We’ve all received the mall equivalent of coal in our stockings. Tacky knickknacks, music or books that don’t interest us at all, clothing that’s a size too big or completely unflattering… the list goes on and on. But feelings can get hurt when someone doesn’t show appreciation for a gift, or blatantly regifts it. For example, a friend of mine was visiting her aunt and spied a familiar-looking handbag in her home. Turns out she had given the handbag to her mother the previous Christmas. She in turn had passed it on when her sister complimented the bag. The aunt had no idea and felt really embarrassed when my friend caught her out. My friend was able to laugh it off, but felt bad that her mother hadn’t liked the gift.
So how can you handle a gift that’s not exactly your cup of tea? Read on for some pointers.
-Always express appreciation for the gift, no matter how big or small. A leopard-print Snuggie may not have been on your wish list to Santa, but it’s rude to not at least thank the person who gifted you one. You don’t have to act like it’s the best present in the world, but you can at least play it off by smiling or laughing and saying ‘That’s amazing.” It won’t kill you to show some gratitude. And who knows—it may even come in handy! If nothing else, it will make a good story.
-Don’t criticize a gift. “I already have this.” “There’s no way this will fit me.” “It’s not really my style.” “Can I take it back?” Nobody wants to hear this from a gift recipient. If they press you to try an item of clothing on and it clearly doesn’t fit, be honest but kindly suggest you exchange it for another size. You can always tell them later that the store didn’t have the exact style in your size but that you found something similar (even if it’s not actually that similar). P.S. I tend to tuck gift receipts inside the package when I give clothing items. This way the person can discretely return or exchange the item on their own accord.
-Always send thank you cards within the week. If you haven’t had a chance to thank the gift-giver in person, be sure to send a thank you card right away. Parents should also encourage their children to write thank you notes to acknowledge their gifts—it’s a great habit to pass on!
-Regift wisely. My friend’s mother in the earlier example made a big mistake—she regifted her present to someone within the family. It was only a matter of time before she got busted. If you’re going to regift, move on to a different social circle. Another idea is to donate the unwanted items—provided they’re in good condition—to Goodwill or the Salvation Army. Avoid regifting rare or unwanted items, which could in theory be tracked down to you. Another idea is to just be honest. If I were my friend’s mother, I would have said, “I love the purse you gave me but Aunt Mary wondered if she could borrow it for a while because she needs a new bag for work. Do you mind?”
-Don’t be sensitive. If someone isn’t as enthusiastic about the gift you gave them as you had expected, shrug it off. It’s not easy to find the right present, but you did your best. If someone is constantly being picky or dismissive, in the future say, “I’m not sure I’ve hit the mark with your past presents. Is there anything in particular you’d like?” This way you save yourself some trouble while getting the point across that their lack of gratitude hasn’t gone unnoticed. And if all else fails, stick with a gift card. If someone hasn’t even bothered to thank you for their gift, wait a week and then contact them to confirm that it was received. I once sent a couple I knew some lovely wine glasses for their wedding. When they failed to thank me, I bristled. It was some time later that I realized they had been lost in the mail. Thank goodness I hadn’t complained to the newlyweds!
Have a wonderful New Year!