NEW YORK ( MainStreet) ¬ó It's the thought that counts, but it's hard to fake a smile when you receive the same unwanted holiday gifts year after year. From snow globes from Aunt Polly to reindeer ties from Grandpa John, some common Christmas presents tend to elicit more eye rolls than excitement. Read on for our round-up of seven tacky Christmas gifts that keep finding their way under your tree, plus suggestions on fresher gift ideas for your friends and family.

Snow Globes

Sure, they look kind of cool ... for about five seconds. After that, snow globes are simply mundane dust collectors that serve no useful function. O.K., we get it, they're a decoration, but how many do you really need? Too many snow globes scattered throughout your home can look like clutter, and these days there are better alternatives if you want to give your abode a cozy touch.

A better option:
"A fresh take on a snow globe would be mercury glass votives or ornaments," says Kathryn Drury Wagner, senior content manager for the gift recommendation site "Mercury glass is very trendy right now and gives a festive glow." One option is this set of four jeweled mercury glass votive cups featuring grooved and hobnail textures from Pottery Barn ($22.99).


Made of candied or dried fruit, nuts and spices and sometimes soaked in spirits, fruitcake is arguably one of the most re-gifted presents each Christmas. In fact, Johnny Carson once joked that there is only one fruitcake in the world and people keep sending it to each other. While there are still some die-hard fruitcake fans, the younger generations in particular tend to see this classic cake as unappetizing and dated.

"I think fruitcake is just currently out of vogue," says Drury Wagner. "Who knows, it may make a rebound¬ójust look at all the Brooklyn hipsters sporting 1890s-style facial hair right now."

A better option:
A tasty alternative to fruitcake is babkas, a popular Eastern European yeast-leavened cake made of soft brioche-like dough. Drury Wagner suggests purchasing The Bread Project Tcho Chocolate Babkas from Williams-Sonoma ($49.95), which consist of five individual babkas filled with homemade candied orange zest, chocolate chunks, ganache made from locally sourced Tcho chocolate and a toasted-almond streusel topping. You can also feel good about buying this product: The babkas are made by The Bread Project in Emeryville, Calif., a nonprofit that trains people with limited resources in the art of baking.

Christmas Ties

Sure, a man might wear a suit to work each day, but that does not mean he enjoys receiving holiday ties adorned with reindeer, snowmen and candy canes. Not only are these ties corny, but they can only be enjoyed for a few weeks each year.