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6 Kinds of Christmas Gifts to Avoid

6 Kinds of Christmas Gifts to Avoid

Ever received a gift that you later tossed into the closet, never to be seen or heard from again? One of the main pitfalls of gift-giving is buying a present for someone that they will have no use for.

However, great gifts can bring people closer and are often hugely appreciated by the receiver. We have all been the impractical gift-giver at some point, so pay attention to the kinds of presents to avoid wrapping up this holiday season.

1. The re-gift

Most people have re-gifted at some point in their lives. Christmas shopping is stressful and time-consuming, so people often re-gift books, DVDs, ornaments and other items they were previously given that they had no use for.

However this takes very little time and doesn’t require any effort or finances, so it could leave the receiver feeling undervalued or hurt. Ask yourself if this gift going to spend another year simply gathering dust on your loved one’s shelf?

Chris, 25, received a re-gift from his brother Mark when they were both teenagers, an untouched CD Mark had received the year before. Chris didn’t enjoy the artist and the album was out of date, but he was mainly hurt by the lack of thought on his brother’s part.

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“He just grabbed it and quickly wrapped it,” Chris said. “If he was short on time and money I would rather he just make me a card – I never listened to the CD [again] after the first time.”

The main reason people don’t enjoy re-gifts is because of the lack of thought put into them – family heirlooms and well planned re-gifts can be a huge success if your worry is money.

2. The overly practical gift

If you are buying gifts for someone you live with, and the item would still have been purchased, this isn’t much of a gift. A new microwave, laundry basket, or set of forks could be really useful in your house, but the recipient will probably feel that they were cheated out of a gift, as it doesn’t suit any of their personal interests.

Debbie, 54, was surprised to discover her husband Jeremy had bought her a mop for her birthday during the first year they lived together.

“We needed a mop, but if it had been any other month we would have still bought one,” she said. “I don’t enjoy cleaning and the present wasn’t exciting or fun. I made my feelings clear – he never bought me a gift like that again!”

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If your partner asks for a vacuum cleaner, it will make a great gift. But if they don’t, consider their hobbies and interests. What would put a genuine smile on their face?

3. The gift with a point

Gifts come with a message, and normally the message is affection and love. Everyone wants the best for the closest people in their lives, and presents can be a great way to help people grow.

However, sometimes gifts can send a message that is hurtful to the receiver. Often gifts with a point can try to help people self-improve, from treadmills to cookbooks to exercise DVDs. These gifts could leave the receiver feeling offended, as it may seem like you think they are lacking and could do to improve.

“Both of my parents love horses,” Sarah, 34, said. “They both work with them and ride in their free time. I’ve never been a fan of them myself, but my parents always wanted me to work with horses as well. When I was 14, they bought me a book about horses for Christmas – I told them then I had no interest in horses and the gift wasn’t suited to me. Thankfully, they apologized and now they would never try to get me on a horse.”

Even though this present is normally sent with the best intentions, to save trouble, think about areas they are already skilled in, so the present is more useful to the receiver.

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4. The ‘you don’t really know them’ gift

If you don’t know much about someone’s interests or passions, it can be hard to think of a gift they will enjoy. People often go for safe options like bath products, candles, and perfumes, which can be risky as people often dislike the scents, or are allergic to the products.

Reece, 22, was gifted a hunting knife from his neighbors when he was ten.

“I thought the gift was really cool, as I didn’t know the neighbors well, and I am still touched they considered me,” Reece said. “I’d never had an interest in hunting before, though, and I cut my finger pretty badly within a few hours of opening the present, so my dad took it away and I haven’t seen it since.”

If you don’t know someone well and you still want to get them something, gift cards are a great option to consider. Although some people think they are impersonal, it gives the individual the freedom to choose something for themselves that they will love.

5. The present with bad intentions

Unlike the gift with a point, this gift is never sent with good intentions. Examples include buying cleaning products for untidy housemates, dandruff shampoo to a sibling who doesn’t wash frequently, or exercise equipment for someone who is very weight conscious.

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“I lived with my sister and her boyfriend for a few weeks before Christmas when I first moved to Scotland,” said Natalie, 46. “On Christmas Day her boyfriend gave me a bed and breakfast guide for the city. I was embarrassed in front of my family – I wanted to curl up and disappear!”

