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How to Handle an Ugly Gift

Accept (and Redistribute) Presents with Grace

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Did your mother-in-law give you an incredibly ugly sweater? Or a co-worker gift you with a hideous pair of earrings? We've all been stuck with gifts that weren't our taste and wondered what to do with them.

Regardless of how you choose to handle the ugly gift, remember that taste is highly subjective and the giver probably thought the orange metallic handbag was just fabulous when it was purchased. If you keep that in mind, you can handle even the most heinous fashion gifts with ease.

Here are a few suggestions for dealing with clothing and accessories that don't match your taste:

  • Thank the giver for the gift, whether you love it or not. The real gift is the that the giver spent time and money thinking about you (however bad their taste).
  • If the ugly gift is clothing, you can always say it doesn't fit just right (which isn't a lie, almost nothing fits perfectly without alterations). It's perfectly acceptable to ask for a receipt to exchange the clothing for something else based on fit.
  • Who is the gift from? If children or grandparents give you something that doesn't exactly fit your style, the sentimental value of the gift alone makes it worth keeping. It won't kill you to don that teddy bear sweatshirt once in a while to keep your kids happy.
  • If you receive a gift you hate from someone who doesn't live nearby, you can always ask them "Wow, where did you get this purple patchwork sweater?" If they tell you the name of the store and it's nearby, you can try to exchange it for something you like since it's unlikely they'll ever see you wear it.
  • Don't regift the ugly item. That just makes things worse because you are giving something you don't like to someone you do. If you want to redistribute the ugly gift, give it to charity.
  • Remember that no matter how you ask to return or exchange the ugly gift (even if you use a valid excuse like fit) you'll shake the gift-giver's confidence. The person who bought the gift thought he or she made a good choice, only to discover it wasn't right. Is it really worth the trouble and hurt feelings just because hot pink isn't your best color?
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