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How Should I Respond to a Gift I Hate?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Receiving gifts from people who were not born to shop may be a mixed bag. Sometimes, an anxious shopper will give you something terrific, and other times you might receive something that you absolutely hate. It is always important to bear in mind that the thought is what counts. The gift should be received graciously and the person who gives it should be thanked.

This may differ a bit in close relationships, such as with a spouse — particularly if a spouse's gift-giving ability has been called into question in the past. Perhaps your spouse insists on getting you tools, or a wife only ever gets her husband socks. Where money is not an issue, and where couples have had time to discuss presents in the past, expectations may arise for a slightly better one.

When receiving a gift, it is always best to be gracious.
When receiving a gift, it is always best to be gracious.

When this does not occur, fights over the insensitivity of gifts can occur. Some couples simply stop giving each other anything because it results in blowups or hurt feelings. One way to avoid this is to present each other with lists for possible presents. Couples may want to agree they can only give each other things off their lists. Though this may take some of the surprise out of an occasion, it also takes out the sting. Each member of the couple gets something he or she would want, rather than something he or she would gladly throw out the nearest window. After all, if you've asked your partner to get you an expensive and premium maternity pillow so you can sleep on your tummy, wouldn't you be frustrated if they got you something entirely different instead? Even so, learn to be thankful and come to an agreement so you would feel more appreciated with their gift next time.

A boss giving an employee underwear is inappropriate.
A boss giving an employee underwear is inappropriate.

When the matter has not been discussed in advance, receiving gifts you hate should be met with gratitude, even when you don't feel it. Perhaps Grandma will always choose that shade of puce for you, or perhaps a new boyfriend really did think his present was just what you would love. Do give the person the benefit of the doubt, especially if it is a first offense. You can also try asking them why they chose that particular gift. If you received a fancy pregnancy pillow even though you're not pregnant, consider that maybe the gifter thinks that it's a generic gift exclusive to expectant mothers, which would actually make it a sweet and thoughtful gift!

Gifts should always be met with a thank-you so as to not appear ungrateful.
Gifts should always be met with a thank-you so as to not appear ungrateful.

Occasionally, some gifts are not only undesirable but also inappropriate or offensive. A boss who gives underwear, for example, is crossing lines set up for appropriate behavior in the workplace. Or maybe even a pregnancy pillow to someone who isn't even pregnant! Granted, some gifts can still be used even though the person who got it didn't really do their homework, but that doesn't make it okay. In these instances, it is definitely appropriate to give the offensive gift back to the giver, with a statement that you cannot accept it or that it would make you uncomfortable to accept it. This may help head off approaching sexual harassment or at least halt the person in his or her tracks.

Some people believe that a gift should be kept even if it is not wanted because it was given as a token of affection or appreciation.
Some people believe that a gift should be kept even if it is not wanted because it was given as a token of affection or appreciation.

Gifts given by friends that perhaps contain offensive language or are designed to insult may also be returned to the friend or the store, if you have a receipt. They do not require thanks if they are inappropriate. You can, if you want to be polite, thank the giver while returning the gift and say it really cannot be accepted. No further reason is required. If they ask for the reason of the gift return, give them the answer in a nice way. Tell them how you truly feel and if they insist, don't be embarrassed to let know which items you will most appreciate, like that neat cooling pillow or baby monitor that tracks breathing.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent WiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

Learn more...
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent WiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

Learn more...

Discussion Comments


At Christmas, I got my friend a beautiful window frame and curtains, and she got me shoes I don't really like. She knows I love flowers but the shoes don't look cool, and I don't really like them.


It stinks. The only birthday present I got from my parents isn't only useless, but makes me aggravated to look at it. I want to smash it with a hammer, and chuck it out the window.


The saddest thing about this and the comments that are here is the fact that being thankful that you are both together and are both in good health means nothing if you haven't got the person an expensive gift. Seriously, some people here are so typical of the type of person who would rather have things instead of appreciating the fact that you have a love and the fact that you are lucky to still be together.

Stop being so interested in what they got you and be thankful you have someone who would take their time out to give you something.


Wow. I have read all these posts and it just saddens me. These are not just post about bad gifts. These are posts about how awful your husbands and wives are and how depressed and unloved you feel. It makes me feel bad for you. If this is how your significant other treats you, it's time to move on. They have. They are staying because they can walk all over you and yup, you let them!

My husband and I have been together 15 years and if he treated me this way it wouldn't have lasted 15 months! He knew I wanted a pandora charm bracelet for Christmas but he didn't know what I would like so he got me three of them and after Christmas we picked out charms together for them! It sounds like no one puts any thought into you at all. Not just for a gift but for everything. It's sad.


