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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.


  • Step 1: 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 2: Received a totally inappropriate Christmas gift? Act graciously if the gift-giver had good intentions. On second thought, 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.
  • FACT: Aunts are the worst Christmas gift givers, according to a survey.
  • Step 3: 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.
  • TIP: If you're the one who's been stiffed, divert attention to someone or something else as soon as possible.
  • TIP: If you don't care about the inequality, say thanks and leave it at that -- making a fuss will only underscore the disparity.
  • Step 4: 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 5: 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 6: 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.

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