Not another one: dealing with gifts you get again & again

ADORABLE! Too bad I already have a half dozen of these… Ness Teapot in Romantic Print © by NessByPost, used under Creative Commons license.
As part of spring cleaning, I'm sifting through closets and trying to figure out what I need and what I've got too much of. As part of this process, I'm realizing that I've got an overabundance of certain objects … all of them gifts. See, Andreas and I seem to attract certain types of presents, and while each gift has been deeply appreciated and a great idea, I have several boxes full of duplicated great ideas that I'm now guilt-battling to say "I don't need all of these, get rid of some."

When I looked at the gifts that just kept on coming, patterns emerged. Once I'd identified the gifts we got over and over again, I decided to start dropping hints about related alternatives…


Total number we have: Six (and this is after giving away several)
Why do we have so many? Because in a coffee drinking world, everyone finds it novel that Dre and I chug tea in the morning. We do indeed love our teapots, but one can only drink so much before getting saturated.
Alternative gift idea: actual tea!


Total number we have: Approximately 20 sets
Why do we have so many? Because we're known to enjoy sushi, pho, Thai, and other Asian cuisines. This has made us an easy target for chopstick sets.
Alternative gift idea: gift certificates to local Asian restaurants.


Total number I have: More than I can count
Why do I have so many? I got a dragonfly tattoo on my right arm in 1996, inadvertently identifying the insect as some sort of totem animal. I now own dozens of bits of dragonfly jewelry, clothing, art, stuffed animals, dishes, lamps, etc.
Alternative gift idea: gifts for my REAL totem animal, my dog Sassy D.

As for these alternative gift ideas, they get tastefully mentioned around friends and family during visits to our home, or around holidays. I'm always grateful when I get a familiar gift, but I'm finding that my campaign to mix things up a bit has been pretty effective.

So, which gifts do YOU get over and over again?

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  1. We recently moved from California to Michigan, and in response, everyone we know decided to give us slippers and throw blankets. I love slippers, and the blankets are all gorgeous, but really, how many can the two of us use? Fortunately, because (unfortunately) here in Michigan many people need slippers and blankets even more than we do, it is easy to find worthy places to send them.

    13 agree
  2. Since I've lived and worked in Japan, people tend to give me a lot of cheesy Asian-themed things, like … miniature bamboo wallscrolls, or plates that you can't actually eat off of because the glaze is toxic but they're covered in AZN LETTERS. I've been receiving this stuff for about, oh, 13 years now. I'm really over it … Hahaha. I try to express to people that I have OTHER INTERESTS AS WELL, but it never seems to register.

    Also, people default to giving me coffee mugs a lot, too, because I happen to drink coffee.

    Oh well. I've at least got it better than my Alaska-living aunt, who receives nothing but moose-themed things SIMPLY BECAUSE SHE LIVES IN ALASKA. I don't think she even LIKES moose-themed things.

    6 agree
    • LOL at the moose-themed things simply because one lives in Alaska! I live in Alaska but I've never gotten a moose-themed ANYTHING! Maybe because people know it's already everywhere up here. I actually don't get the same things over and over again…

  3. After receiving more teapots, bowls, vases and plates that I can recall, I chose to make it clear that if people want to offer us something (which is deeply appreciated), we'd rather have them spend their money on experiences/edible gifts rather than stuff, because what we want is to live, and not to own.

    21 agree
  4. The dragonfly tattoo reminds me of my own nature-inspired tattoo. My elephant tattoo sprung into a deluge of elephant figurines I've received for birthdays, Christmases etc. I have too many to count. It started with a few select figurines from far away places (when family or friends went on vacation they'd bring back a little elephant made with local wood or stone). Now I feel like I'm getting everyone ELSE'S hand me down figurines, even those dollar store plastic ones. It's awful, I don't know what to do with all of them!

    1 agrees
      • That's so funny…the piles of ornaments and housey stuff that my mum constantly receives from people for birthdays etc always end up in her garden. Consequently, her garden looks awesome!

        5 agree
    • When I was 3 my favorite stuffed animal was a cow. Everyone decided for me that I loved cows because of it. Every birthday and Christmas instead of receiving toys as gifts like every other kid in my family, I got cow stuff. By the time I hit high school I lost it, telling everyone I know that I hate cows!

      3 agree
      • same here, but with ducks! i had a small flock of stuffed ducks as a kid, which meant that by the time i graduated high school i had something like 30. i'm in my mid-20s now, and my mum STILL gives me them — seriously, we have a tiny apartment and i don't have anywhere to keep the few sentimental ones i actually want to hang on to, so please don't send any more random ones my way!!

        1 agrees
        • OMG. Yes.

          I had a small rubber ducky collection and brought three little ducks to decorate my cubicle at my new corporate gig. Suddenly, ducks started showing up randomly! New ones, all the time! By the time I left that job, I was overwhelmed with little duckys of all kinds.

          At home, I had rubber ducks in the bathroom so they were a common birthday gift (my birthday is before Easter – prime duck season!). I was running out of room.

          Over the course of my last few moves, I have culled the flock down to my very favorites and put the word out that I have other interests and the duck stuff was cute but too much. That announcement helped but I still got a stuffed duck and a duck Pez dispenser for my birthday this year.

          2 agree
  5. Dolphins!

