What those rubbish Christmas gifts REALLY mean – from underwear and cheap chocolates to dodgy perfumes and new socks

What those rubbish Christmas gifts REALLY mean – from underwear and cheap chocolates to dodgy perfumes and new socks


PICKING the perfect Christmas gift can be a challenge – especially when you’ve got no idea what the person really wants.

However, there really are some presents you should think twice about gifting – as many of us scramble online to purchase last-minute trusted sets of smellies and a pair of new socks. 

But experts say the dodgy presents you receive on Christmas Day say more about the person who bought them for you than hinting at their opinion of you. 

We’ve spoken to a number of shopping and present-giving experts who certainly know a thing or two when it comes to selecting the perfect gift. 

Michelle Poole, founder of Virtual Hand, an online PA service to businesses, says everyone loves Christmas gifts – but it’s common to judge people by presents. 

She said a great present for one person can be the "worst" present for someone else.

While Sophie, a luxury personal shopper and gifting expert from The Fussy Shopper, said thoughtful gifts are meaningful but presents without thought, don’t necessarily lack care. 

But Cleo Lacey, a personal shopper and image consultant at Demi Couture, said you "need to find a new partner" if your loved one gifts you a kitchen appliance like new pots and pans. 

Here, we look at what these presents really say about the gift sender..  


Michelle, 56, from Wakefield, said she loves to give and receive socks at Christmas and described the present giver as a "practical" shopper.

The Virtual Hands founder, who also runs a Christmas Concierge service, commented: "There are people that depend on getting socks at Christmas time. 

"The giver may be a practical person and they are guaranteed to be worn and not wasted. Luxury cashmere bed socks would be ideal for the older generation – a real treat!"

This is an add on gift, the ‘something extra’ not the main gift.

While Sophie from The Fussy Shopper said socks are an "all-round gift" and Cleo, 38, a personal shopper and stylist from East Midlands, said it’s a "practical gift typical of Christmas". 

But no-nonsense expert and etiquette influencer Lisa Mirza Grotts said socks should never be the main Christmas present. 

She commented: "Who doesn’t want to be cosy during winter? However, this is an add on gift – the ‘something extra’ not the main gift, unless they are cashmere from an upscale store."


Whether this is sexy, creepy or awkward to open in front of family and friends, thousands of people gift their other half underwear each Christmas. 

But Michelle, from Virtual Hand, said it is a recipe for disaster, especially for men, due to the embarrassment of purchasing lingerie and potentially buying the wrong size.

She said: "You can only imagine the fallout from that! They may be wishing to see you in the underwear or it’s a massive hint to bin the granny pants with holes in.

"For us ladies, buying our partners silk boxers was definitely a thing of the 90’s and very much appreciated, but these days it’s just a practical tick box exercise." 

Buying our partners silk boxers was definitely a thing of the 90’s and very much appreciated, but these days it’s just a practical tick box exercise.

While Sophie said underwear is often men’s go-to gift for their lady – however, generally the sizes will be wrong and both sexes have a different idea of what looks good. 

And "The Golden Rules Gal" Lisa said giving lingerie as a present is "sexy" but she questions how the person will know what size to purchase. 

She said: "In general, it’s a thoughtful gift. You can’t just buy lingerie at an airport store; you really have to shop for this. My bet is that he's sending a romantic message. 

"And if your wife or girlfriend buys you pants? She doesn’t like the ones you're currently wearing but it shows love and consideration."

While Cleo also believes lingerie is a sign of "love and adoration" for the recipient and that the present buyer is making an effort.


Michelle admitted giving someone cheap perfume as a Christmas gift is "yuck", but revealed this year has seen the rise of "copy perfumes" at reasonable costs.

While expert shopper Sophie said she would only suggest buying perfume for Christmas if the present giver knows which specific perfume the recipient likes.

However, Lisa Mirza Grotts and Cleo Lacey say cheap perfume is a "no-go." 

Not only would I not re-gift this, I wouldn’t donate it.

Lisa commented: "Not only would I not re-gift this, I wouldn’t donate it. So many people are allergic to fragrance; add a cheap one to the mix and I just got a migraine. 

"This is a personal gift. If someone gave me a bottle, I would use it as bathroom spray, like a 'poo pourri.'" 

And Cleo said you should "delete them from your phone" if someone gifts you cheap perfume. 

While Jo Barnett, a 45-year-old relationship coach and expert from London said if your loved one buys you cheap perfume, they’re "not a keeper."


Sophie revealed chocolate is the quickest and "least thoughtful" but safest Christmas gift.

She said it is "easy, simple, but nothing special" while Michelle agreed that it is obvious that "not a lot of thought went into the present". 

