How to Handle Awkward Christmas Gift Moments

The holidays can be a minefield when it comes to exchanging Christmas gifts. Here's how to finesse some of the season's most embarrassing situations.

You will need

  • Composure
  • Cover story
  • Graciousness

Step 1 Deal with a cost disparity Don’t panic if you receive a Christmas gift that’s far nicer than the one you gave. Tell them the gift they opened is just a token — their “main” present hasn’t arrived yet, or you’re taking them to an upcoming event.

Step 2 Downplay a too-generous gift Vice-versa, don’t despair if you spend more. Just say the gift was a great deal to make the other person feel at ease.

Step 3 Cover up empty-handedness Should you receive an unexpected gift, don’t tell the giver that you left their gift at home, a ruse that fools no one. Thank them graciously and say no more. And resist the urge to turn up with a belated gift later on; it will only dredge up the embarrassing moment for both of you.

Step 4 Get caught recycling If you get caught recycling a Christmas gift or trying to pass off a freebie, cop to your mistake and laugh it off. There’s really not much else you can do — and besides, you deserve your shame.

Step 5 Open a gift you hate If you open a gift you hate, don’t overcompensate with effusive gratitude. That’s what many people do, but fake enthusiasm will actually betray your real feelings. Keep it simple with a “Thanks! It’s great!”

Step 6 Receive an inappropriate gift Received a totally inappropriate Christmas gift? Act graciously if the gift-giver had good intentions. On second though, be gracious even if the gift is completely thoughtless, blatantly recycled, or insultingly cheap. Christmas is no time to be petty; there’s a whole new year ahead for that.