    About 10 years ago I spent a couple of summers volunteering for a whale watching charity in Tenerife. I do love whales and dolphins (which I actually only saw on the second trip) but it was a random impulse as much as anything. Apparently friends and family did not see it that way. Suddenly dolphins were my thing and everything I got had to have dolphins on it or be dolphin related. It's died down a bit now but still comes up every so often when someone insists they must find a dolphin themed for me.

    Also sci-fi/fantasy books. Which is actually great because I do read a lot of them. The problem is my family don't so they don't really have any quality filter when choosing books. A few people also have this odd logic that they shouldn't buy me the next book in a series because I've "already got one of those"…

    8 agree
    • I get books too, but luckily people my family DO read a lot, so they know. I've had really good luck with asking one person for a specific author/series, and then for every birthday/Christmas after that, I can expect whatever the next one in that series is.

    • I REALLY hate book gifts. This probably sounds ungrateful, but I read quite a lot (former English major, current grad student) and the chances that a friend/ aunt/ co-worker/ secret santa is going to gift me something I a) haven't read or b) actually want to read is pretty low. I get a lot of top-ten-at-amazon/ on-sale-at-costco books and despite hinting with "You know, half the fun of reading a book is choosing it youself" or "a good trip to the bookstore is a great adventure" people STILL give me generic best sellers (which luckily can usually be exchanged, but a gift card would save me from the unhappy cashiers).

      11 agree
  6. Action figures and other useless nerdy collectibles.

    Okay, I get it. A mid-twenties female choosing to openly display her collectibles is novel and that's all anyone really sees when they come over. What they don't understand is that I pre-order all the figures I really want and have them shipped from Japan, and I have limited space to display them. Because I move a lot, 'stuff' is a real liability. Oh, and t-shirts. I wear a lot of t-shirts, but it is my last year of graduate school and I'm trying to transition to a more professional wardrobe.
    What I wish people would understand is that I appreciate the more 'pedestrian' gifts like housewares and especially jewelry/accessories a lot more. I don't have much fashion sense so I really love it when people get me things like a set of earrings or a scarf. But really, I wish that the dumb 'nerdy' gifts would just stop.

    3 agree
    • Oh my god, yes. I can relate. I would love to start receiving more "grown up" things, so to speak. I own almost zero jewelry, and I have only just realized (being in my mid-late twenties myself) that accessories make you look a little more composed, and.. yeah. But I don't know how to say to people "stop buying me things you'd buy a twelve year old just because I'm offbeat!"

      8 agree
      • Make a point to wear a really notable piece of jewelry when around the people who most frequently buy you gifts. Even if you have to go out and buy such a thing. If its out of character, people will probably comment on it, giving you a great chance to say "yeah, I'm really trying to expand my jewelry and accessories collection. I figure, I'm in my late twenties, it's time to start looking into collecting a few more grown up and practical things."

        8 agree
      • agreed! when i was in high school i loved pink and sequins and sparkles and mile high heels… now when i am in my late twenties and end up with pink furry sparkly clothes i'm just not sure what to do with them.

    • I love getting gift certificates for places I won't shop on my own. You could always try dropping hints like "I really love the clothing at X store (I like anthropology a lot for slightly offbeat work clothes), but its just a bit too much for me to spend all the time. Or gush a bit about getting a gift certificate that allowed you to buy something you love, but would never have bought if you had to pay for it yourself.

      2 agree
      • Unfortunately, I hate shopping for clothes and everyone pretty much already knows it;)

        1 agrees
        • There are those personal shopper subscription boxes, if you got folks to help you pay for those it'd probably help. 🙂

  7. My mom has to have a 'theme' for everyone. And buy them stuff they don't need or want constantly. For many years, I was inundated with Tigger stuff, simply because he was the only cartoon character I liked. Not loved, just liked. She's backed off a little now that I have a husband and kids she can focus on. My hubby gets more Star Wars knick knack crap than we can stand. My son gets mostly stuff he can actually use because his room "theme" was dragons and it's too hard to find age appropriate dragon items. We toyed with naming our daughter Elora Seraphine and caling her "Ellie Phee" and doing an elephant theme if our son was a girl, though, and now my mom is obsessed with getting elephant stuff for the new baby even before we knew the gender. >_< I don't even really like elephants that much and Elora Kylie's room is going to be Neverland/Mermaid Lagoon themed.

    1 agrees
    • Alas; I fleetingly expressed an admiration for Winnie the Pooh. Ya know, like when I was 8. It has resulted in a lifetime of merchandise crap, like when I was 14 and received a Pooh watch. My mom also loves to buy large quantities of things, often of poor quality and no use to us.

      I've tried to dissuade her by telling her our small home is full, we definitely don't need a single gadget for the kitchen, etc. This was not successful. I think we now may be making some progress because I have given up feeling guilty about getting rid of these items. My new mantra is "just because you bought it for me, doesn't mean I have to be enslaved to this item". Shamelessly regifting or donating a lot of things she gives us, and not hiding that we have done so, seems to be making her a little more selective in what she gives us.

      14 agree
  8. Sweet Pea gift baskets from Bath and Body Works.

    My then-boyfriend, now husband, got me a travel set for Christmas when we first started dating, and apparently mentioned it to his mom, cause now she gets me a regular-size set every year for the past… 5 years now.

    Problem is, because it's a little on the floral side and I'm not a huge fan of floral scents, I don't use anything but the body spray (and only a spritz or two at that, since it fades quickly). Now I've got 4 or 5 unopened bottles of lotion, body cream, shower gel, a couple bottles of body spray, etc etc. I think I'm gonna find a scent I like better, and ask her for a different one.

