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The Bad Gift Giving Husband

February 7, 2011

Occasions that usually requires some form of giving always makes me a little anxious. Not for me because I am an amazing gift giver if I do say so myself *ahem* but for the husband. Husbands fall into one of two categories: the amazing gift-giver – “oh honey, its so sweet of you to make this photo collage!” and the bad gift giver – “thanks for the vacuum honey. Um, I guess it is useful…”. I guess there is another category: the non-gift giver. Which I am not into so I am just going to pretend he doesn’t exist.

My husband’s gift giving skills, sadly are in need of some work. For example, this Christmas I got … (wait for it) … a candle for Christmas. Let me repeat that. My beloved, got me a candle. Yes, what people usually reserve for White Elephant Christmas gift exchanges and housewarming parties. To be fair, he has also given me some amazing gifts like my Kindle and tickets to the ballet but as a whole, lets just say its a good thing I didn’t marry him for his gift giving skills.

So, whats a girl to do? If your hubby is a bad gift giver like mine, here are some things I have done/ am doing:

  • Get your sister to tell him what you want – This sounds great in theory because theorectically you get what you want without the weird dilemma of “oh-you-got-this-for-me-because-I-told-you-to-I-might-as-well-have-just-send-myself-flowers”. On the other hand, I hope your sister is more subtle than mine: “My sister told me to tell you, this is what she wants for Valentine’s Day”. Oy.
  • Take him to the mall and stop very obviously in front of things you like and point them out – If your man is blind and deaf as well as a bad gift giver, this back-fires horribly. Then you just end up with a grumpy honey or of course he will remember that one thing you didn’t really mean for him to buy although you love it. “Sorry honey, I cannot afford a $7000 Valentino trench coat. What do you mean you pointed out other stuff?”
  • Buy yourself something and then tell him what you got for him to give to you – this has almost no drawbacks. You always get what you want, you don’t have to beat around the bush, he doesn’t have to go to the mall, everyone is happy! On the other hand, you had to buy it yourself.
  • Don’t celebrate anything – Yeah, this isn’t even worth talking about
  • Write a list of everything you want, check it twice, he better be good – this is Shoestring Boy’s torture of choice. He gets to somewhat pick and pat himself on the back and you are sure to get something you want.

Hopefully sooner or later, he gets the picture. Till then, we work with what we got, eh ladies? What was the worst gift you’ve gotten? I use to think it was a gift card (yes, a gift card) but I think the candle has trumped that.


21 Comments leave one →
  1. February 12, 2011 5:52 am

    Oh this is funny! It just reminded me of the candles I got for Christmas too. Luckily not from my husband, but from the only two people at work who gave me Christmas gifts. I’ll keep your suggestions in mind in case my husband turns to be a bad gift-giver too. ;-D

  2. malya permalink
    July 23, 2011 11:01 am

    Last year for my birthday I got a very large, illistrated Dictonary. It’s great but all it says to me is that “I know you mentioned we need this in the house”. Yes I did mention we needed a dictionary but more as… next time you you go to Office Depot could you get us a dictionary. This year I’ve already seen that he bought me earings that are ment for a 12 year old. They are already on their way, not sure what I’m going to do about it. Did I mention that this gift is a month late too? I guess it runs in the family b/c his father got “us” an ice cream maker for Chanukah… who does this man think is making ice cream? Certainly not his son! OY

    • Jesselyn Girl permalink*
      July 25, 2011 7:10 am

      That freaking cracked me up! Thanks for the laugh!

  3. alice berlin permalink
    October 25, 2011 7:09 pm

    I just got a flashlight for my 40th birthday. He said he knew I wanted it because he didn’t like the one we already had – it used up the batteries too quickly and I said sure lets get another one. I point out things I like all the time and even have a public amazon wish list to make it easy. Nothing helps. He says I’m hard to shop for so it’s my problem I guess.

    Happy birthday to me!

