I’ve never received a vacuum cleaner for Christmas, but I imagine it would be somewhere near the top of the list of the worst Christmas gift of all time.
It’s far better to be known as that guy who forgot to buy a Christmas gift than the clown whose gifts are so outrageously bad, people have dedicated entire Facebook photo albums to them over the years.
Before you enter the trenches of Orchard Road ready to spend your hard-earned cash, steer clear of these fives types of Christmas gifts that will leave your recipients feeling a little less Christmas cheer.
Something overly practical
There’s nothing conceptually wrong with practical gifts—after all, it’s better to give your loved ones things they actually need than yet another novelty Tshirt or souvenir mug.
But there is a line between gifts your recipients can use, and gifts that are repugnantly practical. Gifts that are merely useful, not at all attractive and that your recipients would have bought anyway, not because they wanted them but because the floor needs to be swept or the toilet bowl cleaned, are definite no-nos.
Household items for cleaning purposes such as vacuum cleaners, brooms and toilet brushes are generally not appropriate for holidays. (Kitchenware is acceptable if it looks nice and your recipient cooks for fun.) And please don’t get your kids assessment books unless you want them to run away from home.
Shopping vouchers at places your recipient doesn’t shop at
At office Secret Santa parties, most people end up buying vouchers for their recipients. It’s one step above just stashing the cash in an ang bao—not particularly personal, but hey, at least it’s something they won’t complain about.
While you might be tempted to purchase your shopping vouchers at a chic boutique, just to show your recipient what good taste you have, refrain.
At my previous workplace, an informal survey conducted by the office aunties revealed that the most coveted vouchers were from NTUC, which makes sense—since you’re essentially giving away money, why not make it spendable at a place virtually everyone patronises?
The worst vouchers are from expensive places that the recipient wouldn’t ordinarily shop at. So don’t go and gift your 55-year-old auntie with 3 kids a Tiffany’s gift voucher.
Something that’s way too expensive
Unless you’re a billionaire boss who wants to thank his secretary for her loyalty or are looking for a present for your mistress, a gift that’s way too expensive comes off as tacky and can leave your recipient feeling indebted.
Of course, what counts as “too expensive” is relative. Buying a $5,000 Chanel bag for an eager girlfriend might be mandatory for some men, and insanity for others.
If you make way more money than your friends, resist the urge to buy them all Tiffany money clips or Prada card holders for Christmas—it’ll just make them uncomfortable, and in a worse case scenario you’ll come off as a sleazebag.
Senseless novelty items
There are always a few clowns who think buying their recipients silly novelty items will give everyone a good laugh, and that’ll be worth the pricetag.
Granted, I can think of a few guys who would love the breast-shaped stress balls or the pornographic playing cards. If that’s the case, then go for it.
But believe me when I say that most people would prefer that NTUC voucher to the edible undies or butt-shaped pencil holders.
Overly generic gifts
We get that you have limited time, and spending three months racking your brains for personalised gifts for every single person on your list isn’t always possible.
But some gifts are such a cliché that they just reek of “I had no idea what to buy,” or “something else bought me this last year”.
Notoriously generic gifts include chocolate, anything from the Body Shop, ties and mugs.
But just because you’re trying to steer clear of gifts that are an obvious cliché doesn’t mean you need to go to the other extreme and gift everyone with hand-embroidered shirts embossed with their initials. Just get something it won’t be too easy for them to the regift to the next person.
What is the worst Christmas gift you’ve ever received? Tell us in the comments!