SURVEY SAYS: Best and Worst 2011 Holiday Gifts

Last week, I asked NewsDash readers “What is the best holiday gift you received in 2011? What was the worst?”

Electronics (the Kindle was especially popular) and time with family were the most commonly cited best gifts. One reader reported an irritating coworker was on vacation, while others listed clothing items or more uncommon gifts.  I was especially touched by the reader who said her best gift was a letter from her 75-year-old father, read aloud in front of the family.  I lost my Dad in November.  

Best Gifts  

  • Awesome sleeping bag for warm camping nights 
  • My very first smartphone (yes, the apocalypse is definitely upon us). 
  • iPad 2 
  • having my family home for the Holiday. 
  • So far: REI Gift card 
  • an external keyboard/cover for my ipad 
  • a smart phone 
  • The person who most irritates me was on vacation during the holidays! It would have been perfect if he stayed off email… 
  • Kindle Fire 
  • Being with ALL of my family. 
  • Kindle reader 
  • A copy of the movie ‘Serendipity’ because my 16 year old daughter remembered that I liked the movie so she bought it for me. 
  • Pajama Jeans 
  • A Sony Bloggie video cam 
  • A gift certificate for three one-hour massages! 
  • My teenagers jumped up and assisted with the clean-up following Christmas Eve party without being asked! 
  • coat 
  • An Apple iPad! 
  • Having both my kids home for the holidays. 
  • Tickets to American Idiot 
  • Floating pearl necklace 
  • My husband surprised me with a TV for in the kitchen. 
  • Funding for my album 
  • A colleague made a charitable contribution in my honor to a local children’s hospital. That was a very special gesture that meant a lot to me. 
  • Kindle eReader 
  • GPS 
  • Kindle Fire with a $20 Amazon gift card to get started 
  • A sweater. 
  • New car. 
  • My son’s joy on Christmas morning. 
  • Spending time with my family 
  • ceramic football from 6-year old daughter 
  • I got engaged! So a beautiful diamond ring and promises of a happy future together. 
  • DVD of the first 5 years of Saturday Night Live. 
  • A photo of NYC taken in 1905 

Best Gifts (continued) 

  • Lap Top Computer 
  • Believe it or not, an electric Snuggie! It's as hilarious as it is cozy. 
  • My 75 year old father wrote me a love letter and read it out loud to me in front of the whole family after dinner. I get teary everytime I think of it. I will treasure it always! 
  • A nice sweater and scarf 
  • Tickets to a concert 
  • A rapid fire Nerf disc gun with easy release clip for keeping my "minions" in line! 
  • 2 tickets to the Crossroads Classic in Indianapolis to see Indiana University beat Notre Dame and Butler beat Pursue in a thrilling game decided in the last 5 seconds. Plus tickets to the IU v Ohio State game which IU won also. 
  • Camera 
  • The Total Gym touted by Chuck Norris. 
  • A New Camera 
  • new parka ... it was 6 degrees out yesterday morning and I was very grateful for LL Bean when I had to walk across the parking lot to the commuter boat in the whipping wind 
  • time with family 
  • Christmas dinner with both of my sons, my brother and parents 
  • Drive in a race car! 
  • A hand stitched cross stitch picture showing the phrase "It's a jungle out there". My cousin, with whom I am very close and I both love Monk and have adopted the saying for the moment. It made me laugh and laughing is important right now as we are having some very sad times in our family at the moment. 
  • Time with family, son home from military deployment 
  • Kindle with Dave Stockton's golf instruction book on putting already loaded. 
  • leather coat 
  • Earrings 
  • the new iPhone! 
  • A vinyl apron with peace signs all over it 
  • Best holiday gift was my Kindle - something I was unsure I wanted but now love! But truly my best gift was that my aging mother was there and had a great day! 
  • Chocolate covered cherries and a book by my favorite author 
  • Hand turned wooden cedar lamps 
  • the return of the newsdash holiday movie survey 
  • My husband and I received a calendar from his son & his wife with pictures of their daughter and the family birthdays on the calendar. 

As for the worst holiday gifts received in 2011, some were serious – I’m not the only one who lost a family member – but some were quite funny (gloves with pompoms on the fingers, and “moose caboose” pajamas, for example). I think many of us can chime in with the reader who said “extra work from the Department of Labor” was the worst holiday gift.  

