m pretty sure he marries for the tax breaks, I’m pretty sure he’s still married to #5, but we don’t speak, so I don’t know, #4 had a shopping addiction so this was part of it. #4 was a multi-millionaire who lost everything in 2007/8 as she was in real estate.
During this period of my childhood, a great many things were promised to me that seemed entirely possible. And none of them ever happened. I took it upon myself to personally accomplish all the things that he promised to me for myself, and by myself, which has made them even better. Because of my experience with wife #4 and also because I spent most of my life with my low-income single-parent mother, I have a tendency to hoard or save collections of things I might not need. I’m working on it, and my boyfriend is helping me through it a lot. So over a decade later, things are better.”
The Never-Ending Bad Gift
“My mother took me to Vegas for my 21st birthday. Now I know what you might be thinking; ‘Wow, what a spoiled brat. His mom spends all this money on taking him to Vegas and he thinks it’s the worst thing ever? Entitled prick!’
Look, I tried staying positive about it. I tried not being mad that she wanted to go on my actual birthday and not like the week after or something. She bought the tickets and room package before asking me because the surprise was her whole gig. Then she promised some INSANE other surprise when we got there. Clearly, my mom was grasping onto any kind of relationship she could still have with me after moving out on my own three years prior. But anyways, here’s why it was the worst gift ever:
We leave at 6 freaking AM, the day before my birthday. I can’t drink on the plane yet. My mom is getting sloshed. Enough so that I have to be the DD when we get our rental car at the LV airport. Whatever, have a fun time mom. It’s your money. I ask which hotel we’re staying at. She says the ‘Bellagio,’ so I was like wow, that’s pretty cool. Well, she lied. She wanted to go there for a black jack tournament. Mind you, I’m still not 21! So I’m like cool, I guess I’ll just go check into our room and she said don’t worry about it, leave your stuff in the car. So I get to wander the streets of Vegas in winter! It’s not even warm! There’s almost nobody there! The people that are there are inside gambling! So after about three hours, I text my mom asking when she’s going to be done and she texts me back saying she got knocked out of the tournament an hour ago!
So she told me to come back to the hotel and meet her. I walk back there, text to ask where she’s at and she tells me she’s in the car in the parking garage. K, thanks for not coming to get me two miles away while you’re waiting in the car for whatever reason. I get in the car and she’s still sloshed, been keeping her buzz going steady from the free drinks at the tournament. I ask her why she didn’t just go to the room and she’s like: ‘Oh we don’t have a room here, our hotel is (I don’t even remember the name) outside the city limits!’ Yea, a 40 mile drive outside the city! Apparently it was part of her vacation package that included the tournament and my special surprise that she keeps reminding me will blow my mind.
Day 2: My birthday. Day 1 was bad, but at least I’m 21 now and I can join in gambling and drinking it up. Even if none of my friends are here. At least I can spend some time bonding with my mom or hanging out shooting craps or something while getting hammered. NOPE. After our 40 mile drive into the city, my mom points to a billboard depicting ‘Richard Petty’s NASCAR Experience,’ and notes how cool that looks. To which I say: ‘I hate NASCAR.’ I’ve never liked it. I don’t even enjoy most kinds of racing, much less the most watered down, commercialized and uninteresting form of it. So we get back into town, have breakfast somewhere (seriously the best part of the whole trip) and my mom tells me to wait at the curb in front of this one hotel for a shuttle.
The shuttle shows up and it’s the Richard Petty NASCAR Experience. My mom says ‘SURPRISE!’ and kisses me in front of all the other passengers. The NASCAR ‘experience’ was a ‘museum’ with empty NASCAR shells, like just wheels, frame and body. No engine. Several display cases with various jumpsuits. I did not get to drive a NASCAR, I just rode in a mock NASCAR for 2 laps which took less than 2 minutes since the track was not official NASCAR size. I don’t even know what that means but they made sure to tell us. Also, it was a gross experience because you’re lined up and the person getting out of the car in front of you hands you the helmet and jumpsuit they were just wearing. Then a gift shop tour. This is the worst birthday I’ve ever had.
Long story short, I go to the thing, it takes all day, by the time I get back my mom is sloshed again and needs me to drive her back to our hotel and I spend a few hours having a couple drinks and losing money at the terrible casino in our hotel. We leave bright and early the next day.”
The Poor Lighthouse Keepers
“My mom is the worst gift giver of all time.
