The definitive list of terrible Christmas gifts. Because nothing says 'I don't know you at all' like bath salts. 



Before you call me ‘ungrateful’ or ‘selfish’, let me tell you that I LOVE Christmas.

Not for the gifts, but for the abundance of time I get to spend drinking wine and eating pork belly with my family. I’m incredibly grateful if anyone takes the time to buy me a toothpick, let alone a gift.

However, over the years, I’ve come to develop a list of repeat offenders when it comes to rubbish gifts. I’ve received and/or given all of these gifts (I’m not proud), in workplace secret Santa’s and at awkward family Christmases with family members you see once every five years and feel obliged to buy a gift for.

It’s time their reign of terror ends once and for all. Let us begin.

1. Bath salts


Nothing says ‘I don’t know you at all’ like bath salts.

Let’s not forget the fact that they sink to the bottom of the bath, leaving you wondering why anyone ever thought tiny pointy rocks in a bath could ever be comfortable. This gift will sit in your bathroom cupboard for twelve months before you find time to actually sit in a bath tub (if you own one), by which point you may just lose your temper and throw them in the toilet after someone does a poo, telling yourself they will work well as deodorisers (word to the wise: they don’t).

2. Scented tea candles

I KNOW YOU BOUGHT THESE FROM KMART/THE REJECT SHOP. I know, because five minutes after burning it I developed a very strong headache from the sickly smell of ‘gardenias’ (read: industrial strength fragrance) and the candle proceeded to shatter. How do you even choose which fragrance someone will like? By which I mean: why did you think I/anyone would like a liquorice-scented candle?



3. One of those $15 soap/lotion/foot cream sets from the chemist


You know the ones: they’re pre-packaged with a ribbon and a blank gift tag, and feature scents that somehow just don’t quite sound normal, like ‘banana & dragon fruit dream’. This is the gift that people give when they don’t know what to give and have simply run out of time. It is doomed to be re-gifted forevermore, which is probably why they don’t have a use-by date on the pack. I received a pack (sourced last minute from a discount bin at the chemist, the friend admitted) that caused me to break out in a horrendous rash immediately and develop a fear of bargain bins, hence my next item on the list…


4. Books from the bargain bin

These books usually fit under the umbrella of ‘self-help’ or ‘romantic fiction with a cover that looks like it was shot in 1972’. A gift called ‘The poisoned wildflower’s dilemma’ or ’10 steps to detoxing your life’ thinly veils the message of: ‘I know you like books, so I assumed you therefore like all books ever written’. Funnily enough, most people tend to have specific tastes, and books that are in a bargain bin are usually there because they don’t cater to any tastes whatsoever.


5. Oil/Marinade/Spice sets from bargain stores


The perfect gift for someone who loves to cook, right? WRONG. These things taste like dust. Seriously. Dust. Take a moment to wonder whether a marinade set that costs 10 dollars and features four different sauces could be too good to be true. Quick tip: it is. A store that is renowned for discount toasters and socks probably isn’t the best bet for the gourmet chef in your life.

6. Portable Foot spas

I have a theory that every mother has at some point received one of these and stored it unused in a wardrobe. In theory, they’re so portable that you simply fill them with water then lay them on a stack of towels and ignore the possibility that you could be electrocuted at any time.

In practice, they take about twenty minutes to set up and I am yet to meet a mother who had a spare forty minutes under her belt to soak her feet in these strange contraptions that are extremely loud, to the point that sitting and relaxing in front of the television with your portable electrocution device becomes impossible.


So there you have it. The definitive list of terrible Christmas gifts to avoid giving. And if you receive on of these… Well… Maybe an awkward conversation about the status of your relationship is in order.



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