The One Gift You Should Never Give—and Why

And it’s a very commonly gifted item, too.

least popular holiday gift
Photography by Phuong Nguyen

As the saying goes, it’s the thought that counts. But when it comes to holiday gift giving, sometimes that’s not even quite enough to convey your love and gratitude for the recipient. It’s not your fault: gift giving can be notorious difficult and frustrating. (Although we hope to ease some of that frustration with our gift guides.)

And even after searching endlessly for the perfect item, purchasing, wrapping, then hand delivering or shipping your gift to your loved one, it’s possible they’ll return it. According to data from e-gift platform GiftNow, 54 percent of all holiday gifts were exchanged or altered in 2016. That’s nearly $70 billion (billion—with a b!) worth of returns, according to resell platform, Optoro.

But there is one category of gifts that is basically guaranteed to be less popular and get returned: clothing. According to a study conducted by Kohl’s, clothing is by far the most returned gift category, making up 62 percent of all returns. It makes sense: Even when you're feeling confident with your clothing gift for a woman, man, child, or heck, even an animal, so much could go awry: size, color, style, preferences, allergies—yikes.

Another popular item likely to get returned according to GiftNow? Sweets—chocolate, candy, and gum.

Perhaps it’s best to steer clear of these highly returnable categories, and instead go gifting for some sure winners, like the thoughtful ideas below.

least popular gift alternative options carafe
Photography by Mud Australia

Mud Australia Small Carafe, $86, is a super chic carafe that anyone can use for a wide variety of uses, and it comes in a ton of bold colors. Safer bet than a sweater or jacket, for sure.

Photography by HAWKINS NEW YORK

Candles are always a great idea. But take it a step further, with Hawkins New York Simple Wood Candle Holder, $36, and a set of Cire Trudon Taper Candles, $36. Taper candles feel nostalgic and the Cire Trudon version brings major luxe vibes at a reasonable price. More useful than a box of chocolates and candy—promise.

least popular gift alternative options blanket
Photography by ZigZagZurich

ZigZagZurich Ginza Cotton Throw, $159, makes a bold, charming statement in a home. Sure to be a Christmas winner!


least popular gift alternative options cards
Photography by Le Typographe

Want some cool French points? (Us too!) Look at the incredible Le Typographe stationery collections, starting at $5, for super high quality, quirky paper gifts.


least popular gift alternative options donating
Photography by Unicef

Or, for someone who has it all, give the gift of giving back. Donate to a worthy cause like Unicef, Sonoma County Resilience Fund, ASPCA, Oxfam, or National Wildlife Fund.

See more gifting inspiration:
What to Get the Parents on Your Holiday Shopping List
Foolproof Gifts for the Beauty Fan In Your Life
Clever Gift Ideas for That One Friend Who Has Everything

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Published on November 29, 2017 - 4:00pm EST

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