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December 2021

Worst Christmas gifts

Consumer staff reveal their worst ever Xmas pressies.

Despite the good intentions of family and friends, occasionally we can end up with Christmas gifts that disappoint.

Sometimes, what we’re given just doesn’t match our tastes. Occasionally, however, it’s hard to imagine how such a bizarre gift would suit anyone.

Here are some of the worst Christmas gifts Consumer NZ staff have received over the years, ranging from funny to infuriating.

Second time’s a charm

As a teenager, my nana gave me a box of handkerchiefs. I hate handkerchiefs but the worst thing was, I had gifted them to her the year before! And, one year, my mum gave my girls this ugly stuffed doll thing that didn’t have a face. It was designed to stand in a corner of a room, and it only had a back with nothing on the front. My girls were terrified of it. It was an old shop display, apparently – mum had bought it when they were closing down.– Kirsty Rennie, content product researcher

Creepy Chrissy

In last year’s secret Santa here at work, I got a porcelain doll. I remember when these dolls were in vogue (when I was about 10) but now I just find them a little disturbing.” – Rebecca Styles, investigative writer

Another one bites the dust

One Christmas, not long after having my baby, I got a cheap, slim-sized T-shirt. I recycled it into a dust cloth!” – Anonymous

One to axe

I once received an axe as a secret Santa present. It was from my boss’ boss, and he evidently forgot to buy a present. He said he panicked on the morning of and grabbed the axe from his house. I think it was new. It was a slightly awkward bus ride home that evening. To this day, I still don’t really understand his gifting logic.” – Gemma Rasmussen, head of communications and campaigns

Off the wall

When our kids were small, my then husband gave me a cobweb remover – a long brush to reach the ceiling. He said he’d noticed I didn’t clean the cobwebs when I cleaned the house, so this would help. I gave him a cold hard stare and said the cobwebs were now his area forever more. I never once touched that thing and still feel enraged just thinking about.
– Anonymous

Dirt cheap

When I was at school, I was given a pet rock for secret Santa. The rock was literally from the ground, still covered in dirt and not even painted or anything!” – Antoinette Spicer, investigative writer

Trucking fantastic

My sister specialises in giving me funny gifts. She is the master at it. Over the years, this has included a sparkly velvet wall hanging, a dream catcher, and a Dukes of Hazzard watch (actually, that last one was pretty sweet). But her best one was a CD of truck driving songs – Trucking Greats. The CD cover actually had a truck superimposed over a confederate flag. To make it even more budget, the songs weren’t even the original versions. They were “sound alike” copies by a European covers band. Who would have thought they were so many songs about driving trucks?” – Paul Fuge, Powerswitch manager

How to prevent unwanted gifts

If you receive a gift you don’t want, you may not be able to return it to the store. You can donate, re-gift or try to exchange it, but encouraging family wish lists could prevent both receiving and giving unwanted gifts.

A quick Google search brings up many options to manage wish lists online, and some also have a Secret Santa generator.

Alternatively, get a gift voucher for your loved one’s favourite store so they can choose their own gift or put it towards something more expensive they’ve been saving for.

Otherwise, of course, there are Prezzy cards. They’re almost as flexible as money but a bit classier than giving straight-up cash. You can find them at supermarkets and petrol stations, as well as The Warehouse, Life Pharmacy and Paper Plus.

Just be aware of expiry dates in the case of gift vouchers and Prezzy cards. You’ll typically have two years to use a Prezzy card, while the expiry dates of gift vouchers can vary from one retailer to the next.

Check before you buy any voucher or gift card to make sure there’ll be plenty of time to use it, and make sure the recipient knows the expiry date.

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