Gift Guide: The Best and Worst Gifts. Ever.

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I’ve had my share of not-so-great gifts, like the cheese grater in my stocking and the plastic condiment holder shaped like a miniature grill. And then there were the green-and-black plastic shoes that were so ugly, the sales clerk took one look at them and immediately hid under the counter to spare another woman a similar anguish. And I’ll never forget the black bustier birthday – but that’s a story for another day.

But none of my bad gifts have compared to others I’ve heard. “For our first Christmas together, my ex-boyfriend gave me a set of snow tires. When I complained, he went out and bought me 12 pairs of socks. That’s 16 of the reasons why he’s my ex-boyfriend.”

And men need to learn to never, ever reuse a Tiffany box. Unless there is a set of keys to a new Lexus or a condo in Cabo inside, you’re setting the stage for a heaping bowl of disappointment. One woman got a calculator inside of her pretty blue box, while another

Unless there are keys to a Lexus or a condo in Cabo inside, never, ever reuse a Tiffany box.
Unless there are keys to a Lexus or a condo in Cabo inside, never, ever reuse a Tiffany box.

received an atlas. In terms that men can understand, that’s like getting the Sports illustrated swimsuit issue, but when you open it up, it’s filled with Jell-O recipes and knitting tips. Here are a few other big time misses: an ice maker, a meat slicer, a fishing tackle box, and a beautifully wrapped gift in the shape of a bottle of wine with two dozen bottle rockets and a dozen firecrackers inside.

But the worst gift by far that I’ve heard of was from the unlucky woman who got a double whammy – breast enhancement pills and a Thighmaster. Last I heard her husband has taken up permanent residence in the unheated garage. Right next to the “does this bag make my butt look big” luggage tag.

The best gifts are those that come from the heart. A friend said that her favorite presents were small things her husband had collected during his travels throughout the year. “They were really nice and different because of where they had come from. It made me feel good to think he had been thinking of me on all those trips.”

There is no place in this universe, or any other, where a Thighmaster is an acceptable gift.
There is no place in this universe, or any other, where a Thighmaster is an acceptable gift.

My husband did great one year when he gave me several small gifts, and with each one was a note of why he bought it for me and why he thought I’d like it. None were in a Tiffany box. And none had a plug or instruction manual.

Another of my favorite gifts ever was from my daughter. My mother had died a few years prior and my dad had sold the home and moved. Somehow in the move the box with all the Christmas ornaments was lost. There were precious ornaments from my mother’s childhood as well as our own collection of goofy childhood photos from school. Ornaments that had graced our Christmas tree every year of my life. When I found out they were lost, I melted into tears. It felt like losing her all over again.

That Christmas I opened a box from my daughter. Inside were 12 glass balls that she had painted. “I knew you were sad you lost Mimi’s ornaments,” she said. “So I thought I’d make you some new ones.” I melted into tears again, this time in gratitude for having such a sweet daughter.

Yes, it can be the thought that counts. Just double-check what that thought is. When my dad gave my mother a meat slicer for Christmas, saying, “I thought it would help you when you made sandwiches,” it would have been to his benefit to think again.


  1. Yay! More places to enjoy Jan’s wit and humor!! Please let there be karma so that snowtires/socks man sees the error of his ways and doesn’t inflict gift abuse on another poor unsuspecting soon-to-be-ex girlfriend.

  2. So I guess that year that I got a picture of the 3 kids standing in front of a washingmachine in a store would count as one of the most disappointing?

  3. So about that Tiffany’s box… my first Christmas with my new husband (23 years ago showing my deeply forgiving nature) I got one of those presents where every time you unwrap a present there is a smaller wrapped box inside. This went on for a number of boxes and I was feeling quite pleased with “my great catch” as my aunt kept calling the young doctor I had married. I got to a Rolex box! opened it and found an even smaller ring sized one inside… not Tiffany’s but almost as exciting… Maier and Berkeley (I know I know I had just gotten the new engagement ring but my right hand was bare). Inside were slides of a hunting dog.

  4. Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. 🙂 Cheers! Sandra. R.

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