No matter how carefully you choose, sometimes the gift you give misses the mark. Receiving “bad gifts” is so common, that a Google search will turn up millions—more than 250 million, in fact—of hits for “what to do if I hate a gift I got?” Interestingly, there aren’t anywhere near as many people asking how to deal with the rejection of a gift. So exactly how should you deal with it if that gift you spent so much time choosing isn’t received as well as you’d hoped? There aren’t a lot of hard and fast rules about it, but a few tips can help you get past the awkwardness of the moment and move on.
Consider the Source
I will never forget the Christmas morning my then-teenage brother opened a pair of designer jeans that my mother had gone to great lengths to get. Michael’s reaction? Instead of a thank you, he spent the rest of the day showing them to everyone and pointing out all the reasons he was sure they were fashion knockoffs. My mother tried to shrug it off, but it was obvious that her feelings were painfully, deeply bruised. She does, after all, have a reputation of giving everyone just the right gift.
Here’s the thing, though. There was nothing wrong with the gift. He’d even specifically asked for that particular style from that particular designer. It’s just not in him to gracefully accept any gift — even one he wants. Before you take a gift rejection personally, consider the person doing the rejection. Sometimes, it’s really not you — it’s them.
Find Out Why They Don’t Like It
Gift-giving anxiety is a real thing. As Marie Anakee Miczak, creator of a blog devoted to gift-giving etiquette, notes, the act of gift-giving is often deeply personal, all tied up in our own feelings of self-esteem and identity—and our beliefs about the relationship. When someone doesn’t like a gift, it can feel like rejection of the giver. Understanding why the gift didn’t get the reception you expected can help you deal with your hurt feelings. Sometimes, the reason is as mundane and impersonal as “we already have one of those at home.”
Make Better Choices Next Time
Learning the why behind the reaction can also help you hone your gift-giving skills for the future. Now you know that they just don’t like that color, they feel the gift was too personal for the relationship, or, as Scotty Hendricks notes in an article at Big Think, your mom just may not have anywhere to put that 75-inch television you bought her for Christmas. Consider why you’re giving a gift—and why you chose THAT gift—to help you choose gifts that your recipients will truly appreciate.
How to Give Gifts They’ll Really Love
Hendricks also notes a great guideline choosing “good gifts” you can be confident the recipients will enjoy and appreciate. Instead of focusing on the wow factor, focus on the long-term enjoyment your gift will provide. You may enjoy the wide-eyed surprise when they unwrap a dozen roses, but the perfect gift may actually be a cozy throw blanket they’ll enjoy every time it’s chilly.
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Deb Powers is a freelance writer living and working in Massachusetts. She writes frequently about health, wellness and lifestyle topics.