Christmas fail: 12 Canadians reveal the worst gifts they’ve ever received

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Canadians reveal the worst gifts they’ve ever received
Here are some of the best worst gifts Global News readers have ever received – Dec 24, 2019

It’s the thought that counts — unless it doesn’t.

The holiday season is a time for gift-giving, but being on the receiving end of these presents wasn’t necessarily the best.

From being gifted car seat covers for someone else’s car to getting a wedding cake at the age of 16, a burnt-orange jumpsuit or an actual piece of preserved cow dung, for these Canadians, it would’ve been better to get nothing at all.

Here are some of the best worst gifts Global News readers have ever received:

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‘Hanukkah gift from hell’

“My 12th birthday was a particularly exciting occasion because it happened to land on the first night of Hanukkah in 2010. I thought my parents would reward this coincidence with double the presents, or perhaps one super-gift that would make my dreams come true — for the record, I was dreaming of an iPod Touch. Instead, I received the same Hanukkah gift as all my siblings: multi-coloured socks and a CD about Greek mythology entitled School on a Disc. The worst part of the ordeal was my mother purchased both items from Mastermind Toys, meaning she browsed shelves of kid-appropriate toys and somehow left the store with literal school on a disc. School on a Disc soon became a running gag within my family, used as a code to signify someone receiving or giving an unwanted present.”

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— Josh G., Toronto, Ont.

Car catastrophe

“My husband (now ex) gave me car seat covers and a hood ornament for a Grand Marquis car; for his car. I was taken aback. I don’t still have the two gifts as they were for his car, so he promptly installed them in his car. It’s laughable now at least.”

— Kim H., Winnipeg, Man.

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Creepy or crafty?

“A family member loves to do interesting vintage doll crafts and so I have gotten the strangest gifts from her. A couple of years ago, she gave me a handmade Kleenex box cover. It was a doll head glued onto faux fur.”

— Carly D., Vancouver, B.C.

LISTEN: How a gift led to the “most traumatic Christmas ever”:

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‘Piece of crap for Christmas’

“I received it from my mother (Santa) on Christmas Day around 1980. The gift was a cow patty direct from a farm in Alberta. It was varathane-covered with a small, battery-powered clock and numbers attached. I was grossed out and [it was] very disgusting. Like, whose mom gives their child a piece of crap for Christmas? I knew it was a gag to get me back. I no longer have it as it got broken from my move from Alberta to British Columbia many years ago. It never made it on display.”

— Rob H., Kelowna, B.C.

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Orange you glad you didn’t get this for Christmas?

“It was a burnt-orange, two-piece jumpsuit. My husband gave it to me based on his tastes for clothes, which can be just gross. Even when I give him pictures of sweaters to buy me for Christmas, he still strays off that and gets something ugly. Thankfully, he gets a gift receipt so I can exchange it for something tasteful. I smiled and thought to myself, ‘Gosh, how ugly’ and buried it in the back of my closet for years. I made sure it would never see the light of day again. Two years ago, I was clearing out an old storage closet to make room to hang the winter coats, and it was still in there. I gave it away for a clothing donation so I would never see that thing again.”

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— Debby F., Winnipeg, Man.

Progress, not perfection

“My husband gave me a bottle of contact lens cleaner — I don’t wear glasses or contacts — with a box of dryer sheets. When I asked him why, he told me that was all the store had left. We’ve been married 42 years this year, and his gift-giving has improved. A couple of years ago, I got a set of pots and pans from Larry the Liquidator and, last year, a hand-held Dirt Devil.”

— Bev C., Sutton, Ont.

READ MORE: What’s the worst Christmas gift you’ve ever received?

No scents is good sense

“[It] has to be the year my sister bought me perfume. I have never worn perfume in my life but I tried to look happy and thanked her profusely. Funny part of the exchange that year was that I bought her a rice cooker and she asked me for the receipt. She wanted to exchange it as she didn’t like it.”

— Maryse B., Calgary, Alta.

Knock-off Christmas

“The year was 1989. At 11 years old, I had just one item on my Christmas list: the newly released video game console Sega Genesis. Christmas morning came, and I was certain a Genesis was under the tree, wrapped up and ready for an endless gaming session. Months of anticipation built up to the big moment of me opening my final gift. I unwrapped it, only to find a TurboGrafx-16 video game system. Never heard of it? Yeah, there’s a reason. That Christmas I learned to never expect anything in this cruel existence.”

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— Shaun T., Edmonton, Alta.

