10 Overplayed Gifts You Should Never Buy Anyone For The Holidays

‘Tis the season for giving – which means you’ll probably also be receiving some gifts this December, regardless of which holiday you celebrate. While truly thoughtful, wonderful gifts will make your heart swell, there’s nothing like faking that reaction when you receive something awful. Some gifts just need to be stopped because they’re overplayed, boring, and no one wants them. Don’t get me wrong, it’s wonderful when someone thinks of you and spends their time and money trying to get you something nice. It’s well-intentioned, which is why complaining feels wrong. But that doesn’t mean everything you get is awesome.

In the gift-giver’s defense, giving the perfect gift is difficult. It’s hard to pinpoint a person’s taste and what they need in their life and match it to your gifting budget and keep it appropriate for your relationship (aka don’t buy your new girlfriend very expensive jewelry, your relationship is new). These gifts are somehow the default assumption about what girls would enjoy, and that’s not always the case. So, unless someone has asked for these gifts specifically, it might be best to stay away from them. They’re easy gifts, sure, but they need to not happen anymore, no one wants them. Here are the top 10 gifts no one wants this holiday season.


Especially for college aged girls who live in dorms and have fire ordinances that literally prevent candles. Candles are awesome, but they're so cliche. You should also make sure the recipient actually uses candles. I don't burn them for fear of forgetting them and accidentally burning my apartment building to the ground. You also have to consider how tricky smells like this are. What smells wonderful to you might give someone else an immediate headache. It's a tough gift to give!

Source: iStock


I have no less than five travel size hand creams on my night stand because they all got gifted to me last Christmas alone. I only use one of them, and not that often. The rest of them collect dust and get old because lotions do that. Same goes for moisturizers, body butter, any sort of scented goop that is made to make our skin softer - maybe stay away from that. One lotion-y gift is useful. Getting one from everyone you know? Not so much. What am I supposed to do with all this lotion? If I sat down and applied and reapplied throughout the day for a month, I would still not go through all the gifted lotion I own.

Source: iStock

A *~*Spa Basket*~*

It's like the lotion gift, except it comes in a box together with some bath salts, a scrubby thing, a candle, and some other goop that differentiates itself from the lotion goop and it all smells like RASPBERRIES! You can always find these things at Marshall's - they're always at Marshall's - and avoided at gift swaps. Intended to emulate what happens during a spa treatment, there's maybe one useful thing in here and the rest of it is trash. No one uses these as directed, if there are directions about how to do whatever spa treatment it's trying to copy.

Source: iStock

Random Makeup

Buying makeup is such a personal experience. Only the person wearing it knows what formulas are best for their skin types, what colors they like and which ones they hate, and which brands simply never work for them no matter what. If you're giving makeup as a gift, make sure it's something you know the person loves. Otherwise, don't pick out something random, because it might never even get used.

Source: iStock

Funny Gag Gifts

These are funny in the moment, but once the moment has passed, what do you do with it? I've seen little coal boxes for what to get someone as a gag gift for Christmas - the packaging is really great and the payoff is super funny. So, what do you expect someone to do with it in January? Or June? Wait till Christmas and regift it to someone else? If you're going to gag gift this season, make sure it's cheap, definitely framed as a gag gift, and don't make your person take it home with them if they don't want to - this is your joke, not theirs.


There is nothing more tempting than the journals section at Barnes and Noble. Chances are you know a writer or someone who takes notes at school - blank paper is useful! Until there's too much of it. Some people are straight up laptop-only writers and note takers. Students and writers alike are weirdos with specific habits and preferences. If you want to get them a notebook, ask what they use and if they're running low or need to restock (or be stealth and sneak a peek what they're using currently). Other than that, don't gift notebooks unless someone asks for them.

Source: iStock

iTunes Gift Card

Nothing says "I know nothing about you except for the fact that you own a smart phone" quite like the iTunes gift card. Some people love these and I will never understand them. I'm rolling deep in iTunes cash and let me tell you how many times I wished I could redeem that for real cash. Unless someone is music obsessed or all about apps, this card may not be used if at all. Since they tend to be expensive, it may be best to stay away. There are other nice things you can get them for their phone (like those things to put your phone in while you run!)

An Animal

Puppies are cute and those videos of kids getting puppies for Christmas will always make my heart melt, but they are work! Pets are a full time commitment. You are caring for another life and that's another job on top of schoolwork, other jobs, and you don't know if they're even allowed to have pets where they live. Please don't give someone a pet if you don't know that they both want one and are able to take care of it beyond the holiday season. Animal shelters are already packed as it is.

Source: iStock

Self-Help Books

Don't give your single friend He's Just Not That Into You. Don't get your pessimist friend The Secret. Just don't. Don't be presumptuous about what someone is going through and then top it off by being like "let me fix it for you *book!*" It can come off as rude. If you truly want to help your friend through a problem, choose action instead of outsourcing your good will to a book someone else wrote. If your friend wants a self help book, they'll Google the one that's right for them and get it on Amazon.

Sexually Inappropriate Gifts

Don't get your brother sexually suggestive tee shirts with penis puns on it. Why would you? Along the lines of gag gifts, please don't gift something that implies intimate use or remarks on another sexual activity, body part, you know. Unless you are having sex with this person and they have a sense of humor or if this person asked for a specific item, stay away from Spencer's.

Which of these gifts have you gotten? Did you buy these for anyone this year? What did we forget to include? Tell me in the comments!

You can follow the author, Aliee Chan, on Twitter.


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  • Chantelle

    I would like to add, try to avoid perfume, and other things that have a strong perfume. Some people, like me, who are very sensitive to that, and can’t have it. Same applies to those with other allergies and sensitivities , like food or or certain kinds of metals.