Skip to main content Skip to header navigation

How to Handle a Terrible Gift From Your Partner

We’re heading into prime gift-giving season. It’s fun looking forward to giving and receiving gifts, especially when it comes to your significant other. But what if your partner — the one who is suppose to know you so well — gets you a gift you absolutely hate? True, “it’s the thought that counts.” But while you keep telling yourself that, here are eight other common bad-gift scenarios and how to handle them.

1. It’s something you need instead of something you want

You both know you need a new vacuum or a slow cooker, but all you think when you open the gift is “he/she thinks I’m messy” and “they want me to cook more.”

How to handle:

Don’t take it personally. Chris Armstrong, a certified relationship coach, advises people to respond by being thankful, playful and clear. “Thanks, babe. Next time, I’ll make sure to only put things on the list that I want.” *Wink* *Smile* *Hug* They should feel your appreciation while also understanding where you’re coming from. This is really a matter of your partner being overly practical, but it’s no reason to overreact.”

More: 24 Romantic Date Ideas That Go Far Beyond the Typical Dinner & a Movie

2. If you didn’t know better, you’d think the gift came from the dollar store

You were expecting a new pair of Ray Bans and instead got sunglasses that look like they were bought on the street. There’s nothing like high and sometimes unreasonable expectations to bring about disappointment.

How to handle:

If you feel the gift was cheap, especially compared to what you were expecting or got them, don’t criticize or question how much they spent. “To start, keep your expectations low. If you and your partner are young or just starting out in the world and your financial situation is not great, just focus on the fact that they gave you a gift, and let them know you appreciated the fact that they took the time,” explains Dr. Gary Brown, a licensed psychotherapist based in Los Angeles.

3. You got everything except what you said you wanted

It looks like they spent hundreds of dollars on clothes and gifts for you, but all you really wanted were new running sneakers… which you also told them about dozens of times.

How to handle:

Again, Brown says not to be cruel if you didn’t get what you wanted.  “That will say more about your lack of graciousness, and in particular if the person giving the gift spent more time and energy trying to pick out special gifts for you.” You’re better off buying them yourself than getting into a fight about it.

More: 5 Ways to Quickly De-escalate an Argument With Your Partner

4. They got you the wrong size clothes

We’re talking a vast size difference, like you’re a size 8 and they got you size 2. Your thigh can’t even fit into the dress…

How to handle:

Margaux Cassuto, a relationship expert, advises making a joke about it rather than getting mad. “If you are gifted clothes that are the wrong size, try them on in front of your partner and laugh about the ridiculous size mismatch together. Afterward, suggest he/she exchange them so you can proudly strut your stuff in them.”

5. They were clueless & got you something you’d never be interested in

You have the attention span of a 5-year-old, and the thought of spending hours at a sports game seems like torture. Next thing you know, you’re unwrapping tickets to a professional baseball game.

How to handle:

Armstrong again says to be thankful and playful, but also inquisitive. “Say something like, ‘Thanks, babe. This is definitely not something I would’ve expected. What made you think of me when you bought it?” *Wink* *Smile* *Hug* They should get a sense of where you’re coming from. This is really a matter of your partner being out of touch and unaware. Your inquisitive nature should make it obvious that you’re not exactly aware of why they bought this.” 

6. You get nothing but gift cards

Though your partner knows how much you like Sephora and The Cheesecake Factory, we all know that buying gift cards takes next to zero effort. Not to mention you’re getting sick of The Factory.

How to handle:

Before stomping your foot in annoyance, maybe insist you enjoy it together, like bring your mate to Sephora and have them pick out a new perfume they like for you, suggests Cassuto. “Before the next birthday or gift-giving occasion, casually mention how distasteful and impersonal you find gift cards and try to drop other hints of specific gifts you would love to receive in the future so he doesn’t have to resort to a gift card.”

7. They got you trashy, cheap, obscene lingerie

It’s so hideous you wouldn’t even use it as a dust rag.

How to handle:

Again, make a joke about it, says Cassuto. “When they give you trashy or obscene lingerie, appreciate the flirtatious gesture for what it is and tell them you’re going to save it for their birthday or an anniversary by putting it on and offering them a night to remember.” 

8. They got you the same gift as previous years, & you were clear you didn’t want/need it

Your bathroom cabinet is so stocked with every scented lotion you could open up a store, and even though you say you don’t want lotions, you keep getting them.

How to handle:

You need to be clear without hurting feelings. “At some point, your partners lack of awareness and thoughtfulness has to be front and center in your response to the gift. This does not mean to scream and shout at them, but something to the effect of, ‘OK, I must be missing something. Haven’t you gotten me something like this before?’ Be playful about it, because that will at least open the dialogue up and make way for necessary conversations.” 

The bottom line: Receiving gifts can be just as hard as giving when you don’t know what to get the other person. But gifts in general are always a nice gesture, so regardless of whether you love or hate the gift, make sure you love and appreciate the person giving it to you more.

Leave a Comment

Comments are closed.