December 11th, 2013

3 Potentially Awkward Gift Exchanges and How to Navigate Them

by Jacqueline Whitmore

Gift exchanges are a wonderful tradition of the holiday season, but stressful social situations can quickly become a nightmare. Here are three common scenarios and how to handle them with grace.

1. You want to stop a holiday gift exchange with a distant relative or acquaintance.

It’s easy to let tradition overshadow the joy of the season. You are not obligated to give gifts to anyone. If you are no longer close with your great aunt who lives 2000 miles away and rarely see or speak to her, it is perfectly acceptable to no longer exchange gifts. If you are absolutely sure you’d no longer like to give or receive a gift from someone, let him or her know. Send the person a note and suggest an alternative. You could schedule a visit, send a homemade gift, or start a new tradition altogether.

Holiday Gifts

2. You received a present you don’t want.

When you receive the gift, show your appreciation. Even if you aren’t fond of the gift, it was a generous gesture. Regifting is an excellent solution for unwanted gifts. Be sure the item is in good condition and keep it in its original box. Make a quick note of who gave it to you in order to avoid accidentally regifting to a mutual friend. If the item isn’t appropriate for any of your friends, donate it to charity. For a full list of regifting guidelines, read “How to Regift with Grace.”

3. A friend stopped by your house with a gift, but you didn’t buy a present for her.

Giving a gift is optional and should never be expected. However, unexpected gift exchanges can easily catch you off guard. If a friend shows up with a holiday present and you don’t give a gift in return, she may be hurt or offended. To avoid this potentially awkward situation, keep a few general gifts wrapped but unlabeled under your tree. Bottles of wine or $10 gift cards make excellent gifts in a pinch.

What kind of gifts do you like to give in a pinch?

photo credit: Stephan Geyer via photopin cc

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