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Don't Even Think About It: The Ten Worst Holiday Gift Ideas

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You know Frank—he's been writing about menswear, sales, television, new shops, the recession, Lisa Loeb, the Golden Girls and getting blasted for Racked for over two years. Well, we think it's time you got to know him and his quirky-irreverent views on life and fashion even better with his column: Love, Frank. Taking the form of an open letter and always signed with love, Frank will rant about whatever style-related conundrum he encounters in a given week. So buckle your two-toned leather Moschino belts, folks, it's going to be ? Something.


Sigh, via PCWorld.

Dear Gift Seekers,

It's crunch time. Time is running out for holiday shopping—Hanukkah is right now and you have a mere ten days until Christmas. And chances are you've barely scratched the surface (I assume this because, well, the only surface I've scratched has involved a little too much self-gifting).

Last week I helped you with some ideas for the tough to shop for men if your life. This week it's a little less about specific gift ideas; it's about what not to buy. For anyone. Ever. Please.

Certain items should be avoided; at all times, at all costs. Either they're too personal—or not personal enough. They come with too many attachments or implications. They reflect poorly on both ends. Or they're just not something someone should buy for another person.

10. Vintage or Secondhand Apparel: For so many reasons—but, hear me out. One past holiday season, during one of my frequent closet purges, I found myself at a local reseller. As I'm a total newsbag, I tend to stay close while waiting on buyers to get to my things; and get closer once they're working on them. Sometimes buyers like it—we chat about the provenance of each piece (and why they should buy all of it and probably price each item higher—just sayin'). Anyway, this buyer didn't like it. Trying to make conversation I asked if the store had been busier with the holidays looming. Her response, delivered with deadpan April Ludgate detachment, was: "No. Who buys used stuff for someone."

Well, that ornery bitch was right. Don't buy used stuff for someone. Some people are not okay with used stuff. And fits are even weirder when you're buying used or past-season. There's no telling what something might fit like. Also: It's tacky. Don't be tacky.

9. Eyewear: There's really no telling how a person is going to react to a pair of glasses. Or sunglasses. And just because those charts at the shop suggest that an almond-headed person should go for a rectangular frame does not mean almondhead is going to like the rectangles. Choosing eyeglasses and sunglasses is an extremely personal process; and if you've ever gone shopping for eyewear with someone you probably know this already. Because every time you've declared something "so you," the you in question responded with blank silence.

8. Socks and Underwear: Remember being a kid at Christmas or whatever and tearing through piles of toys and getting to that box at the end that was just full of socks and you wondered why anyone would even bother wrapping something so boring and utilitarian and dull—something that if you needed in April or whenever someone would just buy it for you anyway? Those boxes of socks and underwear were non-gifts. They were buzz kill. They sucked. And unwrapping a sock—even a cashmere sock—brings me back to those sucker-punch sock gifts. Just don't buy someone socks.

7. Acne-Specific Skincare: Oh, in case you didn't know your skin was bad—try this stuff.

6. Pets: Giving someone a pet is like sentencing a person to years and years of commitment and labor. Pets are hard work. They're expensive. And they're so much less cute when they get older. If someone is ready for a pet that person should really be the one who goes out and gets it. Just because I talk about getting a neon green Balenciaga leash and collar for my imaginary affenpinscher all the time doesn't mean I want someone to give me one.

5. Those Big Gross Tins of Popcorn: Ugh, why would anyone want like four cubic feet of popcorn in a tin the size of an ottoman? Get out of here!

4. A Celebrity Fragrance: I may be in the minority here, but celebrity fragrance just seems like the very embodiment of generic nothingness. Your gift says: You don't like sandalwood, you like Justin Bieber. You don't like a brand, you like Jessica Simpson. You don't have a personality or any actual interests in life; but you're maybe human, can smell stuff, and have heard music before. Not to mention, anything that easy to find (take one step into Macy's and point) is just lazy.

3. Self-help Books: Giving someone a self-help book is basically like telling someone they are broken.

2. Pants: I don't even like buying myself pants. I'm a different size in every brand. A pant I don't need to have tailored is basically my holy grail. Pants are hard. Don't buy a person that isn't you pants.

1. A Hyundai: Leaving work the other day, I walked into some guy presenting his wife a red Mercedes C250 sports coupe with a huge floppy velvet bow on its roof. She was crying—you know it was one of those "she's always dreamed of having a Mercedes" situations. And, even though it's totally the cheap Mercedes—I was extremely touched (also, jealous). But imagine if husband did that with a Hyundai? Like, don't even bother. People don't want Hyundais, they need then. It's like buying someone a hot water heater.

· Love, Frank [Racked]