How To Handle That Moment When You Forget To Get Someone A Present

How’s this for a nightmare scenario: a friend is over and suddenly thrusts a beautifully-wrapped gift in your face and you had no idea she was expecting to exchange presents. Or your family agreed to just give presents to the children this year, but your showoff-y sister just arrived with handmade DIY presents for everybody. Quick, it’s time to take a peek around the house for last-minute things you can re-gift!

  • Scan the pantry. Those Milanos you were saving for a rainy day? Easy gift. Have an extra tub of Nutella? Perfect. People love Nutella so damn much that they’ll act like you just gave them a Rolls-Royce.
  • Check your coffee table. Have some extra scented candles on the coffee table? Giftable.
  • Raid your bathroom cabinet. Lotion is what you get for people when you don’t know what else to get them, which means the odds are pretty high that you have some unopened nice bottles of the stuff that you’ve received at various celebrations. Gift!
  • Defrock your tree. Stealthily swipe a beautiful ornament off your Christmas tree that you can stand to part with.
  • Pray for a miracle. Sometimes your junk drawer has cool, not-so-junky things in it, right?
  • Go dry this weekend. Hand over that back-up wine you’ve been stashing under the sink.
  • Whip out the Crayola markers. If you’re artistic, make a cute card or draw them something on the fly.
  • Plunder the bookshelf. If you have an overflow of never-read books on your shelf, give them one that looks interesting.
  • Offer up your body. Give them a hug as a present.
  • DIY some TBD gifts. Give them coupons for a night out, movie night, or anything else you two like to do together.
  • Pen a letter. Whip out a sweet, handwritten note highlighting what you appreciate about that person or some of the good times you’ve had together.
  • Hit the gas station. Give them that scratch-off lottery ticket you picked up this morning.
  • Skillshare. Offer to share some of your skills with them as a gift. If you’re an electrician, fix something in their house for free. If you have great handwriting, offer to use your calligraphy on their wedding invitations. If you’re a singer, offer them a free serenade at their next party.
  • Lie. (And then donate to charity later.) Tell them that instead of a gift you made a donation to a charity in their name, and then actually go do that the second you can! You’ll probably get a nice little thank you note from the charity you can give to them.
  • Head over to Offer them tickets to an event of their choice.
  • Plan ahead. Avoid this altogether by keeping some pre-wrapped presents around the house like nice chocolate, wine, or other universally classy goodies.
  • Just say “thanks.” Thank them for the gift and let that be it, or just admit you didn’t realize you were exchanging gifts and offer to buy next time you go out to lunch. I know, I know, it’s awkward, but it’s the adult thing to say!

Even though it may feel rude not to give something back — or giving something as nice back — you don’t owe anyone anything in return for giving you a gift other than your gratitude. After all, it’s gifting, not trading!

[Image of surprised Christmas elf via Shutterstock]