I have a friend who can be either the world's best gift-giver, or the worst. Sometimes, she sends things that are really great, when other times, she sends stuff that's useless, silly or downright strange. This year, she sent me a book connected to her favorite TV show. I don't watch the show and she knows it. I don't even particularly like the show. What in the world made her think I'd want a book about it? It's not going to convince me to watch, that's for sure.

Still, I sent her a note thanking her for her gift, and telling her I know I'll enjoy it. I'm giving it to a friend's husband, who does like the show and will probably appreciate it, but my friend doesn't have to know that.

If you get a gift you hate, just grin, thank the giver and be gracious. Then, you can do anything you want to with it.


I feel awful. I love my mum and dad so much, and I know they try so hard to make me happy and see my face light up on Christmas, but the problem is that my mother and I are complete opposites in things such as taste in fashion, music and anything.

Two Christmases ago, my aunty got me the prefect Christmas gift - a Pandora bracelet with three charms, and she always buys me more when she visits, as she lives abroad and doesn't see us often.

Seeing that I adored my gift so much my parents, whom I love so much, decided to pick out some Pandora jewelry for me - excellent present one would think. But it hurts so bad to say that their choice wasn't anything I would have liked. As I mentioned before, my tastes are polar opposites of theirs. I feel terrible because they spent so much time and thought into getting me the two sets of Pandora earrings, and I'm such an ungrateful brat.

I did, however, accept the gift graciously and when asked I said I liked it and would wear it, but when I went to my room I was so upset not by the fact that I don't particularly like the gift, but by the fact that they put so much effort in and that I couldn't be honest with them, because if I was it would just be plain mean on Christmas day. To make it even harder for me to be honest, the gift was non refundable so I would have just upset them and it would have been a waste of money.

I wish I liked the gift just for the fact that there was so much thought put into it, and it brings a tear to my eye that I'm so hard to shop for, and a rubbish gift giver.


I kind of stink at giving gifts. I always do too much, so when the office I started working at had a secret Santa, I tried to not go overboard, but everyone else did. I felt horrible, like I didn't do enough, even though he said he loved the gift.

My husband and I just find things we want and then say, "can I get this as my Christmas or birthday gift from you?" and then we don't buy anything for the actual day but a nice card. It's nice because we get what we want, and there is no pressure to do a lot. We do still keep some things a surprise, just for the fun of it, but those are usually small unimportant things that are just fun.

Last year for Christmas instead of getting gifts for one another we just bought the WiiU because we're both big Nintendo fans. It was totally worth it, because we wouldn't have been able to afford it and other gifts, and we play it all the time.


My husband of seven years used to be the best at giving gifts.

Our first year being married for Christmas, when we were financially strapped, he had saved money and got me a gorgeous necklace when I did not ask for anything, and I still wear it to this day. Another year, for my birthday, he got me an amazing and beautiful Edible Arrangements bouquet delivered to my office, that had all of my favorite fruits on it, and attached was an amazing and romantic note that said how much he loves me and what an amazing mother and wife I am and to enjoy my special day.

I'm very simple when it comes to gifts. If I do want something, I will physically show him what I would like when we are out shopping. I even love cards a lot. Cards make me very happy, and I’m even a huge sucker for any kind of flowers.

Over the last two years, he has suddenly stopped caring or putting any thought into gifts. I just had my birthday and he didn’t even tell me happy birthday on my special day. I thought that was weird because a week before my birthday, he remembered that it was my birthday the following week.

We were out shopping at the grocery store and he said that I could pick out my own card and pick out flowers for my desk at work. I thought he was joking but when I looked at him, he was dead serious! He then commented that I'm too hard to shop for.

Um, yeah, that's really romantic!

He knows that I like surprises, and that comment was just plain laziness in even trying.

I told him to not even bother because there was no point in me picking out my own card, and picking out my own flowers for my desk at work because that ruins the element of being romantic and surprising me. Yeah, that would also be pretty weird bringing your own flowers into your office and having everyone ask who they are from, and you basically say from yourself.

So he never said happy birthday to me, then two weeks later it was our seven year wedding anniversary. He never said happy anniversary, he asked me the day after our anniversary if we were celebrating at all. We did end up celebrating, but I made the reservations for dinner and I called one of the hotels here in town and made reservations to see the Blue Man Group live.

He didn’t have to lift a finger, and I know for a fact that if I didn’t step in and plan anything, that he wouldn’t have planned anything at all.

Now here it is a month before Christmas and I like to plan ahead and buy gifts early because I do not like last minute gift giving. I put a lot of thought into my gifts, and last minute shopping to me is lazy. I love Christmas. I love it even more now that I have two small children, and I love seeing the joy on their faces. My husband gets into the holidays less and less every year. He says that it's a waste of money and too much work to get everyone something.

