No matter your age, there is nothing like unwrapping presents on Christmas morning. But picture the scene: instead of unwrapping the gift to find the present you have been longing for, you are given something completely random, with no sentimental value whatsoever. And that’s from your partner.
As much as Christmas isn’t about receiving gifts, it can be bitterly disappointing to get landed with a bad present on Christmas when you’ve put plenty of thought into yours.
“Receiving an unwanted present makes us feel bad because of what it says about our relationship with the giver,” says psychologist Professor Karen Pine.
Build My Gift surveyed 1,000 British adults in November 2017 and asked them what the worst gift is they’ve ever received. Some responded by saying they have actually been given condoms and pineapples as presents.
“An unthoughtful present, such as screen wash for the car, a half-used gift voucher or sanitary towels, which were all survey answers, can call a special relationship into question.”
Professor Pine adds: “Giving a gift sends two important messages; how much value is placed on the relationship and how well the giver knows the receiver.”
So if you are left a little disappointed at what you partner gives you, Professor Pine shares her top tips so you can grin and bear it when you receive that screen wash.
Focus on their kindness and good intentions. Repeat to yourself, ‘it’s the thought that counts’. This will help to over-ride your disappointment and prevent it from being obvious.
Hold on to it. Feel it. Inspect it closely. Take your time and find something positive to comment on, such as the colour, packaging or smell.
Yes, you want to hide it because you can’t stand the sight of it. But instead, deliberately keep it in view, or display it. This will send positive signals to the giver.
Forget about the bad gift – instead think happy thoughts about something you love, relax and let your face genuinely light up.
Holding it aloft, like a trophy, will send the message that you think you’ve struck gift-gold – and nobody else will guess the truth.
Look at the giver in the eye when you say “thank you”. And look at the gift too, even if it does offend you. Repeat the look, from giver to gift and back, three times.
If you suspect a bad gift lurks inside, spend time gushing over the wrapping. It’s a long shot, but this might help you to work up some enthusiasm for the disappointment that’s to come.