People often send hurtful presents if they dislike confrontation and don’t know how to tackle the problem, but they can be very belittling to the receiver. The most respectful way to deal with any problems you have with someone is to talk to them openly, rather than possibly causing any emotional damage.

6. The gift for yourself

Often when you live with someone, gifts are used by everyone in the house. But are you buying the gift for them, or you? People often get excited about gifts they know they can use, so they create reasons why it is useful for everyone.

“Last year my wife bought me a foot massager, which I have used once – and she uses nearly every night,” said Nathan, 34. “I don’t work on my feet, so I didn’t really understand why she bought me it initially. I can see why now.”

This gift is often seen as selfish, as it doesn’t consider the person the gift is actually for and mainly benefits the person who bought it. This present is basically anything that you benefit from more than them – whether it is a car, a bottle of wine or a PS4.

Ask yourself if the present benefits you more than the person you are buying it for. If it does, keep looking until you find something you know that they, specifically, will love.

Featured photo credit: Another Christmas Tree Detail in Shopping/Viktor Hanacek via picjumbo.com

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Amy Johnson

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Last Updated on August 15, 2018

7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

Bodyweight exercises are gaining ground in the fitness world due to the practicality and simplicity of getting in shape using your own body weight. Planks are one form of bodyweight exercises that will never go out of fashion. Planks are one of the most effective exercises you can do. Why? Because they require a small time investment on your part, and offer the chance to achieve substantial results in a relatively short span of time.

Video Summary

Why is it important to train up our core strength?

There are numerous sites and blogs which detail ways to build your core muscles or core strength. Often though, these sites neglect to explain what your core muscles actually are, and why building them is important.

This is quite surprising, as core muscles are quite easy to explain. Your core muscles are a series of muscles in your midsection, and are used in most forms of movement. Though they aren’t housed in your arms or legs, your core muscles can help transfer force from one limb to another, or are used in addition to muscles in your arms or legs to increase their effectiveness. As such a strong core will make a big improvement on your ability to move and exercise further.

Also they are great for helping other muscles in your midsection such as your abdominal muscles. Your abdominal muscles are important for supporting your back and spinal column, and as such are important aids in preventing injuries. However for them to be most effective you need to spend a lot of time developing your core muscles.

In short, planking exercises can make a huge improvement in your muscles down your whole body. Making them a hugely effective exercise to perform.

One Exercise, multiple benefits

There are few forms of exercise as effective at building your core as planking exercises. However, planking exercises benefit far more than just your core strength.

By holding yourself in the position for a planking exercise, you’ll notice that your biceps, neck, and shoulder muscles are also being tested and strained. This this encouraging their buildup and development. This is great news if you like to do press ups, developed shoulder muscles will have a big impact on your press up performance.

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When planking, you are holding yourself up through your arms and biceps and so by holding a planking position, your arm muscles are being toned and developed. Making planking a great alternative exercise to other forms of bicep developing exercises.

Moving down your midsection, successful plank exercises actually develop the muscles in your butt! These muscles tend to be ignored by a lot of exercises, so this is another great benefit of plank exercises.

In much the same way as you develop your biceps and arm muscles, holding the planking position helps develop the muscles in your thighs too.

What is even better is that planking exercises don’t take much time at all. In fact you should probably only spend about ten minutes max per day in the planking exercise.

What will happen when you start doing planks every day

    1. You’ll improve core definition and performance: 

    Planks are an ideal exercise for the abdominal muscles exactly because they engage all major core muscle groups including the transverse abdominus, the rectus abdominusthe external oblique muscle, and the glutes. The importance of strengthening each muscle group cannot be underestimated either, for all of these groups serve their own purpose. If you strengthen these muscle groups you will notice:

    • Transverse abdominis: increased ability to lift heavier weights.
    • Rectus adbominis: improved sports performance, particularly with jumping. This muscle group is also responsible for giving you the renowned six pack look.
    • Oblique muscles: improved capacity for stable side-bending and waist-twisting
    • Glutes: a supported back and a strong, shapely booty.

    2. You’ll decrease your risk of injury in the back and spinal column

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      Doing planks is a type of exercise that allow you to build muscle while also making sure that you are not putting too much pressure on your spine or hips. According to the American Council on Exercise, doing planks regularly not only significantly reduces back pain but it also strengthens your muscles and ensures a strong support for your entire back, especially in the areas around your upper back.

