Are you guilty of gifting one of these most offensive gifts?

Are you a terrible gift-giver?

Girl looking unimpressed holding a puppy dog
(Image credit: alan powdrill / getty)

Whether it's for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or any festive get-together, gifts are chosen because they bring joy and happiness to that special someone, right? Well, most people use that benchmark when choosing gifts for people they like.

But thousands of people are guilty of buying gifts for someone where their choice has had the opposite effect—not only has it not brought them joy but the recipient has actually been offended by the gift 😣

From genitalia-shaped jelly to dairy chocolate for a vegan colleague, 300 office workers have revealed the worst Secret Santa gifts they have ever received—in a survey carried out by The Body Shop—they and give some useful tips on what makes a good gift.

Among the present tips to consider, 68% of people surveyed said they preferred a thoughtful gift—a novelty gift was voted the WORST present to get.

One respondent recalled a “Thomas the Tank Engine backpack” and another “a cat purse (I hate cats)” as the worst gift they had received from a colleague.

Meanwhile, unless you're Cara Delevigne, it's probably best to stay clear of sex toy gifts that people ranked as highly offensive —especially if you're buying presents for colleagues and acquaintances. One said they had been given a butt plug, another received a vibrator and a third office worker revealed they'd been gifted a dildo...

Top 15 worst Secret Santa gifts

  • Novelty
  • Beauty
  • Toys & games
  • Food
  • Home accessories
  • Stationary
  • Books
  • Chocolate
  • Nothing (☹)
  • A mug
  • Accessories
  • Alcohol
  • Socks
  • Toiletries
  • Adult-themed

But it's not just those receiving gifts that have been stressed. Those tasked with buying felt anxious and stressed—with 35% struggling to know what to buy when shopping for gifts. FYI, just if you're ever in that predicament here are some pretty great gift ideas, even if we do say so ourselves. 

And then there's the budget to think about. How much is acceptable when it comes to buying a Secret Santa gift? The majority of respondents (49%) stuck to spending between $4.54-7.57/ £6-10, while 34% say they spend between $8.32-11.35 / £11-15.

We've all had something tucked away in the back of our closets that hasn't seen the light of day and thought it would be the perfect thing to pass on as a gift—29% agreed, they too had re-gifted in the past.

While many of us are fond of sweet treats—with 27% hoping to get food/drink-related presents—when it comes to Christmas gifts, chocolate was ranked eighth in the worst presents to buy, with food (in general) even higher at number four.

One worker claimed they received a “half-eaten box of chocolates” from a colleague, and one vegan revealed they were given “milk chocolate”, despite not eating dairy products.

While it seems that men prefer joke gifts more than women (23% vs. 11%), you can spare everyone's blushes by going for more well-researched gifts this year.

So what can you buy? Well, 13% of people surveyed are hoping to receive ‘beauty/grooming/skincare’ as part of their gifts, with 16% looking for something personalized.

So let's not fall out with any more colleagues, friends or family due to hideous Christmas gifting and give them something you know they will love.

Selina Maycock
Selina Maycock

Selina is a Senior Entertainment Writer with more than 14 years of experience in newspapers and magazines. She currently looks after all things Entertainment for GoodtoKnow, Woman&Home and My Imperfect Life.

Before joining Future Publishing, Selina graduated from the University of Sheffield in 2006 with a degree in Journalism. She is fully NCTJ and NCE qualified and has 100wpm shorthand. Having spent the start of her career working on local newspapers and online, Selina spent six years as Acting News Editor and Entertainment Reporter at the Scunthorpe Telegraph where she dug into hard news stories, conducted interviews, covered court reporting, features, and entertainment, whilst going to gigs in her spare time.

Whilst at the paper she was awarded an O2 Media Judges' Special Award for helping a terminally ill cancer sufferer realise his dying wish and marry his childhood sweetheart through a successful newspaper campaign. Things like this are close to her heart when it comes to using journalism to make a positive difference in people's lives.

Selina later branched further into all things celebrity to became a Showbiz Writer at Heat magazine, covering red carpet events, showbiz parties, and various launches before going freelance for two years. One of her biggest celebrity achievements - aside from generating celebrity exclusives - was interviewing Take That (including Robbie Williams) and bumping into Simon Cowell so much at events she told him 'I'm calling you my showbiz dad!'

In 2017 she joined TI Media as a senior reporter on Woman, Woman's Own, Woman&Home, Woman's Weekly celebrity desk before branching online in 2020 when Future gave her the opportunity to focus on digital-first.

When she's not interviewing celebrities you can find her exploring new countryside walking routes, catching up with friends over good food, or making memories.