A new survey discovered what we’ve known since our middle school boyfriend bought us an ugly-as-fuck but well-intentioned heart bracelet: despite their most focused efforts, the majority of men suck at picking out presents. According to research done by StyleCard, this year, about 42 percent of women are stuck with a holiday gift from their S.O. that they don’t want. Ladies, we feel your pain.
We’re too old to wear a silver-plated heart bracelet that we hate, but the problem remains: How do you get rid of the unwanted gift without crushing his spirit? About 17 percent of the women surveyed said they will donate their unwanted gift to charity, 13 percent will put it in the regift pile, 10 percent will throw the sucker away and the remaining 10 percent will try to sell it on eBay or Craigslist. Discreetly, we hope. Because hello, HIS FEELINGS. Here are some tips for returning those ill-fitting paisley print gloves he bought you without starting a huge fight…
DO be grateful for the gesture. Even if he got you The World’s Worst Gift (A vacuum? Really, dude?), all gifts require a bit of thought and effort and money and deserve some positive acknowledgement. He might have failed spectacularly, but hey, he tried (at least a little).
DON’T lie when confronted. The worst case scenario after returning a gift on the down low? Your BF asking, “Hey, where’s that necklace I bought you?” It might be tempting to make up an elaborate story about how it was snatched off your neck by an angry raven, but once you’ve lied once, you’ll probably have to lie again, plus, he might feel bad for you and buy you a replacement terrible necklace. Just be honest. Kind, but honest.
DO be subtle about your return plans. No need to rub his face in the fact that you’re headed to Macy’s to swap out the faux leather gloves he gave you for a pair of real leather ones in your size. Just pop it in the trunk on your way to run other errands and don’t make a big deal about it.
DON’T exchange his gift for something completely different. At least get yourself something in the same category to honor his general idea. For example, if he bought you a hideous purse, buy yourself a cuter purse, don’t buy yourself a scarf.
DO bend the truth a bit to spare his feelings. Returning a gift is one situation where it’s totally fine to bend the truth about your intentions. Maybe you hated the orange, zebra-print skirt he bought you because, umm, hello, it’s orange zebra print — it’s OK to tell him you are returning it because you “didn’t like the way it pulls across your hips.” Or maybe “it just doesn’t mesh with the rest of my wardrobe.” Be gentle, even if that includes a little fibbing.
DON’T forget the positive reinforcement. When he does get you something you like — even if it’s something SO obvious, like a book you explicitly asked for — don’t skimp on the praise. Lay it on thick and let him know how much you love the book and why it’s exactly what you wanted. Positive reinforcement will beget positive future gift buying.
DO allow for some wiggle room. If he got the gloves you wanted, in the size you needed, but in the wrong color, you probably want to find it in your heart to keep them, love them and wear them all the time. Because, let’s be honest, he hit close enough to the bullseye for you to compromise a little. After all, you love him because you love him, not because he bought you a pair of gloves. Let your love for him outweigh the fact that you wanted brown instead of black.
DON’T leave him guessing next year. You know he’s crap at picking out gifts — so, send the guy some assistance in the future. Have a friend or sibling tell him what you really want or drop not-so-subtle hints come holiday time about those amazing riding boots you are coveting and your exact shoe size.