    Say, anyone interested in some Bath and Body Works Sweet Pea stuff? It's free!

    2 agree
    • I don't see anything wrong with re-gifting when one has an abundance, it makes perfect sense. May I suggest you donate the unused bottles to a homeless shelter or one of abused women..i mean bath and body works is pretty nice stuff, and that floral scent may put some SprInG in someones step who really needs it 🙂

      28 agree
      • 100 times this. nice bath products are AWAYS well received at battered women's sheters.

        10 agree
    • Yeah, I've gotten B&BW scents from my sister before that I DID NOT like. You can totally take them to the store for a return. (They might not take really old ones, you'll likely want to donate them.) But in the future, you can always take them back for stuff you actually like or use. (I returned two lotions and got a ton of hand soap for my bathroom, hurray!)

      5 agree
  9. My favorite animal since childhood has been the octopus. Most of the time I get great octopus related things- neat pictures, cool little statues, a wall hook, clothing. But sometimes I get things like a sand sifter in the shape of an octopus, meant for a 2 year old. I don't have a sandbox, or a child. Or a necklace that is neat, but really not my style (and it's a choker which I can't wear). It's not really that I'm geting once specific thing, it's that I get some things that are really off base just because it has a cephalopod on it.

    2 agree
  10. Oh my god, if you ever want to rid yourself of any dragonflies I will be glad to take them off your hands! I will even fly out there and personally collect them! I love dragonflies. I have 11 dragonfly tattoos. My friends and family always know to just buy me anything dragonfly related and I will be happy.

  11. For a really long time everything was dolphins. Yes, I am 22 and live in an under the sea bedroom, but there are only so many dolphin figurines and pictures you need. especially when you have a whole wall that is essentially out of commission because of your mural on it. Now things have moved towards pigs or princesses. Pigs became an inside joke with my family because I am somewhat sloppy, and I also think piglets are super cute. Princesses because that was my nickname for a long time. For christmas, I got a piggy bank wearing a tiara. I already own 3 piggy banks. And there is only so much Disney a 22 year old can handle

    1 agrees
    • My cousin and his wife once let slip that they kind of wanted a potbellied pig as a pet. That was 15 years ago, and the pig-themed gifts keep on coming.

  12. My mom had a boyfriend who was constantly giving her presents, and they were ALWAYS yellow, because my mom's favorite color is yellow. It started to get obnoxious, and her house looked like the inside of an egg yolk. She solved that problem by getting a new boyfriend. (But not only because of the yellow gifts.)

    I tend to get a lot of Amazon gift cards, because people know I love to read. But the great thing about Amazon is that you can get almost anything from there, so I've never had cause to complain!

    7 agree
    • OH MY GOSH this reminds me of a story that my Nana told me about my great-grandmother. At some point in time my great-grandfather thought that her favorite color was red. Their entire lives he got her red everything. After he passed, my great-grandmother confessed to my Nana that she actually HATED the color red, but her husband had been so excited to give her red things that she never had the heart to correct him. Kind of cute and sad at the same time, hah.

      1 agrees
  13. My brother was bit by a squirrel a few years ago. Because my family has a weird sense of humor, people keep getting him squirrel related items… When will the joke die??

    1 agrees
  14. My husband loves bird watching. Sometimes I have to remind my mother, who is terribly thoughtful and loves buying gifts, that she doesn't have to get us every bird-covered thing out there.

    Also, my birthday is in February so my birthstone is amethyst. I've always liked purple, but people have given me far more purple/amethyst jewelry than I'll ever wear!

    Everyone knows I love to knit. Really, they should be buying me more yarn!

    3 agree
    • for four years straight(!), my dad gave me amethyst studs as a birthday gift. i really like amethyst jewelry, but what do i do with that many pairs of studs?!? i don't think he remembered from year to year that he did that, either. at least they're all different shapes (round, oval, rectangle and square)…

      • Tell your dad you'll have to get more piercings to wear them all. Unless your dad is offbeat, then I don't know.

        1 agrees
        • I got a amethyst ring for my 16th bday 🙂 I think sometimes dads can be more practical. It seems like he has figured that amethyst is a pretty nice stone and that, you could pretty much wear them with anything..and that if he gets you all the cuts, you will be set with earrings for all occasions! lol.. kinda cool that he is trying, but i think after he is done with the earrings he will move on to rings or pendents! sometimes they need a lil more guidance..if you are still willing to get jewelry you could bring up something "new and exciting" i.e. ooo it was a *ruby* so red and vibrant…lol i know it seem a lil manipulative but..its nice to let them kinda figure it if you dont really want jewelry at all, thats a lil harder to just throw out *cough*gift certificates*cough*

  15. Art books. For years and years family members gave me books about artists and paintings and so on. It was ridiculous. I liked to make things and draw a lot so therefore I got art books. I like art. I really do, but very heavy books about art are very heavy and best as text books.

    • this is also my problem, but I would LOVE to get myself some nice, heavy duty art books on artists I actually like. As and artist myself, people assume I like ANY art, and gift givers don't usually have any idea what my art tastes are. So in recent years I have received DOZENS of books on Dali, Picasso, and Andy Warhol. Seriously, bring on the gift certificates for amazon or art supplies already.

