Earlier this month, Captain Awkward had a letter from someone whose crappy sister and brother-in-law was giving her deliberately bad gifts. Not in a “let’s exchange gag gifts” kind of way, either, they gave her a bunch of obviously used DVDs for shows she’s not interested in for her birthday.
I actually clicked on that with real trepidation — worried that this might be someone who had clearly read my suggestions and implemented them but for a perfectly nice person (the sort of person who reads Captain Awkward!) Fortunately for my own peace of mind, it was clearly someone who was adhering more to the “open declaration of war” approach. These were not subtly bad gifts.
But just to be clear: please do not use these suggestions to bully perfectly nice people instead of having an adult conversation that goes, “hey, can we just agree not to exchange gifts among adults? I would love to get together for the dinner and skip the present-opening, could we maybe all make a donation toward [some mutually agreeable cause]?”
No, this is a guide for people who have to buy a gift for the sister-in-law who refuses to make any vegetarian/gluten free/edible-to-you food at the big family Christmas dinner other than carrot sticks. Or for those who need a present for one of those Theoretically-Optional-But-Actually-Totally-Mandatory office events, and you drew the name of that person who puts microwave popcorn in the office microwave, enters the 4 and a half minutes the packages always claim it’s going to take, and then nips off to the bathroom. Or maybe you’re Tiffany Trump and shopping for your father. There are, let’s be honest, people who deserve bad presents.
Annual disclaimer: I don’t have to give gifts to anyone I don’t like; this list was inspired by the traumas of friends. If I’ve ever given you a gift that was terrible, it was genuine cluelessness on my part and I really was trying to get you a present you’d like. (This sort of cluelessness is super common, and provides everyone else with crucial plausible deniability when choosing gifts inspired by this list.) Also, if you give me presents, I promise I am not scrutinizing them for signs that you secretly hate me; I’m thinking “oh wow, a PRESENT.”
ON TO THE LIST.