What would you rather find under your tree: A Red Ryder BB gun or a Mogwai?

By Nate Jones
Updated December 25, 2013 10:35 AM
Credit: MGM/courtesy Everett Collection

If movies have taught us anything, it’s that it is really much better to receive than to give. But which Christmas movie present is the best to receive?

Check out our ranking of 19 of the most memorable onscreen gifts, from worst to best. We’re calculating not only the objective worth of the gift itself, but also the emotions and motivations with which it was given – after all, the worst gift in the world can be priceless if it comes from love.

Which would you want to see under your tree?

19. Louis Vutton Bag, Sex and the City

Objectively a nice present – and probably the most expensive on this list – but there’s a faint air of noblesse oblige about it that we find fairly obnoxious.

18. Joni Mitchell CD, Love Actually

Because you can’t say “Your husband is cheating on you!” with an iTunes gift card.

17. A One-Year Membership to the Jelly of the Month Club, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

This is disappointing on its own merits – even if you love jellies, your family probably had something more substantial in mind – but it’s even worse when what you expect to receive is a generous Christmas bonus.

16. A Carton of Cigarettes, The Breakfast Club

But some stretch of the imagination there might be a circumstance where this is an acceptable gift to give. But for your high-school-aged son is not one of them.

15. TV Dinners, Better Off Dead

Pros: They can last the entire year. Cons: Everything else.

14. Shrunken Head, The Nightmare Before Christmas

Much like The Nightmare Before Christmas itself, it’s unclear whether this is meant for Christmas or Halloween.

13. Wooden Pickle, Bad Santa

By the relative standards of Bad Santa this is actually a very kind and thoughtful gift, but its practical uses seem somewhat nil.

12. Towels, Scrooged

Conversely, a really nice towel could make a solid gift for the right person; it’s the impersonal way Bill Murray hands them out that grates.

11. A Television Set, All That Heaven Allows

Another present that seems all right on the surface, until you realize that, as used in this Douglas Sirk melodrama, it’s essentially a way for this housewife’s grown children to keep her chained to her home.

10. Lingerie, Elf

It’s generally unclear exactly who a gift of lingerie is meant for: the person wearing it, or their partner? We know one person it’s never meant for, though – your dad.

9. A Single Bullet, Lethal Weapon

Even for a cop, a single bullet is not the most useful of presents. But the subtext here is worth it: Riggs is telling Murtaugh, essentially, that the older man saved his partner’s life.

8. Turbo-Man, Jingle All the Way

In the film Jingle All the Way, Turbo-Man is meant to be the best action figure on the market. The version seen in the film, however, was hopelessly generic – a point the film could’ve hit harder had it decided to fully commit itself to satire.

7. A Comically Oversized Joint, A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas

We will leave this present’s merits to your imagination.

6. A Birdhouse, Fred Claus

An underrated gift from an underrated holiday movie. This birdhouse is useful (if you like birds), aesthetically pleasing and, to top it off, it doubles as a deserved apology from one brother to another.

5. A Camera Lens/Steering Wheel, The Gift of the Magi

These gifts were thoughtful. Too thoughtful. Next time get each other something you can both enjoy.

4. The Nutcracker, The Nutcracker

Sure, he’s a real prince, but you’ve got to remember this gift runs the risk of your house being overrun by creepy mice. A real “take the good with the bad” situation here.

3. Mogwai, Gremlins

As long as you read the fine print, you’ll be fine.

2. A Million-Pound Shopping Spree, Millions

It doesn’t count as greed if the money is about to expire!

1. Red Ryder BB Gun, A Christmas Story

Statistically, it is highly unlikely that you will shoot your own eye out with a BB gun, which renders most criticisms of this gift invalid. (We’re talking for responsible, older kids here.) The Red Ryder BB gun is fun, useful and given with love. It’s also a memorable, classic pop culture gift … and to all a good night!

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