Holiday time can feel really high stakes when you’re in a relationship. And one of the elements that makes the month of December feel like a romantic pressure cooker is gifting. For some people, gifts are really important. For example, gifts are crucial to me because they’re one of my two main love languages. But other people really don’t think about gifts that much. Then you add in pricing and thoughtfulness and the element of surprise and you have a whole lot of complicating factors that can add up to either a really great gifting experience or a completely crummy one. And just about every girlfriend of mine has been on the receiving end of a really awful gift from a boyfriend or husband. So, I have a lot of experience with advising on how to handle terrible gifts. Here’s what I’ve learned over the years.
Feel your feelings
First things first, you’re allowed to feel however you feel about your gift. If you have big feelings that manifest in crying or yelling or kicking a wall, I’d recommend trying to do those in private, away from your boo. But, don’t feel bad for feeling bad over a bad gift. You’re entitled to it, lady! It’s just a natural reaction.
Highlight the positive
Next up, you need to talk to your boo about your gift. Start the conversation by pointing out what’s great about the gift. If it’s a truly awful gift, maybe it’s just the wrapping that you can be positive about. Or the time he spent shopping for it. Or the fact that he really did surprise you. No matter how terrible this present is, your boo didn’t get it to terrorize you. (And if he did, that’s a whole other post!) So, find something to be nice about when you bring up your feelings on the gift.
Now you need to focus on what was wrong about the gift. Is it deeply insensitive? Impersonal? Too expensive for your shared finances? Clearly bought by his mother? Explain exactly why you find the gift so terrible and hurtful. This is going to be sticky, but if you don’t want this to happen holiday after holiday, it’s a necessary evil.
Keep it private
Don’t put your boo on blast for messing up your holiday gift. It’s so tacky when a woman shames her man for trying to do something nice or even pokes fun at him with her girlfriends. Like I said above, he didn’t do this on purpose. Don’t make him suffer for attempting to do a good thing and messing it up.
Be specific next time
As romantic as surprises are, the truth is they typically don’t go that smoothly. Take your holiday gift for example. Tell your man what you want next time. Don’t leave clues or hint at it in conversation. Fully tell him exactly what you want. A link to purchase in his inbox is the best. This will make your next gifting experience completely painless and it can still be romantic. Just because your man can’t read your mind and needs you to tell him what you want doesn’t mean that there’s no romance in your relationship. The fact that he gets you what you want once he knows what it is can be considered romantic in its own way.
Happy holidays and here’s to hoping your gift is returnable!