    • Art books can have a crazy good resale value. I interned at a major art museum library, and they were weeding some books. The librarian told everyone to take what they wanted, I grabbed maybe 5 books, some stuff to read and some stuff to cut up for arts and crafts. Before starting to cut them up, my husband suggested I check how much they were going for on amazon. I ended up selling them for $800. Nothing looked particularly expensive or old either.

      2 agree
  16. i've been studying buddhism for about 7 years now, and whenever i go on a trip i try to pick up a small (like…under 3" tall) buddha statue. i bet you can see where this is going. bathroom readers with quotes from the buddha or various monks, giant plastic gold buddhas you would see in a tacky chinese resteraunt…on one unfortunate case i got a bix gold buddha with a strobe light in his belly….not fun.

    also…journals. i'm extremely picky about my journals, they have to have the right size, shape, page thickness, layout….they have to be just right. I have a stack about about 35 journals that i will never use. luckilly they make good gifts to other people.

    1 agrees
    • Yes! Journals! I've found out that even when you narrow it down to only one brand (i looooove paperblanks) – there is still too many choices where it can go all wrong: size, magneet position and worst of it, wether they are lined or not. I use only blank, but people keep giving me lined 🙁 so sad, because it's hard to find them in Russia, so mostly friends and relatives bring them from overseas. Sigh/

  17. I have a similar problem! I'm known to make cupcakes on a fairly regular basis (to the extent that I'm considering starting up a side business with them) so everyone buys me cupcake related things. This was great at first, but there are only so many cupcake recipe books a girl can use (especially when she generally pulls recipes offline). I need to find a way to tactfully suggest something else – like a cool ingredient I can use to bake something instead (vanilla paste, flavored sugars or salts, beer, etc.)

    • I started asking for cupcake papers instead of books. They're really cute, cheap, and store pretty easy, AND if I have too many, I can toss some away and no one would know. And I ask for icing die or fondant.

      2 agree
    • Oh my gosh yes! I've got this funky contraption for icings, a bunch of decorative measuring spoons (impossible to clean!), and about 10 aprons. Cupcake flavored lipgloss, cupcake pajama pants. Blegh!

      My brother-in-law did get me an awesome baking related gift though. He found me the most ridiculous cookie cutters he could find and challenged me to find occasions for them. I got a buffalo, the state of Tennessee (i live in Massachusetts), a lightning bolt, a tractor, a jesters hat, and a squirrel.

      1 agrees
  18. I get Pigs and Salt and Pepper Shakers…. The problem is now people think I collect these things so they buy me MORE!

  19. First of all, clearly, there needs to be an Offbeat Crap We Got Too Much of Gift Swap.

    I was born on the fourth of July. So NATURALLY I love the American flag, right? … right?
    Alternative gift idea: FIREWORKS. Those I do love.

    Ladybugs have always sort of been my totem animal, and I'm actually not yet sick of the ladybug-themed gifts. Apparently, I'm the one that's giving your families the very wrong idea that it's okay to do this.

    18 agree
    • Ha! This spring-born gal always ended up with Easter junk. Too.. many.. pastels.. and.. bunnies……

      Alternative gift: jellybeans. They're "in season" so easily found 'round my birth time.

      • High five to THAT. The exception is CADBURY CREAM EGGS. Oh god do I love them. My parents eventually caught onto that and just started giving me different incarnations of those and yummmmmm

        3 agree
      • I love bunnies (I have 4 and also have fostered them in the past) and everyone jokingly calls me the crazy bunny lady, but the only bunny themed gift I've been given was a glass karlsson wall clock with a tiny bunny kits photo on it. It was a wedding present! My as-yet unborn child though has received a plethora of bunny stuff. I find it rather odd!

        1 agrees
        • My daughters theme was bunnies! she is 18 now! still plenty of bunny stuff floating around..thank goodness she is pretty much out of stuffed animal

  20. The tattoo = gift must be an easy idea for people to latch onto. I have a Tinkerbell tattoo (for very deep reasons. Plus, she's awesome) and my dear mum cannot restrain herself. Tinkerbell merchandise seems to be spectacularly low quality — I've given away more teacups and statuettes of her sitting on mushrooms than any girl should have to endure.

    3 agree
  21. We get tea stuff, although not just tea pots (but we have 4 now, ranging in sizes, but only one of them gets used). Our friends and family know we like tea and we'd asked for travel press mugs for the wedding. We didn't get those, but we did get an assortment of tea plus pots.

    I also get bath stuff occasionally (especially soap) because my friends know I love it. The problem is that I am picky and I really only like specific things. I should gather up all my still wrapped stuff and donate it somewhere. Lots of lovely things, just not things I want.

    I have very few people I receive gifts from though so that generally keeps the overload fairly limited.

    • Wrapped bars of soap make good drawer/wardrobe fresheners instead of lavender bags. Otherwise, I would donate bath stuff to a women's shelter.

      2 agree
  22. I don't attract a lot of repeat gifts (most of my friends give food or we take each other out for drinks or dinner) but I remember when I first moved abroad, someone gave me a chopstick set as a going away gift.

    It was a sweet gift, but…err…

    I was moving to ASIA.

    I would say I own approximately 20 chosptick sets, too, but I still live in Asia and we actually use them as regular daily utensils, including with guests.