  4. Laura permalink
    December 26, 2011 4:04 pm

    For our wedding presents to each other, he got me fishing poles. We opened them in front of our entire wedding party, I was very embarrassed. I’ve also received cartoon socks, a seat cushion for my car, a spatula ( I’m not joking), and a needles for my sewing machine. He’s a great guy, just kinda has no clue

  5. sadie permalink
    January 27, 2012 9:11 pm

    I got glasses cleaner, cause he always smudges my glasses. Also in the pile was regifted slippers that were dirty and 3 sizes to big. Im pretty stunned at how horrible the gifts were. I would have been happier with a hershey bar.

  6. Dianna permalink
    May 6, 2012 6:41 am

    Im so glad to have found this! What a treat to know I’m not alone.
    My husband is the greatest, but is pretty bad at gift giving. This year I decided to send him links to the perfect opal ring that I wanted. He decided that I wouldn’t get that ring in time, I specifically told Him that was ok! So he went out and got something off the showroom floor and it ended up being a lab created opal. The thought is so awesome but I can’t wear this thing anywhere. I even told him prior to the big day that proper research has to be done to make sure a quality item is purchased. I was direct and to the point. He let our 11 year old pick out the gem, and it’s perfect for her. I’ve considered how to handle this but I always offend him when I tell him I want something different. Last time I got a gift I got white 10 dollar headphones, he recalled me mentioning that I wanted “new apple headphones” and raced out to get the generic version cause he could. The difference between apple headphones and generic ones is pretty vast. I said “thanks! But this isn’t quite right” and we fought for days. Men!

  7. Amy permalink
    June 1, 2012 4:12 pm

    This year for our anniversary my husband got me a poorly dyed, wilting rose (he said there weren’t any better flowers at the shop, and when I asked if he had gone to another flower shop right nearby he shrugged and said “naw”)… and three identical boxes of chocolate (after announcing I was going on a diet only a day before!) I can only assume the chocolate boxes were on sale so he just kept buying more. One is sweet, three is bizarre.

    I got him a flatscreen TV and an Xbox 360!

  8. Hadenough permalink
    June 15, 2012 5:36 pm

    I just got two posh looking giant boxes for my b’day… Don’t know what to do with them. Can’t event touch them. And this is after years of telling him that I like presents that reminds me that I am a lady, like a scarf, a pair of earings, a bracelet etc. A cheep pair of earings would make me much more hapier than a printer, scanner (sort of things I used to get in the past) or giant posh looking shoe boxes… He will not learn, he is a moron. And i must be a moron to still expect that he will finally get the idea…. Btw, he does buy me exotic “outfits” or “toys” from dubious web sites that annoys me further….

  9. Heartbroken permalink
    December 26, 2012 6:18 pm

    OMG! Christmas 2012 is just over, and the gifts my husband gave me were SO thoughtless that I did a web search for “Husbands who give bad gifts”. Found this. Well, ladies, at least I’m not alone. So for Christmas this year my husband of 22 years gave me

    1) a calendar (we must have 6 in the house now)
    2) a wooden cutting board (which is something HE has been wanting), and
    3) a pair of scissors (which I didn’t need, because he gave me scissors a couple years ago, but if I did I would just go buy a pair)

    I can’t help but wonder what on earth was he thinking? Nothing about these items says “I was thinking of you” or “this is a gift from the heart”. It seems like he went to the mall and simply couldn’t be bothered to spend the time to look for items that “spoke to him”, items that would say “She would love this” – which is how I shop. Is he a bad gift giver, or just a jerk?

    OH – and in response to Hadenough’s comments – sounds like your husband has confused “remind me that I am a lady” – which is classy and elegant, with “make me look trashy” – which is for HIM, not you. So sorry.

