What to do when you get a gift you really don't like

Despite the giver's best intentions, terrible gifts have been around forever. What should you do when you get a gift you really don't like? Here are some pointers to help you out of this awkward situation.

What to do when you get a gift you really don't like

While you may never wear that hand-knitted poodle sweater, gift giving is a gesture that should always be met with thanks. Just remember the giver’s intention was to make you happy, not for you to hang that sweater in the back of your closet. So, how can you spare yourself from potential embarrassment when receiving a gift gets awkward? Here are some hints.

Handmade gifts: “I made this just for you”

Handmade items can be some of the most difficult gifts to toss or “regift.” After all, the giver has really put their heart into creating something unique for you.

  • Even if you don’t want that airbrushed portrait of your cousins, you should at least keep it around in the off chance the giver comes to visit. Then – and only then – put it out on display.

Store-bought items: check for a gift receipt

Receiving a store-bought present makes it a bit easier to exchange for something you really want. Many times, a giver will include a gift receipt to make the return process easier.

  • Chances are that if a gift receipt was included, they probably knew it would be hit-or-miss in the first place.
  • If there is a gift receipt, just don't blurt out right away that you intend to choose something you like better. Remember to still thank the gift giver!

Expensive and family heirloom gifts: honesty is the best policy

If it’s a high-dollar or sentimental item, it can be difficult to decide what to do. For one, you want to let the giver know you appreciate the gesture. However, you should also let them know that you have no use for the item in question.

  • Although their feelings may be temporarily hurt, in the end they will appreciate your sincerity, especially if it's an item that they want to remain in the family (not that you would ever intend to sell it).

Be a graceful “re-gifter”

The practice of re-gifting has been going on long before the Seinfeld episode “The Label Maker,” where the term entered the popular lexicon.

  • The ideal re-gifting scenario occurs when you receive a gift that you don’t like or would have no use for, but you know someone who would love to have it.

However, there are several unspoken rules of etiquette when re-gifting an item:

  • Never, under any circumstance, re-gift it back to the original giver.
  • If it’s a gift exchange party, you should never re-gift an item in lieu of actually buying a gift.
  • Never use the gift before re-gifting it.
  • Always rewrap the gift before passing it on.
  • Give it to a charity that could put it to good use.

Always say thank you

Any gift, whether it’s a label maker or onesie, should always be welcomed with warmth and appreciation. After all, you’ve likely given a present that someone didn’t like, but they were gracious enough to leave you none the wiser. Just remember that the two best gifts are love and friendship – and those are two things you’d never want to toss out!

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