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5 Worst Holiday Gift Ideas (and 5 Good Ones)


Buying gifts during the holidays can be difficult, but that doesn't mean you have an excuse to buy thoughtless (or offensive) gifts. Not when there is plenty out there people want to receive.

Five Worst Gift Ideas1. Gifts you really want

If you’re close enough to a person that a gift to them is something you’ll likely be able to use as well, then odds are they’re going to know that. Don’t give your kid a beautiful edition of your favorite book if he or she doesn’t enjoy reading. No tickets to sporting events or musicals knowing the recipient is going to take you and that he or she never would have chosen it.

The only time this works is if you’re Marge Simpson. One year her present to Homer was a present for him to give to her, because she knew he would forget to buy her something.

2. Subtle suggestions

Exercise classes for your slightly overweight cousin who never mentioned an interest in going to the gym is not considered motivational. An etiquette book for a boorish friend is downright offensive. These sorts of gifts may seem like they are helpful and thoughtful — or maybe you’re making a statement about someone you dislike — but more than likely they’ll be hurtful.3. Themed apparel

Those boxers with the menorah may look cute, but your husband is likely only going to wear them on a weekend at home and only during a three-week period around the holiday. The same goes for reindeer sweaters. Themed apparel has a small window when they can be worn and they look better on kids anyway.4. Food

The holidays are the time of year when people tend to put on the pounds. Unless you’re bringing food to help out the host or hostess, food is a bad idea. Because there are so many family dinners and holiday cookies and chocolates, your food might not even get eaten. And most Americans dislike fruit cake, so avoid that at all costs.

5. For the pro

If someone cooks like Bobby Flay or owns a 300-book library or has gone golfing every weekend for the last 20 years, odds are they already have what you’re looking to get them. The master chef probably has a multitude of cooking utensils and cookbooks. The golfing enthusiast will probably have to return whatever you buy him. And if the voracious reader doesn’t have a copy of a classic, it might be because he or she can’t stand that book.

Of course it is tempting to buy them something in the things they love most. But unless you are absolutely, 100% certain that the person you’re giving to doesn’t have what you’re planning to buy, or needs a new one, save your money.

And the Five Best Gifts

1. TabletAccording to a Discover survey, electronics and computer-related gifts are the things people most hope to receive during the holidays. So it's fair to say that people love new technology and tablets are the newest and hottest right now. There has been an explosion of them over the last year or two, all starting with the iPad. Every tech company is frantic to put one out and more and more people want to own one. The good thing is that there’s a tablet out there for almost any price point.

The iPad seems to be the gold standard, but it will also cost you a minimum of $499. On the more manageable end (but still for someone you very much love) are the $249 Nook Tablet and the $199 Kindle Fire. These two are remarkably similar, and both are Wi-Fi only.

2. Clothing

Once anything holiday-related has been dismissed clothing can be a great gift, and according to the Discover survey, apparel is the second thing people most hope to receive during the holidays. And if your style doesn’t match the person you’re buying for, then you might be better off giving them a gift card to their favorite store. It allows them to buy what they want or need, but also shows that you know a little about them.

3. Host or Hostess Gift

Holiday parties can be a big ordeal for the people throwing them. There’s all the preparation and the food and the decorations and scheduling conflicts (it is the time for family, after all). Offering to bring food could lessen the burden, or bringing a bottle of wine is always appreciated. What’s even better is if these are gifts that can be finished up by the end of the night.

4. Jewelry

For many husbands, this is the no-brainer gift. Jewelry is an easy fall back because it’s always nice and classy.

5. Toys

For many adults children’s toys are baffling. But if you have young ones to buy for there are a few good bets. Right now anything Angry Birds related is sure to thrill a kid. Just realize that if you buy one of those stuffed animals that you’ll find it being thrown all over your house and possibly at you too. If you’re hoping to try and help your child develop skills, then there are plenty of tablet-like devices out there for children, like Innotab, which is only $79.99.

Sure, toys are the top gift to give kids, but they’re not exclusively for the young. Blockbuster video games like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword and Batman: Arkham City already have huge followings from previous installments.

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