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8 Gift Ideas to Avoid

I'm sorry Balloon

Yes, there can be such a thing as a bad gift ...

Some gifts are thoughtless, rude and even offensive. However, there's no need to panic, the Big Fat Balloons School of Gift Buying is here to help. So you don't have to make amend with on of our Sorry Balloon in a Box (pictured left) we've compiled 8 gift ideas to avoid - or at least to think very carefully about before you go ahead and send them.

For a laugh, we've also compiled a list of real life "bad gifts" compiled from conversations with friends and family...

Appliances as romantic gifts

Never, ever give an appliance to your wife or girlfriend as a gift.

To clarify, unless you are certain that she dreams to own a deluxe mixer because cooking is her passion - stay clear from appliances . Especially avoid vacuum cleaners, washing machines or any other device that might be used to clean up after you.

A donation has been made in your name...

Of course giving to charity is good . However, never give someone "A charitable donation made in his or her name" as a gift... Unless they have dedicated their life to a particular cause (in which case the donation will be meaningful to them) or specifically requested that you give money to charity instead of buying a gift.

Something you want

Unless you are truly buying a gift for someone with similar taste to yours... avoid buying something you actually want for your self . Just because you want a Playstation, does not mean your mum will appreciate it, especially when you ask to borrow it before she's even got it out of the box.

Take their own tastes into consideration ... see our "Pay attention and get outstanding ideas for gifts for friends and family" for advice on picking a gift they truly want.

Dumb awards

"Best Mum" mug, T-shirt, and coffee makers and other dumb awards are out . Consider them only if you are under 12 years old or if you want to make a cheesy statement. For example it might be a suitable baby gift for a friend expecting her first child.

Offensive gifts

Don't give an overweight friend fitness equipment or diet books. You might think you are doing them a favour but they may be offended. Think about what your gifts are saying before you buy them... remember some gifts can be offensive !

Gifts that are too generic or too cheap

Mugs, toiletries and lottery tickets are often given as presents. Although they might be suitable as 'stocking fillers' or for people you don't know very well, beware when buying these for close friends and family. This kind of gift just says: "I really had no idea... so here you are ".

To turn such gifts into welcome presents make sure that they are personalised . For instance, if you know the person well, buy their favourite toiletries or quality mugs that matching the rest of their crockery.

You also need to make sure the value of the gift matches the occasion ... I once spoke to man who could vividly recall his disappointment when receiving a shirt from his girlfriend on his 40th Birthday... He was expecting a more memorable - and more personal gift for that special occasion (he now has a new girlfriend).


"Live" presents are usually best avoided , unless you are 110% sure that the recipient wants a pet or you are buying for your child. Dogs and cats are a big responsibility and it is best not to push anyone into that situation without warning... there might be a reason why they don't already have a cat or a dog.


Clothes are usually best avoided , unless you have seen the recipient try it on and put it back because they could not afford it. Chances are that you will get the style, size or colour wrong and the recipient will feel forced to wear it at least once in front of you.

However clothes can make great gifts if you get it right . Some might even consider using gift giving to curb an addiction to unflattering clothing or bad taste... think of it as clothes rehab through gifts... however tread carefully and make sure your own taste in impeccable and you know the recipient well. If in doubt stick to clothes vouchers!


Vouchers can be a great gift for people who like to shop and choose their own thing . They are also a good alternative to posting presents to friends and relative who live far away . However make sure that you buy the right type of voucher - Mothercare vouchers for new parents or book tokens for students are great but Marks and Spencer vouchers for teenagers might not be so useful!

Gifts you might want to try..

After all those "don't's" a few good gift ideas from Big Fat Balloons! Just browse our range of helium balloons (UK delivery) and teddy bears and chocolate gifts and find new home gift ideas, special gifts for Mum, I love you gifts, hen night gift ideas and much more.

Make buying a gift enjoyable with the Big Fat Balloons Online School of Gift Buying and learn about:

Want to share your insights, experience and inspiration with our other gift buyers?

Just join in the conversation at Big Fat Blog, for fun gift ideas, company news and products updates.

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