15 Overrated Christmas Gifts You Should Just Forget About This Year

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Cool and unique gifts abound this holiday season, but make sure you avoid these duds.
Updated April 3, 2023
Fact checked
surprised little brother and sister opening  Christmas present

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It can be difficult to find the perfect gift. While there are great items on the shelves this holiday season, you also will find some real duds mixed in.

To make sure you stay on the good side of loved ones, try to avoid wasting money by staying away from these overrated gifts.

Home decor

Drobot Dean/Adobe couple hanging picture on the wall

Perhaps you have found the cutest throw pillow for a sofa or the nicest vase for a shelf. But are you sure those items will look right in your friend’s home?

While the items might be a great fit in your sense of style, they could also stick out — and not in a good way — if you try to force them on someone else.

You’re better off not taking chances here and simply opting for some other type of gift.

Anything personalized

drouk/Adobe engraver engrave the drawing on the sketch

Buying a personalized gift might seem like the perfect way to make someone feel special. But what happens if the recipient gets the personalized item but doesn’t like it?

Normally, a giftee can simply get a refund or exchange the item for something else that interests them. But that might be more difficult if the gift is personalized.

Chocolate

Wayhome Studio/Adobe holding large bar of chocolate with both hands

Chocolate might taste good to you, but not everyone is a fan. Also, giving chocolate can signal that you didn’t put any thought into the gift and just grabbed a box of candy from the grocery store out of desperation.

Unless you know the recipient of your gift loves chocolate, skip this idea.

Headphones

producer/Adobe man in stylish orange hoodie sweatshirt and wireless headphones

Headphones might be a great gift for the music lover in your life, but they can also be quite costly.

In addition, some people prefer a certain type of headphone. Are you sure you know the gift recipient well enough to make the right choice?

So consider steering clear of this gift and letting your music-loving friends pick out the headphones that are best for them.

Drinkware

gpointstudio/Adobe hot chocolate for women is like medicine

Most people already have plenty of drinkware in their cupboards. When that is the case, the last thing they need is more glasses and mugs taking up the space.

If you are sure that a friend or family member needs drinkware, this can be a good choice. Otherwise, look for something else.

Smartwatches

WavebreakMediaMicro/Adobe family looking at smartwatch in living room

Smartwatches are flashy, and many people love them. But others may not find them useful. In addition, this gift is expensive.

If you plan to go ahead and gift a smartwatch anyway, make sure you know whether the watch will be compatible with the gift recipient’s phone of choice.

Flowers

Wayhome Studio/Adobe woman hides face with palm

The holidays can be a good time to pick up a Christmas-themed bouquet or a festive floral arrangement. Perhaps a poinsettia would be the perfect addition to a giftee’s home.

However, flowers also can be perceived as a lazy choice made without much thought. So, tread carefully here.

DVD player

Pavel Losevsky/Adobe man with dvd-player

Today, many people use streaming services to watch shows and movies. That means DVD players are more to collect dust than to be used regularly.

This was a great gift years ago, but not so much today.

Gift cards

Andrii Zastrozhnov/Adobe satisfied customer with a credit card and a gift

More than any other type of present, a gift card screams, “I couldn’t think of anything else to get you!”

Some giftees love them. If you know someone who feels this way, a gift card is fine. Otherwise, try to put a little more effort into choosing a gift.

Pro tip: If you decide to purchase a gift card for someone, use a great Costco hack and try to get your gift card at a discounted rate.

Christmas clothes

be free/Adobe man wears winter sweater and hat

Christmas pajamas and ugly Christmas sweaters are staples of the holidays. But your recipient can only wear a gift like that for a short time.

This is a gift that will instantly go into the back of the closet until next year.

Pets

Svetlana/Adobe pretty puppy and bright gift box

A new pet can be a terrible gift, particularly if your recipient was not expecting a new animal to take care of.

A pet can be a big commitment and giving someone a new furry friend should only be done in limited circumstances.

Exercise equipment

opolja/Adobe woman sitting on floor after her workout

Buying exercise equipment for friends and family might seem like a caring gesture. But it can be interpreted as a message that they need to work out, turning it into an unintentional insult.

Skip the equipment unless someone specifically asks for a treadmill or weight set.

Kids toys for adults

Jeff Whyte/Adobe Harry Potter Lego set

Some adults love LEGOs or Barbies. Others may collect certain toys from when they were younger.

However, it’s probably a good idea to skip the toy aisle when you’re shopping for the over-18 crowd.

Hobby supplies

simona/Adobe man knitting wool using needle

Perhaps you know someone who loves to knit or play guitar. Those are great hobbies but think twice about giving gifts related to such activities.

The person who enjoys the hobby probably has a much better sense of what they need than you do. So, rather than trying to guess — and hoping you are right — choose something else.

Cleaning tools

PR Image Factory/Adobe man in headphones with vacuum cleaner at home

Yes, it is possible to give useful cleaning gadgets, such as steamers or vacuum cleaners. But these items can seem a little practical and cold when you are trying to express how much you care.

There are likely to be better options that will more clearly express how you feel about someone.

Bottom line

Krakenimages.com/Adobe man holding a birthday present

Regardless of what type of gift you choose, the recipient is likely to appreciate the thought behind your choice. But the holidays only come around once a year, so why not do it right?

Think carefully about what your gift recipient wants and needs. Then, try to choose a thoughtful item that is affordable and will prevent you from slipping into debt this holiday season.

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Author Details

Jenny Cohen Jenny Cohen is a freelance writer who has covered a bit of everything, from finance to sports to her favorite TV shows. Her work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and FoxSports.com.

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