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Unfortunate gifts we’ve given and received at the holidays

“UH, THANK YOU! It’s really, um, great!” We’ve all been there. Unwrapping a terrible present in front of the expectant gift-giver has got to be one of the most uncomfortable moments a person endures during the holiday season. Here, Fulcrum writers share their own unfortunate stories of disastrous gift-giving experiences.


Ha ha ha holidays

My family likes to give each other gag gifts for Christmas. When my cousin Blayne was younger, my grandmother decided it would be funny to give him a lump of coal and tell him he was on Santa’s naughty list. Another year, my mom picked me to be on the receiving end of the prank. She handed me a bedazzled gold Christmas gift bag and I looked inside excitedly, only to find it was stuffed to the brim with nothing more than plastic grocery bags.

—Michelle Ferguson


Boyfriend FAIL

One Christmas a few years ago, I was in a long-distance relationship with a boy from my hometown. I was super excited for our gift exchange, as I was making him his favourite meal, had bought him a shirt by his favourite brand, a case of the beer he liked best, and had written a beautiful card. As we had been together for almost a year, I figured he would have put the same amount of thought into the gift he chose for me—I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Instead my boyfriend bought me a men’s t-shirt in his favourite colour and blamed the sparseness of the words in his card on the fact that he didn’t know what to say. At first I couldn’t believe what had happened. It wasn’t the gift itself that was a problem; it was the complete lack of thought put into it. In the end, my boyfriend explained himself and made an attempt at gifting me something more meaningful. The shirt became a favourite in my wardrobe—even though it’s way too big!

—Elizabeth Laurels 


Christmas with Uncle Ray

A few days before my fifth Christmas, my uncle showed up at our home with an enormous box covered in festive wrapping paper. It was the biggest box under the tree and the tag on the wrapping read, “To Kevin, from Uncle Ray.” I shook the box every day and tried to guess what was inside. I couldn’t imagine anything that big!

On Christmas morning, my mother grabbed the camera and took a photo of me holding the giant box. She continued taking pictures as I opened the gift and managed to catch my horrified face on film when I saw that my Christmas present was a 50-inch Christmas angel that lit up when plugged in. It looked like an electric Barbie for grown-ups.  Thanks for ruining Christmas 1995, Uncle Ray!

—Kevin McCormick 


It’s the thought that counts… Right?

One year, some of my friends decided to do a “Secret Santa” gift exchange. I drew the name of someone I wasn’t well acquainted with and I wasn’t sure what to get her. Around this time, I had been making a hobby of using packing tape to make thick moulds of things and decided one of these moulds might be a good gift idea.

Having nothing interesting on hand to cast in packing tape, I decided to use my bathroom sink. The result was irreparable damage to the faucet of my bathroom sink—I needed to use a knife to remove the tape—and a terrible gift that my friend most definitely threw away. I also had to lie to my landlord about why there were gouges in the faucet.

—Brennan Bova


Thanks for the boobie-warmer, mom!

My mother is notorious for giving eccentric presents. Two years ago, she filled my brother’s stocking with condoms. The year before that, it was a toy duck that screamed when you picked it up by the neck.

But last year I got a present like none I’d ever seen before. On Christmas morning, I ran downstairs, sat between my brothers, and opened my stocking, only to find a pair of Bosom Buddies staring me in the face.

What are Bosom Buddies, you ask? They are a weird, off-white, tacky excuse for a boobie-warmer. Made from sheep’s wool and hardly big enough to fit the tiniest of cup sizes, my boobie-warmers came with the following instructions: Stuff inside bra cups to keep warm on frigid days. Even worse than the embarrassment of showing them to the room was the realization as I was holding them that I’m allergic to sheep’s wool.

—Kiera Obbard


An Irish Christmas

My best friend Finbarr is the youngest of seven children in a traditional Irish family. Christmas is a very important event in his house, as his entire globe-trotting family comes together for the holidays. Fin’s parents, sick of trying to get him to pitch in more around the house, devised a master plan to get back at him over Christmas. On the morning of Dec. 25, Fin was surprised to find a spatula under the tree with his name on it. The following two Christmases, he received potato peelers. After the second potato peeler, Fin finally got the hint.

                                               —Joshua Pride