Only ever ask for the gift receipt if you have a real reason to return or exchange the gift (Photo: Getty)
Gift-giving should be simple and straightforward.
However, Christmas is big business , and even the most sensible of us are not immune from panicking, pressure – and even bad gift behaviour sometimes.
For the odds are you’re bound to receive at least one gift in your lifetime which left you either not fussed, perplexed or apoplectic with rage.
But is it ever OK to be annoyed? Or is there a polite way to navigate a situation when you get a gift you don’t like, irrespective of who the gift-giver is?
On hand to answer MirrorOnline’s questions is etiquette expert Myka Meier, founder of Beaumont Etiquette , who has the low-down on gift giving.
You were expecting jewellery and you got a Hoover.
"Of course it’s okay to feel disappointment or annoyance if you were hoping for jewelry as a gift and someone got you a vacuum," explains Myka.
Useful, but not exactly exciting
"That being said," she continues, "there is a difference between feeling annoyance and showing it."
The correct etiquette – no matter how the gift makes you feel – is, according to Myka, " to always be gracious, by smiling and saying thank you."
Never let that smile waver, either. "You should never show negative emotion in response to a gift you’ve just opened, as it could truly hurt someone’s feelings. We should only ever show gratefulness.
"Remember, not just your words will show positive or negative emotion, but be conscious of your body language and facial expressions too!"
As for asking for the receipt
It’s a ‘no’ from Myka – in most cases.
Myka studied at multiple traditional etiquette schools in the United Kingdom and trained in London under a former member of The Royal Household of Her Majesty the Queen (Photo: Myka Meier)
"I would only ever recommend asking for the gift receipt if you have a real reason to return or exchange the gift, other than you simply did not like it.
"The good news is nowadays many online retailers have the option of letting you exchange things without having a gift receipt as long as it’s still in the original package.
"If you know the store or brand that it came from, try contacting the retailer to see if you can get store credit before asking for a gift receipt."
In case your pushed to ask for the receipt…
"Always start with a positive point – and never use the word ‘but’ as it takes away from the positive point you just made.
"For instance, ‘Aunt Julia, thank you so kindly for the juicer you got me – it’s such a lovely gift. You clearly know my taste well, as funny enough I already have the exact same juicer already! Instead of having two of the same, and as I can no longer return my other one, I wondered if you would mind if I exchanged the new one?’
"I would always position it with asking permission and not demanding a receipt."
When the in-laws buy you a gift you don’t like
This is in and of itself a minefield and given that, Myka advises weighing each scenario on a case-by-case basis.
You should always be able to find it in yourself to smile and say thank you
"If you know your mother-in-law is extremely sensitive and would be very offended, I would think it would not be worth the hurt or tension you may cause. Sometimes we must choose our battles wisely!"
Myka’s top tips
1. Always show gratefulness, no matter what you think of the gift – the fact someone got you something shows kindness, which should always be appreciated
2. Always write a thank you letter, no matter how you feel about the gift
3. Choose wording carefully and think before you speak! While you don’t want to lie and say you love something when you don’t, you can use other descriptives such as ‘This is such a creative gift or ‘How thoughtful a gift’.
Always send ‘thank you’ letters (Photo: Getty)
4. If the person who gave you the gift is watching you open it, be sure you don’t use negative facial expression OR words – that is a sure way to hurt someone’s feelings and spoil the festive spirit for the rest of the day! Try your best to muster a smile and ALWAYS say thank you
5. If you’d like to return it, first try to do so without asking for a gift receipt and go directly to the store or brand to try and get store credit