Something’s fishy…

“My mother gave me a box of tuna Hamburger Helper and some cans of tuna one year for Christmas. She asked me what I wanted and I told her she knew me well enough and that something practical would be nice. I laughed in good fun and thought it was a joke until my mom told me she knew I loved tuna casserole growing up and that I could make my own version of it for myself. I didn’t sulk about the present though. I think I have a good sense of humour and thought the story of the gift was a great present in itself, which I still enjoy sharing. This year I am returning the favour and she’s getting a box of tuna helper and tuna in her stocking.”

— Aimee Sheppard Bucholtz., Langley, B.C.

Wedding bells or silver bells?

“We always went to my grandparents in Victoria for Christmas when they were still alive. Christmas morning [1977] comes along, and we’re opening our gifts. My mom hands me a card, and inside it says my big gift was way too big to bring and I will get it when we go home. Being 16 at the time, you can guess what I thought it was! My insides were doing the happy dance because I just knew it had to be a car, what else could it possibly be? A couple days later, we get home and mom sends me into the bedroom while someone delivers my gift. Imagine my surprise (horror) when mom says, ‘Ok, you can open your eyes now,’ and there are five different-sized wooden boxes in front of me and not a car. I’m already bummed out, but then I open the boxes to find a wedding cake. Not only was I 16 years old, but single to boot. I was dumbfounded and very let down, to say the least.”
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— Katy F., Nanaimo, B.C.

Two sizes too small big

“Four years ago, when I was 30, I received a polyester bowling shirt that was about two sizes too big from my terribly out-of-touch father. I told my father I didn’t bowl, then he got upset and said: ‘It’s not a bowling shirt, it’s a cool guy shirt that cool guys wear.’ I typed the shirt brand into Google, brought up their website, and their slogan was ‘makers of fine retro-style bowling shirts.’ I showed my father, who got furious, continued to deny that it was a bowling shirt and ultimately took the gift back from me, saying: ‘Well, maybe I’ll just wear it myself!'”

— Alex H., Ottawa, Ont.

READ MORE: How the Royal Family does Christmas, from gift giving to turkey dinner

Rocking on thin ice

“At the time of this tender gift-giving, I was living in Kamloops. It was my 30th birthday and I was feeling particularly old and fragile. My husband of 11 years gave me an old-fashioned wooden rocking chair. I burst into tears and refused to go out of the house for the rest of the day. The silver lining was I began to examine why on earth I was living with this guy, anyway. The rocking chair actually came in handy after I remarried and had babies that liked to be rocked as they nursed. So I ended up having more happy memories with the chair.”

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— Ann L., Nanaimo, B.C.

Hole-in-one? Not so much

“The worst Christmas gift I ever received was from my mother. During my second year away at university on Vancouver Island, I had taken up hot yoga and mentioned to her that I would love a large gym or duffel bag. On Christmas morning, I was beyond horrified to receive a brand-new golf club carry bag. Inexplicably, my mother tried to convince me that it would ‘work just fine’ because it was ‘much bigger’ and was ‘pretty much the same.’ Thankfully, the poor woman kept the receipt and I have this cringe-worthy story for the rest of my life.”

— Julie W., Vancouver, B.C.

READ MORE: How to navigate the booziest time of the year when you don’t drink

Candy for Christmas

“My husband of five years (at that time) gave me a ‘Gloria the Hippopotamus’ Pez dispenser in 2008. I was not impressed. We enjoyed the movie [Madagascar], for sure, but wasn’t a huge fan or anything. That Christmas, I was in my first trimester with our twin girls. I had been experiencing a lot of complications, and my memory was of him asking me what I wanted for Christmas and me telling him I didn’t care. He says I told him I didn’t want anything, but he felt like he should get me a little something for the stocking, so he got me the hippo and himself the giraffe. We laugh about it now, but I was not happy at all and may have cried a bit. I no longer have it. I got rid of the dispensers when we moved homes over three years ago. Never used it. I don’t like Pez candy.”
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— Sandy M., Edmonton, Alta.

Dollar-store disappointment

“We do not exchange gifts by agreement, but my stepmother always makes a big production of ‘giving’ at Christmas. Consequently, we are all gifted what she deems appropriate. Last year, I got a pair of dollar-store rubber gloves and two plastic flower clips — for bags, I guess  —with tags still attached. Our jaws dropped to our chest in stunned silence, then we burst into laughter. As I’m not a favoured family member with her, I wasn’t sure if it was meant as a slight or joke, so I didn’t mention it until post-Christmas to my two stepsisters. Turns out, they received the exact same gifts!”

— Darcy G., Courtenay, B.C.

[Responses have been edited and condensed.]

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