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Bad Valentine's Gifts: The V-Day Presents That Should Be Avoided At All Costs

02/12/2013 02:49 EST | Updated 02/14/2013 12:09 EST
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Picking the perfect Valentine’s Day gift is a challenge that a staggering number of people fail to meet. Maybe your partner has dropped that hobby that was oh-so-reliable for a quick 'pick up some guitar picks and a tab book' present. Maybe you're not quite prepared to spend hundreds on a designer wallet. Or maybe you're just not that great a gift giver to begin with.

You're certainly alone. According to a study commissioned by the online classified site Kijiji, more than half of Canadians have received what they consider a bad holiday gift. And that’s for all holidays, not just perennially-tricky Valentine’s Day, when love unfairly becomes equated with what's wrapped up in that heart-shaped box.

We don’t know your significant other personally, so we can’t do the gift-choosing for you (though we do have a few suggestions to offer). But we can also help keep you out of harm’s way with these gifts to avoid:

Worst Valentine's Day Gifts

Domestic Gadgets

We’ve all heard a story about how so-and-so’s father made the mistake of giving Mom a toaster/blender/vacuum. Yet, it still happens. Giving your partner anything that suggests that their place is in the kitchen is a sure way to discover that your place is sleeping on the couch. If it’s commonly listed on a wedding gift registry, it’s not a good Valentine’s gift.

Trashy Lingerie

This is a gift for the giver more than the receiver. You know it, your girlfriend knows it, and the sales clerk at Victoria’s Secret knows it. And please avoid the edible undies. A pair of granny panties and a box of Fruit Roll-Ups ultimately have the same function, and would go much further to show you care about her comfort. (Note: Do not buy your girlfriend granny panties and Fruit Roll-Ups.)

A Dog (Or Cat, Or Rabbit, Or Chinchilla…)

Her YouTube history is full of ah-dorable puppy videos that elicit frequent squeals of “aww, I want one!”, but that isn’t a cue for you to spring a spaniel on her. Long-term pet ownership is a major decision that you can’t make for her. Unless you’ve seriously talked about this as a couple, you shouldn’t be cutting breathing holes in a cardboard box anytime soon.

A Gift Card

These are designed to be an afterthought, so much so that stores keep them at the check-out counter so you’ll buy them on the way out. To put it another way: if you resort to this as a Valentine’s Day gift, you’ve pretty much checked out of the relationship.

Cheap Bath Products

No-name bath sets are for office Secret Santa desperation, not the love of your life. If she’s a fan of a particular brand or store, then a mini-haul of her favourites will be a hit. But the bar of purple soap in her shower isn’t a directive for you to buy “lavender stuff”. Rule of thumb: if it comes in a cellophane-wrapped basket and contains a free loofah, it’s a cop-out.

Random Tools

Your partner may love tools as much as he loves you, but not just any hardware store purchase will please him. Yes, that name-brand mitre box is on sale, and you’re pretty sure he doesn’t have one. Thing is, he already has a mitre saw. So you’ve just purchased something that will only ever come in handy if he has to urgently install crown moulding during a power outage.

Stuffed Animal

Ever go to a carnival and see the guys carrying around the giant Rastafarian bananas they won for their girlfriends? And notice how as the evening goes on, those same guys look like they resent the stupid things more and more? You’re begging for a long, drawn-out version of that. Sure, the teddy bear is cute at first. But on Feb. 15, the red lace heart it’s holding is already out of date. And then you start wondering how long you have to keep it displayed on your dresser to prevent hurt feelings. Answer: forever.

Book Of Homemade Coupons

This may have worked for Mother’s Day after you blew your whole allowance on Garbage Pail Kids cards, but no matter what your financial situation, you’ll have to do better than this. A stapled booklet of promises to give her a back rub, run her a bubble bath, or – even worse – do household chores is both cheap and easy. If you can’t invest the cash, at least invest some time and effort.

Exercise Equipment

“Happy Valentine’s Day. Now get off the couch, tubby!” That’s the message you’re sending with an exercise bike or a gym membership. If they want to shape up, they’ll do it when they’re ready, and you can show your support by joining them or just encouraging them. In the meantime, leave their love handles alone.

Gag Gifts

You’re not like some of those sappy, lovey-dovey, annoying couples, and you agree that Valentine’s Day is a pretty dumb idea. But if you’re ever going to express your love sincerely, this is the day. If one of you buys the hilarious novelty condoms and the other buys a thoughtful, elaborate gift? Think long and hard about how the night will end. (Spoiler alert: you won’t need the condoms.)