Everyone has ripped open a shiny gift that seems cool at first but starts collecting dust by the time the tinselly tree hits the curb.
So as you’re making your list and checking it twice, don’t get caught up in the hype of trendy, eye-catching items that might end up the bad gift hall of fame. Here are six items to pass up when shopping for your near and dear ones this year:
1. Air Fryers
These gadgets are sizzling hot on cooking blogs right now but it turns out they don’t do anything a regular oven can’t do. They don’t really fry, but instead dry out food to create a crispy faux-fried texture. (One writer tried making fried Twinkies in an air fryer with sad results.)
But it’s not just air fryers. Pro-organizers warn that any single purpose kitchen appliance can easily morph into clutter. For example, Denise Caron-Quinn, president of In Order to Succeed, puts hot dog steamers and egg cookers on her do-not-buy holiday gift list. And fondue sets are probably the number one unused item professional organizer Danielle Wurth, of Wurth Organizing, finds in clients’ homes.
“People think it’s a fun gift idea for entertaining, but it never gets used,” she said.
2. Fitness Trackers
Step trackers are on every fitness buff’s list of hot holiday gifts for 2017. But these devices can easily get pushed to the back of a drawer for a variety of reasons — from frustrating tech glitches to dead batteries to simply forgetting to wear them. Finally, research shows your smartphone works just as well, so there’s no need to shell out for a separate gadget.
3. Towel Warmers
Spa bathrooms at home are all the rage, and that compels some gift givers to buy stuff like $100 towel-warming buckets. But, realistically, what are the chances your recipient is going to take the time to plug the device in to create toasty towels every time they take a shower?
You have to think about whether someone has time in their regimen and will realistically use an item, said professional organizer Tonia Tomlin, president and founder of Sorted Out. But going unused wouldn’t be the worst thing: towel warmers also can be fire hazards.
4. Eye Massagers
The latest, hottest beauty gadget: eye massagers that supposedly mimic the motion of fingers tapping under the eye to aid circulation. The claim is that these weird-looking devices get rid of under-eye bags and dark circles, but at over $100 a pop they’re pricy. And realistically, what are the chances your loved one is actually going to use this gadget every day? Also, Caron-Quinn says such a gift might be taken the wrong way, as a comment on the recipient’s appearance.
“Think about how it could be interpreted,” she said.
5. Thief-Blocking Wallets
The special RFID-blocking wallets that can stop thieves from skimming your credit card information in public are popular Christmas presents every year, according to CSO, a publication that covers security. These wallets can set you back anywhere from $5 for plastic one to $85 or more for leather. However, they’re useless because criminals simply aren’t walking around stealing information in this way, according to CSO. And these products can set off airport alarms said Tomlin, who ditched her RFID-blocking passport cover for that reason.
“Why would I want something that’s going to ding me every time I go through the scanner?” she said.
6. Remote Control Toys.
There are certainly plenty of hot toys with remote controls available this season — including drones, robots and a remote control flying shark balloon. But professional organizer Leslie Gail, owner of Declare Order, warns against buying these types of holiday gifts.
“The remote gets separated from the toy, or the batteries don’t work, or it crashes and breaks,” Gail said. “Always a disaster.”
Because one person’s perfect gift is another person’s clutter, it’s nice to casually tell the recipient that they can make an exchange, no hard feelings, if they don’t love the item, Caron-Quinn suggests.
“Always include a gift receipt,” she said.