Isn’t it a shame when you spend your hard-earned money and precious time shopping and buying for someone and that kind little offering simply falls short? If you’re the perceptive-type, you can see it immediately on your recipients’ faces —  your gift meets lack-luster eyes and a crooked smile. And then those famous words … “awww. Its. So… Neat.” are uttered. Gulp. Your good intentions simply couldn’t hold their own against poor taste, a bad match or simply and altogether just missing the mark.

We’ve all been there, so we have some sure-fire “stay away from buying” ideas below. These rank among the most returned gifts, compiled by a few of our brutally honest co-workers and some investigation into retailer gurus who have some sobering stats to support this list.


While these are staples for (most) everyone, they are also extremely reliant on personal style, comfort and fit. One slight misstep and they’re headed back in the bag for a future “return run”. If you simply can’t avoid buying clothing and shoes, think about giving gift cards instead (especially for shoes!) and try to stick with accessories that can complement someone’s wardrobe — scarves, wraps and belts can be more universal and more widely-accepted.


Highly-potent fragrances can alienate your gift-recipient (and those interacting with them) so if you can’t resist those sweet-smelling, charming perfume/cologne bottles, choose wisely. Stay in neutral territory and look for scents that are noted as “clean” and “simple”, like the scent of cotton, rain, air.


The bright side of these gifts is that they scream “let’s have fun” (a great message to send!), but in most cases the reason for returning these includes having duplicate toys/games. So if you must go for these, think unique, one-of-kind! Likely there’s a monopoly game already hiding out in your friend’s closet.


Memory Game


Perhaps surprising, electronics made the list for most returned gifts as well. Likely a symptom of electronics not being compatible with other devices and for the fact that some electronics (especially phones and tablets) require on-going data plans.