3 Types of Holiday Gifts That Can Backfire

A good rule of thumb: If a gift means extra work for the recipient, reconsider the purchase.

A young couple is sitting on the couch and exchanging holiday gifts.
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Last Christmas, Geib's boyfriend of eight months gave her what she considers to be the worst gift ever.

"During the weeks leading up to Christmas, he made, in my opinion, his first mistake asking me what I want for Christmas, repeatedly. When you first start dating someone, you want everything, including them, to be perfect, romantic and special, especially for your first Christmas together. I didn't want to tell him what I wanted; I wanted him to know," says Geib, who lives in Steamboat Springs, Colo. She admits: "Perhaps that's my mistake."

[See: 12 Money Mistakes Almost Everyone Makes.]

When Christmas arrived, her boyfriend gave her some thoughtful gifts, like a backpack and hiking gear, but her big gift from him was for a winter driving school, which sounds weirder than it is, as gifts go. Geib was interested in participating in the program for reasons related to her own business. But long story short, Geib's boyfriend worked out a deal in which he received half off the winter driving program, which they would both participate in. His half was free, and all Geib had to do was spend $250 for her half.

Wow, thanks, Geib sarcastically thought.

"I was speechless for a few minutes as I processed this," Geib says. "While our relationship officially ended about two weeks later, it was over for me Christmas morning ."