As Christmas approaches, you realise you still haven't bought a gift for your cousin's boyfriend. That leads to you grabbing the first promo DVD you have lying around – which on Christmas Eve turns out to be The Human Centipede 3.
We've all been there, and we've all been on the receiving end of that pre-Christmas gifting panic. Those Uggs your aunt gave you that looked a lot like they were worn once, for example. The crafts kit from a clueless mother-in-law, or the gallons of body lotion and shower gel you've accumulated over the years from your nan.
Of course it's not the gift, but the thought that counts. But what if the thought is basically as shit as the gift itself? I convinced a few people to tell me about the worst Christmas gifts they've ever received.
Alice Thil, 24, music/artist manager
VICE: Hey Alice, tell me about the worst gift you've ever received.
Alice: It's a monster hoodie that my ex-boyfriend got me four years ago. At the time, I was super excited. I even wore it to work the next day. I worked as an insurance salesperson, so wearing that to work was pretty stupid. Looking back, it was a completely useless gift – I can't really wear it anywhere. Also, it reminds me of a shitty relationship and it's really ugly.
Why do you keep it?
I'm not really sure. I'm a bit of a hoarder – I don't usually throw things away. And it's a fun memory, in a way.
Have you worn it for a specific occasion?
Apart from at work that one time, I've never worn it in public. I'm wearing it in one of my Tinder profile photos. I'm bent over with my face near my dog's face, so it looks like the hoodie is eating my dog. That photo always gets the most comments. So I guess there's that.
Kalle Josephson, 28, press and marketing manager
VICE: What's the story behind this gift?
Kalle: A couple of years ago, my aunt couldn't join us for Christmas so she left her gifts with my parents a few weeks before. After a couple of days, my mum and dad noticed that my brother's gift had started to smell really bad, so they decided to open it. To their surprise, there were three tangerines inside that had started to rot. Being the nice parents they are, they swapped the rotten ones for new ones and put the gift back under the tree. When it was finally time for us to open our presents, my brother went first and well – it was three tangerines. When it was my turn I noticed that my gift – although wonderfully wrapped – was very light. Inside, there was popcorn. Literally just a handful of popcorn. Lastly, it was my cousin's turn, and her gift turned out to be seven condoms. Not a pack of condoms – just seven random condoms. Having just turned 17, she was was pretty embarrassed and uncomfortable about the whole deal.
What was you aunt's motivation behind those gifts?
My aunt has Down's syndrome, but she's generally a fantastic gift giver. She finds cheeky gifts quite fun, so she probably got a good laugh out of giving my cousin the condoms. I think her reason for giving us those gifts was that we'd mentioned that she shouldn't buy us anything expensive. So she decided to buy us really cheap gifts, just to fuck with us. It's all very funny – I'll never forget about the condoms. I mean, you can't really buy seven condoms in Sweden – they come in packs. So she must have just gathered seven condoms she had lying around at home.
Hedwig Gordon Lee, 22, student
VICE: Where did the cheese come from?
Hedwig: It was the first time my boyfriend gave me something. We had only just started dating. I thought he would have put some kind of thought into my gift, so I was very excited when he gave me this neatly wrapped package. When I opened it, it turned out to be cheese. I looked at him trying to see if it was some kind of joke I didn't get, but no. He had literally bought me a block of cheese.
Well, he said that I had once mentioned that I liked cheese and crackers. Out of all my interests, this was what he had picked up on. So I thought, maybe I'm getting crackers, too. But I didn't. I didn't even eat it – I gave it to my mum. In the end, though, I thought it was pretty endearing. I mean, at least he tried. And after that, he really stepped up his gift-giving game. Because of his feeling of guilt surrounding that incident, I get really great gifts.
Sebastian Theorin, 25, music manager, A&R
VICE: What is that?
Sebastian: It's a trivet my amazing grandmother gave me. It says "I love $ money". My grandmother is very generous and caring, but extremely uninterested in Christmas gifts. She tries so hard but is really bad when it comes to buying us stuff. She gave me a women's body lotion set to go with this trivet. The year before, she gave me a dishcloth. So basically, she gives away anything she has lying around.
Do you think she does it for shits and giggles or is she serious?
I just don't think she bothers. For example, she gave my uncle a milk frother – one of those free premium gifts that you receive when you subscribe to a magazine. The following year, she gave him another one – the exact same model. And she's neither old nor senile, she just really doesn't care.
Have you ever used your trivet?
I have actually – when I've cooked a hot meal and I've run out of my other ones. I always feel like I have to explain the story behind it. It's fun because she grew up in a working class home and is a hardcore anti-capitalist, so I have no idea where she got it from.