She usually just gives you one of whatever she’s been hoarding that she doesn’t have room for anymore. For a while this was these ceramic lighthouses she collected for a while. Then it was these little fountains she had collected. As a man in his thirties, I was not the least bit interested in either. Then, one year, after my wife and I wondered what my birthday present would be – a fountain or a lighthouse – she surprised me!
She took a lighthouse, drilled a hole in the bottom, put a pump in it and set it in a ceramic bowl of water, so water poured from the top of the lighthouse like it was flooded or something. It was a freaking lighthouse fountain! Well played, Mom.
It almost sounds cool, but I can’t explain how lazily this thing was constructed. The lighthouse and the little bowl it sat in didn’t match. The lighthouse sat crooked in a bed of rocks because the pump she used was too big for the base of the lighthouse. And the way the water poured from the windows of the lighthouse just made me think of the poor, tiny lighthouse keepers drowning inside.
I tossed it after getting it.”
Bad Secret Santa
“I hate ketchup.
At work one year we did a secret santa gift exchange and everyone did a really good job and got people really cool gifts with a lot of thought. I bought my person tickets to a Chiefs vs Packers game because they were from Wisconsin but never got to go to a game at Lambeau. They were really happy. Other people got free dance lessons and cool stuff like that.
The person who drew my name was the only person at the entire company to take this opportunity to be a prick. They bought me three giant bottles of ketchup. And he thought it was hilarious.
I just stood there kind of dumbfounded as the person who gave it to me laughed really hard. Everyone else just stood there staring at him.
It really sucked because everyone else tried really hard and I had spent a good amount of money on my gift. The person who got me was a prick. Not cool. It literally made me hate the person.”
A Mother’s Idea For A Present Costs Her Son Money
“I’ve never really been one to expect gifts, because for some reason I feel guilty accepting them. When there is an occasion where a gift is traditionally given, I tend to give a short list of practical things I may want or need, and a few simple ideas of things that I really like.
My mother is the queen of false promises in this regard (and in general). She would always say that going out to dinner was my birthday present growing up, and that was fine with me. The issue is that we would never go out to dinner, and when we finally would go out, there was no mention of my birthday, and she had forgotten all about it. This happened all growing up.
I think the worst promise she made was last year when she came to Boston to stay with me for a week. I let her have my bed, and I slept on the sofa. She said she hated my mattress, and that no one should have to sleep on that junk. She said she was going to get me a mattress for Christmas. I refused multiple times because it’s a huge expense, and I finally gave in when she wouldn’t stop talking about it. I offered to put $350 towards one that she picked out for like $700. I mailed her my portion of the money for the purchase of this Christmas gift.
When Christmas came, she gave me dollar store trinkets, a huge, ugly coffee table from a yard sale, a plastic bag with like 50 marked down socks, and a few clearance fleece throw blankets.”
It Wasn’t The Gift, It Was The Comment
“My (now ex) boyfriend decided it would be a fantastic idea to put on a massive show at my family Christmas by getting me tickets to a musical I have wanted to see since I was little girl. He hadn’t actually bought the tickets yet, but had a super cool set up for the gift. It was a mask like the one from Phantom of the Opera, accompanied by a printed out poster with the dates it was playing in my town. I was so excited I cried from happiness! He got major brownie points with my whole family.
Then later on that night he told me he would buy the tickets, but only if I managed to lose 15 pounds. I’m not by any means overweight at all. 5’5 120 pounds at the time, I mean perhaps I could tone up a little but nothing major. Anyway, I had never been more devastated in my life. I think the worst part about it was he had known I had a pretty bad eating disorder in high school, and doing something like that would trigger it.
We broke up about 3 months after that. I did eventually get to see Phantom of the Opera this summer with my current boyfriend who isn’t an emotionally abusive prick.”
The Bad Turns Into The Amazing
“Nothing for 20 years.
My family doesn’t celebrate Christmas, birthdays, or holidays. My mom was poor and my family are just dumb and argumentative and slightly crazy, so I didn’t get that many gifts growing up. I mean, I got books from the thrift store and pajamas/clothes and when I was little, a few toys with my own allowance, but only once every few years would I ever be able to open a gift with wrapping paper. My family weren’t really into giving to each other, although I would watch my mom and grandmother thoughtfully select and wrap presents for their family friend’s kids.
