Holiday Gifts You Definitely Should Not Buy Your Friends

The holidays are the most wonderful time of the year... except when you have to buy gifts for your friends. Hunting for the perfect present can be tough, especially if you've been friends with someone for a long time and are stuck on what to get them. While people are holiday shopping earlier than ever this year, you sometimes pick up gifts for your pals last, resulting in impulse purchases. They'll probably appreciate anything you give them because it's the thought that counts, but here are some holiday gifts you should never buy your friends.

Shapewear or lingerie

Shapewear is a holiday gift you should never buy a friend. It's an extremely personal item and sends the message your friend needs shapewear, which is presumptuous and actually pretty rude. Unless you want to ruin your friendship, avoid this "gift," no matter how well-intentioned.

Also, never buy lingerie as a holiday gift for a friend. Lingerie is another highly personal item that is a gift to a significant other, not a friend. Even if it is the best lingerie brand, just say no to giving your pal a pair of panties or a negligee!


Friends don't buy friends tchotchkes for a holiday gift! Buying a friend a little trinket and knick-knack that no one knows what to do with isn't a thoughtful gift. These things get thrown in the trash, donated to charity, or collect dust on a shelf. If you're shopping for a holiday gift for a friend, why give them something that's essentially useless? Unless you and your friends are having a white elephant gift exchange, save yourself the trouble and avoid giving tchotchkes as presents altogether.

Anything you received as a gift

Regifting is a big red flag to a friend. We've all been there before: You receive a gift you don't like, so you regift it to someone else, hoping they'll like it more. Unfortunately, your friends can see right through this, and they'll know that you didn't put any thought into their present. Plus, there's always the risk that they'll run into the person who originally gave it to you. The best gift ideas are thoughtful, so avoid regifting.

Exercise equipment

Giving someone exercise equipment or a scale is basically telling them that they need to lose weight. Unless your friend has specifically asked for fitness-related gifts, steer clear of anything that might make them feel bad about their appearance or health. No one wants to be reminded of their love handles during the holidays!

If you feel you must give a friend a fitness-related gift or your friend is a fitness fanatic, opt for a yoga mat or something else that's non-judgmental and won't make your friend feel bad about themself.

A diet cookbook

Diet cookbooks say much more about the giver than the recipient. Giving someone this gift is basically like telling them that you think they're fat and need to lose weight. It's not exactly the best way to spread holiday cheer! Even if you know a friend who wants to go on a diet in the New Year, give them a healthy cookbook full of delicious recipes rather than restrictive diets. After all, who wants to spend the holidays feeling guilty about what they're eating?

Self-help books

Don't give a friend a self-help book as a holiday gift. Whether it's a book on how to lose weight, get rich quickly, or find true love, self-help books are the worst. Giving a friend a self-help book screams, "I think there's something wrong with you, and I want you to change."

We are all trying to better ourselves, but chances are you will only offend your friend by giving them this gift. Unless you're looking to cause serious damage to your friendship, leave these books on the shelf where they belong.


Pets are a huge responsibility and a commitment spanning many years. Animals are living creatures, not objects, and therefore should never be given as gifts. If your friend has been hinting that they want a pet, suggest adopting one instead of giving them a dog or cat for a holiday gift, and help with part of the cost. That way, your friend can pick out their perfect companion and bond with them from day one instead of feeling like they have to keep an animal that they may not even really want in the first place.

Lewd gag gifts

Potty humor is funny... to kids. If you try giving an adult friend a pooping dog calendar for a holiday gift or give a friend a toilet paper holder shaped like a butt, chances are they won't be amused. Even if they laugh, they'll probably be secretly horrified. Unless you want to end up on your friends' naughty list (and we're not talking about the good kind), skip the potty humor gag gifts and opt for something a little more appropriate for adults.

Cleaning supplies and tools

Cleaning supplies are never an acceptable gift, no matter the occasion. Your friends will appreciate it if you spare them the embarrassment of fake excitement over a packet of sponges and a bucket of Fabuloso. There's nothing worse than receiving a mop or vacuum cleaner as a holiday gift. A Dyson vacuum cleaner is expensive, but it's impersonal and tells your friend they need to clean their house! Rude.

Trust us on this one and avoid this genre of "gifts" altogether this holiday season (and every other).

Foods they can't eat

While tasty food gifts are popular over the holiday season, avoid giving a friend food or drink gift that goes against their dietary restrictions. Gluten-containing cookies for a friend with a gluten allergy or sugary candy for a friend with diabetes are quite offensive. Giving a bottle of wine as a holiday gift to your friend who is a recovering alcoholic is thoughtless and unkind.

If you're unsure what dietary restrictions your friends have, play it safe and stay away from food and drink altogether.

Scary gifts

This one should be pretty obvious, but just in case it isn't, giving your arachnophobic friend a spider gift is a bad idea. Giving your friend who is scared of clowns a clown doll is mean-spirited. You should want to give a friend a holiday gift that brings a smile, not a gift that scares them!

Unless you enjoy seeing the people you care about break out into cold sweats and have panic attacks, avoid these gifts.

Anything from an infomercial

Don't give a friend anything from an infomercial for a holiday gift. We've all seen those cheesy TV spots for products that we just know will never work in real life. (We're looking at you, Snuggie!). Don't waste your money on something like this — your friend will only end up throwing it away, just like they would with the knick-knacks. 

When in doubt this holiday season, just play it safe and give your friends something that won't offend them or make them feel uncomfortable. Give a friend a holiday gift you'd like to receive.