A couple of years ago, I gave my husband a Wii for Christmas. He was very happy. So happy in fact, that he played way into the wii hours (see what I did there?) of the night and was so focused on the TV screen, he almost burned down the house. But more on that later.
At the time, it was a very generous gift for our budget but because of what had happened the Christmas (Chrismukkah) before, I had to do it.
That horrible experience went like this.
I handed him a a big box that’d been under the Christmas tree for a month already. He was all excited, he started ripping away at the wrapping paper, opened the box, pushed the tissue paper aside and then…the smile fell off his face, his shoulders drooped and he sighed. I realize this sounds dramatic and you may think I’m exaggerating. I am not. It stands as the worst reaction I’ve ever gotten to a gift I’ve given. (The closest competition? Someone once said to me upon opening a gift: “Why did you get this for me?”)
I should tell you that I am a person who cares very much about whether or not people like the gifts I give them. I put a lot of effort into it, I think about it for weeks ahead of time if not months, and I feel a lot of pressure when I don’t have an idea and the holiday is approaching. I have been known to search the internet for ideas, often coming up empty-handed but sometimes scoring, like when I discovered there was actually a thing called “World War II Magazine” and ordered a subscription for my dad — a huge WWII buff to whom I was pretty sure I’d given every WWII-themed thing on the planet.
I also admit that I am often disappointed with the reactions I get. I don’t know if I’m missing the mark that much or if some people just don’t know how to accept gifts properly. It seems too often there is the opening of the present, a murmuring of “oh, thanks” with minimal eye contact, then the gift is pushed to the side and never mentioned again.
Here is how you accept a gift properly for those of you who don’t know.
1. Open gift, improvise something like “Oh my gosh…wow!”.
2. Pull the gift out to show to everyone who might be around.
3. If applicable, run into another room and try on the gift, coming out to model for the gift-giver.
4. Remark that you love it.
5. Bring the gift up again at least once after the celebration is over, telling the person you don’t know how they knew exactly what you wanted.
6. Wear or use the gift or tell a made-up story about using the gift in the presence of the giver at a later point.
All of this applies even if you HATE the gift. It’s what it means to be gracious, dude.
Please know that there is nothing wrong with returning a gift you don’t really like and replacing it with something you do. Just try to reward the person in the moment they give you the gift by making them feel like their effort was worth something. Then discreetly return or exchange.
I understand. I’m picky too. But I never let someone know when I open their gift that I don’t love it. Just act excited for a few minutes. It won’t kill ya. Then, when the time is right, if necessary (which it rarely is), you can explain to the person how much you loved it but that it just didn’t fit right, or whatever.
Please understand that I’m not condemning Gabe for his reaction. He is not generally a jackass. I know he didn’t mean to show his disappointment so openly. I’d bought him something for Chrismukkah on Thanksgiving Day — and told him I’d bought “it.” I got him all excited about getting something he really wanted (because he’d said he wanted it many times), but it turns out he didn’t want exactly what I got. So he had it built up into something fantastical in his head, something he couldn’t even define, and then was rather obviously let down. Wah-wah.
“It,” by the way, was a new suit with a slimmer, more modern cut than the ones he already had. He ended up returning it and getting one he actually liked, at twice the price. Perhaps I should start considering that my gift-giving problem is that I’m trying to satisfy diamond tastes on a diamonelle budget.
Maybe I’m not the best gift-giver in the world (even though I try) but I AM one of the best gift-getters. So feel free anytime.
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