  23. this all makes me very grateful that my boy's parents just give me gift cards. Thought I do get an abundance of sewing stuff in general and would like a little less sometimes…

  24. When I was 12 I picked out a bedspread with suns and moons and stars on it, and my mom painted a mural of the sky on my wall. It was really cool until someone decided that was my theme, and the gifts kept coming. At one point, I had a wall dedicated to all the sun/moon/star shaped stuff that people kept giving me. It was actually pretty cool, because they were all mosaics or mirrors or other shiny things, so the light bounced around my room. That died down after a few years, but then I got a sun tattooed on my shoulder, and it started back up again. I keep the more unique stuff, but the cheap plastic things get donated.

    Also, people think that scented bath stuff is a good gift for someone they don't know very well, but I can't use any of it. I have really sensitive skin and I'm super picky about what soaps I use. This means I end up re-gifting or donating all the soaps and lotions I get.

    7 agree
    • Agreed on the bath stuff. I don't take baths, I take showers. I HATE getting smelly bath stuff because I never use it. Lotion is fine sometimes because winter is murder on my hands, but the rest of it, I have no use for. And it's like a "go to" gift for the "I don't know what to get you" crowd.

      4 agree
  25. I haven't had too much of a problem with this since I told people to NEVER buy me action figures. I'm the kind of person who only hangs onto things for utility purposes; I'm not a display gal. I love The Simpsons but they have A TON of action figures that I just wouldn't have a use for, but, say, a Marge Simpson whisk? I'd hang onto that, if it were a real thing.

    2 agree
  26. Tea, candy in unnatural colours, and bath products. I am known to like all of these, and because they are (relatively) cheap and consumable, every gives me tonnes at every holiday. The problem is one can only take so many baths, drink so many flavoured teas, and ESPECIALLY eat so much candy before it is too much.

    Also, in high school, I liked to wear ties (but with dress shirts, BEFORE AVRIL LAVIGNE RUINED TIES FOR CANADIAN GIRLS OF HIGH SCHOOL AGE!) and I was gifted over 50 ties. People were like "hey, neat tie, thought of you". I bought an ikea glass rack to display them all on but NEVER could even make a dent in wearing them. I got rid of all of them in a great rooom purge and kept only like my… 5-10 favourites (and the two LCBO ties that were required uniform ick!).

    2 agree
    • +1 for Avril fucking Levigne. Not only Canadian high school girls, high school girls world wide. No more ties, no more badges/buttons, no more plaid skirts. Even though I was *clearly* wearing all those things long before Avril (and what the hell kind of a name is that anyway, sounds like a painkiller) suddenly I was an "Avril-wannabe".

      She makes me angry.

      1 agrees
  27. My parents brought me back a beautiful harlequin puppet from an overseas trip once, and somehow that turned into "alienspectacles likes clowns" and my roommates and friends started buying me clown ornaments and toys. I didn't want them staring at me in my bedroom so I displayed them in the hallway and much later a former (non-clown giving) roommate confessed that she refused to use the bathroom at night because it involved walking past all the scary-ass clowns in the dark.

    I'm not sure how I got people to stop giving me clowns. Now they just sit at my parents house and are presumably giving my nieces and nephew clown phobia when they visit.

    2 agree
  28. I just thought of what I get too much of – shoe related things! Everyone at work knows I'm the resident "shoe queen" so any time there is a gift giving occasion (like Christmas parties and "Secret Santa" type things) I always get something of the shoe persuasion. Even if I have no idea what it actually IS, if it looks like a shoe, I get it. So far it's okay because this is a pretty recent phenomena. I want people to buy me ACTUAL shoes though, not pretend ones dang it!

    • Love this! 'Hey, you love shoes, right? So, I'm not going to get you *actual* shoes… just things that look like shoes. To taunt you.'

      6 agree
  29. as a wedding gift, one of my dad's sisters gave us a gurgling cod (, a codfish-shaped pitcher. it's awesome, quirky, VERY boston-ian (where that side of my family is from), and we loved it.

    fast forward two years, another of dad's sisters gives us a belated wedding present, and it's…another gurgling cod. thankfully, a different color — this way, we keep the new one for beverages only since the old one has been used as a vase.

    aunt #2 was super embarrassed about the duplication but i think they're hilarious and said i absolutely do not mind having a collection…which my brother overheard, and promised to make good on. =) while we don't have a lot of space for collections of things, the fact that the "real" gurgling cods (and part of the absurd wonderfulness comes with it being a codfish) only come from one retailer and are a little bit pricey will help keep our gurgling codfish school down to reasonable numbers. =)

    • I liked reading "gurgling cod" in my head so much I'm now repeating it in my head. Gurgling cod, gurgling cod, gurgling cod …

      Followed by "say you're a codfish!"

      2 agree
      • from this, I got to Mary Poppins "Michael, close your mouth, we are not a codfish."

        3 agree
  30. Currently the go-to gift that the fiance and I receive is wine, beer, and specialty salts. Pretty cool, but we can't consume it as fast as we get it (I would go blind and die if we used all the salt). It's kind of forced us to be social just so we're not wasteful.
    When I was in high school I received tons of those wooden art kits you get at craft stores. I was looking to go into art school, so the thought was there, but the quality of the products in those things are unusable. Plus a lot of them are filled with supplies made for children. That ended when I started working in an art supply store in college.

    2 agree
  31. Halloween stuff is mine. And owl related things so there's a lot of overlap. It's always been my favorite holiday. I literally have four of those huge plastic bins filled with with decorations and other Halloween type things, and the coolest stuff gets displayed year round. Luckily I'm not sick of it yet.

