tuna cans
A Dried Fruit Plate From Dad, a Vibrator From Mom and 23 Other Bad Gift Stories
12.28.18

It is the thought that counts, but sometimes you receive a gift that would lead you to believe there was no thought at all involved. Or a gift so practical you can’t help but feel a little disappointed. My parents used to wrap up things my brother and I needed and give them to us on Christmas, so alongside our toys and books or whatever we asked for, we would get school supplies and socks and whatever else keeps an 8-year-old going. In the spirit of that memory, and in honor of gift-giving season, I asked MR readers to share the most absurd gifts they’ve ever had the pleasure of receiving. If you received a less than stellar gift this year, scroll down and know you’re not alone.


“I got a men’s watch from my grandma. What makes this the absolute worst is that when I opened it, she realized it was for my cousin, and turns out I had actually gotten nothing for Christmas.”


“Stuffed Geisha dolls glued into a 15-gallon aquarium”


“16 cans of tuna on my 16th birthday.”


“A $10 gift card to Olive Garden. It was from my grandma, I was 15 and couldn’t drive. The nearest Olive Garden was ~25 miles away.”


“My Aunty gave me what I thought was a hat. I only found out it was a tea pot cover after I wore it all day.”


“A bouquet of thistles, because the guy I was dating told me I was ‘pretty, but prickly.'”


“When I was about 9, my grandma bought me a necklace. It had gotten tangled up in the jewelry box it came in. There were 5 letters with rhinestones on them but we couldn’t make out what it said. My mom helped me untangle it. As soon as it was untangled we realized the necklace said ‘Bitch.’ So my mom brings it to my grandma and was like, “Mom, why did you get her a necklace that says ‘bitch’?” And my grandma looked so confused. She looked at the necklace and said, ‘Oh my. I thought those were little people hanging on the necklace.'”


“A vibrator from my mom…mine was a pocket-size vibrator, my sister got a huge vibrator. Oy.”


“A jar of Nutella from my aunt, which isn’t a bad gift in and of itself— but it was accompanied with ‘so you can stop eating all of ours when you come to our house and bring your own next time.'”


“A plate of dried fruit from my father.”


“I was given a large, white T-shirt with the words ‘Live, Love, Golf’ in French from my grandparents for my birthday. They had gone on a trip to Quebec for their 50th wedding anniversary and thought that this was a perfect birthday gift.”


“Chocolates that had expired three years prior.”


“An old holey Christmas sweater & a box of condoms — it came with a note that said if I wear the sweater I won’t need the condoms.”


“A $50 Build-A-Bear gift card from my dad when I was 18 years old.”


“A letter from my grandma explaining how to write a thank you note.”


“I was spending the holidays with my ex and his family in another state. He presented me, in front of the family, with a triangle shaped box beautifully wrapped in shiny gold paper. Everyone thought there would be something fancy and/or special inside.

They are the type of family that take turns while each opens one gift at a time. So, I’m in front of everyone, I had to open the box and pretend to be thrilled about a ‘jam tree.’ It was three tiny jars of (utterly unremarkable) fruit preserves, arranged in a triangle box. A JAM TREE.”


“For Secret Santa one year, I received a framed photo of a lady I worked with. Very strange considering I didn’t know her well and the photo was taken 20 years ago. She said she ‘didn’t want to gift an empty frame.’”


“A glow in the dark wind chime that changed colors.”


“When I was around 8 or 9 I received a bag of pennies (like a lot of pennies), and a few of those weird, hairy cat bobble head pencil sharpeners from a relative. Not exactly the Barbie I asked for.”


“At our family’s Secret Santa gift exchange a few years ago, I was gifted not one, but TWO, Big Bang Theory bobbleheads and a pair of Big Bang Theory socks. I don’t even watch the show???? And keep in mind we usually give nice, thoughtful things; it’s definitely not a joke-y white elephant situation.”


“A box of instant coffee packets which my dad mailed literally across the country to us, wrapped and everything, with a handwritten note, addressed to me and ‘Brad’…my husband’s name is NOT Brad, it’s Bram. (Since I’m sure you’ll wonder, yes, my father has spent significant time with my husband and was at our wedding and everything and no, he does not have some sort of brain illness.)”


“Sephora gift card with the note: at least buy concealer.


“A partially burned candle with ‘Christmas 1999’ etched in the glass (gift received in 2014) with a dried up dead spider in the box. Granted — I am aware that the gift giver is older, on a fixed income, and frequents garage sales but still it was tough to keep a straight face opening this one.”


“Samurai Sword Earrings”


“My uncle gave me an encyclopedia of Swedish flowers. The book was in Swedish and had no pictures. I can’t speak Swedish… and I was 8.”


Your turn! Tell me the weirdest/worst gift you’ve ever been given!

Photo by Louisiana Mei Gelpi.

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