Ghastly Gifts and Cracking Christmas Comebacks
How to deal with unwelcome Christmas presents
You know the situation – you are sat there on Christmas day with relatives you haven’t seen all year and it’s time to exchange presents.
You had absolutely no idea what to get your 18-year-old niece and your 16-year-old nephew who have spent most of the time since they arrived texting their friends.
You open your own present from your brother-in-law and it’s the most ghastly jumper you have seen in your life (reminiscent of the hand-knitted reindeer faced work of art Mr D’Arcy is sporting in the film “Bridget Jones’s Diary”).
What do you say to him as you tentatively ease back the paper, trying to look enthusiastic whilst bracing yourself for the worst?
And what about that lovely potpouri fragrance “eau de toilet-cleaner”? Or those chocolates in a box that clearly cost 20 times what the chocolates themselves cost? Or the DVD of a film you wouldn’t go to see if you were paid? Or the DVD of the film you already have the “Director’s Cut Boxed Set” of?
Preparation is the key
Let’s face it; you know that the presents are going to be ghastly, because they were last year and the year before. So this is not a surprise.
First, you need to work out your objective
1. Ensure we enjoy Christmas day
2. Ensure we are still on speaking terms with our relatives by the end of Christmas day
3. Ensure we get presents we really want next year
Option 1: Ensure we enjoy Christmas day
If this is your objective consider holding a secret sweep stake on what your presents are going to be or having a competition amongst you and your family on who is going to get the worst present. You could even design some kind of voting system and have a big prize for the worst one.
This would mean that, instead of being disappointed when you exposed a truly awful gift to the world, you would be pleased because your chances of winning the prize had just increased.
Option 2: Ensure we are still on speaking terms with our relatives by the end of Christmas day
In this case it may be that you prepare some platitudes ready for when your eyes first fall on that offensive pair of socks.
“I saw some of these in a shop window but it was closed so I wasn’t able to buy them.”
“I’ll add this to my collection.”
“I didn’t know they made these any more.”
“You must have gone to a great deal of effort to get this.”
“I don’t know how you always think of such unusual presents.”
“I hope you didn’t spend too much on this.”
If you have any favourite responses you’d like to share, please do add them in the comments box for any desperate readers to use.
Option 3: Ensure we get presents we like next year
This is by far the trickiest option. And as I have often said, sometimes it’s OK to set goals and objectives that may not be achievable. Because if you don’t even aim for what you really want you will never get it.
First you need to think of something that your relative would find easy to get right.
For example an iTunes token a present a purchaser could hardly get wrong and enables you to choose what you like. Or perhaps a book by a specific author, or a hamper from a particular supplier.
The key is to think of something that you wouldn’t mind and is easy to get.
Many relatives ask each other for ideas on presents for their aunts, uncles, parents and children. So you need to seed the ideas in at an early stage and be clear about what you would like.
It may be you can also refer to things you are hoping for during the day, but that might be a bit risky if you have had a truly awful present.
Though having said that, if the present is really bad then the giver may be quite thick-skinned and insensitive. Don’t count on it though.
How to offend your aged aunt
We had an aged aunt who specialised in giving pink glittery cards for Christmas and birthdays (not my style). I always did my best to find similar cards to send her. One year I forgot to get her card and so we were forced to send one of our normal cards that we sent to our friends.
She was horrified and we had an angry phone call in which she admonished us, saying (and this is word for word): “I bet you wouldn’t send your friends a card like this.”
Which leads me to my last tip.
What to do with the unwanted presents
People very often give you things they themselves like. So you can simply put the present to one side till next Christmas and then wrap it up for them. If they do realised it is identical to the one they gave you, you then (crossing your fingers firmly) say that you liked it so much you felt sure they would like one too and explain the huge lengths you went to to find it.
Have a wonderful break, I’m sure you deserve it, and a very happy and prosperous new year.
For more help with difficult relatives (and friends) go here.
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