What to do with those pointless little gadgets you got for Christmas

Disclaimer: A lot of these gifts can be useful if you don’t have money for better quality versions, or are just handing it to a small child you know will break it. This story is for the folks who wanted Bonestorm and got Lee Carvallo’s Putting Challenge instead, and “the office geek” trapped in yet another wasteful Kris Kringle.

Overly specific kitchen appliances that only make one uncommon item

Now we can have fairy floss every day!

Now we can have fairy floss every day!

You know the ones, you see them in the middle aisles at Kmart and Big W. Is there a household in the world who is going to make gummy lollies or fairy floss often enough to justify owning their own machine? What about a chocolate fountain or Nescafe (not Nespresso, but Nescafe) machine? Can they not microwave or water-bath melt chocolate, or stir in their own instant coffee? There are even machines that make waffle bowls, and separate appliances for making small and large pies for just $79.

When kitchen bench and cupboard space is at a premium, these are the cruellest gifts.

The good news is that as long as they’re still in the box and you can identify which store it came from, Big W and Kmart are usually pretty good at letting you exchange it for something actually useful.

However, if you can’t return it and are feeling a little vengeful, always bringing fairy floss/gummy lollies for the children of the gift giver (or, better yet, feeding the treats to them just before returning the children to their parents) is an excellent way to get your own back.

Generic Road Race Simulator is my favourite arcade game.

Generic Road Race Simulator is my favourite arcade game.

300-in-1 tabletop arcade game machines

These always seem like such a great idea. They have tiny controllers and little screens. They’re adorable. Plus, they have 300 whole (legally distinct) games! It’s amazing!

However, you know what else has 300 games and doesn’t take up room on your desk? Your phone. Unless you’re buying this for a little kid who doesn’t have a phone or game console, this is just going to be used for maybe 20 minutes on Christmas night, and then put at the bottom of a junk drawer, never to be used again.

If you got one of these for Christmas and can’t return it, the best you can really do is donate it to the office break room, or give it to the nearest child.

Cheap supermarket headphones

These $5 or $10 headphones are great for when you’ve forgotten your usual, better headphones at home and just need something to help you survive the train or bus ride.


However, if you’re getting these for Christmas, you’ll already be home/take them home where you already have your better headphones that actually sound at least halfway decent, work consistently in both ears, and don’t make that weird popping sound. Besides, it’s not like your phone has a 3.5mm jack anymore anyway.

However, this gift is golden and actually useful. This gift means you can finally fulfil the petty dream so many of us have had: passive aggressively giving headphones to the bastard on a train who thinks we all want to listen to their invariably terrible taste in music/anime. Go live that dream.

In hindsight, maybe that’s a perfect gift.

Any tech item described as “novelty” or a “stocking stuffer”

Stocking stuffers exist for the Dudley Dursleys of the world, to make it look like there are more presents than there really are. Lollies are great stocking stuffers, you can’t go wrong with that. Nice soaps and candles are also fantastic stocking stuffers.

Chocolate swirl is the most wholesome emoji.

Chocolate swirl is the most wholesome emoji.

But unless it’s a useful spare charging cable, no one wants a tech stocking stuffer. Novelty tech is usually code for “extremely poor-quality item with a design you’ll find vaguely amusing for a few minutes”.

If a member of your family has been duped by an adorable “chocolate swirl emoji” Bluetooth speaker (bless their innocence), there’s not really much you can do, save from attempt to return it, offload it on a child, or hope someone on Gumtree is willing to pay $5 for it.

Sometimes the best and least wasteful way to show that you care is just to write a nice card.

Alice is a freelance journalist, producer and presenter.

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