Let’s be real. Every holiday or special occasion there's that one gift.
You know the one. The one you hate.
Yet you feel forced to put on a smile. But really? You wish they would’ve gotten you literally anything else.
And if you’re really unlucky, you get that horrible gift from a close friend who you could count on to buy something perfect! But nope. You’re stuck, with or without a gift receipt, and not sure what to do with the unwanted present.
It can be awkward when you receive something you don’t like. Givers are always anxious about getting the perfect gift, and receivers don’t want the giver to feel like they didn’t appreciate it. Remember, it’s always polite to say thank you regardless if it’s a tacky kitten sweater or your new favorite scarf.
Let’s talk about four ways on what to do with a bad gift and, maybe most importantly, what to tell the gift giver.
1. Exchange the gift
This is the easiest option, even though it does involve a little white lie to make the gift giver feel OK about you exchanging it. However, the point is that you’ll need to tell them. Depending on where the person got the gift, it may require a gift receipt to return it, so you’re going to have to get their information to do the exchange. Though you have to tell the giver that you’re returning it, you can fib just a bit about why. Just be careful so that you don’t get in the habit of lying, so you don’t have to do this for every birthday or holiday. Here's an example of what you can say:
“The color and style are great, but they're the wrong size.”
2. Shop for something similar
But wait. What if you like the gift, know where your friend got it, or really don’t want to hurt feelings? A great option for more delicate gifting situations is to say you already have one (even if you don’t). This works great if the gift is something that’s your style but you’re just not going to use it, or if you do have something similar and don’t need a second one. Hello, gloves and handbags, anyone? This is a situation where you don’t necessarily have to lie.
“I have one just like this, but I love the store/design. Let’s go pick something else together.”
3. Openly give it away
Sometimes you get a gift that’s handmade, or someone lost the gift receipt, or it was a final sale and something you can’t return. When it’s something you can’t exchange, or it’s something that a close loved one or relative gifted you, it’s best to openly give it away. Openly? Yes, tell them the truth about where the item is going! You can let them know that you appreciate the thought and that their gift is going to a good home.
“I like it, but I’m not going to wear a lot, so I gave it to my best friend because she LOVES _________.”
4. Stash it away for later
If the above options fail, you can stash it away and regift it at another time. This works best for the gifts you get from a distant cousin or even your coworkers. The key to regifting is to make sure you don’t give it back to the same person, or someone who knows that person.
For example, if you regularly have opportunities to give gifts to coworkers, always wrap the awkward gifts you got from your family, and then give the awkward gifts from coworkers to family. If you’re forgetful, make a box or bin and label it “gifts for coworkers” or “gifts for family” so you’re ready to pick through it as soon as you have a new party to attend.
When it comes to returning a gift you don’t like, you can have a range of emotions, varying from guilt to hope. The main thing is to be gentle and compassionate when you tell someone you’re returning their gift, and always let them know that their thoughts are very much appreciated.