WHAT DO YOU DO IF YOU GET A GIFT AND DON'T LIKE IT? IS IT TACKY TO ASK FOR THE RECEIPT?
Simply smile and say “thank you” in the moment and focus on what you can thank for (aka, how thoughtful they were to think of you). When writing a note, do the same. If you can find something about it to praise, work that angle, but don’t gush over something you really aren’t connecting with. As for asking for the receipt, it will depend on whom you are asking, and why. A parent, spouse, or sibling will likely (though not always!) understand if the gift just wasn’t the ticket. People with whom you are less close may hear your desire for a change as ingratitude, which is sometimes worse than just accepting that you now own a gift that didn’t quite hit the mark. After all, which is more important: the gift or the relationship?
CAN YOU SEND OUT HOLIDAY CARDS WITHOUT HAND-SIGNING EACH?
Cards you buy at the store need to be signed. Since cards purchased from a photo site or online
retailer are often mailed directly from the site, then that’s okay. If you can arrange to hand-sign
them; great. If not, be sure to include a message from you or your family printed on them.
YOUR UNCLE HAS STRONG POLITICAL VIEWS. YOU DON’T LIKE TO TALK POLITICS. YOU’RE SEATED NEXT TO ONE ANOTHER AT THE HOLIDAY DINNER. HOW DOES ONE POLITELY AVOID THE TOPIC?
It takes two to tango, so go with, “You know, we’ll have to agree to disagree,” “I couldn’t say,” or “How ‘bout those Red Sox?” until he gives up. One of those replies followed by an immediate redirect on another subject to someone else can also help cement the change in topic. Sometimes an, “I’ll have to consider that,” is enough of an acknowledgement of their point of view (without committing yourself) to get someone to move on. When all else fails, say (nicely), “I’d rather not talk about this, to be honest. Tell me about your vacation plans.”
MY FRIEND AND I MET FOR OUR ANNUAL HOLIDAY LUNCH. SHE SHOWED UP WITH A GIFT AND I DIDN'T HAVE ANYTHING FOR HER. SHOULD I BUY HER ONE NOW?
Totally up to you. If reciprocating would feel good, go for it. If it feels like a burden or is something you can’t afford, it’s ok to pass. Either way, be sure to send a thank-you note.
EVEN THOUGH MY BFF AND I SET A HOLIDAY GIFT BUDGET, SHE ALWAYS GOES OVER. I CAN’T AFFORD TO RECIPROCATE. WHAT SHOULD I DO?
Best not to worry about it. You could bring it up if you really want her to stop, but there’s no need to feel at all guilty for not blowing the budget you both agreed to.
WILL I OFFEND MY JEWISH FRIENDS IF I SEND THEM A CHRISTMAS CARD?It’s better to send a “happy holidays” card to someone of another faith. Stock up on a mix, and if you're not sure about someone’s religion, send a non-religious one.
MY PARENTS ARE DIVORCED, AND SO
ARE MY HUSBAND’S. HOW DO WE DECIDE WHERE TO SPEND THE HOLIDAYS?
There is no formal etiquette to this one—just some relationship diplomacy! Whatever you decide, make it as a couple–in private. Many couples set up a schedule (alternating years or assigning holidays) to keep decisions from feeling one-off or personal.