Should You Return The Gift Your Partner Gave You Or Would That Make You A Grinch?

by Annie Foskett

I am both terrible and excellent at gift-giving. (I'm also apparently not afraid to brag.) I'm excellent gift-giver in that I only choose (1) thoughtful or (2) definitively useful gifts. I'm a terrible gift-giver in that my average level of fondness for procrastination becomes full-blown, let's-keep-things-suspenseful-until-the-last-minute, insanity-inducing insistence on procrastination during the holidays. Maybe it's my denial that the year is ending? Or general laziness? Either way, I understand that sometimes it comes down to giving a terrible gift or arriving empty-handed. If you're wondering if you should return the Christmas gift your partner gave you, there are a few things to consider.

First: Are you a monster? I kid, I kid. We've all been there — wanting to return a gift is incredibly valid. It's an awkward thing to unwrap a beautiful wrapping job to find a coffee mug that reads "But first, coffee." First you look at your partner's face, and try to determine whether they are smirking because they know it's basic and are trolling you, or if they are really excited about this incredibly personalized gift.

Then, you have to decide how to react: Are you going to go the full "La La Land producer pretending it's cool that Moonlight really won" acting route, or risk being a total jerk and just laughing out loud? Either way, in this case, you keep the mug. This is not something worth the hassle of making a return over, and mugs are useful if you like coffee. Deciding whether or not to return a gift is dependent on the gift, the circumstances of the gift, and the relationship. Here are some questions to ask before deciding to make a switcheroo:

How Long Have You Been Dating This Person?

If this is your first holiday season together, I think you must grin and bear it and keep that gift, not matter how cringe-worthy it is. You're still getting to know your person, and truly, it is the thought that counts, so go with it. If you've been dating for years, be real with them, but remember, gift-giving is an extremely vulnerable position to be in.

Did Your Partner Include A Gift Receipt?

If your partner included a gift receipt, they probably bought you an item of clothing, and clothing is the thing that is most likely to be returned or exchanged. If they say, "Do you like the sweater? There are lots of other great ones there..." you're in the clear to return it and get whatever you want in its place. That said, if you pull an "I love this beige scarf" performance while dreading the day you have to wear the object, you should probably not secretly exchange it. If you keep dating, you're going to have to wear it at some point.

Is It Personalized For You?

Even if it is the tackiest of snow globes, if your initials are on it anywhere, just keep it. Love is sacrifice, and you can sacrifice your honesty to pretend to be happy with something your partner clearly thought was perfect for you.

How Much Money Did They Spend On It?

This is a tough one. Let's say your partner bought you a Vetements hoodie — they probably dropped somewhere around $500 on it. (Remember, this is hypothetical.) While it's an investment and you want to appreciate your partner's gesture, you might not love the color of said hoodie. I say in this case, tell your partner you might want to exchange it for a different color — or if you need to exchange sizes, tell them they only had another color left (white lies are sometimes OK). Your partner doesn't want to have spent all of that money on something you'll never wear.

While in relationships, I usually say that honesty is the best policy, but when it comes to giving each other gifts, I think you can be a little coy. If you want to exchange a gift, ask yourself how important doing so really is. Can you just get that other pair of sunglasses you like sometime down the road? Can you just keep mum and pretend to have wanted an iPad? iPads are great! While I think there are exceptions to the rule, I believe that you should look at any gift you receive as a gesture of love, and simply appreciate it. Life's too short to get into a fight about returning a weird mug.

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