Rather than write up a ‘worst gifts received’ article post-holidays, I thought I would anticipate the moment and let givers know what they should never bestow in the first place (at least on me). Ranked from somewhat acceptable to I-can’t-even-look-at-it, this is your unabashedly negative guide to the giving season.
Underwear is a vaguely bemusing but somewhat uncomfortable gift to receive. It’s undeniably useful, but shockingly intimate. It may be more appropriate if given by a partner, but for any other relationship, this gift is just kind of bizarre.
#4: Self- help books
An unsolicited self-help book can only resonate negatively with the receiver. Unwrapping The Gifts of Imperfection may not be the best way to tell your partner that you love them despite the fact that they’re a lazy shit (my example, not the book’s).
Depending on the relationship and the context of the gift, jewelry can be a thoughtful present. Although often, it seems to be a last resort. Contrary to what the ads would have me believe, a $200 necklace does not automatically show me that the gift-giver cares. And while there are some people who definitely challenge the stereotype, jewelry remains largely a gendered gift. No thank you.
#2: A pet
I love puppies. But do I have the time or money to take care of one? No. And often, people who receive pets as gifts find that they don’t either: in an interview with the Edmonton Journal a BC SPCA worker stated: “[Pets are] given with the best intentions, but often with the most disastrous results. Impulse-buying overlooks the long-term commitment involved in caring for a pet.” Give a Tamagotchi instead. It’s less harrowing when they die of neglect.
And number one on my list of wholly unwanted items:
# 1: An e- Reader
Books are awesome. Being able to carry around a personal library is awesome. The ambiguous privacy and information policies around e-reading are not awesome. That snazzy matte screen isn’t fooling me: a traditional book could never be yanked from my shelf without my knowledge, nor could my reading habits be tracked by publishing companies as I move through a novel. Plus, why would I pay (or ask someone else to pay) for a device that enables me to buy e-books when I could just buy the physical book—or better yet, borrow it from the library? Like anything, there are advantages to e-readers—free access to many classic novels is a plus—but I’m as Luddite as it’s possible to be in this age of technology, and I would gladly smash this device with an axe.
While I always cherish the good intentions behind a gift, I don’t always value the gift itself. It seems that the easiest way around this might be to skip the presents entirely—hang on to the good feelings and discard the materialism. You want to give me a good present? Help me bake. Someone needs to make sure I don’t poison anyone, and a memory is something I’ll always hang on to.