Today’s post is about thanking for gifts, and how to get out of some tricky situations without ruining your relationship.
Please do not take this post as a complete step-by-step guide, because frankly, it’s not. Gifts are highly individual, and circumstances differ a lot (and I’m not even going into cultural differences here).
The only rule you have to follow as a recipient is to show your emotions. I love giving gifts to children, because it’s such a rewarding experience –kids are like bursting bubbles of highly contagious happiness (think Christmas morning in any big household).
Okay, we are adults now, and the generally accepted norms dictate that we can’t jump around, just because we’ve been given a PlayStation (what a shame, in my opinion!). Still, people need to feel acknowledged for their efforts. Always try to find some kind words, give them a hug, and express genuine gratitude for such a pleasant surprise. Don’t assume they just know you are grateful, because deep down they are worried whether they got it right.
This naturally leads to the question “What if they got it WRONG? Do I just say everything that’s on my mind?” In short, yes (yep, really!), but with a few caveats.
Firstly, let me tell you what happens, if you fake it. The person would leave happily unaware that he or she made a mistake (that’s if you are a very good liar, normally they would still sense something’s off). You might end up thinking they just don’t know you that well or don’t care enough about you to get it right. The more you think about it, the more distant you might become. The tragedy of all this – that person is totally unaware of all these thoughts in your head, feeling unidentified pressure and becoming more distant him/herself. It can go on, and on, and on (I’ve seen it first hand), and could end up stupidly bad.
So, how about you educate them instead? No need for dramatic explanations – if you know you are about to go too far, give it a day or two to calm yourself. Don’t be afraid to suggest exchanging the gift for something you’d really like, and go together to select it. Yes, this would likely upset them a bit, be ready, but without mistakes there’s no learning. In your conversation, focus on their effort and how you appreciate the thought behind it; ultimately, the subject is more important than the object.
What do you do with gifts, arriving by post? Simple – always thank that person in writing (or give them a call, texts and social platforms aren’t great for this sort of stuff); it mainly acts as acknowledgement of receipt, if nothing else.
Do you need to buy a gift in return, even if you originally didn’t plan it but received a gift from someone? I would, but unless it’s a genuine mistake on your part (like forgetting a distant relative), stick to the usual thank you gifts like wine and chocolates. However, it is perfectly normal to simply send a thank you card.
Have I missed anything important? Please let me know, and I will try my best to cover it in the next post.