    I'm also incredibly lucky that my entire family demands a list of specific things for holidays and then they FOLLOW IT. I very rarely end up with stuff I don't want, thank goodness.

    4 agree
  32. My family demands "wish lists" before birthdays and holidays, which I dislike but it's my family so I go with it. Money and gift cards are considered impersonal, and not allowed to show up on the list. Many many years ago, I put "accessories" on my wish list, and it turned out very well. So I've left it there, and have gotten some very cool, random, unique accessories that I have loved. I always think this is a great answer, because even if I get 2 headbands from 2 different people, it's not likely they'll be the same headband.
    This year for Christmas, I got 7 scarves. One from my husband, one from my MIL, and 5 from my dad and his new wife. Wtf? And granted, one of them was a shawl, and one of them was a warm wintery one. But two of them were the exact same color, except one had a pattern and the other did not. Not only that, it just happened to be the exact color of a shawl I got from my sister about 5 years ago. Le sigh. Also, I have noticed that my favorite scarf of all continues to be the one they gave me the year before.

  33. Photo albums and picture frames! People know I love taking pictures, but they're ALL digital photos, and I NEVER print them out. They go on facebook, and a choice few go to DeviantArt, and that's it. So, I have a ton of empty photo albums and frames that usually eventually get sent off to the local thrift store.
    Suggested alternative: rechargable AA batteries. Not very gift-like, but useful at least.

    The other thing is jewelry that I can't wear (this was a bigger problem before I had pierced ears – people assumed I wore earrings because I was a teenage girl). I have metal allergies, so cheap jewelry causes rashes. >_< Suggested alternative: find out what type of jewelry someone can wear first, or get them a gift card to a jewelry/accessory store. OR buy jewelry that doesn't contain metal.

    2 agree
  34. My sister raises chickens. This was pretty notable for a teenager living on an island off the coast of Charleston. So people started giving her chicken stuff. Raising Chickens for Dummies actually makes sense, but the chicken oven mitt? She likes her actual chickens, but that doesn't mean she wants her decor covered in the creatures (plus she doesn't even have her own kitchen). I mean it would be like giving someone dog themed stuff just because they happened to adopt a mutt from the pound. They're pets, not an identity.

    Don't get me wrong, they're cute, practical items. They're just totally not our style (I say "our" since she lives in my house). C'est la vie

    • I do find as cat owners we get lots of random cat stuff (mugs, tea towels, window ornaments, plastic bag holder)

      4 agree
    • I have two adopted dogs, who are like my children, and I'm a dog groomer. I Have Got No Dog Stuff!

  35. My husband is notoriously difficult to shop for, so one of his college friends got him a garden gnome. (He does not garden, and in fact has *terrible* allergies.) Anyway, his family picked up on that, then we met and my family picked up on it…. We were ready to call it to a halt about the time we got 2 mooning gnomes from different relatives for Christmas.

  36. Music. I was big into music growing up, and I'm a professional musician now, and especially my extended family thinks that means I want stuff with music notes on it. The hot pink music note boxer shorts were the pinnacle.

    1 agrees
  37. When my sister met her now Mother-in-Law, one of her MiL's first questions was "What do you collect?" Her MiL collects a variety of things.

    My sister was like "Um, nothing really." This was not an acceptable answer to her MiL, who noted that my sister had a couple of Willow Tree statues given to her by friends. So now, her MiL gets her Willow Tree statues for every occasion. It drives my sister nuts, and she's tried to give her MiL clues that she doesn't want to collect things that are essentially clutter but, her MiL is kinda stubborn, and frankly a little odd, and keeps them coming.

    1 agrees
    • Ha, that sounds like my aunt. On one visit she insisted in buying me some crystal glass, despite the fact that I lived in a tiny rented apartment a loong plane ride away (and was 25 and more interested in going clubbing than drinking wine at the time). I managed to divert her onto a more modern set of wine glasses, which happened to be black glass. Of course, this meant that every time she saw me she produced another set of black wine glasses… and another… and another… and then started branching out into other black glass homewares. The point where I had to ask my mother to have a serious word with her was the giant shell-shaped black glass canape platter. You know, for the posh soirees I was having in my tiny apartment with no dining table. Ten year later, about 6 of the black wine glasses have survived clumsy drunken flatmates, 3 house moves and are actually useful now, but the rest of the stuff is looong gone to the land of ebay.

  38. Ladybugs.
    I have a particular set of friends that love to buy me ladybug stuff (yes, I have a ladybug tattoo). Some of it is fine, if it is something I could actually use like cute socks or earrings. But then they reached the point where they were obviously just buying ANYTHING with a ladybug on it. The worst was a tiny child size craft apron. I'm a larger lady & I don't have kids. Was I supposed to hang that around my neck like a bib? I just don't get it.

    1 agrees
  39. Lotions and other bath products. I have excema (which I do not advertise – I just say I have dry skin), so I always carry lotion and chapstick with me everywhere. Friends know they can always use some of mine if they're with me. So I guess they think that it makes a great gift for me.

    The thing is, only certain over the counter products even work on me, and I am particular about smells. (For example, most people love lavender, but the smell of it makes me feel sick instantly). Only one person (my boyfriend's mother who is also highly sensitive and asked him to check what I actually use) has ever bought me a set I could use.

