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How Do you Tell Someone they Give Terrible Gifts?



It’s their 4th wedding anniversary and Kunle bought Temi the latest designer bag. The bag is beautiful but there’s a problem – Temi is so mad at the gift and Kunle does not understand why. According to Temi, Kunle bought her a bag on Valentine’s Day, he also bought her a bag for their last wedding anniversary, and on her birthday too. Kunle doesn’t see anything wrong with that, after all, “women love bags.” So why is Temi so mad? Temi insists Kunle is not creative with buying her gifts and Kunle insists buying beautiful and classy bags is creativity.

It is the same with James who, after talking for months about how much he wants to own a PS5, wakes up on his birthday to his wife’s gift of mugs and throw-pillows with his face printed on them. His face droops in disappointment, he hisses and goes back to sleep as his wife stares on, bewildered and wondering what she has done wrong.

When it comes to gifting people things, people miss it once in a while – what does this person like? What is their favourite snack or their dream destination? It’s a few days to Valentine’s Day and on social media, everyone is trying to get tips on what men and women like to be gifted. But there are some people who just never seem to get it right. Year in, year out, and they keep buying terrible gifts you may never use.

People like this are everywhere. In the workplace, there’s always that one person who you’ll pray never picks you during Secret Santa, while you buy a gift worth thousands of Naira, this person will buy an earpiece or a mug and saucer. There are some friends who cannot just figure out what their bestie likes and end up buying something that their friend would not need.

How then do you tell people that the gifts they got you are terrible? What do you say to someone who, out of the goodness of his/her heart, decided to get you something you don’t like without sounding ungrateful, inconsiderate or selfish?

The big deal about gifts

For some people, gifts are their love languages and they cherish and keep every single item a person gifts them for as long as they can. People like these are always eager to see what their loved ones will give them on special occasions and they easily get hurt when these gifts are not thoughtful and do not meet their expectations. There are others who don’t care – you could gift them something and they will dash the next available person that comes their way. They wouldn’t even notice if you don’t buy them a gift.

When it comes to gifting, you have to know who the receiver is and what he/she loves. What is their love language? What makes them tick? What gets them excited? What’s their favourite colour? What’s their temperament? Are they introverts or do they like vibes and gbedu? When getting a gift for someone, it is important to place the receiver’s interest above yours. The fact that you’re a sucker for handbags does not mean the other person will love handbags. That you love to travel does not mean the receiver will appreciate a plane ticket to Dubai. It’s not about you.

Gifts don’t have to be material things; it could be an act of service or a wonderful experience. The idea is just to be thoughtful about it. There’s a big deal about gifts – some are permanently etched in some people’s memories forever. Some gifts make people fall in love and some have caused major kasala and ruined relationships.

Is it the thought that counts?

People are fond of saying it’s the thought that counts, but sometimes the thoughts are pretty bad – like buying a 6-inches tiny heel for someone who is clumsy and trips easily while walking. This gift may not come from a place of wickedness but it is glaring that you have not studied the person enough to know what you should or shouldn’t buy. Sometimes, there’s a total lack of thought, like a gbajensimi (sha take and let me rest) kinda gift. This one hurts more especially when this show of unmistakable lack of thought comes from someone who you think about a lot, and who you expect to think about you too.

When it comes to gifting, yes, the thought is very important, but the action(s) matter the most and it is important that you let the giver know that although you appreciate the effort and energy put into this, you would prefer so so so and so next time. In the same vein, it is important for us all to know how to react to a present we don’t like in a way that doesn’t end with discord, enmity, or the loss of friendships and relationships.

So how do we go about this?

I really appreciate this gift, it’s so lovely but this isn’t really my style. Next time, could you please get me so so so and so?

Oh wow, this is so beautiful, but I would prefer this particular colour, do you mind if I exchange this?

I’m so grateful you thought about me while getting this, it’s lovely. Can I get (insert what you’ll prefer) next time, please?

If it is someone – like your family, spouse, bestie – who buys terrible gifts all the time, it’s better to let them know early so you won’t be sulking every time you get a gift from them. Just have a quiet discussion where you tell them the things you (don’t) love and what you’ll appreciate moving forward. Be considerate too, don’t ask for a PS5 when you know that your friend earns a minimum wage.

If you’re going to have a Secret Santa at work, be upfront about what you’ll love to have so your colleague will not goan buy you a pack of toothpicks – kidding, kidding, no one is that mean.



Photo by Any Lane from Pexels

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