I have already shopped for everyone and I'm officially done with my Christmas shopping. I asked my husband a month before I started shopping what he wanted for Christmas. He specifically told me that he wanted a santoku chef knife set, a set of 3 knives (7', 5', and 3' blades). I got him exactly what he asked for, in black, his favorite color.

He ended up finding his gift the other day, which I thought that I hid really well, and instead of putting it back and pretending that he didn’t see it (which is what I would have done, out of being courteous and considerate that someone bought you something and hid it to give to you on Christmas) he commented that he found it, then he had the nerve to tell me that he researched what was on the box online and commented that it is a crappy brand of knife and it got horrible reviews online. He said that he saved me a lot of disappointment for Christmas day, that it was good that he found it, otherwise if he would have opened it on Christmas and discovered that it was a crappy brand of knife he would have been upset.

He then had even more nerve to grab his Google tablet and show me a picture of the actual set that he wanted, which was $180! He never showed that to me when I asked him what he wanted; he kind of brushed it off telling me what he wanted in a halfway manner. He explained what he wanted to me, but did not say, "I want this exact set made by this specific company,” and he then could have showed the picture to me when we were talking about gifts. He has yet to even ask me what I want for Christmas, and I highly doubt that he will even think of getting anything for me.

I am so hurt and very, very upset that he would be so rude and inconsiderate like that. He has never done that to me. I'm not going to spend that much money on one gift anyway, especially when we have small children and family coming into town and I have already bought gifts for everyone. I got gifts for everyone and spent under $180!

He always asks for expensive things, and a lot of the things he asks for are not realistic price wise.

Like, for example, he also asked for a pressure washer that is almost $300 and a tool set that is $200.

He has always had expensive tastes; he even bought $3,000 custom wheels and tires for our car one week after I gave birth to our daughter, which I did not agree to.

I'm so tired of giving and giving and getting nothing in return.


Wow, after reading through the replies, I'm so shocked by the selfish gift giving.

I'm known to be a great gift giver. The key is attention to detail (examining a friend's style and taste), and careful listening (about his or her wants and needs), and buying gifts when you see something just right (then gifting it early or saving it for that special occasion. I've been known to spot something in March, buy it and save it until Christmas).

My hubby is not as fashionable as I am, so he isn't attuned to what's trendy, but he's a great gift giver to me because he's a good listening. We both know what pleases the other person and we give gifts very thoughtfully.

Gifts are about the most expense, but they certainly should be from the heart. I think some people need to open the lines of communication with their significant others!


I've had enough. Another birthday and more crap: a small cheap bottle of store brand cider, a compilation CD of music I already have, a book I have already read from the library and won’t reread ("Revenge of Prada") and a web cam? The only person who will use that is my teen daughter, who went shopping with my husband. It was given in the carrier bag of the store it was bought from and the receipt was left in the bag. They spent more on their lunch than my birthday -- all of £23.75.

I bought him the long list of fly fishing flies for our summer holiday in Scotland (they cost over £40) and a special shirt with SPF and neck burn protection collar, DVDs of films he wanted to see and one he saw and loved, and books on subjects he loves. The money is completely immaterial; a ball of knitting yarn of my favorite color or a book on a subject I like from a charity shop would be great if thought had gone into it, but the first words from him were "go and put the coffee on."

I’m sitting here crying. I have no other family (they were abusive and I had to leave for my own safety) and his have, by some miracle, remembered to send me a card this year. I had nothing last year until almost two months later and it was a spoon rest brought back from their holiday. She brought one back for everyone: friends, all female relatives etc.. My brother-in-law then said, “You can see who's the favorite daughter-in-law now.” She took the other daughter-in-law to New York shopping for a week and bought her concert tickets with flights to Dublin.

We were all sharing a house for the parents-in-law’s golden wedding anniversary and I ended up, as usual, cooking and cleaning and looking after all the children for that week. They didn’t even say thank you, just wondered when I paid the difference and got an earlier ferry back to mainland even though we had done the night returns as we could not afford the day rates.

I'm 39 and really not looking forward to next year. His mother's already asking what I’m doing for his 40th. I held a huge party and cooked for 70 odd people, but my thirtieth was completely forgotten. It is also our 15th wedding anniversary next year. We have to buy presents for all in-laws every year and get phone calls and other reminders, but we receive nothing. They didn't even buy us a wedding present. They just left us their bill at the hotel and the bar tab at the reception.

