What do you do when someone gives you a gift you don’t like?
Every Christmas, we inevitably receive a bunch of gifts we don’t want to keep. Sometimes we receive a gift slip in the box, but usually, we have no way of returning the items we receive. Many times we don’t even know where the gift was purchased.
How to Tell Someone You Don’t Like Their Gift
When I was growing up, my mom had a rule about gift-giving. If she gave us a gift we didn’t like, she asked that we let her know. That way, she could return it.
She hated the idea of wasting money on unworn clothes or gifts that would eventually make their way to the donation center.
Over the years, I’ve openly told her to take back anything that didn’t fit or wasn’t my style, and as an adult, I’ve adopted the same gift-giving strategy.
How to Tell Your Parents You Don’t Like a Gift
My husband’s family doesn’t work this way. In his family, you never tell the gift giver that you don’t like something they purchased. Unfortunately, this often results in receiving the same unwanted item year after year.
Of course, this is not the gift giver’s fault. If you accept their offers, they won’t know you don’t like their gifts. If you pretend to be excited, they may wish to see you excited again the following year.
But, should you tell your parents you don’t like a gift they’ve given? That depends on your relationship with your parents. Ask yourself how your parents might react if you don’t like their gift.
Do you think your parents will feel upset or offended by your words? If so, it may be best to accept their gift graciously.
How to Avoid Receiving a Gift You Don’t Like
If you can’t openly talk to your parents or other gift-givers, try to lead by example. Begin by modeling the behavior you’d like to see. That begins by stating your gift-giving policy. Like my mom, you can say, “If you don’t like this gift, please let me know.”
My sister-in-law has a similar gift-giving strategy. Before we open her gifts, she always says, “I put a gift slip in the box if you need it.” It’s her way of saying, “You might not like this gift, so feel free to return it. I won’t be offended if you do.”
Discuss your gift-giving policy before an event. For example, before opening gifts on Christmas morning, say, “I want you to love your gifts. If you don’t, let me know so I can return them for you.”
Or you can say, “I put receipts in all of the birthday gift bags. I bought everything at Target, and they have an amazing return policy.”
When you model this behavior, other family members may begin to do the same.
How to Tell Someone You Don’t Want Gifts
If your parents, family members, or friends are perpetually bad at giving gifts, take a proactive approach to end traditional gift-giving. Tell your family you want to skip physical presents this year in exchange for the gift of time.
Say, “Let’s skip presents this year and spend the day together instead.” We can go shopping, watch a movie, take a class, hang out, go for a walk, or share a meal.
This strategy is beneficial for those who want to buy and own less stuff. If you are trying to downsize your possessions or declutter your house, you don’t have to let family members know you own too much already. Just focus on the positive aspects of spending time together doing something you all love to do.
Prevent Someone From Giving You a Gift You Don’t Like
If your family is open to gift lists, create one before holidays and birthdays. Let them know you are picked up a new hobby and need supplies or just started working out and could use new workout gear.
This advice is beneficial for parents who often buy their children toys and clothing they’ve outgrown. Make sure to share your new interests with your parents. Let them know what you like as well as what you don’t want anymore.
When Someone Gives You a Gift You Don’t Like
It would be best if you didn’t make comments to anyone about a gift unless you know the gift-giver will be receptive to it. (Like in the case of my mom.)
It’s often best not to comment on gifts you receive from classmates, friends, neighbors, etc. In those cases, you should undoubtedly smile and say thank you. I learned that lesson as a young child.
If you are comfortable telling someone you don’t like their gift, make sure to speak kindly.
Say, “thank you for thinking of me” or “I love the shirt, but it’s a little too small for me.” That way, you won’t appear ungrateful for not liking a gift, but use your words carefully.
Is it Ungrateful to Not Like a Gift?
When thinking about the gift-giving process, remember that a physical gift is the last stage in a long sequence of events. Perhaps your parents, friends, or family members drove to the store and spent time walking the aisles, searching for a gift you might like.
As they strolled, they thought about what you might like. Maybe the gift-giver contemplated your interests, reflected on past conversations, or thought about how you looked in specific shades and colors. Along the way, they picked up various items, ruled them out, put them down, and tried again.
Even if they shopped online, they undoubtedly reviewed more than one object before choosing the one they wrapped in a box and handed to you.
A present is not just in the physical box you open but also in the time spent searching for a gift you might appreciate and enjoy.
When considering gratitude, remember to reflect on the time and attention the gift-giver spent on you. This knowledge will help you feel grateful for a gift even when you don’t like it.
What To Do When You Don’t Like a Gift
The gift itself is not an accurate representation of your parents, friends, or family members’ love. It is a material object placed in a box. The real gift is the understanding that someone spent time thinking about you.
With that idea in mind, it’s difficult to feel ungrateful for the gifts we receive, whether we like them or not.
The gift-giving process is the same, no matter who gives you a gift. It’s easier to feel grateful when receiving a gift from someone you love but remember to reflect on that same process when receiving a gift from someone you don’t like.
If the gift-giver spent time searching, buying, and wrapping a gift for you, then try to feel grateful for the present you received. Sometimes we receive thoughtless gifts, but more often than not, we receive thoughtful gifts from parents, friends, and family members who spend time thinking about our needs and desires.
If you can’t feel grateful for the gift, try your best to feel thankful for the gift-giver’s time.