Thursday, December 26, 2013

My Gift Was Awful! What Do I Do?

You’re staring at a monstrosity. It’s a foot tall statue of a Native American fertility god. Your aunt and uncle are looking at you expectantly. What do you do?
You say, “Thank you very much.”

White Elephant
Some people have a collection of gifts that they simply put away because they’re not sure what to do with them. Thus, the White Elephant Party was born.
In some areas, it’s known as a Yankee Gift Swap. There are several variations, and you may attend one in the New Year, or out of desperation due to an over-burdened, closet, you may host your own. Interestingly, the term “White Elephant” may have a  historical basis in which the King of Siam (now Thailand) gave albino elephants to courtiers who had fallen out of his favor. The upkeep of such a rare and large animal was supposed to send the gift recipient into financial ruin.

The basic premise is simple and multiple styles abound. Each guest brings a wrapped gift to a party. The host of the party chooses some method of order, oldest goes first, the children, etc. The first person who picks a gift, unwraps it, and then presents the gift to the group. The second person has a choice: steal the gift or choose from the remaining wrapped gifts. Typically, gifts can only be stolen a set number of times, like once or twice, and then that same gift is “locked” by the last receiver. This prevents the game from going on infinitely.

Re-gifting is a socially maligned process which should be seen in a positive light. You have received a gift for which you have no use. Ideally, you will send it to someone who may actually appreciate its value.

We have an organized pecking order of gifts in our house, to prevent gifts being re-gifted back to the original giver.  For example, work gifts go to family, family gifts to work, and friends’ gifts go to family. Hopefully, those groups don’t meet too often.

There are several charitable organizations who would gladly receive your unwanted items. Occasionally, there are institutions that will pick up your items.  Check your local area for groups and details.

Hang onto Them
What if the giver asks about the gift the next time you see them? Most of the time, the giver will not ask you because they themselves have forgotten what they gave you.

If you have someone who had specifically chosen something very special for you and gives you moon-eyes when they give it to you, listen to your heart. “If I say something, will this person’s feelings be hurt?”  If the answer is yes, you may have to be creative with the item. Clothing can be made into pillows or quilts; vases, cups, plates or artwork can be interesting garden d├ęcor, or simply hang onto it for a couple of years until the giver him or herself has ceased to ask about it.
Be Kind to Children
Gifts from children should always be publicly treasured because by showing appreciation, we encourage empathy and kindness in them for others.  If you must drum up the emotion to convey your appreciation, then do so.

Most adults should be able to handle these tactful responses.
“This is very lovely. However, it’s simply not a color (or size or shape) I find very flattering on me. Would you mind if I exchanged it?”

“How thoughtful of you to think of me! I will have to save this for a special occasion.”
Otherwise, there’s very little you can do, unless you are choosing to deliberately be unkind.  And in that case, your awful gift is well-deserved.


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