Their income as pensioners is 10 times our combined wages and they don't have to feed children or pay a mortgage and they holiday around the world in complete luxury. I feel completely unloved and so tired. When my daughter was small, receiving homemade cards and art was fantastic. I loved the time and thought put into those picture frames and trinkets.

Before anyone says tell him tactfully, well, he has been told tactfully and non-tactfully over the years. I don't know why I’m so upset. I really don't expect anything else. Thank you for giving me a chance to vent another night crying into my pillow over things my household does not understand.


I buy my wife expensive jewelry all the time, most of the time "just because I was thinking of her". She never wears anything, claiming that she has no time to put it on, or dig it our of her drawer. She never gets me anything for my birthday, fathers day etc. She didn't even come visit me when I had a stroke in the hospital, nor did she go to any of the follow-up appointments that I had with my doctor in spite of me begging her to come with me, so I wouldn't be alone.

She is a robot with a list of to-do's and I am at the bottom of the list, and never have my needs taken care of. For 13 years, I showered her with attention, love, affection, gifts, and never asked for anything in return. I have had enough of this. If it weren't for the kids, I would be gone.


I've been pouting for three days. My husband recently made a vow to be more thoughtful, and less cheap, but I guess he just can't help himself.

He has always been a reluctant gift giver because he hates to shop and he hates to throw away his money unless it's on a gaming table or an old car.

Our first Christmas when we were dating I gave him a portable music player for skiing, and he gave me a coffee maker so he I could make him coffee when he came over. The next year we were married and while I gave him several gifts including a jacket, he gave me two boxes. One contained waltz records and some old man slippers, and the smaller box I saved for last hoping for a watch or jewelry, was a pair of ski pole grips. Not new ski poles - just the grips!

I have pointed out to my husband who rarely bought me birthday, Valentine's, mother's day, or anniversary gifts, that it shouldn't have been that hard for him since for the first 10 years of our marriage he worked at a department store where he had the opportunity and inspiration on a daily basis. But instead I would let him get away with giving me no gifts, because not knowing if I was going to get a gift in return, or getting a crappy one, was too insulting. And taking money out of our joint checking account and putting it in a card gets old fast.

Well the reluctant giving and receiving has lived on to it's 28th year. This year I got a box of Turtles candy, the sixth season of Dexter (that we both watch) and the free phone upgrade that I didn't want. I should have known. For the last few years I've gotten a small box of Turtles followed by something impersonal, if not downright idiotic like a miniature drill. Hey hubby, I could have used that drill a couple of months ago when I had to hang all the blinds in the new house without your help!


I feel so horrible today. My husband bought me a Kindle Fire HD for Christmas and when I opened it, I didn't know what it was. I am not very technologically minded. I can just about work the remote control, and we already have a computer, an iphone and a camera so I don't know why he would have even considered this as a gift for me. I haven't even taken it out of the box.

Money is a bit tight for us this year, so we don't have extra to spend on things he knows I would not like. He has refused to return or sell it, yet says he doesn't mind that I will never use it.

I should be used to this; he has never bought me a gift I have liked. That sounds so selfish, but he always buys stuff that he wants for himself then gives it to me as a gift. It doesn't help that his Mother keeps asking me how I like my new Kindle. She just won't let it go.

Honestly, I would not mind if I never received a gift from him again. They just make me cry.


Christmas is a very stressful time. This goes to all of those who commented saying they are unappreciative of the gifts they received.


My husband is a bad gift giver, too. Even things he "puts thought into" are sort of lame. I never say anything because he acts proud of himself.

This year for my birthday, he got me not one, but two stuffed animals and a card. He was going to get me my favorite room scent but he couldn't find it. *sigh*

We are in our 30's. I find no sentiment in stuffed animals and so I'm not even sure what to do with them. I didn't say thank you or even acknowledge them but praised him for the thoughtful/loving things he wrote in the card and the thought he put into the rest of the evening. Maybe he will get the subtle hint if I don't even acknowledge them at all and use positive reinforcement on the good parts of his "planning". Maybe someday I will give the stuffed animals to our future children.

I know I hold him to a high standard and maybe I shouldn't. I pride myself in getting really thoughtful, useful gifts. Oh, well! If I lower my expectations, I won't be so disappointed!


I got a pandora bracelet as a gift. Sounds great, right? No. I got it from a friend right after my husband lost his job. Pandora charms aren't cheap. Even the silver ones are expensive. And whenever my friend sees me, she makes a big show about asking me how I am doing filling the bracelet. I got a few cheap knock off charms but they don't fit right. Every time I look at the bracelet or she asks about it, I feel so horrible. It is a constant reminder of how bad we are doing financially.


