10 Hints on How Not To Choose a Gift

Whether it’s special birthday, get well or leaving do, it’s not always easy to choose a good gift that. Rather than telling you what to do, today I’ve decided to explain what gifts you should avoid to buy gifts that friends and relatives will treasure.

1. Stay clear of appliances

Unless you are certain that she dreams of owning a deluxe mixer because cooking is her passion, or he’s actually asked, in writing, for that state of the art car dust buster – stay clear. Especially avoid vacuum cleaners, washing machines or any other device that might be used to clean up after you.

2. “Helpful” gifts

Never give an overweight friend fitness equipment or diet books. You might think you are doing them a favour but they may be offended. Think about what your gifts are saying before you buy them. Your partner may buy herself anti-wrinkle cream but might not be so happy if you start giving it to her.

3. Charity Donations

Okay, it’s not PC to admit it, but not everyone wants to read those words “A charitable donation has been made in your name” in lieu of unwrapping something shiny with a little bow on top. Unless you’re pretty sure that it will be well received, or has been specifically requested, avoid.

4. Something You’ve Always Wanted

Unless you are truly buying a gift for someone with similar taste to yours – don’t buy something you actually want for yourself. Just because you want a Playstation, it does not mean your mum or girlfriend will appreciate it, especially when you ask to borrow it before she’s even got it out of the box.

5. Generic or Cheap Gifts

Mugs, toiletries and lottery tickets might be suitable as ‘stocking fillers’ or for people you don’t know very well, but beware when buying these for close friends and family. This kind of gift just says: “I really had no idea… so here you are “.

6.Gifts that Don’t Match the Occasion

I once spoke to a man who could years later still vividly recall his disappointment when receiving a shirt from his girlfriend as a 40th Birthday gift. He was expecting a more memorable – and more personal gift for that special occasion (he now has a new girlfriend).

7. Pets

“Live” presents are usually best avoided, unless you are 110% sure that the recipient wants a pet or you are buying for your child. Dogs and cats are a big responsibility and it is best not to push anyone into that situation without warning and there might be a reason why they don’t already have a cat or a dog.

8. Clothes

Clothes aren’t a good idea, unless you have seen the recipient try it on and put it back because they could not afford it. Chances are that you will get the style, size or colour wrong and the recipient will feel forced to wear it at least once in front of you. Men, consider this doubly true when buying underwear for your partner.

9. Vouchers

These can be a great gift for posting to people who live far away. However make sure that you buy the right type of voucher – Mothercare vouchers for new parents or book tokens for students are great but Marks and Spencer vouchers for teenagers might not be so useful!

10. Dumb awards

“Best Mum” mug, and “World’s Best coffee makers” T-shirts are out. Consider them only if you are under 12 years old or if you want to make a cheesy statement.


For more tips on how to buy great gifts check out our gift guide.

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