Like most children, receiving a gift of underwear at Christmas induced an instant and acute sense of disappointment and embarrassment for me. But it turns out there are worse presents out there.

The most horrific present to receive under the tree this year is a digital picture frame, according to a recent survey of 2,000 people by the British Video Association.

The online study found that one-third of people have received gadgets for Christmas that they never, or hardly ever, use, amounting to a waste of more than $1 billion annually.

The worst offender on the list is the dreaded digital photo frame, ironically the present I gave to my parents last year.

Here's the entire list. Take note to avoid wasting your money, not to mention disappointing your loved ones:

  • Digital photo frames
  • Foot spas
  • Blenders
  • Digital organizers
  • Electronic Sudoku games
  • Coffee machines
  • Digital radios
  • Electric shavers
  • Electric toothbrushes
  • Bread makers

Other unwanted horrors under the tree include electronic shavers for women, desktop vacuum cleaners, candy floss machines, yogurt makers, electric shoe polishers and shrink wrap machines. There are also electronic facial brushes, if that wasn't automatically obvious.

The BVA said most unwanted "techno treats" aren't used because people don't have time to use them (39 per cent), don't see the point in them (23 per cent), don't like them (18 per cent), don't want to keep them clean (10 per cent) and don't understand them (seven per cent).

BVA spokesman Simon Heller told getting a good present isn't rocket science, but there are some general rules of thumb to get it right.

"Many of the gadget gaffs cited by our study are gifts that have a lot of novelty appeal, but perhaps a limited shelf life. A candy-floss maker is great for beating those Boxing Day blues, but a games console or 3D Blu-ray player are future-proof. They're gifts you'll go back to all year round," Heller said.

It appears the best gaff-proof gadgets are anything that is more likely to be satisfying rather than a gimmick, such as a game system that can double as a Blu-ray or DVD player. Gadgets that also improve the recipient's experience doing something they already enjoy, such as an electronic book reader, also get top marks.

After contacting my father in Toronto to ask him why his high-tech photo frame hasn't seen the light of day, he told me he found the gift both repetitive and redundant.

"We have the same photos on our computer," he said, adding that he and my mother didn't entertain enough houseguests to justify putting it up at home. But that wasn't all.

"It's distracting. And you have to turn it on to make it go around," he said.

But if my 64-year-old father did agree the digital photo frame was a bit of a dud, he disagreed with other items on the most-hated present list, including the bread maker.

"We love our machine -- we made a loaf tonight. Your mother and I thought it would be a great present for you this year."

At least it's not underwear.

Have your say: What's the worst present you've received at Christmas?