    Luckily, I have learned to label who gave me what, and then I re-gift it to an offender from a different group of friends. (I figure if they do it to me, then it must mean one lotion is the same as all the rest to them.)

    4 agree
  40. My birthday is in August, and so every year I get school supplies. When I was younger, it sucked because who wants school supplies for their birthday? My sister's birthday is in May, and she got birthday presents AND school supplies. I was so jealous.

    Now, it's a lame present because I don't need them. Yes, I'm still in school, but you know what? I have a system. My notes get hand-written, and then scanned, and then stored digitally. I don't need spiral notebooks, or binders, or bic pens. If you're going to buy me school supplies, buy nice ones. I'm a graduate student, after all, and know the value of a nice pen.

    Also, history books. I like history — you can tell by the way I'm getting an MA in it — but my area of focus is public history, and my primary research interest is presidential assassinations. I don't want books about the Civil War! Not all history buffs like the same thing!

    3 agree
  41. Flower vases!

    I love flowers, really I do, I have always fresh flowers in my apartement, but never enough for my 12 SIMILAR GLASS SYLINDER VASES!

    Which I have gotten the last year, when moving into my new place.

    And WHY are they all the same? I have tiny tiny sylinder vases with enough room for one tiny rose, to big onces you have to have on the floor, but still…

    How about giving me actual flowers?

    1 agrees
  42. Ugh, tell me about it. I rescue rabbits, so everyone assumes I want rabbit things. Occasionally it's nice, but I really don't want that cheesy stuffed rabbit you picked up. Secretly, these go straight to my rabbit, who rips them up.
    People also try to give me goodies for my rabbit really upset me. It's good at heart, but most rabbit "treats" sold in stores aren't actually safe for rabbits. So I can't even donate it to a rescue.
    And STOP with the Happy Bunny stuff. That does not coincide with my interest in bunnies.

    Also, my mother thinks I'm obsessed with Eyore. I have 10 pajama pants with Eyore on them from her, and I don't even wear pajamas. I have nothing that says I like Eyore!

    • Clearly, your mom has the two of us mixed up. I adore Eeyore. When I moved from the States to the UK, my stuffed Eeyore was one of the few non-useful things that I brought with me.
      It's an understandable mistake – I mean, our names are very similar. 😉

      2 agree
  43. Anything purple. My birthday is in February and my parents are gift givers, so everything is purple. I own so much of it now people think it's my favorite color and are shocked when I say it's really green. Purple does compliment my skin tone well, as well as all the other colors in my wardrobe/things I already own so it's not really a problem. I do have a tendency to open things and think to myself "wonder if this came in green…"

    And speaking of green, my parents keep giving me frogs. I have no clue how this started. Literally, no idea. They just started buying me frog stuff one day. Right now it's enough to kind of sprinkle throughout the house and not be overwhelmed, or gardening stuff that makes sense in the landscape, but really? Frogs?!

  44. from the other side, sometimes shopping for people is REALLY HARD. i mean, my own husband gets something star wars-related every year for christmas – just because he doesn't really like stuff in general, and that's the only thing i can think of when i am desperately wandering target on december 24.

    so maybe the real question is – why does everyone feel so obligated to buy people crap? maybe we already HAVE enough stuff and could just say, hey, i love you, let's give some money to charity/pay off some loans/save up for a vacation/etc. etc.

    22 agree
  45. I don't have a theme. So my mom gets me SO MUCH stuff for this other mystery daughter that is NOTHING like me.
    I hate knick-knacks, I don't like pink except for in weird stuff like kitchen appliances and power tools, I wear flip-flops all of the time. My mom sent me care packages in college that included a feather boa, sparkly shoe cell phone holder (I didn't have a cell phone), a leopard print pillow with a D on it, a stack of post-its with "princess" on them (I HATE being called princess. I have, in in past circumstances found it cruel and borderline abusive).
    It hurts my feelings when she gets me things like that. I feel like I would rather her get me nothing and still feel like my mom has been paying attention for the more than two decades since we met. It seriously stung in college and now makes every Christmas and Birthday a little bit sad.

    I just throw everything away or give it away. Except the pillow. I used that for years to throw at my roommate when he snored too loud. I gave that to his wife later.

    2 agree
  46. Fancy soaps! I'm bath-obsessed, which is probably why I'm always receiving these, but I'm also kind of particular about personal care products, so I usually end up regifting them asap.

  47. BIRD SHIT. Not literal shit, of course, but BIRD STUFF. I have an owl tattoo and my spouse likes penguins, so we get bird EVERYTHING. Dishcloths, socks, sweaters (really?), statuettes, ornaments, a sheet metal owl coat rack, you name it, I have it in bird form. Solution?
    If his parents gave it to us and he thinks we should use it (ahem, ugly-ass owl coat rack), we use it. Everything else I just treat as normal items. As in, I do not hesitate to scrub the floor with a cardinal dishcloth, or walk through the grass in my owl socks. I just use them, and when they're shot, I toss them.
    I wish people would give me things I could eat. But not birdseed.

    1 agrees
  48. Sketch books! I haven't drawn in years! Stop buying me art pencils! Stop buying me sketch books! I have not used the last 4 years worth of sketch books, why would I use new ones?

