This is the prime season for giving and receiving presents and gifts. Family, friends, neighbours and even colleagues all swap presents.
I know personally, that many of my friends, and I put a lot of effort, time (and money) into choosing, purchasing, making and baking presents for other people. Of course there is real joy in giving lovely presents that you know/hope other people will enjoy. However, the recipient and their responses are JUST as important in the whole process and the whole JOY of giving and receiving presents. Listen to the podcast here.
I come from a family where saying ‘Thank you’ and being very grateful for any present was drummed into me at a very young age. Ditto sending hand written letters for ANYTHING within a week. My family also have the culture that we watch each other’s reaction as presents are opened, so I’m very aware that the recipient’s response is crucial to the happiness of the giver.
Likewise, when I was training as an opera singer, we actually had a workshop on ACCEPTING applause AND flowers from the audience. In fact we practiced acknowledging the audience and doing ‘over expressive’ gestures to show how thankful we were for the flowers! Bizarre as it might have seemed, it emphasised how important thanking for gifts was – even if I no longer use the skills of accepting large bouquets of flowers!
Of course, when you spend the holiday season with other families, who have other values, it is more challenging; not every family values thanking and acknowledging as much as my family do, and the behaviour – particularly of younger children – might not be acceptable in your family, but accepted in other families….
However, I believe it is always safe to go down the thankful and acknowledge the giver, particularly when you are in someone else’s home. Even if you don’t like the present, making the giver feel they’ve made a good choice is politic and, well, good manners. Here are some tips I find always work. Listen to the podcast.
Remember this is a ‘performance’, whether you like it or not, SOMEONE will be watching for your reaction to the present.
- If the present is received face to face, acknowledge the present and giver before you open it.
- Do the whole ‘Ooh, ah, sigh’ as you open the present.
- Maintain that smile even if it isn’t your taste and say THANK YOU straight away!
If you are in a public place or it is before the seasonal celebrations you could manage the situation by saying “We always open our presents at Christmas with the family. Shall we open them later?”
If you open the present away from the giver, make sure you THANK them; immediately by phone, text or email, or if you are old fashioned (or very canny – believe me) by letter. Listen to the podcast.
Have a fabulous present giving and receiving season, and remember: receiving presents is as much a process so that the giver feels valued!