It got to the point where I would buy myself something for my birthday and Christmas six months in advance, wrap it, and ‘surprise’ myself on Christmas or address the cards on toys from myself, to myself.
Last Christmas, I spent it with my boyfriend and his family. I wasn’t expecting much, given my history with the holiday. They’d only met me twice in the previous six months and I didn’t feel I was deserving or anything, I figured I’d get some nice generic stuff and get to watch them all open presents.
Welp. My boyfriend got me 20 gifts for 20 years of past missed Christmases, down to what I would have gotten that year. For example: for my first Christmas, a stuffed bear. My 10th Christmas, a book. My 17th Christmas, concert tickets. His parents got me a gorgeous fur blanket, books, perfume, some equipment for my various hobbies. His sister and her boyfriend got me a huge box of makeup and beauty stuff. His grandparents got me house decorations and makeup brushes. It wasn’t the amount or the monetary value. It was that it was all thoughtful stuff that they must have drilled my boyfriend about and stalked my social media for months!
Like a blubbering fool, I started ugly bawling right there in the living room.”
His Father Was A Real Prick
“Hope this doesn’t make me sound like too much of a brat.
So my parents were divorced, and my mom had recently been diagnosed with stage III cancer. She sent me to stay with my dad for Christmas to ‘de-stress.’
I spent a lot of time thinking of a good gift for my dad. It ended up being a few collectible items from his favorite football team – he has a whole cabinet devoted to his collection. Gifts aren’t too particularly important to me, I don’t care how much money you spend. He could have given me anything. One year, he gave me a necklace he made (that I still have). Really it’s the thought that counts. Anyway to start he gave me a little stocking with some candy, and it would have been fine just to leave it at that. I’d be okay with candy as a gift. But he said my next gift was the ‘real present.’
He gave me a long tube wrapped really pretty, but I was perplexed as to what could be inside. He was all ‘don’t shake it, it was expensive and it might break!’
I was thinking like a light saber or something really cool. But no, he wrapped the cardboard tube that the wrapping paper comes on with nothing else inside.
Then, he laughed because I was disappointed.
His girlfriend was really mad at him. She got me little gift set with like scented lotion or something which was thoughtful. Just the fact that I’d put so much time and effort into finding something for him for Christmas and he literally hyped me up to give me NOTHING so he could watch the look on my face and laugh was pretty hurtful. I gave up Christmas with mom for that? What a terrible thing to do to your kid!”
The Wrong Watch
“A Rolex watch.
My awful (now ex) husband knew I had a ‘wish list’ at the jewelry store. An annual tradition in our marriage at his request.
I did not have a Rolex watch on the list. I had an Ebel watch on that list.
Apparently, husband never heard of Ebel and thought that none of my family would have ever heard of Ebel. So he got me a Rolex.
Here’s the worst part. He gave me the watch before family came to the house for the Christmas Eve celebration. I told him, ‘Thanks. But to be honest, I hate Rolex because if you don’t wear them constantly, they don’t keep time (because of the self-winding they’re famous for). Would you mind if I exchanged it for the Ebel? I really love the Ebel. It’s cheaper, prettier, I love it and frankly this Rolex is a lot of hype.’
He said no. He demanded I pretend to be delighted and surprised when he gave me to watch in front of the family, so he could show off how generous he was.
When I resisted that notion, he said, ‘Yes. You will do this for me. I need to show your family what a rich man I’ve become (or something about that notion). If you do this for me, you can keep the Rolex AND I’ll get you the Ebel. If you don’t, you’re going to regret it because I will make this the worst Christmas of your entire life.’
The Uncle No One Wanted To Deal With
“My extended family gets together every year and does a huge Secret Santa. And every single year the person my uncle selects from the hat gets shafted.
Now usually the gifts are funny but also personalized, and the price point is around 100 bucks. For example my dad got my cousin one year, and turned a small photo of my cousin at the age of eight playing softball, into this beautiful three-foot poster. It had this intricate frame, like you’d see in a museum, with this enormous photo of my extremely nearsighted cousin, choking up on the bat and squinting into the camera. Everyone laughed and it gets hung up around the holidays every single year. That’s the kind of gift we all expect.
My uncle however tries to use the holiday as an excuse to clean out his house, and gets offended if you laugh at your gift. So it’s become another family tradition to see how overjoyed for the gift you can act without him realizing you actually hate it.