      Check out this article if you would like to find out about how doing planks on different surfaces can impact the effectiveness of this exercise in strengthening your core.

      3. You’ll experience an increased boost to your overall metabolism

        Planking is an excellent way of challenging your entire body because doing them every day will burn more calories than other traditional abdominal exercises, such as crunches or sit-ups. The muscles you strengthen by doing this exercise on a day-to-day basis will ensure that you burn more energy even when sedentary. This is especially important if you are spending the majority of your day sitting in front of a computer. Also, making it a daily 10- to 1 minute home exercise before or after work will not only provide an enhanced metabolic rate but it will also ensure that that metabolic rate remains high all day long, (yes, even while you are asleep).

        4. You’ll significantly improve your posture

          Planking exercises have a great impact and improvement on your posture. This is great news as a strong posture brings with it a huge number of fantastic benefits .

          A good posture keeps your bones and joins in the correct alignment which means both your bones and joints will be better maintained and more healthy, but also means the overall effectiveness of your muscles will be improved.

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          A good posture will ensure your back or spine is in the correct position and so you will suffer less back pain.

          On top of everything, someone with good posture looks better, healthier, and more confident.

          5. You’ll improve overall balance

            Have you ever felt that when you tried standing on one leg, you couldn’t stand up straight for more than a couple of seconds? It’s not because you were drunk- unless you happened to be at the time!-  but rather, it’s because your abdominal muscles weren’t strong enough to give you the balance you needed. Through improving your balance by doing side planks and planks with extensions you will boost your performance in every kind of sporting activity.

            6. You’ll become more flexible than ever before

              Flexibility is a key benefit of doing planks regularly, for this form of exercise expands and stretches all your posterior muscle groups – shouldersshoulder blades, and collarbone – while also stretching your hamstrings, arches of your feet, and toes. With a side plank added in to the mix, you can also work on your oblique muscles. This will provide you with further benefits when it comes to hyper-extending your toes, a movement that is crucial for supporting your body’s weight.

              7. You’ll witness mental benefits

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                Plank exercises have a particular effect on our nerves, making them an excellent means of improving overall mood. How? Well, they stretch out muscle groups that contribute to stress and tension in the body. Just think about it: you are sitting in your chair, at home or at work, all day long; your thigh muscles get tight, your legs get heavy due to being bent for several hours; and tension develops in your shoulders due to being forced to slump forward all day. These are all circumstances that put too stress on the muscles and nerves. The good news is that planks not only calm your brain, but they can also treat anxiety and symptoms of depression– but only if you make it part of your daily routine.

                How to hold a plank position

                1. Get into pushup position on the floor.
                2. Now bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms.
                3. Keep your torso straight and rigid and your body in a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging or bending.
                4. Your head is relaxed and you should be looking at the floor.
                5. Hold the position for as long as you can.
                6. Remember to breathe. Inhale and exhale slowly and steadily.
                7. When your form begins to suffer, pull the plug. You’re only benefiting from the plank by actually doing the plank.

                Watch the video if you have any doubt!

                Here is a great infographic that shows the best plank variation exercises to evenly target all abdominal muscle groups:

                  How to improve your plank time gradually

                  1. Start with the easier variation if needed. You can start with a bent-knee plank if you can’t perform a regular plank yet. If you can hold a plank for more than two minutes with ease, you can move on to these tougher variations.
                  2. Practise every day. Space your planking exercise throughout the day and do 3-4 times every day. Try to hold the position 10 seconds longer each time.
                  3. Perform other body-weight exercises at the same time. Push-up and squat will improve your core strength too.

                  Are you ready to devote 5-10 minutes of your day, every day, to stay fit, healthy and, most importantly, strong as a bull? Then jump in and make doing plank exercises a part of your life.

                  Who Should Be Cautious Doing The Plank?

                  You need to be cautious doing Planking exercises if any of these risks apply to you:

                  • Prolapse
                  • After prolapse surgery
                  • Pelvic pain conditions
                  • Weak or poorly functioning pelvic floor muscles
                  • Previous childbirth
                  • Overweight

                  Choose an alternative pelvic floor abdominal exercise or consult your doctor before performing plank regularly.

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