Karen Belz
December 11, 2013 7:00 am

Sure, we’re all excited about presents under the tree, but let’s not forget about the “appetizer” of presents and cheer – the Christmas stocking! While stockings can take many forms (er – they all look stocking-shaped, of course) they’re traditionally hung in the same places – around the fireplace, or on your bedpost the night before Christmas.

One popular story of the origin of the stocking is that Santa Claus stuffed the stockings of three young girls (which were being dried by the fire) with coins, as their father was poor and not the type to accept charity. Based on this surprise, the girls were able to support themselves financially for life.

While we probably won’t be getting magical “your life will change forever” coins this year, we will probably get a few “why are these here?” gifts. Just ask my husband, whose stocking I filled with whatever stocking-sized items I could find at K-Mart last year on December 22nd. Thankfully, he seemed grateful over that can of Pringles.

Here are a few items you should avoid, if you’re in charge of stuffing the stockings this year. (Keep in mind that all gifts are much appreciated – but, these could often be extremely misinterpreted.)

1. Car Air Fresheners

“Happy holidays! Your car stinks.” I’m talking mostly about the generic, tree-shaped air fresheners that smell like cheap perfume, and only last for a few days. Not only are they not exciting, but they don’t even make your car look good. I’d rather have a stinky car than a car that stinks like someone’s chemical interpretation of lilac.

2. Tic Tacs

Granted, red and green Tic Tacs might be festive. And Tic Tacs aren’t terrible. But when you find a bunch of Tic Tacs in your stocking, your first thought might be “are they trying to subtly tell me something?” Tic Tacs are the panic-gift you buy when you’re in the checkout line at the grocery store.

3. Playing Cards

Sure, they fit in a stocking – but chances are, you don’t play card games enough to make this a gift worth receiving. All of the card-loving members of your family probably have enough cards as is.

4. Fruit

Fruit is just a sad reminder that the Christmas cookies will be disappearing for a year. Also, most fruit has a distinct shelf life. So while you might have good intentions while stuffing that orange in someones’ stocking, you’re really saying “you have one week to eat this to enjoy it fully, and let’s hope it doesn’t accidentally get thrown out with the wrapping paper.”

5. Deodorant

Hopefully we’re all aware that deodorant is a great product to have, but it’s also another gift that might give off the wrong impression. I’d avoid gifting anything in the hygiene family, unless your family member directly asks for it.

6. Feminine Products

Speaking of hygiene, I’m sure getting a sampler pack of tampons would probably ruin someone’s morning. Also, it could be super embarrassing if you unwrap a box of tampons in front of your family members. No matter how old I get, I still don’t feel openly comfortable discussing “that time of the month” with anybody other than my cat, who doesn’t judge me for occasional emotional outbursts. (At least, she keeps quiet about it.)

7. Batteries

Batteries were a bit more useful when more products required batteries. (Old school Game Boy, I’m talking about you!) Now it just seems a bit lazy. Also, they tend to really weigh down a stocking. It’s kind of like the Christmas gift you’d purchase for your television remote. But your remote would be grateful, as it requires them to live.

8. Coal

Has anyone actually received coal in their stocking? There was always that lingering threat in my household, but I “lucked out” by getting deodorant and Tic Tacs instead. Gifting coal to a child might just break their spirits. Gifting coal to adult isn’t so bad, but then there’s that feeling of “… What the heck do I do with this now? Save it as a conversation piece for a few weeks?”

9. Cheap Novelty Toys

You know what I’m talking about: Finger traps, those plastic games where you have to fit that tiny metal ball into a tiny hole (I’ve tried to research the actual name for these monstrosities, but didn’t get too far), rubber finger puppets, and everything else that keeps you entertained for approximately 3 seconds and could also be a choking hazard. Pretty much the stuff you can win at an arcade for playing Skeeball once. Parachute man? Plastic multicolored Slinkies?

Not worth the money spent.

10. Socks

Yeah, we all need socks. Yeah, socks keep our feet warm during cold winter nights. But if we’re talking about generic, white gym socks? Eh. Even Christmas-themed socks are tough, since you can pretty much wear them the day of, and then you have to store them until next Christmas, or next time you have a drastic laundry emergency.

What have been some of the worst stocking stuffers you’ve received in the past?

Image Credits: Shutterstock (featured), Pinterest (Slinky)

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