1. Gifts that the recipient wouldn't dare use in public, or in front of another person—ever. An inflatable feline. Hmm. As tempting as this adorable kitten sounds, we really don't see anyone bragging about such a gift now, later, or anytime in-between. Plus, baby-talking to a fake pet is super embarrassing, even in the comfort of your own home. Rule #1: If you wouldn't be utterly excited to flaunt it around—or to use it in general—chances are your giftee won't be, either.
Cat-in-a-Can, at Archie McPhee.
2. Random electronic gadgets. Nobody has time—or cares to—customize their toast. So, forget novelty toasters or any other electronic gadgets that A. will likely never get used, and B. have nothing to do with the giftee's interests.
WWF Holy Toast toaster, at Off the Wagon.
3. Vaguely insulting beauty products. The name of this category alone should tell you your giftee probably won't appreciate this kindness. No matter how "cool" or useful the products seem to be, if they could easily be misconstrued as a not-so-subtle hint—i.e. that BMI scale—do not gift them. It's probably best to save items that suggest "you need a makeover" for less merry occasions.
Set of 2 Bellabe Facial Hair Removers from QVC.
4. Anything you might've bought your college sorority sister—as a joke. It's one thing to buy a semi-inappropriate gag gift for a close friend, but save that for a cheap stocking stuffer. As innovative as this portable wine-bra-with-straw is, don't you want to spend your hard-earned dollars on gifts that your giftee will actually use on occasions other than a bachelorette party or alumni weekend?
Winerack, at The Beerbelly.
5. Useless tchotchkes that will sit on the shelf. "Everybody needs a hand-painted Babushka doll!" That should not be the first thing that pops into mind when you come across these—or when you find any other tchothchke for that matter. Think minimal elegance, not hoarding mess when you pick out gifts, or else you'll just be contributing to your friend's clutter on her shelf.
Set of nesting dolls, Great Russian Gifts.
6. Anything that might incite a gag reflex instead of a giggle. If a gift is more likely to make the recipient feel nauseous than to beckon a sincere "Oh my gosh—I've been dying for one of these," maybe you should think twice before heading to the checkout line.
What's Your Poo Telling You? 2012 Box Calendar, at Urban Outfitters.