10 Secret Santa Gifts No One Wants to Receive (And What You Should Buy Instead)

Whether you're exchanging presents with a group of friends or with your co-workers, the holiday season calls for a tradition you either love or hate: Secret Santa. The struggle between finding affordable gifts and gifts that people will actually like is too real, and may be one of the biggest stressors of the season. However, even if you're not sure what to get for your Secret Santa gift-recipient, there are a few things you should definitely avoid.

From gimmick gifts to downright embarrassing presents, these 10 Secret Santa picks won't leave anyone feeling merry and bright. To save everyone some major awkwardness, we've rounded up the presents you should definitely not give this year, and ones you should pick up instead.

Image: Madelinetosh/Flickr

by Rebecca Deczynski

Don't Give: Boring Office Supplies

It’s not cool to nab your co-worker’s gift from the supply closet. Nor is it cool to give them a present that is the equivalent of something they can nab from the supply closet.

Photo: Lance Nishihira/Flickr

Do Give: Pretty Journals

Not everyone may keep a diary, but no one can resist writing in a pretty notebook.

Notebooks, $14, Riflepaperco

Don't Give: Holiday-Themed Underwear

They may be funny for a second, but chances are your Secret Santa recipient probably doesn’t want everyone in the room to know that they now own a pair of elf-themed underwear.

Image: cybermacs/Flickr

Do Give: Holiday-Themed T-Shirt

Yeah, they may only wear it one day out of the year, but if you’re set on giving a festively themed gift, you might as well give them something they can wear to a holiday party.

“Make it Reindeer” t-shirt, $20, Urbanoutfitters

Don't Give: Socks

Sure, we all wear socks. Some of them are even super cute. But this Secret Santa gift is so overdone, it’s time to put it to rest.

Image: Madelinetosh/Flickr

Do Give: A Scarf

Scarves become instantly one of the most important accessories you can have as soon as cold weather hits. A classic, cozy scarf is guaranteed to get a ton of wear for a small price.

Black Circle Scarf, $10, HM

Don't Give: A Boring Picture Frame

You know the kind: those plain picture frames that just scream “re-gifted.” Even if you add your own photo, gifted picture frames are almost guaranteed to become dust-collectors.

Image: Jason Hill/Flickr

Do Give: A Cool Art Print

An art print with a fun saying or reference to the recipient’s favorite movie/TV show/band will easily find a place on their wall.

Don’t Give Up Print, $20, Etsy

Don't Give: Candles

Candles can seem like a fail-proof gift, but just because you’re addicted to wax that smells like sugary birthday cake doesn’t mean your gift recipient is as well.

Photo: Shandi-lee Cox/Flickr

Do Give: A Plant

Cacti and succulents make easy-to-care-for decorations that match any taste.

Succulent planters, $35 for 3, Etsy

Don't Give: Homemade Baked Goods

Your grandma’s famous cookie recipe may be a hit with your family, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to go over well with your co-worker who may or may not just be allergic to, well, basically everything.

Sean Gallup/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Do Give: Fancy Chocolate

As long as you know that your recipient doesn’t have any major allergies, a fancy box of chocolate or cupcakes from a nice bakery makes a luxurious gift.

Maxbrenner Chocolate Bonbons, $14, Amazon

Don't Give: Fancy Kitchen Gadgets

While you may have use for a countertop slushie maker, not everyone does. Cooking gizmos and gadgets wind up being kitchen clutter, so steer clear of things you’re not positive your recipient would actually use.

Image: syrenmuse/Flickr

Do Give: Mugs

Whether your recipient prefers coffee, tea, or hot chocolate, everyone can find a use for a mug—especially if it’s a cute one.

Mug, $12, Anthropologie

Don't Give: CDs or DVDs

If you know your gift recipient loves Wes Anderson or Britney Spears, it’s probable that she already owns his movies and her albums, either in disc or digital form.

Spencer Platt/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Do Give: Books

In the day of libraries and tablets, books feel like a luxury. Coffee table books, interesting biographies, and cool new novels make for great reads and also work as décor.

‘The Wes Anderson Collection,’ $24, Amazon

Don't Give: Anything That Can Pass as Cleaning Supplies

OK, so that linen spray may smell amazing, but giving any sort of cleaning or refreshing product to an acquaintance easily comes off as an insult.

Image: Maria Morri/Flickr

Do Give: Small Décor Pieces

Paperweights, bowls, and vases easily find a place in homes or cubicles without seeming too intrusive on personal style or cleanliness.

Laboratory Vases, $24, Urbanoutfitters

Don't Give: Gimmicky Gifts

You know the kind. These “funny” gifts always manage to get a few laughs at first, and then they’re forgotten about and shoved in the back of a drawer. Probably not the best use of money.

Image: Vaguely Artistic/Flickr

Do Give: Something Thoughtful

When it comes down to it, giving the perfect Secret Santa gift depends on who your recipient is and what your relationship is like with that person. If you find something you know they’ll really love, buy it. After all, it’s the thought that counts — right?

Scratch Map, $26, Amazon