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Receiving the gift I didn't want ... with grace

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Every year we get them: ties, bracelets, books, ice cream makers, and other gifts that cause us to wonder what the giver was thinking when they sent them to us. Whether you feign excitement or casually put them down and change the subject, it feels awkward to the giver as well as the receiver when a gift isn't well received.

Children are especially sensitive as to how their gift is received, so parents should take special care with their response to receiving a gift from a child as well as choosing a gift for your child to give to a teacher.

Gifts are representative of our feeling for another person. A well thought out gift says I know you, I know what you will like, and I have taken time to look for something that would please you. It doesn't mean that the gift you give will always be received with the delight intended, nor does it mean that when you receive a gift you will feel special by the giver's choice in what would please you.

If you have given a gift that you believe isn't well received the best thing you can say is that there is a gift receipt in the box and they are free to return it. This allows the person to have a choice as to whether they keep the gift or not, and it also gives them the freedom to feel excited about searching for something else if they didn't like what you chose. Knowing you gave them a choice can also help prevent the awkwardness you may feel if you sense they don't like it.

There is etiquette for accepting gifts. Your mindset and attitude is everything. The first thing to remember is you were given a gift. They didn't have to give you anything. Secondly, receiving a gift means they spent time thinking about you, and making a purchase. Even in the event you were second hand gifted, they took the time to think about you, so be grateful for the thought. Thirdly, they won't know if you keep the gift, but they will remember your graciousness during the exchange. You can donate the gift or gift it to someone else later, but this should never be voiced aloud. Lastly, when someone gives you a gift, and you haven't gotten them anything, there is no need to put them on your list and gift them back. In fact, most people are uncomfortable receiving a gift just because they were given a gift. Telling the person who gave you a gift a sincere thank you and telling them how their thoughtfulness surprised and delighted you is a gift for the giver.

The holidays bring us all together and these moments are to be cherished. It is surprising how gifts can offend as well as delight people, and the influence they can have in a relationship. If you receive a gift, it doesn't matter what it is, or how much money you may feel they may have wasted on something you will never use, it is wise to accept the gift with love and appreciate the fact that someone thought enough of you to wrap something up and give it to you. Have a very happy holiday and remember it is not the stuff that makes us happy!

– Mary Jo Rapini

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