- Jennifer Villamere, senior web editor
"I remember most Christmases being frugal events, but my brother and I always got one special gift we were really pleased with.
Except, the year I was seven.
I'll never forget running down the stairs Christmas morning as fast as my flannel nightgown would allow. And there he was, sitting on the living room chair, staring maniacally through my soul with his googly eyes. He was a plush, handmade clown about the same size as me, with a brown, checkered suit and brown yarn hair. Did I mention the googly eyes? My brother and I were frozen with fear, and didn’t approach any further. We made the dog pull him off the chair so we could at least sit by the tree, watching to see if it would come alive and kill us.
Later that morning, my father proudly announced he found it at an auction. An auction?! My brother and I looked at each other, silently acknowledging that this clown was indeed possessed by the devil, and I was doomed. Didn't Dad know possessed toys are always sold anonymously at auctions, ready to collect the souls of the children they're given to? I left him in the living room as long as I could so he wouldn’t infect my other stuffed animals, but eventually I was forced to carry him upstairs to my room.
Even after I convinced my parents the clown was evil and had to go, none of my beloved toys felt truly trustworthy ever again, thanks to the worst Christmas gift ever."
- Colleen Tully, web food editor
"This one wasn't a gift I received, but one I witnessed being given.
My dad was always the type of guy who struggled with what to get my mom for Christmas and birthdays. Nowadays he buys the gifts while she's standing beside him pointing to the correct thing – and you'll understand why by the end of this story – but when I was a kid he still tried to come up with gift ideas on his own.
One year my mom got one large gift from my dad. It was a pretty big box – the kind you'd put a coat or sweater in (I think it was an Eaton's box). Looked very promising. Maybe Dad had finally hit a home run?
Unfortunately, when my mom opened the box, it was filled with encyclopedias from our very own bookshelf. Tucked into each book was a scratch-and-win lottery ticket. Yes, he got her lottery tickets for a Christmas gift.
When asked why Dad had used the encyclopedias, he replied: "I had to weigh it down to fake her out! I didn't want her to guess what it was!"
I don't believe we've ever let Dad live that Christmas down, even 25 years later."
- Angie McKaig, online product director
"I assume that serving holiday mince pie to someone who keeps kosher (but not remembering that the crust was made with lard until later, then saying nothing) doesn't really qualify.
I got a couple of terrible wedding gifts. One was a contractor-size Thermos. The other was a pen set like you'd see in a lawyer's office or a bank, with ceramic birds and a Bible verse on it.
Christmas usually treats me pretty well, though."
- Tina Anson-Mine, executive editor, food and books
"I got a silk scrunchie! And this was last year. I honestly wasn't sure if it was a joke – it wasn't – so I happily shared my gratitude, wincing inside. It still has the tags on."
- Katherine Flemming, fashion and beauty associate editor
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