Gift-giving is tricky, and there’s no exact science to finding the perfect present for everyone on your list. But certain items are more likely to elicit less-than-enthusiastic reactions on Christmas morning. According to one survey, conducted by gift card company Happy Cards, gifts like home decor, socks, and household gadgets are best avoided altogether.
The online survey asked 980 adults about the worst gifts they’ve ever received—and what exactly made them so disagreeable. Nearly 40% of respondents said their least-favorite presents fell under the category of food and household items, while clothing came in second as the most disliked overall category. Home decorations topped the list of least desirable gifted items, followed by socks and underwear, then household gadgets.
Courtesy of Happy Cards
So what makes these the worst gifts ever? More than 40% of survey participants said they didn’t like the item because it was something they’d never use. Apart from practicality, aesthetics and personal style also play a role. The second-most popular reason was that recipients thought the gift was unattractive, which explains why home decor and clothing can make such problematic presents.
But don’t let these results scare you into avoiding holiday shopping altogether. According to the survey, a less personal gift might actually be a safer bet. Over half of respondents said they’d rather receive a gift card than a bad gift, while other top substitutes include cash and hobby-related items. That's in line with this year's findings from the National Retail Foundation, in which 59% of surveyed holiday shoppers want gift cards for Christmas. That makes gift cards the most popular wishlist item for the 13th year in a row. Last year, the NRF predicted holiday shoppers would spend about $29.9 billion on gift cards for the 2018 holiday season, with each person buying an average of four gift cards.
However, if cards and cash aren't your gift-giving style, you can still find a gift your loved one will appreciate with a little forethought. If you're thinking about gifting home decor, for example, keep the person's design style in mind while you shop, instead of focusing on your own tastes. That way, you can avoid splurging on ultra-modern artwork for your farmhouse-loving cousin.
For household gadgets, such as a new kitchen tool or smart home device, consider whether the recipient would actually use the item before purchasing. Your nephew who eats out six nights a week, for instance, might not fully appreciate unwrapping an Instant Pot on Christmas morning—but your foodie friend might love it! As for clothing, double-check you have the correct sizes before buying. (And if you're still stuck on holiday shopping ideas, we've compiled the ultimate guide to holiday gifting help you out.)
So this Christmas, think twice before purchasing that table lamp or multi-pack of socks. When in doubt, a gift card may be the safest choice.