Tis the season…but amidst the magic of the holidays, dealing with unwanted gifts can be emotionally stressful and awkward.
On the giving side, we may feel offended if we don’t see our gift being used or enjoyed the way we pictured it in our mind’s eye.
On the receiving end, we don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings when the gift doesn’t sync with our taste.
Giving the perfect gift is no small feat, and apparently quite a few of us are missing the mark. A survey suggested that last year Britons spent nearly £2.4 billion on unwanted gifts.
The purpose of giving is to bring joy to both parties, not added stress and angst. So how do we cope? A change in mindset can be helpful when it comes to giving and receiving, which will alleviate stress and minimise uncomfortable situations.
1. Focus on the gesture, not the object. Remember, a gift is something given voluntarily to show favor to someone or to honor an occasion. Often we place the focus and associations on the object. Keep the focus first and foremost on the thoughtfulness of the giver’s gesture, whether you are giving or receiving.
2. Once you have given your gift, it belongs to the recipient. You may think you found the perfect treasure, but do not be disheartened if the item doesn’t take a prominent position in the recipient’s home. Tastes are different and not always evident. It really is the thought that counts and the recipient is free to do with the gift as they wish.
3. When you receive a gift, accept it in the spirit in which it was given. Remember, a gift is offered freely. There is no obligation to the item once it is yours, and it is up to you whether you keep or discard it.
4. Consider service- or experience-based gifts. An onslaught of gifts can clutter our physical space. A service- or experience-based gift offers the recipient an experience they can enjoy, without accumulating extra clutter. It could be tickets to a cultural event, a fun instructional workshop, a spa treatment etc. Just be mindful to match the activity to the person. Someone fearful of heights may not appreciate a voucher for skydiving.
5. Avoid gifts that require specific personal tastes, such as music or fragrances. These can be tricky and best left to the individual, unless you already know their preferences beyond a shadow of a doubt.
6. Yes, it is perfectly fine to regift or donate. Some may feel this is inappropriate, but there is no point hanging onto something that won’t be used or loved. Relinquish any feelings of guilt and pass the unwanted gift along to someone who will absolutely adore it. Again, focus on the sentiment, not the object.
*Note: If you put a gift in your ‘gift box’ or ‘gift drawer’ to re-gift later, be sure to tag the item with the name of the person who gave it to you so you won’t re-gift it back to them.
7. Give and receive enthusiastically. When giving a gift, don’t weigh it down with a load of excuses. Rather present it with both hands and a big smile, and say something simple like: “I hope you’ll enjoy it”. Likewise when receiving a gift, also accept it with both hands and a big smile. Say thank you and express your appreciation.
Enjoy the essence of giving and receiving this holiday season!