My birthday is coming up in a few days and my boyfriend of over three years picked me up and told me we were going birthday shopping. Which made me think -- hmmm. My birthday is in three days and you haven't even thought about what to get me, let alone actually gotten it yet? Whatever, I think. At least I can pick out a gift wherever he takes me.

He takes me to Ross. Ross is a cheap discount store worse than Kmart! This is a guy who blows thousands of dollars (not kidding) in casinos and hands over his money to strippers. He'd rather give some random naked girl his money then get me a quality thoughtful gift, especially after all his crap I put up with.

Actually, he continues to receive Tiffany's catalogs in the mail from when he got his ex-girlfriends Tiffany's jewelry. Such a slap in the face. I'm all for 'the thought that counts' but when these men can't make an effort three days out of the year, then that tells you something.


My wife has a 1 carat, 2 carat and 3 carat rings. I have purchased suvs, sports cars been to Hawaii,

Caribbean, Mexico. She has six dooney and burkes purchases.

All she buys me are college whatnots and brief cases

(which my company furnishes).

This year I am going to insult her and tell her don't buy me anything for any reason. I have told her this before.


Wow. It makes me so happy to know that so many other women are in the same boat! I don't care about the present (just as well as sometimes there isn't one), but would love to think that there was some thought behind it. Why do they find it so difficult to make any effort?


I guess I just need to vent. My boyfriend of four years just moved into a new apartment, and I wanted to get him a housewarming gift. I wasn't sure what he would like, but one day when I was visiting my favorite art gallery, I found a print that I thought was absolutely fantastic for my boyfriend and his apartment scheme, both in look and subject matter.

I was so excited to give it to him, especially since he chooses not to celebrate holidays. However, he prefaced opening the gift with a comment that gifts don't mean much to him at all, since he's not used to receiving them. Then when he opened it, he commented on it negatively, before remembering his manners enough to tell me he liked it anyway, and thanked me. I confronted him about it the next morning in the nicest possible manner, and told him that I felt hurt when he said that gifts don't mean much to him, when I had made the effort to get something for him because I love him. I said that I would appreciate him thanking me for the thought. But he said that I am selfish for thinking that, and that I put more value in my feelings for the gift giving than his feelings, which I should know by this time. I guess I should, and I will now!

But I think that even if it is a little selfish for me to think that, he should still be more grateful when he receives a gift. "It's the thought that counts" really is applicable here.


What if you received a valentine gift like a tote bag from Michel Germain? It comes free with the gift set of perfume but you didn't get the perfume. Should you say something or just keep the bag and be grateful?


My husband didn't give me anything for Valentine's Day or last year's or last Christmas. We had a secret Valentine's exchange within our family: three young kids and us. We pulled names out of a hat and on Valentine's Day, you would either buy something for your Valentine, or do something nice for them. I gave the three kids a chance to shop in store. My middle son drew my name. He threw it at me two days before an unsigned card he got me with his grandfather. He told me he was my secret admirer. He was mad at me because I wanted to take them to the store to get some gifts and he wanted to play with the computer. Made me sad.

I got my sister a gag gift of a little man who, when squeezed, will say six romantic phrases for you. She sent me an email about how much she hates my gift. I just got it now. She left her boyfriend last summer because she couldn't get over him cheating on her. My gift reminds her she is alone and her boyfriend was never romantic for her. She complained that even my five year old daughter tells her she needs a husband and kids and this upsets her.

In her terse e-mail, she told me she wants to give the gift back or give it to charity. I told her to throw it out. I thought flowers would remind her of her lack of partner or even our mom's death, which happened in November. I didn't do chocolate because she is watching her weight.

I can't believe I have a full family (except my mom) and I am miserable on Valentine's Day. I can't believe I am crying as I type this. I can't believe much.


My husband of two years bought his mom two dozen roses, and bought me a card!


So today my husband of 23 years gave me an early valentine gift. He stopped giving me gifts many years ago (this means christmas, birthdays, anniversaries, anything). I have given him lists just in case he would think of me, but no luck.

So today I got the gift, and it's just not me in not in this lifetime. It was so, so hard to say it was great, but I thought that I many have to wait 10 more years to get another gift. Does this say that he just doesn't listen or he just doesn't know me still?

The gift was an iPhone case that is a huge wallet made of snake skin with a big gold label on it. I carry a small handbag normally so where am I going to put it? He said when we go out that I could just take that instead, but we don't go out ever.


I bought my wife a pearl necklace and matching earrings for her birthday, taking thought to match a dress she had. She appeared very happy initially, but later when she was angry about something else, she mentioned to me that she thought they were too expensive so she stopped wearing them. I didn't pay a fortune for them but they weren't cheap either. I thought they were a nice gift at the time. I figured she was just letting off steam.

