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Do I Tell Them I Didn’t Like the Gift? Gift Etiquette Advice

gift etiquette
“You shouldn’t have. No really, I mean it.”

It’s the season of gift giving, and you’re bound to get something you don’t like or won’t use. The question is, what to do with gifts you don’t want? What is the proper gift etiquette?

Do you tell your friends and family, and graciously exchange the gift for something else. Or do you suck it up and use it? Or do you hide the gift, bringing it out when the gift giver visits? Or do you re-gift to someone who might enjoy it more, or someone you simply don’t like? It’s good to have so many options.

In my family, my parents ask what I want and then tell me that no, they are not buying me that. Then they buy me whatever they want to. When I don’t like it, they tell me I’m hard to buy for. I’m assuming your family is less crazy.

In your perfect world perhaps your friends and family ask you want you want (ala Santa) and get you what you want. In my perfect world you make agreements when giving gifts that it’s ok (or not ok) to exchange the gift for something else. Either way is ok, but set the expectation in advance so you don’t insult anyone or hurt his feelings.

If you read my blog regularly or read my book, you know I’m all about setting expectations before challenges occur. It’s so much easier to ask for what you want than correct a violated expectation.

Gift Etiquette Advice:

Telling your mom, “Thank you in advance for whatever you buy me for the holiday. You really don’t have to get me anything. But if you do, and I don’t like it, how do you want me to handle it?” is a nice way to prevent hurting your mom’s feelings.

Or having a discussion as a family that sounds something like, “Let’s make a deal. We want everyone to enjoy the gifts they get. If anyone gets something they don’t like, they have permission to tell the person and ask to exchange it. No hurt feelings.”

You know your family better than anyone. If admitting you don’t like a gift will be insulting or land you on the receive-no-gift for life list, hold your tongue and re-gift, or wear the reindeer sweater. Pick your battles. And if you can return gifts on the sly, without having to tell anyone, all the better.

Either way, enjoy your time with family and friends. Eat too much food. Watch bad tv. And have a wonderful holiday!  I’ll look forward to seeing you in 2013.

About 

Shari Harley is the founder and President of Candid Culture, a Denver-based training firm that is bringing candor back to the workplace, making it easier to give feedback at work. Shari is the author of the business communication book How to Say Anything to Anyone: A Guide to Building Business Relationships that Really Work. She is a keynote speaker at conferences and does training throughout the U.S. Learn more about Shari Harley and Candid Culture’s training programs at www.candidculture.com.

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