Essential Must-Avoid Gift List

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Most gift lists focus on what to buy. Just as important, however, is avoiding gifts that are useless or annoying, or that, worst of all, will wind up featured on some Worst Gift You Ever Received discussion.

In addition to must-avoid gifts mentioned in a previous roundup—we’re talking aboutlousy gifts your dad doesn’t want and Christmas toys from hell—here are some more items you should think twice before handing out on Christmas morning:

iPad. Without a doubt, it’s one of the hottest gift ideas this year. But that doesn’t mean it’s smart to buy one now. The WSJ’s Brett Arends takes a contrarian view and lists ten reasons why the iPad, in fact, is a lousy gift, including the argument that:

It’ll get boring.
This year’s totem is next year’s meh. Economists call this “the hedonic treadmill.” Human beings quickly get bored of each new item. We always want the buzz from something newer, better, bigger, faster or fancier. But the treadmill never stops. Think of how amazing the first Palm Pilots seemed back in the 1990s. Look at them now. The iPad may look like the eighth wonder of the world today. Soon it will seem so old.


Anything from the 12 Days of Christmas.
Nobody really wants a partridge or a pear tree, let alone calling birds and French hens. Maids? Maybe, but not necessarily the “a-milking” sort. Golden rings? That’s the exception. Many gift recipients would be happy with five of them, especially considering the price of gold nowadays. Blogger Len Penzo has some fun by subbing in what he’d want if he got to create his own 12 Days of Christmas list. Instead of the three French hens, for instance, he’s hoping for a $50 iTunes gift card.

Pricey gadgets that are pretty much useless. Fortune nominates several gadgets to a list of stuff you don’t want to see under the Christmas tree, including the Logitech Revue with Google TV:

First, there’s the riddle of connecting it to your entertainment center, which — depending on your television provider and components — can be mind bending. Then there’s the mystery of finding web videos to watch.

Free sites like YouTube and CNN.com work well, but the major networks including ABC, NBC, and CBS have blocked access to full episodes from their sites. Pay services, meanwhile, are a mixed bag: Netflix works fine, but Comcast’s Fancast renders nothing but on-screen question marks.

Loud and/or annoying and/or plain un-fun toys. Number one on the HuffPost’s list of toys not to get kids is:

Child-size vuvuzela.
How can the vuvuzela be made even more annoying? Give it to a small child, of course.

Stuff that consumer testers just hate. At the end of ShopSmart’s “Favorite Stuff of the Year” story is a list of 22 items on its “Loser List.” Among the gadgets, foods, cars, and household goods to avoid is this one:

Slap Chop, $20
It cut unevenly, and all that slapping made our testers’ hands hurt.

Anything that comes up when you Google “Worst Christmas Gift You Ever Received.” The NY Times City Room blog rounds up a list of worst-evers from toy executive types, and then readers chimed in with their own worst recollections, including:

When my sister was newly divorced for the second time and completely miserable, our mother gave her a cookbook called “cooking for one” and some sort of individual crockpot to go with it. No comment.

READ MORE:
The Holiday Season’s Most Spirited Rants

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