Don’t do it: The worst Valentine’s gifts for men

Think your man dreams of stuffed bears, shavers, socks and ties? You’d be wrong. We asked the men of Australia to tell us which Valentine’s Day presents make them back away slowly and run for the hills.

Man holding valentine giftImage Source / Stockbyte / Getty Images

From a year’s supply of toothbrushes to unwanted concert tickets, the men of Australia have suffered under the misguided romantic attentions of their Valentines. But 40 brave souls have agreed to relive their horror so that you may learn from their experiences and avoid the carnage this Valentine’s Day.

The worst present ever

Ever wondered what kind of nightmarish present might be seared into a man’s memory for life? For the most part, the answer is none. A significant portion of survey participants revealed a sentimental streak, saying they appreciated every gift ever given to them. But before you breathe a sigh of relief and continue wrapping the nose hair trimmer you bought, there were a few exceptions.

“My girlfriend once gave me a pair of underwear with a sketch of a penis ironed onto them. I guess she thought it would be funny, but it was kind of weird,” says Mark, 27.

Jacob, 24, recalls a time he received pre-used hand and body creams.

“She re-gifted them because they made her skin break out,” he says.

Misguided toiletries, it seems, have caused the discontent of more than one Valentine.

“A friend of mine once got a year’s supply of toothbrushes and some toothpaste from his girlfriend. She included a note about minty kisses, but it was, well, strange,” says Jack, 33.

Although less significant in flair and delivery, unwanted concert and movie tickets ranked among the top of the abhorred Valentine’s Day present lists.

“I got given tickets to my girlfriend’s favourite band — clearly more a gift for her than me,” says Luke, 35.Isolated guinea pig

“My girlfriend sat me through six hours of Pride and Prejudice when a local cinema had a special showing, insisting that I’d like it. It was awful,” adds Stewart, 27.

Clothing was not beyond the reach of contempt either.

“My worst Valentine’s Day present? Socks! Mustard-coloured socks, that is. Why?!” says Daniel, 31, baffled.

One unfortunate Valentine even received an animal.

“My ex-girlfriend gave me a guinea pig and a bag of pet food, but I had to buy the cage and all the other bits,” Matt, 35, recalls.

Guinea pig photo credit: GK Hart/Vikki Hart, Photodisc, Getty Images

Things men don’t want

If you don’t have plans to buy a rodent, don’t flick your hair and strut your stuff just yet. Common Valentine’s Day presents didn’t rank well, either. Flowers, CDs, ties, teddy bears (even ones holding proclamations of love), socks and electric shavers didn’t get many hearts a-fluttering.



Isolated red rose

“Flowers aren’t usually a great gift for a man — especially if they’re nicer than the ones he got you,” says Luke.

The sentiment is shared by a large contingent of the respondents. Aside from feeling uncomfortable about receiving them, many of the men noted that flowers simply don’t last very long.

“They die after a couple of days and then you’re left with the task of deciding when it’s okay to throw them out,” says Nick, 30.

Rose photo Credit: Martin Harvey, Photodisc, Getty Images


“Do people still listen to CDs?” was a commonly-posed question. Many of the respondents confessed that they no longer have the necessary equipment to listen to compact disks. However, when given the option of an iTunes voucher instead, they found it to be too impersonal.

“It’s the equivalent of saying, ‘Go buy your own gift,'” explains David, 31.


Electric shavers

Almost all men ranked electric shavers poorly, saying they already had one, didn’t use one or didn’t like the inference it was making. Valentine’s Day, apparently, is not the time to tell your man that he needs a closer shave.

“Since I already have a shaver, I’d seriously start questioning the meaning behind her getting me another one,” says Chris, 26.

Although, conversely, if your man is in need of a replacement, this is likely to be one of his favourite gift options. Almost a quarter of the respondents said they’d appreciate a shaver if they had a need for it.



As dashing as your man might look in a tie, it’s likely to get him hot under the collar.

“Ties aren’t romantic or sexy. A tie would be a relationship red flag for me,” says Simon, 31.

And even if he’s keen, it seems the question of taste remains a concern.

“If [the tie is] not nice, you should have stuck to the flowers, at least I’m allowed to throw those away,” jokes Daniel.


Teddy bearsIsolated brown teddy bear

While some participants appreciated the sentimentality of a teddy bear or Valentine’s Day soft toy, most found the gift to be superfluous.

“I don’t like clutter, so not really sure what I would do with it after,” says Jacob.

“Soft toys always end up being clutter and look a bit odd in a grownup’s bedroom,” Noah, 29, agrees.

Teddy bear photo credit: Stockbyte, Stockbyte, Getty Images


Although some men appreciated their inherent practicality, socks didn’t get many pulses racing.

“I tend to wear socks until they’re full of holes, so they’d be a welcome present, but they’re not exactly romantic are they?” says Murray, 29.

Most men agreed that, while they’d find use for them, socks were better left as a private shopping pursuit or a Christmas gift option for desperate family members.

What men want

So if romantic movie marathons and ties aren’t it, then what is a Valentine to do?

Easy. The best way forward is to mix practicality with a whisper of sentimentality and a personal touch.

“Go with the personality type,” advises Simon. “For the sporty man, a cool new gym outfit; for the trendy guy, a fragrance or designer underwear; for the professional, designer cufflinks; for the hipster, a vintage manbag; for the foodie, dinner at a top restaurant; for the nerd, a Blu-ray box set of Star Trek or Doctor Who; for the creative, a cool print or a photo he took turned into a wall print.”

Is your man a foodie? Check out these top romantic dining ideas >>

Isolated box of Valentine's day chocolates“The best present would be something that he needs, related to the thing that he loves,” says Mark, “It doesn’t need to be soppy or romantic. Experiences are cool. Experiences are awesome, I think.”

Aside from experiences, which piqued the interest of most of the respondents, sexy presents were also generally well received. All of the men placed nice underwear near the top of their Valentine’s Day gift list, along with massages and sexual experimentation.

If your Valentine is a new addition to your life and you’re not ready to go quite so risqué — or expensive — chocolates and booze also fared well.

As Noah puts it, “Chocolates and wine are always appreciated by any sane person.”

Chocolates photo credit: Creative Crop, Photodisc, Getty Images

More Valentine’s Day gift ideas

Valentine’s Day gifts that surprise and delight
Valentine’s Day classics: 5 Things you used to do for your sweetheart
Valentine’s crafts your guy will love


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