There are many reasons that a present may be way tackier than you expected. For example, the giver may be time-pressed, short on cash, creatively-impaired, dealing with health issues, simply clueless... or you may actually be really tough to shop for!
But anyone can give a gift that makes you really wonder how such people survive in the world on a day-to-day basis.
"All I wanted was a skateboard, but all I got was this stupid sweater." - Super Deluxe
The usual suspects
Here are profiles on a handful of the lousy gift givers you're likely to encounter on your birthday or in any given holiday season:
1) Dollar-store shopper: Just for you, some slightly damaged, cheap or otherwise deeply-discounted junk. As a bonus, they may excitedly tell you how little they paid.
2) The Recycler:From these people, anticipate secondhand -- or just plain used -- stuff, or regifting.
3) The eBay-er:Elvis bobblehead dolls and purple pleather purses. Need we say more? (See also: Dollar-store shopper.)
4) The creative types:Expect handmade gifts, like knitted sweaters or a landscape oil painting. (These people are also the fruitcake and cookie bakers -- which can sometimes be a good thing.)
5) The stereotypical clueless guy:Just tell yourself that the blender and the three-sizes-too-large shirt were bought with the best of intentions. Really.
6) The "More dollars than sense":The fancy crystal dinner bell to the hideous avant-garde jacket they bought in Milan, these people prove that spending a fortune doesn't necessarily equate to gift-giving success. What sucks even more is that they picked up these purchases abroad, so there's no way to return anything.
7) Here's what I'd like: You'll find yourself with a CD/DVD or item of clothing that they conveniently ask to borrow.
8) Yesteryear: They still think of you as a kid, and buy goodies like footed pajamas, drugstore perfume or butterfly barrettes.
9) Time warper:From fondue sets to video tapes, these people are still mentally in the last century.
10) Randomizer: A frog hand puppet, cartoon-character underwear or even some cans of soup -- this person is like a box of chocolates: You just never know what you're gonna get.
11) The procrastinator:A hodgepodge of whatever they could find in the stores at the last minute -- candy bars, keychains, and the new perennial favorite: gift cards.
12) Gotta-get-'em-something:Cash (hopefully more than five bucks) stuffed in an envelope.
13) Shopping channel addicts: Under the tree you'll find oddball kitchen gadgets, "As seen on TV" fitness equipment and faux diamond jewelry.
14) The self-improver: From a handy-dandy nose hair clipper to a fat-burning workout DVD, take a deep breath and tell yourself they have your best interests at heart.
For tips on how to deal with cringeworthy presents, check out our article, "Thanks... but ick: How to receive lousy gifts with grace."