Worst Gifts  

  • Undrinkable wine 
  • Another Christmas clock (you know, one that plays a different song on the hour)... 
  • after shave balm 
  • extra work from the Department of Labor 
  • A Phildelphia Zoo T-shirt with representation of different animal poo on the back 
  • a huge coffee grinder 
  • loved tham all! 
  • stomach flu 
  • regifted wine that I gave a friend in 2010! 
  • Death of my brother 
  • A cheap bottle of red wine. 
  • A Robe 
  • None 
  • Sample size jars of specialty olive gift exchange. 
  • none 
  • A wool muffler - in southern California?! 
  • Scratch n Play trivia booklet 
  • Worst gift? What a horrible question...I am thankful for everything I receive!!! Except maybe the friendly squeeze from my husband's uncle. Ew. 
  • A gift card to (fill in the blank); I have everything I need or want, and can buy whatever I need or want, so a gift card is the worst thing to give me; it shows the giver has no imagination. 
  • Banana Bread Mix & Pan 
  • yet another candle 
  • an ugly coffee mug filled with inedible hard candies 
  • The same sweater. 
  • A Green Bay Packers t-shirt, Christmas morning (I'm a Bears fan and was headed to Lambeau Field for the game). 
  • 2/3 used bottle of lotion from my grandmother because she received a new bottle of lotion. 
  • Any gift given is a good gift because it is the thought that counts. 
  • My uncle passing away during the holidays 
  • tie 
  • These gloves for my alma mater football games. They are school colors but with this atrocious pom poms on end of each finger. They make me look not only ridiculous, but like I think I'm 13, and also like a weird alien. 
  • Pair of house shoes that don't fit. 
  • I didn't receive any bad gifts 
  • Wall Mounted Magnetic calendar 
  • I got iTunes gift cards from three different people. Nothing wrong with an iTunes gift card--getting three is a little boring though. 
  • A bad cold...the gift that keeps giving 
  • $100 Home Depot Gift Card 
  • A half eaten jar of peanut butter 
  • emergency underpants in a can. 
  • underwear 
  • 2XL pajamas...clearly not the right size! 
  • The Total Gym touted by Chuck Norris. 
  • Is any gift really that bad? 
  • pink one-piece pjs with a drop seat that has a moose on it and says "Moose Caboose"... really 
  • no bad gifts this year 
  • There were very, very few gifts this year and none of them were unwelcome. 
  • toilet plunger 
  • apron 
  • Elephant statue with bowl on top of it's head 
  • Hard candies that must have been at least 3 years old 
  • Nothing really bad, other than having to return stuff that didn't fit. 
  • a pair of kitchen scissors 
  • My car was stolen on 12/22/11 
  • having to wait till after christmas for the newsdash holiday movie survey 
an ornament of golf clubs

Reader verbatim included some good advice on gift giving and additional explanations of the best and worst gifts. I appreciate one reader weighing in on the pajama jeans; I’ve been wondering about those. And, thanks to the reader who said “I love your surveys; I can't wait to see what others will say! Do you and your staff weigh in too?” Since the survey is anonymous, I don’t know if my colleagues weigh in, but my best gift for the season is a tie between an Atari Flashback game system from my oldest son and a book from my best friend made from pictures at my Dad’s house, with commentary.  


  • Get what people want. There's already too much junk in the world (and in my house!) 
  • I don't even drink coffee! 
  • Being with family is the best gift! 
  • Probably not the kind of answers you were expecting. 
  • I never wanted a Kindle, but I am pleasantly surprised at how nicely it works to ride my stationary bike and turn pages with a tap of my finger. I love that I can increase the print size to suit my old eyes. 
  • I thought the Pajama Jeans were stupid until I put them on...awesome! 
  • Happy with all of the gifts I got. Lots of people got none. 
  • I told them that their helping me was the best present. They seemed a little surprised that that meant so much to me. 
  • Everything from my kids is great. 
  • All my gifts were great -- of course I personally pick out most of the gifts I receive from my husband. Our most fun gift was Apple TV. 
  • Gift giving is a skill that too many people fail to develop, as they don't take the time to get to know the recipient. 
  • Love the Kindle! I'm spoiled now and don't even want to read a regular book anymore. White flour mix in this day and age - Please!!! 
  • I love your surveys; I can't wait to see what others will say! Do you and your staff weigh in too? 
  • Easy to respond to this survey when you've only received one gift...but I'll go on record saying I actually do like the sweater and have worn it twice already! 
  • I am not a fan of holiday adult gift giving. Seems better if we just all made a contribution to the favorite charity of the person for whom we are supposed to provide a gift. I know...Humbug! 
  • The worst gift that I ever received was a badly knitted vest that included cat hair intertwined with the yarn as a bonus. 
  • The dates move so you set each month but you can hardly read the dates. 
  • Because of travel and holiday craziness, my boyfriend and I have yet to exchange gifts. We'll probably do that this weekend. Talk about making Christmas last! 
  • I don't mind gift cards, but it's kind of like saying "I have no idea what you like, and I think giving cash is crass, so here's a gift card." 
  • Jimmy Kimmel started the gag, giving terrible presents to kids and recording the reaction. It seems to have caught on. 
  • several team members received nerf type guns for Christmas this year...I fear we are sure to shoot someone's eye out. 
  • while the underwear are always needed I still prefer the basketball tickets 🙂 
  • I've been wanting the Total Gym for a long time, so what a great gift. But now I can't even move enough to reach up into the cabinet for aspirin. Ugh! 
  • Typically a new camera wouldn't elicit such delight, but this year we also welcomed our first child, a son, and the camera will allow us to better capture all of the memories we will create as he grows up. Of all the things I own, photos are the most precious as they help us keep those we love close and help us remember all the joys we've experienced. 
  • Really, if an apron is the worst gift to receive, I'm doing fine. I had a terrific Christmas with my family and that's the BEST gift of all! Second best gift...being employed through the worst economy AND getting a bonus! 
  • I never thought that one day I could ask my cell phone "What is your name?" and it would reply "My name is Siri." That someone could have a conversation with their phone not on their phone. Steve Jobs was the greatest and he will be missed. 

Verbatim (continued)

  • The worst holiday gift is one where you know the giver put no effort or thought into what they gave you. The price doesn't matter - when you know someone spent time picking something out they knew you would love or need, that's the best gift! 
  • It is all perspective. My kids consider their new socks their worst Christmas gift and my husband, who always wears his socks out, considers his socks his best Christmas gift. 
  • The lamps were made by my brother-in-law and are beautiful. Don't know who stole the car. 
  • the best gifts are the unexpected ones. unfortunately, so are the worst ones. Then again, it's a GIFT.... 


Thanks to all who responded! 

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