One year he got my dad. That year Dad received a gift bag filled with tissue paper and old newspapers. My uncle said, ‘next time you need to give a gift, you’ll be one step ahead of the game!’
Twice he’s pulled my name.
One year, I received a coffee table book on trees, with half the pages ripped out, and the other half doodled on by my then toddler-aged cousin. ‘She’s going to be an artist one day, and now you have a ‘Kiera original drawing.’ That’ll be big bucks’
The next time he had me, I got a single leather woman’s driving glove. Just one. ‘Do you know how expensive a pair of these are? Even just the one is a huge gift!’
Other gifts he’s given:
A DVD case for the movie Mulan II with no disc inside ‘Didn’t you say you had a bunch of loose DVDs around you needed to organize?’
A fart noise toy that made fart sounds when you pushed the button. The batteries are already dead ‘Just go buy some new batteries and trust me you’ll laugh until you puke.’
An empty printer paper box filled with old highlights magazines, ‘if you donate them to a doctor’s office, you can claim the tax deduction.’
Thanks Uncle Peter. Can’t wait for you to get hammered and give the toast at dinner again while crying into your fifth White Russian of the evening.”
What A Blockhead
“In college, I started to have a lot more friends and acquaintances. I liked the idea of giving gifts but finding something personally relating to each person proved difficult and sometimes unrewarding. So, junior year, I stopped with traditional gifts and for Christmas and everyone’s birthday, I get them a personalized block of wood with their name written on it (generally in black sharpie or paint).
I personalize each one, maybe hammer a nail into the side or chop a few weird angles into it, or just leave it as a two-by-four.
Now here’s the fun part. I falsely tell people that the shape and attachments to their block of wood is a representation of how I currently judge/view them, it’s not.
Some people love it, trying to figure out what I could possibly mean by a nail-covered two-by-four. Some people hate it, demand to know what it means about them, I just tell them to look closely, haha.
I did it for Christmas to all my coworkers last year. It was hilarious watching everyone go around comparing their blocks of wood with each other like they have some profound meaning.”
One Family, Two Bizarre Gifts
“I was spending Christmas with my wife’s family for the first time and wife’s uncle/aunt/cousins gift for me was a baseball cap for use in the mining industry. It had a built-in plastic shell in the cloth lining which made it really uncomfortable and non-adjustable. They are called bump caps. I have no use for one at all. It was also probably four or five years old and very clearly used. The edges were fraying and the plastic was cracked in one spot.
That same family got my wife a marble clock that weighed upwards of 15 pounds and it didn’t even work! We were flying back the next day with carry-on-only luggage!
They were genuinely the weirdest and worst two gifts we’ve ever received, both from the same people.”
Parents That Can’t Stop Being Horrible
“I’m gonna speak on my husband’s behalf here. We don’t speak to his family or see them at all, there’s a history of hurt and just a lot of toxicity so we cut them out of our lives. It’s been almost three years of radio silence, which is amazing and it was absolutely the right choice for us. Whelp, unfortunately, my husband’s parents live in the same city as us and they know where we go to church. So this year, on my husband’s birthday, my mother-in-law dropped off a gift at our church for him because she doesn’t know where we live and can’t contact us any other way.
The gift was the DVD of the movie I Can Only Imagine. If you’re not familiar with the premise of the movie, let me fill you in. It’s about a man who was hurt by his father as a boy. He leaves home and stops having a relationship with his dad. Years go by and the man decides to reconcile and rebuild a relationship with his dad, who was previously abusive but because he found God, he isn’t anymore.
It was really messed up to get that movie from someone who manipulated and hurt my husband until his early twenties. So that gift absolutely takes the cake.”
The Not Perfect Wedding Gift
“My wife and I dropped by my grandmother’s house a few months after we were married. She didn’t make it to the wedding for whatever reason so we figured we’d drop in. After about 30 minutes she goes, ‘so, y’all have been dating for a while right?’ I responded with, ‘actually we were married in August.’
I saw the light go off in her head and she starts covering up as best she can. She goes, ‘oh I have a gift for you in the back let me go get it.’ She’s gone for about 20 minutes. She comes back with a shoebox. Inside of this shoebox is a ceramic cat that I know for a fact she has had since before I was born – dust and all. ‘I saw that and thought of y’all.’ Of course, because, you know, I’m allergic to stupid cats. So we stick around a little longer and eventually go on our way.
