Gift giving can be a fun and thoughtful holiday tradition, but we can't all get it right every time. It's inevitable: There's always one present that you're just not in love with. But it's important to know how to react to a gift you don't like with grace and gratitude, whether it's from your grandparents, your big brother, or your bestie.
Sure, your great-aunt meant well with that lime green synthetic sweater from her local thrift shop. But let's be honest — you'll never wear it, aside from when you're with her. It's important to put yourself in the other person's shoes when you're gifted something you're not into, and show them that you appreciate the sentiment. Even if that means you have to wear, y'know, a lime green synthetic sweater a few hours a year.
However, it can be tough to feign enthusiasm for a less-than-ideal present in the moment, especially when you were expecting something else. I mean, really, it's kind of cruel to put a keychain in a jewelry gift box. But it is the perfect opportunity to channel your inner Meryl (you know you've got it in you.)
Here are five strategies to pull off a convincing performance when the gift you received isn't exactly something you'd buy for yourself:
1. Practice Your Reaction
This seems a little ridiculous, and maybe it is a little ridiculous. But if you're expecting a present from a consistently poor gift giver, it might be worth your while to practice a few reaction faces in the mirror ahead of time. And the Oscar goes to...
2. Be Specific
Assuming the gift giver is with you when you opened it (lucky you, if not), be specific about why you "love" it. Really, you can find just one tiny thing, whether that's the color or something it will go well with in your wardrobe. Don't go overboard, though — one comment will suffice, or you risk sounding forced.
3. Compliment The Sentiment
If you really can't find one thing you like about the gift (sorry, lime green sweater), focus on the sentiment behind the gift. Chances are, they did put thought into the gift, and it's important to show your appreciation for that, if nothing else. "That was so thoughtful of you" can go a long way.
4. Write A Thank You Note
Whether the person was there to see you open the gift or not, sending a follow-up note to say thank you is a great way to back up your schpeal (or make up for any shortcomings in your almost award-winning performance.) Personally, I think handwritten thank-you notes are a lost art, but an e-mail will suffice if that's more your style.
5. Drop A Strong Hint Next Year
The only downside with faking it till you make it? The gift could become an ill-advised tradition. Next year, drop a strong hint about something entirely different, like "I love the Urban Decay eyeshadows" or "I'm dying for a new pair of simple earrings." Choose something that's hard to go wrong with.
The bottom line: Sometimes, honesty is not the best policy when you're trying to spare someone's feelings. The holidays are about spending time with the people you love and appreciating your blessings, not getting amazing gifts. Even if you risk getting something similar in future years, making the gift giver feel accomplished and appreciated is worth more than having to fake it.
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