They say it is better to give than to receive, and that is certainly true. But you know what really sucks? Being the one who gives that perfect gift, the one that generates a genuine emotional response the likes of which tend to go viral on social media, only to receive bupkis. It might not be an actual lump of coal, but it is definitely a pile of something.
While there are no shortage of amazing gift guides out there that cater to every niche population, some present-challenged people still give crappy gifts. These are the kind of gifts that force you to reevaluate your entire relationship with the gifter. Questions like “Does this person really know me?” and “How balanced are the scales in this relationship?” and “Where does one even purchase an oven mitt covered in cat emoji?” swirl about. The entire thing can spiral rather quickly, and if you don’t keep your reactions in check, cat emoji-covered oven mitts can find themselves in parts of the human anatomy where they have absolutely no business being.
That may be the most difficult part of receiving a truly awful gift. You can’t say how you actually feel. Because why the president-elect may be the grim reaper for political correctness, certain levels of decorum persist. Chief among those is the fact that no matter how bad the gift, the giftee must look like he or she appreciates it.
So to help you navigate those tricky roads, we put together a helpful step-by-step guide to receiving a gift you hate. Hopefully this will preserve some of your most meaningful relationships, at least until you get way too drunk on New Year’s Eve and let your true feelings out.
The best thing to do is begin smiling even before you start unwrapping. Don’t go too big because you want to make sure that you have room to expand once the gift has been revealed. As soon as you see what the present is, crank your smile up from, say, a 5 to a 7. It’s a good idea to practice this beforehand, because your body’s natural instinct will be to look like all semblance of life has been drained from your body. So it’s important that you generate the muscle memory in advance. That way, no matter how crappy a gift is, you will have a steely poker face that doesn’t reveal the depths of your despair.
2. STOP SMILING
Alright, you’ve been holding that smile for a little too long now, like way longer than any person that isn’t a collagen-filled Real Housewife should be able to do. The key is to come off as genuine, and the longer you smile, the more likely it will be that the gifter totally realizes that you’re faking it.
3. SAY “I LOVE IT”
No matter how much you do not love it, you have to say you love it. Even if it’s a T-shirt that reads in bold letters, “I hate it,” the first words that come out of your mouth after relaxing your smile muscles must be “I love it.” Once is enough. There is no need for any “I love it. I love it. I love it” or nervously flapping your hands by your cheeks the way they only do in the movies. Again, be wary of overselling it, but if you want to stretch out the word “love” for an extra beat, that’s okay.
4. PASSIVE-AGGRESSIVELY WORK IN HOW AWESOME THE GIFT YOU GAVE WAS
Assuming there’s a vast gift disparity (sorry, but those who give crappy gifts can’t complain about getting crappy gifts), now is the time to artfully mention what a great job you did with the present you gave. Some story about how you went to five different stops, or how you remembered that one time at that one place when the other person mentioned how much they’d love that one thing you ended up getting them. This humblebrag highlights in a subtle, but not too subtle, way that you put thought into your gift and that that consideration was not reciprocated.
5. FIND A MEME THAT CAPTURES HOW YOU FEEL
This is another delicate jab (a “love tap” if you will) at the bad gifter. When a meme says, “Your gift sucks” it’s a lot different than you saying the same thing. But you must maintain plausible deniability. Some Frank Underwood-style backchanneling is in order. You can’t just Google “TFW you get a gift you hate meme” and show it to the other person. Instead you’ll need to enlist the help of a patsy to post said meme on social media. Then you simply pretend to be scrolling through your phone and say, “Did you see what [insert patsy name] just put on Insta?” That way you can get all the burn and none of the blame.
6. TRADE THE GIFT IN FOR A WHOPPER
If you can’t get a present that you want, at least you can eat your feelings of disappointment. A Burger King in Miami is running a Whopper exchange where people can trade in their unwanted gifts for a fast food burger. On its face, it is probably not a fair trade, but why have a gift that will only make you angry every time you look at it when you can “have it your way” instead.
7. BUY WHAT YOU REALLY WANT YOURSELF
And don’t feel the least bit guilty about it.