Time passed and I asked her if she was going to wear them again, when she said she had nothing to match this dress she was going to wear. She told me that she returned them without telling me. I felt bad that she would do this, as if the gift meant nothing, or as a way to hurt me.

From that point on, I have had a real difficult time buying her gifts for anything. It's gotten to the point where I don't get her anything and I am not sure what to do about it. She claims things are too expensive but she acts resentful when it appears she has been forgotten. How do I fix this situation? She seems to have this attitude that she knows better than me about nearly everything and it's destroying our marriage.


For his birthday, I took my boyfriend out to dinner and then a play. For my birthday, he gave me a picture frame. Enough said.


When my partner and I started dating nearly four years ago, his presents were amazing. He'd listen to things I said I really like and then six months later after I'd forgotten all about it, bam! There it would be under the tree.

Lately, it's just gotten bad. For my 21st I was given a giant celebrity cut out. What was I to do with that? I can't throw it out because surely he'd notice the life size person missing, right? It scares the life out of me every time I walk past it.

This Christmas, he asked me to write a list. I did. Did I get anything on the list? No I did not. Instead I got something that I think is horrible. (He got it so he could get discounts on the rest of the family presents.) Why do they bother asking for help if they won't use it?


My birthday is a few day before christmas. I got a big fat nothing for that, and for christmas a really cheap bag and aftershave (thought it was perfume).


My husband of a year has some difficulty getting me gifts (we've been through several birthdays, Christmases and now our anniversary) so this year for Christmas I made him a list, told him where the items could be purchased and listed them from my favorite, to ones I would enjoy, but not really love. Instead he got me a cheap beginner's drawing and sketching kit. I'm a writer, I don't have an artistic bone in my body.

He bought it on Amazon, and I'm wondering if there's a way to return it. I know for a fact that I'll never use it.


My husband is in the midst of assembling a big ugly (albeit expensive) radio, cd player with even bigger, uglier speakers that he gave "me" for Christmas. This is to replace a small, discreet radio/cd player that I also almost never listen to!

Guess who adores listening to music and already has a state of the art sound system in his studio in the house? If you guessed my husband, you'll have guessed right.

I find it impossible to gracefully accept gifts that he buys "for my own good." He's a good guy, really. But an oddly selfish gift giver. I cannot (will not) have the ugly radio/speakers in the room he's planning to put it in. Please wish me the best in my plan to move the atrocity into another location in the house.


I put so much thought in to my boyfriend's Christmas gift. I even wrote a poem! So, when he gave me a water filter for my apartment and an e-reader, it upset me because the e-reader looked like a hand-me-down and a water filter? Really? It just hurt, but I also feel like maybe I'm being materialistic?

I also went to his family's house and he brought his brother the newest kindle and his aunt some pricey boots and sneakers. I could tell he definitely put more thought into them, but maybe I'm just expecting too much.


I have been dating my boyfriend/love of my life for three years now. I know he does not have a lot of money. Neither of us do, so we made a limit of 40 dollars for gifts for each other. This year, he bought me some chapstick, a chocolate bar and a calendar. It hurt a lot! I pretended to be tired and went to bed. I can't stop crying. I mean really, chapstick and a calendar. That's like what you buy a stranger, not a girl you are in love with. I don't know what to do.


This is our first Christmas together. We married this year and I was so hoping that he will get me something I'll love to have for years. But then, he gets me something the day before Christmas and hands it over, saying how much he wanted to get one. He has been thinking it for quite some time now.

Well, I think, if he wanted it he should have bought it for himself. Why call it my Christmas gift? And friends, you sure want to know what he got, don't you? Well, it's a photo frame! He also gets a print out of our wedding pics to put in it temporarily. I liked the idea. But a photo frame can never be that perfect Christmas gift for me. I would rather not have one at all.

I am sort of hurt terribly, not knowing how to react. I am kind of upset today and I cried and cried, not knowing how to talk to him about this. My first Christmas after my wedding hasn't seemed to go very well.


My wife and I no longer exchange gifts, and it works out pretty well. We have enough stuff, and anything we want we are likely to buy ourselves. When you try to give a thoughtful gift and it falls flat, it hurts both people.

I will ask her if she wants anything for her birthday, and she will either say "No" or "Well, I would actually like X". Either that, or I will ask "Would you like Y for your birthday?" and she will say "No, that's all right, I don't need anything." Surprise gifts are a real minefield after many years of marriage.


How can you thank your spouse for his/her "thoughtfulness", then complain that they know you have an allergy to peanut butter, lavender, whatever? Thoughtful means they think.

