Monday, December 7, 2009

How To Handle Gifts You Don't Like

Sometimes I take risks when giving gifts. These "risks" are either perfect or awful. For example, my husband is an awesome ice hockey player & loves skating & rollerblading. We were at the airport a few years back & we saw kids flying around on heelies & he said "I want those! How fun would the grocery store be with those?" I thought, "That would be amazing!" So a couple of months later I surprised him with an adult pair for his birthday. hahahahhaha i can't even not laugh when thinking about how bad it was.

He looked at me like "What the-?" before proceeding to try them on & tell me he'd been kidding about heelies. And then he attempted to "skate" in them. In the kitchen. And he fell. HARD. a couple of times. It was bad. I mean hysterical, but bad. I returned them the next day.

You win some, you lose some. I tried. It happens to the best of us.

SO, this brings me to: what do you do when you GET a gift you don't like? A reader emailed me with this question specifially asking about home decor items.

When I get a decorative accessory of some sort that I really don't like, I thank the person for their gift & am very appreciative of it. I then take it home & hide it somewhere in my house for a while. What happens when they come over the next time? Do I take it out & display it so they think I love it? Nope. I'm not that sweet. I eventually exchange or donate it.

This may sound harsh, but I'm also not flying a sign that asks for more decorative gifts either. As tempting as it is to display items that you hate when people come over, I don't think it's the best idea because then they think you love what they got you and they WILL BUY YOU MORE.

I remember hearing a story about a bride at her bridal shower who received something she couldn't stand. I think it was something like a fruit salt shaker set?? And she said something like, "I love it!!!" and went on about how fake food was so cute. And from that point on, people thought she was into porcelain food & started giving it to her at every occasion. Soon she had a whole collection displayed in her home out of guilt & I don't know how many years it went on like this until she had to tell the truth. Let that be a lesson. WOW

I'm always genuinely thankful & appreciative when I receive something, because the person giving it to me put time & energy & money into their gift, but I don't think that means I need to hang it in my house. I appreciate the gift & the thought, but I am way too picky about my home to display things I don't love. I would never want to hurt anyone's feelings but I don't think it's something that's very fair to be hurt about either.

As a gift-giver, I want the person I give a gift to to really like what I've given them. And if they don't, I want them to exchange it and/ or give it away. I would feel terrible if they displayed something in their home that they didn't like just to please me. Because that's not what the gift-giving is about: It's about pleasing the receiver, not about you as the giver. (Can you imagine poor Dave trying to learn to use his heelies & wearing them all the time just to please me & make me feel like he loved my gift??) It's just not a fair thing to expect of gift-receivers and if a person expects to see their gifts displayed around your house when they come over then I would say they're giving you the gifts for themselves as well as for you. (Of course it feels good to give a gift but that isn't why we give.)

You wouldn't wear something that didn't fit you right just because it was a gift, would you?
Well, I say the same goes for something in your home. If it doesn't "fit right" you shouldn't feel guilty about not displaying it.

And, now I have to admit that it's been a VERY long time since I've received a gift I didn't like. It seems my family & friends have caught on to how defined my tastes are and may even slightly FEAR buying me decorative accessories. (eeek!) But seriously, in the past few years, the people around me have learned how picky I am about something that's going to go on my wall or a table top or a shelf. I've been up front in conversations explaining how I am & I think they've also worked really hard to find things they know I'd love. (For example, my aunt just gave us this HUGE awesome scary guy doorknocker & I LOVE it!!)

My mother-in-law is awesome about decorative accessory-type gifts. She's a realtor & is always coming across things at house sales & buying them because they're great deals. If she thinks I might want something, she shows it to me & asks if I want it. There is no pressure here & love this! And, since she knows I'm comfortable telling her that I don't want something, if I do take something from her, then she knows I really love it. It's a win-win for both of us.

**And a quick note to any friends or family who might find a gift of theirs stashed in a closet somewhere in my house: it doesn't mean I don't love it, remember how I switch out my things all the time? It's probably just off-season ;)**

So, my advice is to be vocal about your tastes so you can help others avoid giving you something you won't like. (This may sound selfish but I honestly think people are happier when you love their gifts... and it's so much less awkward when opening them! ;) And when you get something you really love, don't be shy about telling the giver how great it is & why you like it so much. And, if you do get something you don't like, of course be gracious & appreciative of the thought but don't fall into the trap of displaying things you don't like... or you will get more.


ps- to any friends or family members: If you checked the closets & the storage room & your gift is still nowhere to be found.... uhhhhhh ;) ;) ;) love yas!