It’s the season of giving, but some gifts can go horribly wrong. Before you consider gifting a loved one with one of these popular presents, consider that they will likely cost the new owner hundreds of additional dollars down the road (and could put you on the naughty list.)

  1. Puppies (or any other live animals) – Cute and cuddly, the cost for a puppy never seems to end. After vaccinations and annual exams, there is the cost of spaying or neutering, pet food, and training. Before you think that a smaller pet will require less care, consider that even hermit crabs need cages, food, and care. Pets (especially when given without the full consent and support of those who will ultimately be responsible – the parents) are never a good idea.
  2. Cell Phones – Even a prepaid phone comes with the bill for the minutes. Many phones will only stay active (and keep the number assigned to it) when service days are also purchased; someone who plans on only using the phone sparingly can still be tied into what comes out to around $20 in minutes and fees a month. If you go this route, consider buying a discounted minutes and service card that’s good for a year or longer.
  3. Gaming systems – Many consoles come with a one or two games to play (especially during the holidays, when multi-gaming bundles are commonly sold with the console.) Since kids find it hard to be satisfied with the same game for very long, however, gifting a console sentences the parents to having to listen to pleas for new video games every few months. You may be better off buying access to an online gaming community, instead.
  4. Battery hogs – Some toys can run smoothly on a few AA’s for many weeks or even months. Other toys need constant refueling and include  r/c cars (or helicopters, for that matter), hand held gaming systems with no way to recharge, and dolls that talk, walk, or sing. Research how many batteries a toy takes before you gift, and consider including a few rechargeables with a charger in the box.
  5. Vehicles – Before you spring for a “sweet 16” holiday automobile, consider the costs that will most definitely be involved. In addition to insurance, gasoline, and repairs, some drivers will need to find extra in their budget for parking and road tolls. Make sure the giftee is able to keep up with the responsibility that will always come from a gift of this size.

So what kind of gifts should you go with when wanting to make a splash this holiday? You could always ask what your loved one really needs. You may be surprised at their answer (and it could actually be more affordable than the extravagant gifts listed above.)