Some holiday situations are as sticky as peppermint candy canes, including the uncomfortable instance of receiving an unexpected gift. Usually it's easy to assume who will take part in a gift exchange, but we all know that assumptions don't always pan out the way you predicted.
That friend you haven't heard from in a month, but gave you a gift last year, might come bearing a present around the holidays. And your chatty co-worker whom you call a colleague? She might think you have moved on to friend territory and wants to let you know how much she appreciates you with a gifting gesture. To see suggestions for handling such situations,
- Friend: You can be pretty honest with a true friend. After graciously thanking her for the present, apologize that you don't have anything for her. Tell her you're sorry and that you'd love to have her (and possibly a plus one) over for a home-cooked meal of her choosing sometime soon. When she calls and asks what she can bring, tell her nothing at all and mention that it's your gift to her. Open a bottle of her favorite kind of wine to serve with the dish she requested, and the time you spend together will mean more than a purchased gift.
- Family: It really depends on how close you are to the family member, but it's always best to be honest and say you didn't expect to exchange gifts this year. Send a warm thank-you note for the gift you received and include a batch of your homemade cookies or hot cocoa mix.
- Co-worker: After apologizing for not being prepared, take her to lunch and give her a card making light of what a procrastinator you are.
- Boss: This one is easy — just give an appreciative "thanks!" You don't need to feel pressure to reciprocate your boss's gesture.
Have you ever received a gift without having one to give in return?