Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The "How-To" Guide to receiving, returning, and repurposing gifts gracefully

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So, I imagine that since it is the start of the new year, you have partied 2013 out of the way and finished all of your Christmasing (finally).  Depending on your family dynamic, I am willing to bet that either you have received a gift that isn't quite your thing or perhaps someone in your family didn't do a very good job convincing you that they appreciated your gift.  It's ok, not everyone is as savvy at it as you might be.  In case you aren't, or in case you want your weird uncle or a perpetually unhappy in-law to read my blog, here are some tips in dealing with gifts that you don't love.

If you received a gift that isn't what you would like:
  1. Is it seasonal?  If you received some god awful Christmas décor as a gift, smile and give a sincere thank you.  You only have to look at it for 2-6 weeks, or save it to put out when the gift giver comes to visit only.
  2. Is it the wrong size, or something exchangeable?  You may be able to tactfully mention that you really enjoy the gift and the thought, but would like to get a different size since you lost all that weight recently (wink, wink).  You could even follow-up after you exchange it with a photo to show how much you were enjoying the updated gift.
  3. Is it something you just don't like or won't use?  There are a lot of retailers that allow you to return for a short period of time following Christmas for a gift card or credit.  When you open it, say, "This is great, thank you!  Where did you get it?  It is so unique."  Then try and do a stealth return to the retailer for credit, and buy yourself something else or use the credit to buy a gift for someone else that would like it better.
  4. Is it totally hideous and hand made and can't be returned?  I am willing to bet that you run in another circle of friends or co-workers that could benefit from your gift in the white elephant gift exchange (*See regifting section below so that you don't screw this one up).
If you gave a gift that clearly wasn't appreciated or well received:
  1. Pay attention throughout the year for what the person may appreciate.  Personally, I am not into cats, but if I know someone really likes cats, that feline throw pillow might be right up their alley even if you think its ugly.  Or, see what magazines and catalogs are in their house.  Or, see where they tend to shop.  Pinterest boards are invaluable for gift ideas.
  2. Ask for suggestions upfront.  Ask the person for some ideas, or ask their significant other for ideas for that person.
  3. Give gifts that aren't returnable things.  If the person is a pet lover, donate money in their name to ASPCA, or the Humane Society.  If the person likes unique stuff, feed a child in Africa or name a star for that person.  Or, consider a subscription gift, such as a magazine or a wine of the month club.
  4. Get help from another person.  For example, I give ideas, but the hubs does a nice job deciding what the gifts will be for his parents.  That way I didn't put my heart and soul into the gift (I take Christmas gifting VERY seriously, like a sport) and feel disappointed if it wasn't perfect.
If you are considering regifting something you received:
  1. Do. Not. Regift. in the same social circle.  Put a note on the item before you put it in your pile of "possible gifts" in the closet.  Ensure the note states who gave it to you, when they gave it to you, and who else was there to witness it.  If you regift, make sure it is to someone who could never possibly cross paths with any of those people.
  2. Think twice about whether or not you need to regift.  Are you sure you can't repurpose the gift into something else?  Is it something worth donating?  Will the gift giver ever ask about it in the future?
  3. Regift only if you think that the new recipient would have a genuine interest.  For example, you received two copies of the latest Pixar movie, but instead of returning one you give one to a friend that said they liked the movie.  Or, maybe you aren't really a floral scarf sort of person, but your mom totally is.  If you follow rule #1, I think that your regifting is in acceptable form.
Sometimes, you just can't win on the gift-giving (or receiving) front, and just know, it's not personal.  If you are like me and you put a lot of love into gift giving, hopefully some of these tips will help you keep your sanity.

And if you are a guy reading this, I have one gift giving tip for you.  Yes, you do have to wrap it.  That is part of the allure, do not give gifts in a Piggly Wiggly bag.

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