A bad gift isn’t the end of the Christmas experience

Photo by Paige Bush
Photo by Paige Bush

It’s Christmas morning. You’re sitting with your family, gathered around the Christmas tree, enjoying each other’s company. The floor is littered with gift wrapping, and the time for opening presents is coming to an end.

As you take the last sip of luke-warm hot chocolate, you can feel the holiday cheer begin to fade as you realize that Christmas has come and gone again … but wait! Your keen eye spots one more gift under the tree, and you notice that it’s addressed to you! Oh, joy! You excitedly grab it, tear it open, and what’s inside? A crappy gift. Now what?

First, try figuring out why it seems like a bad gift. It’s possible that a simple change of attitude or being open to a different perspective can be the easiest way to turn a “bad” gift into one that’s not so terrible after all.

Did your grandparents buy you a bathing suit even though you don’t know how to swim and live in an apartment in the city? Rather than whining about having something you will never use, pack it away. In a couple years, when you get invited to a friend’s cottage, you don’t have to go shopping for a new suit — assuming it still fits.

Maybe you opened up your gift to find a boring pair of socks. Think about it logically — socks are a great gift. You will never not need them. They are about as practical as a gift can get, even if they aren’t flashy.

Next, decide if re-gifting is an option. If the gift you received but don’t like is something that gets used, then you don’t have to worry about the person wanting to see it again. For example: wine, chocolates, candles etc. are all items that are painless to re-gift. They can also save you a trip to the mall during the busiest time of year.

But remember: it’s important to keep in mind the rules of regifting. Don’t regift to someone within the same social circle as the original gifter. This should be fairly obvious since things would get awkward very quickly. Also, this should go without saying, but if you have a personalized gift, do not turn around and give it away. Save yourself the embarrassment and just throw it out, or put it away.

I once received a Christmas tree ornament that had the name “Alex” on it … seriously?

The best case scenario when it comes to receiving a bad gift is that the giver is already aware of their shortcomings. Nothing fills the heart with a sense of relief more than getting a gift accompanied by a gift receipt and being told, “feel free to exchange it for something else if you’d prefer.” This is a signature “cool aunt” move and can be a total life saver. This situation is rare, but if you are presented with the chance to return a bad gift guilt-free, take it!

Lastly, sometimes there are scenarios where you have no choice but to suck it up and pretend you like the present. Grandparents tend to be the biggest offender when it comes to this category.

What kind of well-intentioned grandchild wants to tell their sweet old grandparents that the gift they bought just doesn’t meet the mark? In these situations, it’s best to smile, say thank you, and move on.

In a worst case scenario, you might just have to wear that ugly sweater when you visit grandma for brunch in the spring. That being said, wearing an unflattering sweater for one day of the year is a small price to pay considering your grandparents do a good job spoiling you 99 per cent of the time.

No matter the case, be sure to keep in mind that it’s not the gift, but the thought that counts. So even if you aren’t always happy, always be thankful.

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