6 Ways to Avoid Awkward Gift Giving Moments

Gift giving can be awkward AF.

Odds are, you’re going to have at least one awkward gift giving moment this holiday season. And while rum and eggnog may help ease the situation, most people need all the help they can get when such moments arise.

Here are 6 ways to avoid those awkward gift giving moments.


Have A Stockpile Of “Just-In-Case” Gifts
It’s never a fun moment when someone hands you a gift and you don’t have one in exchange. If you meet at a place other than your home, you can blame your empty handedness on forgetting the gift at your front door in a hurry. Just make sure you have it in hand next time you see the person. In general, this problem (and the subsequent white lie) can be avoided by having a small collection of thoughtful but generic presents packaged and ready to go at home or in your car. Of course, you could always be honest, express your appreciation, but say that you’re embarrassed you didn’t have the time (not the intention) to get them something.

Don’t Make It Any More Awkward If They Didn’t Get You Anything
In the reverse situation, the other person is going to feel awkward (especially if they don’t have a stash of emergency gifts like you do), so don’t make them feel worse. Say something like “I didn’t think we were exchanging gifts but I got you something anyway because it reminded me of you,” or “it’s no big deal, to be honest, there was a sale and I know you love it.” Don’t make them feel like their gift was an after thought, but also make sure they know it wasn’t a big production either. Change the subject quickly to anything other than the gift; you don’t want any awkwardness to linger and ruin the mood or the holiday dinner.

Be Gracious No Matter What
Nobody wants Christmas brunch ending in hurt feelings over presents gone wrong. If you open something and absolutely hate it, don’t let the giver know right away. That way the rest of Christmas Day isn’t ruined. Take a few moments to take in the gift, make a comment (“ohhh, I saw these online the other day”) and sincerely thank them. Never forget the genuine smile and thank you. Later on, you can either tell them that you’ve given it some thought and the item doesn’t work with others in your closet, you have something similar already, etc. Or, don’t tell them anything, grab your gift receipt and go on your merry way to buy something you want.

Consider the Receiver’s Values
The last thing anyone needs on Christmas Day are offended people at the dinner table thanks to an inappropriate gift. Yet, it still happens. So if you’ve drawn a distant family member’s name in a secret Santa, consider the receiver’s views and values and play it safe. Your great aunt may not share the same appreciation for Cards Against Humanity as you do.

If You’re Offended, Try to Shake it Off
It’s probably easier to be the giver of an inappropriate gift than the receiver. The inappropriate gift is even more awkward when all eyes are on you. With that said, don’t expect that those around you will automatically see the inappropriateness in the gift the way that you do. If you actually find the gift offensive (as opposed to the product of an innocent but absent-minded decision), it’s probably wise to tell the giver…just not at that moment. Don’t let it ruin the festivities by lamenting about it. Eat, drink, and be merry instead. 

Manage Your Expectations
In terms of presents, remember that you will never be disappointed if you don’t have any expectations. Remember that the whole reason people give gifts is to show appreciation or express affection for the recipient. As cliché as it is, it is the thought that counts. Even so, always include a gift receipt.

Happy Holidays!