Recently my friend Elaine celebrated her birthday, and at our weekly girlie catch up she began rhyming off the list of lovely presents she received until...

“My father-in-law Eddie gave me a bottle bag with a gorgeous big bow on it and I was sure it was my favourite red wine, or even champagne.”

Elaine looked disappointed as she continued.

“But when I lifted the bottle out of the bag I discovered it was a bottle of whisky.”

“But you don’t drink whisky,” Mae stated the obvious.

“I know,” she agreed.

“I’ve never had a sip of whisky in my life.”

However, according to Elaine, a couple of years ago she had given this very bottle of whisky to her brother-in-law George for his birthday.

George, who didn’t drink whisky then gave the bottle to his brother Jim for a Christmas present.

But Jim also hated whisky, so gave the bottle as a present to Eddie, who obviously wasn’t a fan of whisky either and presented it to Elaine for her birthday!

“The big question is, Elaine,” I teased, “...who is next in line to receive the unwanted whisky?”

I reckoned that giving the wrong gift can cause a lot of friction within families.

According to Fiona, when her surly father-in-law opened part of his birthday present and discovered he had a pack of blue-coloured socks, he handed them straight back to her.

“Sorry lass, these are no use to me as I only wear black socks.”

“I’m not complaining but….”

We knew a complaint was on its way as Amada moaned: “Every Christmas since I got Lady, Davie has bought me a matching set of woolly hat, scarf and gloves to keep me warm whilst walking the dog.”

“That’s a very thoughtful present,” suggested Mae, who always seems to see the good in everything.

“Yes, but I’ve got eight matching sets now,” laughed Amanda.

“And you can bet I’ll get a ninth set this year.”

“Well, last year I got a lovely set of lacy underwear,” Yvonne went on to explain.

“Which I might have loved – had they not been extra-large.”

According to Yvonne when she asked her husband why he had bought her lacy underwear in a size 18 he said it wasn’t really his fault.

“One of the girls in the office was heading out to M&S in her lunch break and asked if I wanted anything.”

So, for Yvonne it was a double whammy because not only did her husband’s female colleague chose her underwear, but she picked her a set which was four sizes bigger than she was.

The tale of Janet’s presents tickled me somewhat because I had had a similar experience with my mum’s gifts.

“She handed me a large bulky Christmas present and I reckoned it must be the jumpers I had had my eye on.”

I wondered if Janet had been luckier than some of the others with their unwanted gifts.

But no...

“I ripped the paper off to discover it was a blue terry towelling bathrobe.”

“Oh well, you can always use a bathrobe, Janet,” Mae pointed out the positive.

“You’re right,” she agreed.

“But when I held it up it was obvious it was a ‘small’ size.”

Janet said her mum was quick with an explanation.

“It obviously won’t fit you just now Janet, but once you’ve lost all that weight you’ve put on you’ll get in to it no bother.”

None of us knew what to say as she continued...

“On top of that, I then unwrapped the slippers I had given her the year before and she added.”

“They’re not really my style so I thought you could wear them with the dressing gown – when you fit in to it.”

So poor Janet was left with a dressing gown reminder that she was overweight and tartan granny slippers that put ten years on her.

Margaret had been unusually quiet until she decided to spill the beans on last year’s Christmas gift from her husband.

Taking a large slurp of wine Margaret began.

“I got vouchers.”

“Bloody gift vouchers.”

I could tell the girls were puzzled as to why it was so bad getting gift vouchers.

“I opened a Christmas card and inside was a voucher entitling me to my first treatment of Botox injections and face fillers.”

Everyone was silent, however we were all now staring at Margaret’s face for confirmation that she had indeed spent her vouchers.

“You must have indicated that you were thinking of getting treatments.” I attempted to defend Bobby’s actions.

“Yes, but a few years down the line.”

Apparently it was the loving message on the card which tipped Margaret over the edge: ‘Hi doll, hopefully these will help straighten yer face, Love Bobby x’.

So a word of warning.

Choose carefully what you give to those you love this year.