My grandmother was a spiteful and selfish woman. It gets way worse than ceramic cats and nobody that knows her can argue that. However, I still have those stupid cats prominently displayed in my home. It’s one of the only stories of her that make me laugh.”
The Work Phone Case
“I used to work at an ad agency that allowed us to drink copious amounts at the office to get through life. One day, one of my coworkers had a bit too much to drink and couldn’t properly edit a last-minute piece of content, so I offered to do it for her.
To thank me, she went to Ross and bought me a pink camouflage phone case. I’m not really sure what about me screams ‘redneck princess,’ but she thought it was perfect. I didn’t use it at first, but then she called me out, so it became my ‘work phone case.’ Similar to work clothes, I’d put it on in the morning, wear it to work, then take it off as soon as I got home.
Because I’m a nice person, this went on for three months!”
“I grew up pretty poor. One year when I was a teenager, I had asked for a video camera for Christmas. It was the only thing I wanted that year. I opened my presents at home: nada. But then we went to my grandparents’ house. My grandparents are awesome and love to spoil their grandkids. I unwrapped my first present from them, and it was a Sony camcorder. Well it was the box. The box, with some clothes and a gift card inside. They would frequently use cereal boxes and the like in lieu of buying gift boxes, and the box for his camcorder just happened to be the right size. I completely lost my mind and started happy crying when I opened the box, and then it took about an hour for me to register that I was in fact not getting a camcorder. My mom bought me one for my birthday three months later.
My dad died when I was fifteen and a half. The same grandparents had his car at their place, but never sold it or drove it. I foolishly began to hope that they were going to give it to me as a sixteenth birthday present, and in fact, my father had requested they do so. They asked me to stop by their house on my actual birthday, which was a Sunday. I arrived at the exact second that they handed off the keys of my dad’s car to its new owner. I didn’t get my permit until I was almost 20.”
Lifelong Lackluster Parents
“Is nothing an acceptable answer? My parents showered my sister and me in gifts when we were little, most likely to make up for their guilt of not wanting to be together and not actually wanting kids (my mother has told me on several occasions that my dad pressured her and she didn’t want children). So after my parents stopped pretending to like each other, my sister and I went completely unnoticed. I never received a birthday or Christmas present after I was seven years old. I moved out at 18 and I didn’t hear from my dad until I was probably 27 or 28. My parents eventually divorced and my dad remarried. After not speaking to him for about 10 years, he called me up and wanted to play dad. It’s not that I wasn’t speaking to him out of spite, it was just that he never cared enough to pick up the phone and call me. I had no reason to call someone who had no interest in me as a person. We talk now, but I still don’t get a card or a gift on my birthday. I’ll never tell either of them that it really hurt me. So yeah, neglect is my worst gift.
Life is pretty good now actually. The one thing that stinks is that all of my family that actually cared enough to keep in touch (my grandparents on both sides and my cool uncle) are dead now. My parents live over a thousand miles away in two different directions, so there’s not much chance of developing anything there. My sister inherited their nonsense too. I haven’t spoken to her in 10 years, and I don’t think she even has my phone number.
My friends envy me because I don’t get hassled by my family to do weekend events or dinners, and I sit and silently envy them for having relatives who care and want to be a part of their lives. I really wish I had a family. It looks so nice from the outside to see people who support and care about each other no matter what. I have friends but I don’t know, it’s not the same for some reason.
My dad is ‘rich’ now and he gives my sister money constantly, so she’ll favor him instead of my mother. The last time we talked, ages ago, he hinted that because he gave her $10k for a down payment on a house that maybe I should take that same amount from him. I didn’t even respond or engage. If I have to explain to you that I don’t want your money, I only ever wanted you to care, then we shouldn’t even try. We only talk about work because that’s all he’s ever cared about. His career is just his only concern in life. And looking super-rich/nice/cool for his patients and his colleagues. I’m pretty sure he only remarried so they wouldn’t think he was gay.
Fun story: I remember when I was about nine years old my friend was like, ‘Hey I gotta go, I am going to play catch with my dad.’
I said, ‘Oh, well can I come?’
He responded, ‘Oh, well it’s really just supposed to be a thing we do alone.’
At the time, I didn’t think about it much, but YEARS later I remembered this and thought ‘Oh wow, my dad never did anything one on one with me, ever.’
That’s when I realized I might have had a terrible childhood.”