    And one year I got blankets from basically everyone. Delicate, small, handwash, no dryer, blankets. I have cats. These blankets will last 2 weeks before they're covered in cat hair. It's winter and it will never dry on the drying rack.
    I don't think I have any of those blankets any more. I left them when we moved cross-country.
    Then last year, I got blankets. Useful blankets! Machine wash and dry blankets! Warm, sturdy, BIG blankets! Blankets I will likely use until they fall apart at the seams.

    Note to everyone: unless they asked for it specifically, don't get a young adult a handwash/dryclean only thing. They won't handwash it or dryclean it. They will either hide it in a bag when it starts to smell and never deal with it, or they will wreck it in the machine. Or is that just me?

    8 agree
  49. Oh, just discovered this post and want to comment too! I think my life has gone in phases with respect to gifts.

    1. As soon as I got my ears pierced at age 8, the next few years every relative gave me earrings. Some of them are lovely, but I still wear my first-ever studs pretty much every day.

    2. I love books, and many people gave me gift cards. However, my dad and step mom decided to give me books about whatever random activities I happened to be interested in, including karate books, running books, books about activism and vegetarianism…it's great that they knew about my interests, but reading a book about karate isn't as exciting as doing the karate.

    3. Did anyone else have a time during high school when all their friends gave them candles? Maybe it was just me. I never actually burned any of them and I think they got dusty and thrown away.

    4. Now it's all about clothing and purses. Most of it isn't quite my style, though actually my mom is brilliant about getting me things I really like but would never pick for myself. Oh, and bath stuff and cosmetics. I think it's because my sister has always been suuuuper into makeup, though I only wear any maybe a few times a year.

    2 agree
    • Omg, candles, yes! I had soooooo many. And I never felt comfortable lighting them cause I have cats that like to throw things off of tables.

      Anyone else have, like, a billion scarves? Not nice warm ones (I live in GA, they are worthless here) but decorative ones with fuzz or giant holes. I have pounds of them!

  50. I gotta comment here on how pinterest has ruined my holidays :P. I know I'm "indie" and love to make DIY versions of lots of things from shampoo to window cleaner, but I swear if I get another mason jar with random junk in it I'm gonna lose it. Just give me a gift card or something instead of putting all the dry ingredients to a very small batch of cookies in a jar. It's just getting weird.

    2 agree
  51. I had this weird birthday when I was about 9 or 10, when *everybody* got me clowns or clown-related things….

    I don't like clowns…. I'm not affraid of them perse (one did chace me at a carnival-thing once when I was small, and I find them mildy creepy) and I've never really voiced an opinion on the matter, so I don't think it was a "haha, you don't like clowns so lets everybody get you clown things cuz it's hilarious" thing, but also, I've never really voiced an opinion on the matter… so I'm still not sure why clowns…

    Lately it's been tea infusers… I have four now. I love tea. I drink a lot of tea. Mostly I drink just teabag tea, but I do occasionally enjoy a pot of tea made with loose leaves. Tea infusers are rubbish though. The metel ones make my tea taste like metel, the silicone ones don't have enough holes in them for the tea flavour to get out. One is handy for incase I run out of teabags and can't be assed making a pot (or more specificly cleaning the pot afterwards) but WHY DO I NEED FOUR?

    My Husband has the opposite problem. Every Christmas, every birthday, all he wants is clamps for his workshop "you can never have enough clamps" he says. Every Christmas and every birthday people ask me, "what should we get (Husband)?" and I say "Clamps". Apparently "Clamps are too boring". He never gets clamps, but instead gets all manner of novelty t-shirts or useless novelty shit like condiment guns, and BBQ tools with handles shaped like pirate sword handles…

  52. Can I comment a second time 3 years after my initial comment? 🙂

    For Xmas last year, I asked for a gift card from the WWF to sponsor a polar bear. My MIL made this a theme and bought me said gift card, plus a teddy bear (I was 29 right?), plus a bear pyjama.

    This year, I asked for a bear safari. I'm not even into bears that much, it just happened that bears are a thing where I live now, and were non existent in my home country, so I definitely want to see them in the wild. I got the safari, and a… bear pyjama (from the same store, so at least they match), and a teddy bear hot water bottle.

    Since I'm into dinos and dragons, what should I ask to get matching stuff? 🙂

  53. I'm afraid I've thrust this upon my forthcoming child by mentioning that I love monkeys; we've received like 4 different sleepers that say some variation on "mommy's little monkey" plus other monkey attire, blankets, and toys.

    • I get monkeys too. I love monkeys, but mostly I like live monkeys, not any old thing with a monkey printed on it. I own so many monkey things… I know people will just assume I want a monkey theme when I have kids.

  54. One of the best things I got out of reading "The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up" is Marie Kondo's stance on gifts. She says that the purpose of a gift is to be received, and once you have graciously received the gift – you can do whatever you want with it! Give it away! Throw it in the trash! Drop it off a Goodwill.

    The person who bought you the gift had the joy of giving it to you, are they really going to follow-up on where it is in your life now? If they knew that seeing their gift in your house caused you constant annoyance, surely they would want you to get rid of it?

    I am a huge fan of the KonMari method, and definitely recommend checking out her book to anyone who is feeling overwhelmed by the "stuff" in their lives.

    1 agrees
  55. I got some cute doggy themed glasses and a (slightly less cute but still fine) dog door topper this past Christmas from my lovely new mother-in-law. She commented that she's 'never really known a dog person before', so now she has a recipient for all the dog-themed gifts she keeps seeing everywhere. And it begins . . .

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