Disclaimer: A lot of these gifts can be useful if you donât 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 Carvalloâs Putting Challenge instead, and âthe office geekâ trapped in yet another wasteful Kris Kringle.
Overly specific kitchen appliances that only make one uncommon item
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 theyâre 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 canât 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.
300-in-1 tabletop arcade game machines
These always seem like such a great idea. They have tiny controllers and little screens. Theyâre adorable. Plus, they have 300 whole (legally distinct) games! Itâs amazing!
However, you know what else has 300 games and doesnât take up room on your desk? Your phone. Unless youâre buying this for a little kid who doesnât 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 canât 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 youâve forgotten your usual, better headphones at home and just need something to help you survive the train or bus ride.
However, if youâre getting these for Christmas, youâll 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 donât make that weird popping sound. Besides, itâs 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 thatâs a perfect gift.
Any tech item described as ânoveltyâ or a âstocking stufferâ
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 canât go wrong with that. Nice soaps and candles are also fantastic stocking stuffers.
But unless itâs a useful spare charging cable, no one wants a tech stocking stuffer. Novelty tech is usually code for âextremely poor-quality item with a design youâll find vaguely amusing for a few minutesâ.
If a member of your family has been duped by an adorable âchocolate swirl emojiâ Bluetooth speaker (bless their innocence), thereâs 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.