The Virtual Hands founder said rubbish chocolates can be purchased from any general store but they can be handy to have on standby – if you’ve forgotten a gift for someone. 

But Jo said receiving rubbish chocolates could mean that the sender didn’t want to spend too much – or they had chocolates lying around the house that they needed to get rid of. 

Lisa Mirza Grotts added: "No time at all was spent on the gift. They walked into Boots and picked up the cheap chocolate that everyone else buys."

While Cleo said it either means the sender has bad taste – or they don’t know the recipient well and have a small set budget. 


Receiving gym clothes as a Christmas present brings lots of thoughts to mind, says Michelle. 

"Do they think I need to exercise; my current attire is decidedly shabby and holey or do they know I love gym wear but it is expensive?" 

This is very personal. The person buying must know your likes and what looks good on you

While Sophie said it can go one or two ways – either the person gifting the gym-wear knows you like the gym or they are trying to tell you something…

Jo agreed that it could be a subtle hint from a family or friend that you need to get down the gym or it’s thoughtful if you’re a self-confessed "gym bunny". 

Lisa said if someone buys gym-wear, it means the recipient asked or hinted for it. She says: “This is very personal. The person buying must know your likes and what looks good on you.” 


Vouchers apparently aren’t such a rubbish present to receive…

Despite Michelle revealing it can be a sign of laziness from the present giver, she also said the sender simply might not know you very well. 

The Virtual Hands founder said: "Do they not know you well, can’t be bothered or don’t have time to look properly? But vouchers are an option for difficult to buy for friends and family." 

Relationship coach Jo insists the sentiment is "lost" with a voucher as there is nothing like unwrapping a gift – but says a voucher is thoughtful as the recipient can buy what they want.

Lisa agreed and said "anyone can buy a gift card", but to pick out a present and have it wrapped shows "thoughtfulness". 

While Fussy Shopper expert Sophie said vouchers are a safe option for any gift sender. 


Anyone who buys a kitchen appliance as a Christmas present is a "practical giver" but lacks imagination, according to Michelle. 

She said: "The giver struggles to separate you from your role in the home, maybe!

"I received an iron from a suitor one year – fortunately, the relationship never progressed or else maybe I would be in need of a Divorce Lawyer by now."

While Lisa said the sender is "boring" if they buy you a kitchen appliance for Christmas.

She commented: "If I’m dating someone and he gives me a bread maker, the gift is for him not me. If we’re married and I like to cook, he will know what appliances I would love to have." 

Cleo agreed and said while kitchen appliances are a great gift for those who love spending time in the kitchen, it’s a rubbish gift if you’re not. 


There are two different sides to this gift and while it can be great if the present giver has done their research and picked your favourite tipple, it can also be a waste if not. 

Michelle says it’s "great re-gifting material." However it’s a risky choice from the sender as there’s only a 33% chance of choosing the recipient’s favourite wine correctly.  

While Sophie said it proves the sender "pays attention" if they gift your favourite drink.

Lisa added: "Yes if it's champagne, this is the perfect gift. Always looks festive even with just a bow and perfect to share to ring in 2021!" 

However, relationship coach Jo said booze isn’t a "personal" gift and could be seen as a selfish choice – if it’s something the sender wants to drink. Maybe it’s a gift to themselves in disguise! 


Gift sets of smellies are often seen as a "typical" Christmas gift but most of the experts say it is a great present – instead of a rubbish one. 

"Who doesn’t love a good smelly?", says Sophie, "they always come in handy."

While relationship coach Jo said this present – if gifted by your partner – shows he knows how to pamper you and make you feel good. 

This is always a thoughtful gift. If you don’t use them they can be re-gifted as long as they’re unopened and tis the season of candles and ambience.

Lisa added: "This is always a thoughtful gift. If you don’t use them they can be re-gifted as long as they’re unopened and tis the season of candles and ambience!" 

Cleo also revealed she’s completely "candle obsessed" and smellies make a great gift. 

Michelle from Virtual Hands added: "So, it does seem that one person’s dream gift can be another person’s worst nightmare. The golden rule is to, plan ahead and give it some thought. 

"Oh, and one handy pointer, make a list of who bought you what’s on your regifting list, there’s nothing worse than giving a gift back to the person that gave it to you!"

Meanwhile, an expert claims you’re ‘common’ if you have a fake Xmas tree & tinsel– here’s how to get the festive decor ‘right’.

Plus you’re ‘common’ if you have matching Christmas PJs & a faux wreath.

Elsewhere, these are the best & worst celeb Christmas decor, from Luisa Zissman’s ‘chaotic’ effort to Michelle Keegan’s chic ‘winter wonderland’.

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