Thanks, But No Thanks...


We all know the feeling: a loved one hands you a carefully wrapped box, their eyes bright with anticipation, barely able to contain the excitement they feel at the prospect of giving you a gift you’ll love. They’ve put days or maybe even weeks of thought into how to make you smile at this exact moment, with the present you now hold in your hands.

You feel their gaze on you as you pull away the wrapping. You open the box.

Uh oh.

What is that? What is that even for? Are you supposed to wear it? Is that even clothing? What do you say? What do you do?

You plaster a smile to your face. They’re grinning, waiting for you to speak, so eager for their gift to be validated by your approval.

Aw crap, this is awkward.

You tell them that you love it, no, you really do, you were just a little surprised at first–you almost didn’t know what to say–but wow, thank you so much! That’s so, so nice. Really.

Read on to find out about the worst gifts that some of our BTR staffers have ever received.


The only thing worse than the actual gift I received from a (now-ex) boyfriend was the build up to the gift.

His exact words to me were, “This is the best gift I’ve ever bought for anyone,” and he repeated them over and over again for weeks leading up to Christmas.

By the time we opened the door to our fifth-floor walk-up on Christmas Eve, I was envisioning a designer winter coat, an electric guitar, or a pair of ruby slippers… But there, in the middle of our kitchen floor, stacked in a waist-high pyramid, were jars and jars of pickles.

To be fair, when we discovered this specific brand of pickles months prior at a gas station, I did say I loved them and bought a jar. A jar. After I’d finished it, I off-handedly mentioned wanting to find some more, and he said he’d looked online and discovered that you can’t get those pickles at any other time of the year.

As I stared at thousands of pickles, he laughed merrily and explained that he’d totally lied–you could get them at any time of year. He just wanted to throw me off, isn’t he clever, blah, blah, blah.

In retrospect, this is the same man who took me to Dave & Busters for our first date, and Cracker Barrel for our second, so perhaps my hopes were a tad too high.


I’m a big reader and have always loved books; my sister and I spent hours in bookstores picking out dozens of novels to take home, and so I guess that one year for Chanukah when my mom ran out of present ideas, she thought she’d do us a favor and buy books.

Not just any books. No, she gifted a huge cardboard box of books that she bought at a garage sale. We were overjoyed. In our 12-year-old minds, we were utterly convinced that the box contained the latest “Babysitter’s Club” novels, or new favorites from the “Confessions of Georgia Nicholson.”

But then we opened the box.

It immediately became clear that she hadn’t actually looked at any of the covers; the whole thing was chock-full of outdated science textbooks, historical memoirs, and adult dramas. Sure, that might have been great for a 30-year-old, but it’s not exactly what you want when you’re a kid.


When I was a kid, my sister and I would convince our parents that we needed to have a Christmas tree, even though we’re Jewish.

We’d go out into our woods and chop down a scraggly Charlie Brown evergreen, which would almost always fall over because of its scrawny frame and inability to hold our sparse spattering of ornaments. Nowadays we don’t get that into Christmas, and we often opt to pretty much skip it altogether.

A couple of years ago, we went to Mexico for a family vacation over the Holidays. On Christmas day we decided on a whim to draw Secret Santa amongst ourselves, then each head out on our own into the pueblo with a 100 peso budget (approximately five bucks).

With the time and monetary confines, our choices were limited. My sister drew me as recipient, and bought me a bag of some nondescript green herbs and some baking powder-esque substance in a plastic baggy. Apparently, she thought I wouldn’t notice their resemblance to a couple of controlled substances, and she schemed that they would make their way into my suitcase and cause me to do some flustered explaining to airport officials on our way home.

Thanks, Sis!

Feature photo courtesy of Flickr user JD Hancock.