The older you get, the more discerning your tastes, the harder it is for friends and relatives to buy for you. It’s not their fault. There’s a good chance they don’t like your gift either. Circle of life. But still, we’re running a civilization here, and as part of the social contract, we’re bound to make a convincing case that we’re psyched about anything we’re given. During the holiday season, all polite society is based on it.
Which is why we’ve prepared this step-by-step guide to expertly pretending to love any and all gifts that come your way.
Let’s take it as a given that at some point you’ll get something not so great from a well-meaning loved one. Maybe it’s someone who decided to get creative and go off-menu for Secret Santa. Maybe someone you didn’t expect something from. Maybe just someone really lazy. The circumstances change nothing on your end. You need to craft a general stock response for this situation, in advance. Something that becomes second nature. Keep it simple, and don’t overdo it.
“Thank you so much, that’s so sweet.”
“Oh, wow, so nice of you.”
“Aw, you’re the best.”
“This is exactly what I wanted!”
“This is soooo cool!”
“Uh... oh... a [whatever the gift is]. Thanks.”
2. Milk the card-opening part.
If you’re blanking on your stock response, read that card slowly. Don’t assume what’s in that bag or wrapping paper is going to be exciting. Let your appreciation at the effort and the heartfelt sentiments put into the card fill your heart. Channel that appreciation. Use it.
3. Do not look the giver in the eye until you’ve (quickly) processed your discomfort.
If you look up at them right away, they’re going to see the knee-jerk disappointment on your face. Keep your eyes on the gift, compose yourself, then look up and sell it.
4. Hold the gift for a few minutes.
Close your eyes and imagine yourself opening the gift from the giver’s perspective. You open it, you brusquely thank them, and you immediately put the gift on the nearest table or the ground. Not pretty, is it? Keep it in your hands until someone else does something else.
5. Emphasize the gratitude aspect.
This is where you can be genuine. You may not like a gift, but if you can’t sincerely be happy and touched that someone even bothered to take the time to pick something out for you, you’re an asshole, and we can’t help you. Say thank you. Mean it.
And remember, they’ll go through the same thing with your gift.