Boring Gifts Your Significant Other Doesn't Want — and What to Buy Instead

Boring Gifts Your Significant Other Doesn't Want


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Boring Gifts Your Significant Other Doesn't Want

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It happens every December: As the holidays draw ever closer, you're stuck racking your brain for something a little different to get that special someone. Before you throw up your hands and default to yet another tie or fancy bottle of lotion, check out some of our suggestions for better gifting below. 

Prices and availability are subject to change.

Related: Gifts for People Who Pride Themselves on Being Prepared for Absolutely Anything

Bath Spa Basket

Don't: Bath Products

What could be better than a basket of luxurious lotions and scented gels for the stressed-out significant other? Well, we're here to tell you: Just about anything, which is why these things tend to be first in line for regifting.


Related: Gifts for People Who Say, 'Don't Get Me Anything' 

Zyllion Back and Neck Massager with Heat

Do: Zyllion Shiatsu Back and Neck Massager

$50 from Amazon
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Help them de-stress without worrying about whether their favorite scent is woodsy or fruity, fresh or floral. This massager is one of the top picks in a crowded category on Amazon. It has four deep-kneading, rotating nodes, plus soothing heat and an automatic 20-minute shutoff for safety.

Related: Inexpensive Products to Relieve Sore Muscles


Don't: A Wall Calendar or Paper Planner

We're eager to turn the page on 2023, but for all but the most old-school among us, wall calendars and personal planners have gone the way of the dodo. Don't be surprised when even the most beautiful options eventually get shoved in a drawer.

Related: The Best Personalized Gifts for Everyone on Your List

Rocketbook Core Reusable Smart Notebook

Do: Rocketbook Fusion Smart Reusable Notebook

$20 and up from Amazon
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Even pen-and-paper holdouts can go high-tech with the Rocketbook Fusion, which has pages that can be wiped clean and written on over and over again. They can then send notes or sketches easily to a number of productivity apps and keep them forever. The Fusion has several useful templates, including a planner, calendar, task list, and regular lined pages. 

Related: The Best Gifts for Writers (and Not One Pen — We Promise)

'Best Dad Ever' Mug

Don't: A Ceramic Mug

So they drink a lot of coffee (or maybe tea). But if they're anything like most of us, they've already collected way too many mugs, many of which are just gathering dust in the back of the cabinet.

Related: Perk 'Em Up with These Great Gifts for Coffee Lovers

Ember Temperature Control Smart Mug

Do: Ember Temperature Control Smart Mug

$130 from Amazon
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Okay, okay, it's still a mug. But how cool is this thing? The Ember will bring their drink to the exact temperature they like, even sending a message to their phone when it's ready. Never having to microwave coffee again? That's love. 

Related: 100 Gifts Under $100

Scented Candle
Maya Kruchankova/shutterstock
Hatch Restore 1

Do: Hatch Restore

$130 from Amazon
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If lighting a candle is supposed to help your dear one unwind, consider the Hatch a cooler way to accomplish just that. This multifunctional gizmo is light therapy, a sound machine, alarm clock, and more. They can even personalize their own sleep-wake routine (and maybe even ditch that crabby morning mood).

Related: The Hottest Tech Gifts This Season

Sergei Kardashev/shutterstock

Don't: A Frumpy Bathrobe

We get it: Fluffy, fuzzy bathrobes can be wonderfully cozy. But if she wants one, chances are good she already has one. How about something a little more luxurious, like a sumptuous silky kimono that will make her feel like a movie star?

Related: Warm and Fuzzy Gifts for Introverts

Ledamon Women's Kimono Long Robe

Do: Ledamon Women's Kimono Long Robe

$200 from Amazon
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Yes, it's 100% silk, and yes, you don't even have to go to a high-end department store, because Amazon has your back. There are 20 gorgeous floral-embellished colors to choose from, and one size fits most (phew).

