Ditching Bad Gifts

The holiday season is upon us, and while it is filled with joy, sitting around wrapped presents can be a bit nerve-wracking. What if you don’t like the present? It can be hard to remain poised and excited when unwrapping an unwanted gift – or even worse, an offensive gift.

Which gifts are the worst to receive during the holidays? How do people react when faced with an offensive gift? We surveyed over 1,000 Americans who have previously received a bad gift to find out. Keep reading to see which gifts you may want to think twice about wrapping.

Worst of the Worst

Worst Gifts Received by Respondents

Clothing was, by far, the gift respondents hated receiving the most – almost 50 percent rated it as the worst gift, followed by around 12 percent rating housewares, decorations, and furniture as the worst gifts. Both clothing and household decors are very personal choices and methods of self-expression. It can be difficult to match the wants and style of someone else, even if they are close family members. It may be best to grab a gift card and let them pick out their own items. Gift cards are a much safer choice, seeing as only 1.4 percent thought they were a bad gift.

Of specific items, sweaters were the most disliked, and clothing perceived as ugly wasn’t too far behind. Socks, shoes, and underwear also made the top worst gift items, coffee mugs, and purses proved much safer bets.

Smile Through It

Top Reactions to Bad Gifts

So how do people react when opening gifts they don’t like? Seventy-four percent of respondents pretended to like the gift, and 30 percent even expressed appreciation. Ripping the Band-Aid off and admitting to not liking a gift is hard for most people to do – only around 13 percent of respondents were able to admit they didn’t like the gift. Instead, the majority simply kept the gift but never used it. Regifting was also a common way to deal with a bad gift, with around 42 percent admitting to regifting a bad gift. If you don’t want the gift to go to waste, or know someone who would appreciate it more than you, it’s important to regift properly so that no parties are offended.

Average Amount to Spend on Coworkers

Whether the gift is clothes, decor, or something your loved one is sure to appreciate, how much is the right amount to spend? This varies depending on whom the gift is for, of course. Respondents reported spending the least when grabbing a gift for a co-worker at an average of just $19.39. Friends got more expensive gifts, with an average of around $25, and the average amount spent on holiday gifts was the highest for significant others coming in at $107.12.

Homemade versus Store-Bought Items

The holiday season doesn’t have to break the bank, though. Almost 41 percent of women and 28 percent of men preferred a homemade gift to a store-bought item. Getting creative and giving a sentimental gift can save you money and stress and may result in more satisfaction than any gift money can buy.

No Offense

Offensiveness of Fitness Gifts

Trying to avoid gifting items that your friends and family won’t like usually means staying away from any potentially offensive gifts. Roaming into the fitness territory for gift-giving is a no-brainer for a fit-crazed friend, but when living a healthier lifestyle isn’t an open topic of discussion, gift-givers might wonder if a fitness-related gift will leave the receiver offended. Luckily, roughly 85 percent of women and 88 percent of men weren’t offended at all. In fact, the majority of men and women were more likely to work out after receiving a fitness gift, despite only half asking for one.

Fit for the Holidays

Received versus Wanted Fitness Gifts

Luckily, for both men and women, the types of fitness gifts they most desired were also the fitness gifts most received. A little over 36 percent of women desired fitness technology, and 39 percent received it. Men, on the other hand, desired workout or sports equipment more than any other type of fitness gift, and over 34 percent received just that. Nutrition and nutrition equipment were the fitness gifts both genders wanted (and received) the least and were also the types of gifts perceived as least appropriate.

Overall, receiving nutrition or nutrition equipment from anyone – a significant other, family member, friend, or co-worker – was viewed as the most inappropriate by both men and women. Across all fitness gifts, men and women viewed co-workers as the most inappropriate giver of fitness gifts.

On the other hand, fitness apparel was viewed as the most appropriate fitness gift, especially when given by a significant other. Around seventy-five percent of both men and women thought it was appropriate for their significant other to gift them fitness apparel. While women viewed fitness technology to be the second most appropriate gift regardless of gift-giver, men thought workout or sports equipment were slightly more appropriate choices.

Gifts That Keep on Giving

There is no perfect guide to gift-giving, as everyone has different tastes. But there are certain gifts the majority agrees aren’t the most wanted during the holiday season. Stray from boxing up clothes and pay attention to what your loved ones are asking for. For the fitness-minded friend or family member who has been dropping hints about wanting to get in shape, don’t be afraid to give the gift of fitness – just make sure to avoid any nutrition or nutrition equipment to prevent any possible offense.

Let FitRated Help You Hit Your Goals

No matter the season, FitRated can help you get results. We’re a small community of fitness fanatics who seek out and review the best fitness products and services. We take the stress out of buying fitness equipment and save you money. That way, you can focus on your fitness goals !


For this project, we surveyed 1,245 Americans who reported having received a bad gift in the past. 550 said they had received a fitness gift in the past. This group also answered questions about their fitness gifts. 719 of the respondents identified as women, and 524 identified as men. Two respondents identified as gender nonbinary. They had to be excluded from the results due to a small sample size. The respondents ranged in age from 18 to 82 with an average age of 37.5 and a standard deviation of 12.1.

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