My husband bought me clothes for my birthday. I don't like what he bought, he charged them (I'm killing myself trying to payoff our debt)and right away says he has the receipt. Why bother? I tell him every year no gifts, we can't afford it, and I honestly mean it. Why does he do this? Being thoughtful would mean not getting me something "just to get me something". No thought goes into it at all. It just ticks me off!


I hate to post a "I can top that crummy gift story", but I just have to vent.

On our fifth anniversary (wood is traditional gift) my wife buys me a 15 dollar, fake wood cell phone holder from Target.

On our sixth anniversary, (copper, iron is tradition) she buys me a 10 dollar fake metal picture frame, again from Target, but this time, she makes up a story that the frame was hand made by a man who makes wrought iron items.

When I asked her to please explain why the picture frame had a Target sticker on it, she gets angry with me saying "how dare I embarrass her, by letting her know that I know her hand made story is a lie."

Geez. Somebody call Dr. Phil, because I'm thinking my wife is beyond help.

Ladies, please tell me my wife isn't unique and that some of you have given similar gifts and told similar lies about the gift.


Thank you all so much for posting your frustration and hurt! I just received a gift from my adoring husband of two weeks that was so offensive and disturbing that I was overcome with hurt, tears and exasperation. Reading your comments made me realize that we all make mistakes sometimes and plenty of good husbands sometimes don't listen and buy thoughtless gifts - it doesn't mean they don't love you. Thanks for the perspective!


One year my husband bought me a hideous mustard yellow sweater cashmere sweater. When asked why he picked it, he said he looked in the closet and saw that I didn't have any yellow sweaters and that he knew I liked cashmere. I hated that sweater but I kept it and wore it because he tried.

Sadly, it's fifteen years later and his gift choices have gotten worse -- much worse. My birthday was last month and instead of the gift that I was expecting (because he specifically told me not to buy it for myself as he was planning on getting it for me) he handed me a present with the warning that he knew we didn't have anywhere to put it and it wasn't really something I was likely to use, but he thought I might like it.

He was right: we don't have anywhere to put it and it was something that neither I, nor anyone else I've asked would ever use. Even worse, it was substantially more expensive than the gift I was expecting and he refuses to return it.


So my boyfriend of over 6 months somehow got the bright idea that it would be better if his mother and sister (whom have never met me) took care of my birthday presents. Yeah, I got two pink velvet jewelry boxes with denim fishbone earrings and a matching necklace. I also got a sweater with sliver sequin hearts. I am 31 not 13.

It has caused a lot of tension between us and I could have gone with the thought that counts adage except he "outsourced" my presents. I'm trying to figure out how to get over this. He says sorry but doesn't do anything to make up for it. Thoughts, suggestions? Am I just being a spoiled brat?


For Christmas my boyfriend got me a book on resolving conflict, a candle and a set of little blades. Valentines day a box of three chocolates.($1.00), no card and for my birthday (today) I got a bowl, a bag of popcorn, a bag of chips, a can of mixed (clearance section of Dollar General) nuts and a box of junior mints. I feel like I am worth nothing in his eyes.


I've always tried to take this tactic when receiving a gift I hate: thank the giver warmly and sincerely, then take the gift home, and if there is a receipt, exchange it, or give it to charity, or to someone I know will appreciate it.

My husband is generally pretty good at giving gifts, but unless it's something really bad (as in the case of the person allergic to peanuts), I just smile and thank him sweetly for the gift. I mean, what's the point in getting so teed off about it? No one is perfect, and if the hubby is great in other ways, count your blessings.

In the case of the peanuts, or something similar, you wait until you calm down, then sit down with him and say, "Honey, I love you and I appreciate your thoughtfulness. Think for a minute, though. You know I'm allergic to peanuts, and I don't like lavender. Why would you do this?"

Chances are, you'll get this response: "Aww, you know I hate to shop and I just didn't even think about it."

Then you can say, "I understand. So how about we do this? You pick out a gift card for me and I'll shop. That way, you don't have to worry about picking something I can't use." Then suggest four or five places where you like to shop.

There's rarely malicious intent behind a bad gift. Most men just don't think about it. It doesn't occur to them that the gift might not be a good one.

If you get tools for a birthday, then get him lingerie or perfume for his. Tell him you'll be glad to swap the tools for the female stuff. That might even be the answer. Each of you get stuff you like for the other's birthday. Then you'll both have a good laugh and be satisfied.

If you're still hot about a birthday present being unsuitable, then ask yourself what's *really* the issue. It's rarely just the gift. The gift is that proverbial last straw.