Related: Gifts for Women Who Have Everything

Buy a Vacuum Cleaner

Don't: A Traditional Vacuum

Sure, perhaps your special someone has off-handedly coveted a Dyson or a Shark, but giving the gift of more housework is risky territory, indeed. No matter how old your current model, this is a purchase best left unattached to the holidays.

iRobot Roomba 675

Do: iRobot Roomba 694

$159 from Amazon
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Loophole alert! There's a way to make a vacuum a perfectly acceptable gift: Get a robotic model, like this Roomba, so they won't have to lift a finger. They can clean and schedule using the iRobot app on their phone, and the three-stage cleaning system and dirt-detect sensors mean their helper is smart enough to handle everything from tiny dust particles to larger debris.

Related: Hottest Holiday Gifts from Amazon

neck ties
John Hancock Photography/istockphoto

Don't: A Tie

He might tolerate a tie from the kids on Father's Day, but otherwise, this is the very definition of phoning in a gift. And if he's working from home like so many of us, it may be the very last thing he actually needs.

Solo New York Reade Leather Backpack

Do: Solo New York Reade Leather Backpack

$177 from Amazon
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Accessories don't have to be boring. This is the type of crowd-pleasing bag that can go anywhere whether he's heading to work or a quick weekend trip. Made of full-grain leather, it should last a while, too.

Related: Gifts for Men Who Have Everything 

Feetures Socks
Tommy John Second Skin Mid-Length Boxer Brief 6"
Tommy John

Do: Tommy John Second Skin Boxer Briefs

$36 and up from Tommy John
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If you're determined to go the utilitarian route, at least splurge a little bit. Happy buyers say wearing these super-soft Tommy John boxer briefs, made of a non-pilling micro modal, is as close as it gets to wearing nothing at all. They also have a stay-put waistband to help prevent any chafing or other discomfort. 

Related: Gifts for Him Under $50

Bartender tools
Cesare Ferrari/istockphoto

Don't: A Fancy Set of Barware

Even if your significant other is an expert mixologist, all those shiny barware sets are more for show than they are for actual drink-making. And when's the last time you actually saw them use a muddler or a jigger?

Related: Raise a Glass to These Gifts for Beer Lovers

Bartesian Cocktail and Margarita Machine

Do: Bartesian Premium Cocktail and Margarita Machine

$295 from Amazon
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Now we're talking. Upgrade those at-home happy hours with the Keurig-like Bartesian, which makes preparing an expertly mixed cocktail as easy as pushing a button. Fill the four glass chambers with the booze of your choice, insert a flavor capsule, choose drink strength, and the machine does the rest. 

Related: Boozy Gifts That Don Draper Would Endorse

fruit cake

Don't: Fruit Cake or Cheap Chocolate

Even if the way to the heart is through their stomach, picking up a treat at the grocery store is the very definition of phoning it in. (In fact, it might be wise to refrain from just about anything you can buy at the supermarket or corner pharmacy.)


Related: Gifts for Food Lovers Under $25


Do: Goldbelly Monthly Subscription

$50 and up per month from Goldbelly
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Here's a gift that will have anyone salivating: A curated monthly gift box filled with food from "legendary artisans" at restaurants across the country, from artisan ice cream to lobster rolls. Also worth considering: Check Goldbelly for their favorite iconic foods from a far-away city, like authentic Philadelphia cheesesteaks or deep-dish pizza from Chicago.

Related: Subscription Box Gifts That Keep the Giving Going

Coffee Shop Gift Card

Don't: Restaurant or Retail Gift Cards

Gift cards are a practical gift for anyone you don't know well, but they fall flat when you're gifting your nearest and dearest. Even if you give your special someone a gift card for their favorite restaurant or store, it doesn't require much thought — and if you're married, it's basically like shuffling money around.

Related: Engraved Gifts That Will Make 'Em Remember You 

Hot Air Balloon

Do: Virgin Experience eGift Card

Price varies from Virgin Experience Gifts
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Still a gift card, but with a twist: You're giving a once-in-a-lifetime experience of their choice. Virgin offers everything from romantic hot-air balloon rides to wine tasting to the chance to get behind the wheel of a race car. In other words, something way more memorable than a dinner-and-a-movie date night.

Related: Memorable Experiences Worth Giving This Holiday Season