The Worst Holiday Gift You Could Give

By Tod MarksLifestyle and BudgetConsumer Reports

For years, booze has been a go-to gift for holiday get-togethers, a quick and easy way to thank friends, neighbors, and family for their hospitality. But the latest installment of Consumer Reports Holiday Poll* reveals the startling finding that hard liquor is probably the worst way to show you care. One in four Americans surveyed cited whiskey, vodka, brandy, rum, and other spirits as the least desirable gift to receive; 23 percent identified flowers and plants as the biggest buzzkill, while 13 percent singled out candles, picture frames, and other home décor items as the most unwanted presents. Even socks would be a better choice.

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Wine, however, proved a different story. It was far more acceptable—and desirable. Only 6 percent of respondents said they wouldn’t want to receive a bottle for the holidays.

Now that Thanksgiving is over, Christmas and other winter holidays are taking center stage. Yet as of December 2nd, 30 percent of Americans hadn’t even begun to shop. Among those who started, 62 percent had at least half of their shopping left to do. A scant 10 percent said they could sit back and relax because all their shopping was done.

Our initial survey results, released shortly before Black Friday weekend, red flagged the intention of most consumers to steer clear of stores on Thanksgiving Day itself. Thanksgiving store openings were again a controversial subject this year, and we were spot on with our forecast. Eighty-three percent of those surveyed said they didn’t shop at retail stores on the holiday.

Read the results of our poll on what shoppers are ready and eager to spend this holiday season. Also find out what our readers think about whether crowds are ruining Black Friday.

With so many consumers having so much shopping left to do, it’s interesting to observe where consumers are spending their time and money. Most shopping behavior is unchanged compared with last year. Half of those surveyed said they plan to do about the same amount of their shopping online this year compared to 2013. Nineteen percent say they expect to make more online purchases this season, while surprisingly, 31 percent say they expect to make fewer or no purchases via the Web, which could reflect ongoing concern over cyber security and data breaches.

— Tod Marks

About the survey: Results are based on a nationally representative online survey of 1,500 adults conducted in early December by the Consumer Reports National Research Center.

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