I need to vent, I am so angry right now. My husband got me a kindle for valentines. You would think I'd be happy about it. Not! Since, in the past years when he hinted about giving me one, I repeatedly told him I do not like the idea of it.

I love the feel of books too much to prefer a kindle to them (plus most books are more expensive in kindle format!) and anyway there are not many kindle titles available for my country (not UK). So he completely forgot what I had told him and bought it for me, basically wasting good money for something I will never use! Urrgh!


Yeah, well my husband is pretty self-employed and his business has been very very slow, to say the least. I told him repeatedly that I did not want any gifts for Christmas, that I have everything I need and I specifically told him I did not want any jewelry.

We just bought a new truck for him this year because he needed one. Seriously, I work every day and I have all I want or need and my big goal is to get out of debt. So I bought him a nice dress shirt on sale because he actually could use one. What does he do? He goes out and buys a $400 *gold* necklace for me which I opened in front of all of our family.

I absolutely have told him a million times that i don't like gold jewelry and I seldom wear jewelry anyway. The length i hate and the weight of it irritates me. And what really ticks me off is he charged the damn thing which means I will be mostly paying for it! Yes, I am so irritated with him. But right now, I am afraid if I say anything I am going to lose it with him.


I am an easy to please gift receiver. I am honestly happy with a nice card or letter.

But if you tell me you got me something, (as did my hubby this year) and you're all excited about it and you put thought into it and you get me tools? Whatever!

My feelings are totally hurt! I got him the Blue Ray player he wanted and he got me tools! Really? And then proceeded to tell me that he put a lot of thought into my gift! Whatever! Sorry. Just needed to vent!


I can't believe that my boyfriend got me a present I cannot stand watching and on top of that it's a USA import. I've been with him for over four years and you would think he knows me well by now.

This is the first time he brought me something that I hate. he should know what I want. I'm fairly easy to buy presents for. I just hope when he gets his present, he realizes how much thought I put in his and that he will replace my present with something else.

CSI boxsets would have been better. I'm really starting to hate Christmas. Just needed to rant!


LOL - I'm just glad to see that I'm not the only one! I have the most wonderful husband in the world... 353 days a year. On Christmas, Valentines and my birthday? OI! We make lists for one another. This year I got a few things that were on my list and then I got several "almosts". I wanted a particular bedspread that would finally match our drapes... I got a bedspread, in a completely different color (it was on sale). I wanted "fun" pots and pans - in red or blue - I got new pots and pans... in black. I wanted him to okay me keeping our foster dog (actually he could have kept everything else and just put a bow around her neck and we'd have been good)... nothing. No comment, nothing except a sweatshirt with a dog on it and a callus statement of, "now you can't say that I didn't give you a dog for Christmas". It hurt... it hurt a lot. Next year I think I'll buy him "almost" what he wants...


Stayc2008 -- I would just be forthright. Better that he know about it than not? Why waste the money right? Still, you should probably tell him tactfully. Tell him that you truly do appreciate the thought. It was so considerate from him to take the time to buy you a gift! Let that be clear. Don't gloss over that too quickly. But you can follow up, I think, with but you should know that I'm allergic to peanut butter and dislike lavender. Why not tell him and just go through this year after year? It's a waste of his time too! I know I'd rather know that just keep doing the wrong thing. Just be sure to tell him nicely and tactfully!


my husband is hit or miss. sometimes i wonder if he even notices the style of clothes i wear, the music i listen to, etc. he really can be very clueless about gift giving. i think he gives up way too easily. once he bought me a pecan log and wrapped it at christmas. yes, he gave me some other pretty good gifts, but the pecan log is the one i remembered! i don't even like pecans! he claims it was a joke, but i could just picture him panicking in the checkout line and buying it at the last minute. you have to give your husband some credit for trying!


My husband is a fool when it comes time for gifting. It's like he lives on another planet and doesn't even know me! I used to get fake nails until I realized they were rotting my real nails and stopped wearing them. Five months ago. I also did a good deal of complaining about said nail place. I DID mention that I do need my hair done and would love a facial. I only go to one person for my hair and he knows this. Where does this man get me a gift certificate? To the bad nail place. For one hundred dollars. He claims that they do hair too. NEVER! I beg him to stop buying me crap as he totally blows at it. Puts no thought into it whatsoever. Every holiday leaves me feeling so unvalidated and lousy. Tell your husband to give you cash or nothing at all. I doubt he will change as mine sure hasn't.


I received a gift basket from my husband, for valentine's day. He was so thoughtless in buying the gift, it had peanut butter candy in it and i'm allergic to peanut butter. Then it also had lavender soap, lotion and some other crap that I wouldn't give my granny. He knows that I hate Lavender ! How should I tell him that his gift sucks ?

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