Accepting Gifts Gratefully This Holiday Season

Learn to accept gifts gratefully, whether you like it (or not!).

Are you an awkward gift receiver? Does the thought of not having an enthusiastic-enough reaction give you anxiety? This holiday season, before the gift-giving begins, take a moment to breathe. Gift-giving and receiving doesn’t have to be a stressful process; read on for some tips to keep in mind when accepting gifts gratefully.

(PS, if you’re still looking to give the perfect gift, check out our Holiday Gift Guide 2021)

I think we’ve all been there, at least once:

“Oh, you shouldn’t have! No, you really shouldn’t have!”

“I don’t deserve this. You didn’t need to go through all the trouble.”

“Thank you! But I didn’t get you anything, I’m so sorry.”

These cringe-worthy scenarios can crop up when you least expect them. Maybe it’s a coworker that gets you something when you don’t normally exchange gifts. Maybe it’s a family member who went way above and beyond the price limit, and now you’re feeling guilty. Or, the gift is something so out there, you might be thinking: does this person know me at all?

What can be a tricky social situation is easily navigated by remembering a few basic tips and etiquette. Instead of going for the over-the-top Meryl Streep performance, try these approaches instead:

Accept the gift.

Take a moment to pause, look the gift-giver in the eye, and say thank you. Plain and simple. It’s more important to say thank you for the sentiment behind the gift, than the actual gift itself. By definition, ‘thank you’ doesn’t mean you like, or even love the gift – it just acknowledges that you have noticed someone has done something kind for you.

Recognize the meaning behind the gift.

In addition to saying a meaningful thank you, take a minute to explain why this particular gift was a good fit for you. This acknowledges their generosity, and the time they put in picking out something they thought you’d love.

Acknowledge the gift’s integration into your life.

If you have received a gift that really hits the mark, let the gift giver know! If the item will force you to take time for yourself, something you rarely get, it’s especially meaningful for the giver to know just how much this means to you. It lets them know how much you appreciate the time and effort they put in.

But what if you just plain don’t like something? Graciously accepting gifts that you’re unsure about has its own challenges, but the same rules still apply. Accept the gift by saying thank you, find one positive feature of the gift to mention, and leave it at that. Even if it’s something that’s a total miss, you can give the gift of a genuine ‘thank you’ and move on graciously.

The holidays are never perfect, and neither is every gift you may open. However, being open to accepting this imperfection and focusing on gratitude can help you relax and enjoy the experience more. Have a safe, happy, and healthy holiday!