Christmas Jeer: Good-for-Nothing Gifts

A back-scratcher encrusted with gilt, pearls and sea shells is an expensive adaptation of a standard 39-cent model.
Yale Joel—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images
"A back-scratcher encrusted with gilt, pearls and sea shells is an expensive adaptation of a standard 39-cent model."
Culture
'50s

In December 1953 LIFE featured a number of gifts that, the magazine assured its readers, were far “better to give than to receive.”

For our part, after spending a little time with these photographs, we’ve come to the reluctant conclusion that, with perhaps one or two exceptions (those velvet glasses acting as a hairnet are kind of cool), these items are throughly preposterous whether one is on the giving or the receiving end of the transaction.

As LIFE noted:

When a sequined $7.50 fly swatter turned out to be one of the best-selling gifts last Christmas (a time of year when flies are rare), department stores were quick to turn its success into a trend. This year the country’s gift counters abound in homely household objects which have been gilded, bedecked with pearls and rhinestones and upped in price. Holiday shoppers whose main object is to pamper the recipient may now choose jeweled back-scratchers which are almost too pretty to use, velvet eyeglasses which are designed to be worn instead of a hat, time-pieces for pets who can not tell time. Here is a selection of this year’s silly Christmas gifts.

Thank goodness we’ve evolved as a society and as individuals to the point where ridiculous and overpriced presents are no longer on anyone’s Christmas list. Right?

Uhm . . . Right?

— LIFE.com Editors
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