What If You Don’t Have A Gift For Someone Who Gives You One?

What If You Don’t Have A Gift For Someone Who Gives You One?

One of the most uncomfortable situations during the Christmas gift-giving time is when you don’t have a gift prepared for someone who gives you one. It’s always awkward when it happens, so we want to know: what do you do when someone hands you a gift and you don’t have one for them?

This situation might come up in a wide variety of situations. In some cases, it’s probably not a big deal, say, if a boss or parent gives you a gift. Other times, you might be expected to give something in return. Do you come up with an excuse for not getting a gift? Or do you fess up that you didn’t buy anything? Let’s hear it.

Picture: David Orban/Flickr


  • I keep a stash of boxed chocolates for occasions like that.
    Although if you really don’t like Christmas or people in general and wanted to be a scrooge, you could keep a stash of instant scratchies instead. It’s like saying “You’re worth exactly $2 to me, and I’m giving it to NOT YOU”

  • I’ve received gifts from bosses, but I can’t imagine a situation when i’d be caught short without a present when there’s mutual exchange expected. If there’s ever any doubt, I suss out beforehand.

    Having said that, if I ever did find myself in that situation, i’d say “Thank you, that’s so thoughtful” and then confess that I didn’t realise we were doing the gift thing. Then i’d probably refrain from opening it until later, and then (depending on whether the timing suits) I might try and get something for the person at a later date. What else can you do, really? If you’re caught by surprise, people should understand that it wasn’t clear that it was a ‘gift’ occassion.

  • Yeah, I just do the ol’ ”Your gift has been ordered, and now I’m just waiting for them to send it to me”. It works like a charm! I mean, even if they know it’s not true, they can’t exactly challenge it. Innocent until proven guilty.

  • Are you kidding?
    “you might be expected to give something in return”. If someone “expects” you to give them a gift, they probably don’t deserve one.

    I’ve had very close friends give me a gift when I haven’t had anything for them and I just thank them sincerely. They know that I appreciate the gift and they don’t like me any less for not giving them something. I frequently give them my time and close friendship, that is more often enough.

Show more comments

Log in to comment on this story!