  10. Emily permalink
    February 14, 2013 9:36 am

    This year was my husband and my first Christmas together. I wanted it to be really special so of coarse I thought long and hard about what I could get him. I even listened in when he would talk to his guy friends so I could see if there was anything he really wanted. I spent days shopping at different stores and ended up with some really great gifts that I know he loved. Here is a list of what I received from my husband (all from one store, wallmart): a cup cake tin, a single blue bath mat, vibrating slippers and a heating pad. -__- We are both in our 20s. Needless to say Christmas ended in tears

  11. joan permalink
    February 17, 2013 6:52 pm

    My hubby gave me the best buy gift card, that I gave him for Christmas, for my birthday. What a creep. He tells me, “I’m not sure how much is left on it…but you can have it.”

  12. Debruska permalink
    April 4, 2013 6:46 pm

    So I am not alone!
    I prefer greeting cards over gifts actually. A thoughtful, handwritten note in a pretty or humorous card makes my day.
    Not sure why but on many occasions my boyfriend/fiancé/now husband “forgets” the card. I have mentioned repeatedly how much I adore cards but it doesn’t seem to be resonating with him. Can someone decipher this for me, pls? Cards are relatively cheap, portable and easy to source, no?
    P.S. Written sentiments are all the more important as my husband is not really gifted (pardon the pun) on the gift giving front (one year I received a scale for my birthday in an unwrapped cardboard box. Eek!). Love him dearly but I confess to always being a tad disappointed on birthdays, Valentine’s, etc. 😦

  13. Julie S permalink
    December 25, 2013 1:54 pm

    Christmas rant because I need to vent! I told my hubby I would love some fancy tea for Christmas and gave him the name of a loose leaf tea shop and several varieties to pick from. My wonderful and caring husband took the list to a different, fancier tea shop and they sent him home with seven teas almost entirely unlike the ones I wanted. Because it is so close a thing to what I wanted but not actually anything I want to drink at all, it is even worse than if he’d just given me a dumb present like that death star ice cube form I got one year. Been crying secretly in the backyard over this one!!!

  14. Tari permalink
    December 26, 2013 12:36 am

    Well Christmas 2013 is in the past but really can’t get over it. Yes I to googled bad gifts from hubby. I see I am not alone. Got a Cameo Ruger Rifle. Really never went shooting with my son and his step dad. My son’s favorite quote is “Mom you really can pick’em!” I was speechless opening it, for me that is something. In my head repeating “if you can’t say something nice” but the look on my face told so much more. Pink Gun would have got the same reaction but really I would know it was for me not them. They wouldn’t touch it Pink!

    I think I should get him a sewing machine and say I wanted us to do stuff together. So I got you what I like to do. He says we can’t take it back. Would it be Ok to Ebay or pawn it?

    Should we get revenge or consign ourselves to the luck of the draw. I know there is no hope changing him.

  15. Jenny permalink
    January 13, 2014 12:15 am

    I am belly laughing so hard I have tears in my eyes!!!

    I am so glad I’m not alone. We’re in our early to mid 20’s and married going on two years.

    The second Christmas we shared as a serious couple (living together and pregnant) I showed him a vintage inspired sewing machine from Urban Outfitters that I was dying to own. Affordable, too.

    Christmas morning I received two gifts: a jewelry box from Walmart and a book. Worst part? The book was from Urban Outfitters. It is titled Awkward Family Photos. Along with his less than thoughtful book purchase, he used the rest of his funds to buy some new clothes for himself. Even worse: I suspected this could be the case…New clothes, very stylish… I beat around the bush to see if he’d tell me where they came from. From his brother’s closet, he said. I guess I’m really intimidating when I want to be because he eventually caved and told the truth. I think I’ve cried more over this than anything in my life. I couldn’t even look at the book for about a year…. And he did not live this down.

    But here’s the problem… It’s as if my upset-edness traumatized him. I think now he panics, which has ended just as badly.

    Our wedding gift (lack of) exchange was very disheartening for me. Still could cry over it and will not get into detail but let’s just say it’s put some rifts into the marriage.

