Home & Outdoors

These are the 10 most returned holiday gifts

And what to give instead.

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We've all gotten not-so-great gifts at some point in our lives. Whether it's something you already own or something you simply don't like, you know the crushing disappointment that comes with excitedly opening a present only to find that your aunt has gotten you yet another hideous sweater.

While you can't control what you get this holiday, you can control what you give. And to prevent you from giving gifts that just end up in the "take back" pile, a recent survey revealed the 10 most returned presents of 2019—so you can avoid them. Here's the full list, plus our recommendations for what to gift instead.

1. Shoes

Shoes
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The 10 most returned holiday gifts: Shoes.

What to buy instead: A stylish backpack

Shoes are a great present—unless you get the wrong size or style which, according to the survey, is all too common. Save yourself (and your giftee) the trouble by opting for one of the fashion gifts that everyone is obsessed with this year: a Fjallraven backpack. It's our experts' favorite backpack for casual use because it's as functional as it is fashionable with a durable vinyl exterior and roomy interior.

Get the Fjallraven Kanken Backpack from Amazon for $114.95

2. Common kitchen appliances

Toast
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The 10 most returned holiday gifts: Appliances.

What to buy instead: An Instant Pot

While appliances like a toaster or food processor can be a good gift for newlyweds or first-time homeowners, other people may not be as excited to see them under the tree (after all, how many waffle makers does one person need?). For the foodies and home cooks in your life, you're better off getting a unique, all-in-one appliance—like the cult-favorite Instant Pot. We recommend the Ultra because it has 10 different cook settings to choose from and can make a meal that usually takes an hour in just 20 minutes.

Get the Instant Pot Ultra from Amazon for $84.99

3. Video games

Game
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The 10 most returned holiday gifts: Video games.

What to buy instead: A kid-friendly tablet

If you have a gamer on your list, it can be tempting to stock up on Fortnite and Mario Kart, but you run the risk of giving them titles they already have. The safer—and more exciting—solution? A new tablet for playing all their favorite games. We love the Amazon Fire 8 Kids Tablet because it's easy to set up and even easier to use (and comes stocked with tons of free content!). And if you want to splurge on an entire video game console, according to experts, the most popular ones this year are the Nintendo Switch, the Sony Playstation 4 Pro, and the Microsoft Xbox One X.

4. Sweets

Cookie
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The 10 most returned holiday gifts: Sweets.

What to buy instead: A personal blender

After a month of indulging in holiday party treats, egg nog, and cookies galore, the last thing people want is more junk. So while candy and other sweets are popular stocking stuffers, they aren't the most well-received gifts. Instead, get your friends or family something that will help them get back on track for the new year, like a personal blender for whipping up veggie-packed smoothies or even a few pints of our favorite "healthy" ice cream.

5. Candles

Candle
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The 10 most returned holiday gifts: Candles.

What to buy instead: An essential oil diffuser

What smells just as good as a candle but lasts way longer? An essential oil diffuser. Of all the ones we've tested, this InnoGear one is our favorite because it has a large capacity that lets it run for 11 hours straight along with lights that change color for added ambiance. That beats a plain old candle any day.

Get the InnoGear Upgraded 150mL Oil Diffuser from Amazon for $13.99

6. Athletic apparel

Gym
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The 10 most returned holiday gifts: Athletic apparel.

What to buy instead: A fitness tracker

Workout clothes (like the wildly popular Lululemon leggings) are great. Workout clothes that don't fit, however, are not. Avoid any sizing issues by skipping the apparel and getting your fit friends something else they can use during their next sweat session—like a fitness tracker. One of our editors swears that the Fitbit Versa 2 is the best one she's ever used. It has all of the Fitbit features you love from tracking calories burned to monitoring your heart rate along with voice controls and Amazon Alexa integration.

Get the Fitbit Versa 2 from Amazon for $129.95

7. DVDs

Dvd
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The 10 most returned holiday gifts: DVDs.

What to buy instead: A streaming device

DVDs are so 2018. Everyone nowadays is into streaming—so a Roku Ultra is the perfect present for your Netflix-addicted friends. It's our experts' top streaming device because it offers all of the major services (including Netflix, Hulu, and even Apple TV) and has the easiest-to-use remote. Plus, it's compatible with 4K and HDR so your giftees will get the best streaming experience the next time they go to watch Friends reruns.

Get the Roku Ultra from Amazon for $89.99

8. Toddler clothing

Clothes
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The 10 most returned holiday gifts: Toddler clothes.

What to buy instead: A top-rated straw cup

The problem with gifting clothes for kids is that it's all too easy to get the wrong size. A better gift for parents of toddlers is a straw cup like this one from OXO. Our experts chose it as the best straw cup of the year because it's lightweight enough for little hands to hold yet is durable and completely leak-proof (yes really!).

Get the OXO Tot Transitions Straw Cup from Amazon for $9.98

9. Glassware

Wine
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The 10 most returned holiday gifts: Glassware.

What to buy instead: A subscription to a wine delivery service

"I could really use some more wine glasses to shove in the back of the closet," said no one ever. Instead of buying your friends or family yet another set of glassware, buy them the thing that actually goes inside said glassware. A.k.a. wine. And not just one bottle of wine—but six bottles delivered to their doorstep every month. That's what you'll get with Blue Apron's Wine Club, which is our favorite of all the subscription services we tried.

Subscribe to Blue Apron's Wine Club for $65.99

10. Makeup

Makeup
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The 10 most returned holiday gifts: Makeup.

What to buy instead: A beauty subscription box

Trying to buy makeup for yourself can be a struggle. So trying to buy it for someone else? Nearly impossible. Rather than trying—and likely failing—to match your friend's exact shade of foundation, give her a beauty subscription box. When we tested some of the most popular ones out there, we found the Sephora box to be the best. Your giftee can personalize their box each month and get samples of high-quality, luxury cosmetics along with tutorials and in-store perks.

Get Play! By Sephora for $10/month

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