Christmas gift-giving can be perilous, and the receiving side has its challenges too. Brisbane identities tell us about the worst presents they’ve ever received.

Have you done that Christmas play-act — arranging your face in breathless gratitude as you open a present in front of a giver that, frankly, you’d like to fling out the window?

We know it is the thought that counts, but nevertheless, we spoke to some of Brisbane’s well-known identities and asked them to share their worst Christmas gift tales.

Nick Earls, author

Worst present: from an ex-girlfriend in the 1980s – an iron caddy for a scotch bottle.

“I don’t drink scotch. It lasted longer than the ex, though. It came with me through a few house shifts over the years and eventually I re-gifted it to the recycling bin.”

Kelly Higgins-Devine, ABC radio presenter

Worst present: a pair of cheap tea towels in a family gift-swap.

“I fashioned them into scarves and bibs to wear at the Christmas dinner table and flicked all passing backsides within reach.”

Wyatt Roy, federal member for Longman

Worst present: five mortar and pestle sets.

“Once family and friends discovered I liked cooking, they started giving me food-related products. Only clearly they weren’t talking to each other.”

Loretta Ryan and Ian Skippen, 4BC breakfast presenters

Worst present – Loretta: “The giver figured because I enjoy a glass or two of wine, a Tupperware bottle opener would be the perfect present for me. When I opened the gift, my immediate thought was ‘where’s the wine?’ Now I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, but that’s just plain cruel!”

Worst present – Ian: “It’s the thought that counts, although there are times when you’re thinking ‘what were they thinking?’ I know I love cooking but how much white truffle oil am I ever going to use? Hopefully Loretta will find a use for it this year. Whoops … have I let the cat out of the Christmas stocking?”

Simon Gallaher, actor/singer and Pirates of Penzance director

Worst present: a female friend bought a selection of gadgets with unsavoury messages.

“I was speechless and disposed of them via a secret Christmas dice game to an unsuspecting recipient. I still remind my friend of this and we laugh a lot louder than we did perhaps on the day.”

Sammy Power, Jan Power’s Farmers Markets

Worst present: “It’s the people I give to that suffer,” she says. “I went through a craft phase where everybody got badly painted tissue box covers with glued-on plastic eyeballs.”

Gail Sorronda, fashion designer

Worst present: “My husband gave me Marc Jacobs Honey perfume thinking it was a nice ode to my ‘Just Like Honey’ collection.

“It was a nice sentiment, but the scent was so sickly sweet and common I ended up just using it as air freshener!”

Naomi Price – actor, singer, performer

Worst present: “I received a colour printer from a boyfriend! I think men do tend to give more practical gifts than women but newsflash: you will never go wrong with perfume and lingerie!

“I can laugh about it now but at the time I was mortified.”

Tips for gift-giving

  1. Ask for hints or listen in as hints may be dropped.
  2. Determine what you know about the recipient – are they a reader, sporty, arty, etc.? Get to know a little bit about them to know what they might like.
  3. Dial a friend – not your friends, a friend of the recipient, and ask for suggestions.
  4. Avoid really personal items like lipstick or sunglasses where the shape of the face or preferred colours come into play.
  5. Don’t buy everyone the same gift … that screams lack of effort or laziness.
  6. Be careful with novelty gifts – you don’t want to offend, but practical gifts are often welcomed.
  7. It’s not about you. Just because you’ve always wanted it doesn’t mean other people do.

What’s the worst Christmas present you’ve ever received? How about the best? Let us know in the comments below!