    My birthday 2012, he ordered a fake designer purse online. He thought it was LV and he must be so clueless to not notice some shoddy website. When he realized it was fake he tried to cancel but this China company would not give him his money back, they begged him to negotiate a deal. He finally got most of the money back, but it was 30 days later, exactly. Yeah, my birthday was over by then.

    Valentines Day 2013 I got nothing. At all. At this point, we are MARRIED and have TWO kids. I will admit that I made the remark that day “Oh, don’t worry about going and getting the last bruised bunch of flowers at some grocery store…hehe…” But that’s what I meant. You better damn we’ll have already thought something through and not be rushing at the last second. The ‘gift exchange’ (if you can call it that) that night was super awkward. Again, cried for days.

    There have been times recently where he buys what I asked for, but WRONG style. I only wanted a locket for Christmas and he showed me one from Neiman that I fell in love with!!! I told him I loved it and that since $300 is kind of pricey for us I don’t want anything else at all!! (Trust me, this Mama has been without nice things for long enough). Well, he went to Macys and got a $100 locket that looks totally different. He did this so that he could afford to also get me a purse. In this case it was only a bit disappointing and I have decided to be grateful for what I got and appreciate that he out thought into it.

    Tonight I got very upset, which is why I googled “husband is bad gift giver”. Our anniversary is in two weeks, and we agreed to bring the kids to a sitter (which we NEVER do) and use the money to go out for a spa day. I am VERY responsible with our finances (SAHM) and we are currently trying to get financed for a mortgage loan. Well, he went into the other room tonight and ordered me a tapestry as a gift. He said that cotton is the two year tradition and spent $60 on one on some random site that is $40 on amazon. Plus, it looks like something you’d see in a grandmas house and I’m so very sad that he doesn’t know me better then that. I got upset… Panicked… And went on his email to request a return. I feel like a bad heartless wife.

    He is a wonderful guy, this is the worst of the worst. Had to vent though… Had to!!!!

  16. Tiffany permalink
    April 23, 2014 8:16 pm

    I needed to read this. My husband bought me a chocolate easter bunny and pop rocks for our 10th anniversary. For the record, there’s nothing of significance for either of those and our anniversary was three weeks AFTER Easter and he bought it the day after our anniversary. This year he’s planned for us to take his mom out to dinner on our anniversary and I’m getting grill parts. YAY!

  17. August 22, 2014 12:43 pm

    I love your blog. My story- My Husband and I have been married for almost two years and we have a little girl. Since we have dated, I have gotten 1 bouquet of flowers (on our first V-Day) & 1 iTunes gift card (my ipod was broke and still is for my birthday two years ago). Since then, I haven’t gotten anything. Nothing for Christmas, Valentines Day, Mother’s Day, Anniversary or my Birthday last year or the year before. Today is my birthday, and I didn’t even get a “Happy Birthday”. I even reminded him last night that my Birthday was tomorrow and that he had time to get a card, he just kept web surfing. He always says ” I am still thinking of what to get you” But, those thoughts never become actions. NEVER. So, I am thrilled that at least some of you get gifts from your husbands. Other than a no show on gifts, he is a hard worker and a wonderful father.

  18. Sara permalink
    October 27, 2014 12:05 pm

    Thanks for the occasion to vent! My 40th bday was last week and my husband got me… wait for it… a bread knife. WTF??!! I need to mention here that I’ve spent the last 5 months undergoing IVF (unsuccessfully) so that *we* can start a family — not to sound like a vindictive b*itch here, but his poor sperm quality is the reason why we’ve been unable to conceive. I distinctly remember thinking to myself, back in September: he *will* get me a great 40th bday gift. How could he not, after everything I’ve put myself through this year? Ugh. I tried to play it off like it was no big deal the day of, mostly because I didn’t feel like bawling on my birthday. But I eventually let him know just how disappointed I was. He feels badly but is still all about the excuses (“you’re impossible to shop for!” “you don’t like celebrating your birthday!” “I spent a lot on that bread knife!”). Arrrgh. I think if I ever see that bread knife again I will lose it!!!!!!!


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