The Lifehacker Holiday Quiz: Social Faux Pax Edition

The Lifehacker Holiday Quiz: Social Faux Pax Edition

Holidays can be tough. There’s family to deal with, there’s drunkenness and debauchery. All too often this results in some serious Sophie’s Choice style social situations. How the hell do you deal with them? I thought I’d ask the good people of the Lifehacker community for advice.

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So here’s how this is going to go. I’m going to present some all-too common situations that tend to occur during the holiday season and I want you guys and girls to try and come up with the best solutions in the comments below. This is going to be hilarious.

Situation 1: The Terrible Gift

You know the drill. You’ve received the worst gift ever. You’ve received Curtis Stone of Christmas gifts. The LAX of presents. It’s the jumper that’s too big/small/crap, the video game/blu-ray you already own.

Much like Whitney Houston, you want to see the receipts. But there is no receipt. You are boned.

Or are you?

What do you do? Ask for a receipt? Smile and just take the loss? Do you head back to the store and try your luck anyway?

Situation 2: A Guest Is Way, Way Too Drunk At Your Party And Is Being Obnoxious/Sexist/Horrible

Let’s make this tricky. Not only is ‘Guest X’ a nice person normally, ‘Guest X’ is also someone useful to you. He is a friend you can’t afford to lose. He may be a co-worker/boss or he may be just a friend who is helpful to you in a way that is close to irreplaceable.

But he/she is being insufferable. Quite literally the party pooper. Other guests are getting angry, they are leaving. Unless you do something fast this situation is going to get out of hand.

Pop Quiz hotshot. What do you do?

Situation 3: Angry Toddler Is Angry

‘Child X’ is… let’s say three years old. He/she is on an absolute tear. Spitting on things, pulling hair, punching smaller babies, molesting pets — the whole gamut.

The parents don’t care. They’re drunk somewhere. They’re eating a tremendous amount of cake and they’re having a ball, oblivious to the fact that Junior is completely wrecking the joint.

What do you do? Is it somebody’s else’s problem? Do you politely inform the parents that their dearly beloved is, in actual fact, the spawn of satan himself? What happens when they don’t give a shit? Do you discipline the child by yourself?

Situation 4: Your Political Beast Of An Uncle

He/she doesn’t have to be an Uncle. Any relative will do. And it doesn’t have to be about politics either. We could be dealing with a religious nut, an obnoxious atheist. This person could be an insufferable student socialist or a right wing climate change denier.

It really doesn’t matter. What we’re dealing with here is a failure of communication. A human being who doesn’t know how to dial is back, who doesn’t understand the concept of small talk. He/she will not stop offending the shit out of everyone. How do you deal with this person?

Answers on a postcard in the comments below! And if you feel like it, let us know some of the most difficult social situations you’ve found yourself in during this (or any other) Christmas.


  • 1) Say thank you today, donate present to charity tomorrow. Realise (once again) that Person X doesn’t get who you are as a person, and get them socks next Christmas.
    2) Let everyone leave, so that I can enjoy blissful solitude again. Resolve never to host a party again.
    3) Send them outside, where that kind of behaviour is closer to fine. Lock the door.
    4) Let someone else handle it. Or do whatever everyone else is doing, probably a nod-and-smile-edge-away shuffle. To escape from conversation, a needy bladder is your best friend.

    Note: My default response to problems is to pretend they don’t exist. None of these seem that bad. Just a normal Christmas, really.

  • Situation 1 – Show some gratitude, even if you don’t want it / already have it. If it’s something you really can’t use and you can’t get a receipt, then sell it on eBay. Just give it a little while (a few weeks) before selling it otherwise it could bite you on the arse. Imagine how awkward it would be if, through some strange series of events, you were somehow placed in a situation where they would ask about it and want to see it/play it/watch it and you no longer have it. Also, never re-gift. Not only do you run the risk of giving the same item back to the very person who gave it to you, but there’s also a small chance that the person you give it to will tell the original gifter about the lovely present you gave them, and could put two and two together (unless these people aren’t likely to socialize or are really dim).

    Situation 2 – Is this my party I’m hosting? I don’t host parties. I rarely even attend them. If it’s my party though, I’d try to get them to calm down, take them somewhere they can rest and pass out and won’t be a problem any more. If they’re not pass out kinda drunk yet, then give it time. They will be sooner rather than later. If it’s not my party, just ignore them and leave the host to deal with them. 🙂

    Situation 3 – As Shane mentioned above, put the kid outside while everyone else can stay inside. If there are other kids around the same age, they would all be outside anyway, playing together. If you’ve got pets, keep them inside away from Satan Jr.

    Situation 4 – Well, if this is my party I’d hope this would be the kind of person I wouldn’t have to invite. If it is someone I’d have to invite, but someone I could tell to shut up, I’d tell them to shut up (in more polite terms). If it’s someone I couldn’t tell to shut up, then just smile and nod and look for a way out, possibly warn other people on what topics to avoid if they risk talking to this person. If it’s not my party, avoid.

  • 1) Smile and thank them for the gift. There is no need to be rude, be grateful that they even thought of you in the first place. You’re no worse off than you were before you received it.

    2) Interesting! I just encountered this at a NYE party I attended. I engaged the person in a conversation about a topic they couldn’t possibly be negative about (his kids) and poured him a cup of coffee. The conversation quickly turned to something else and he gave up trying to contribute (note: this might not always work). If this tactic failed, I would have taken him aside and asked him to leave.

    3) Discipline the child myself. It’s my house and I will not have some rowdy child mucking it up. I would have stern words with the child and re-direct it to a more productive or interesting activity. If it was late, I would find a bed for the child and tell it that it is bed-time now.

    4) Similar to situation number 2, change the subject to something else – preferably something that you know the person is fond of and has positive opinions on.

  • 1) Say thank you, and forget about the shame of owning said present three days later when I put it in my closet.

    2) Grin and bear it. Make sure that they don’t choke on their own vomit.

    3) Try to sum the courage required to tell the parents. Fail to do so. Avoid the kid, no matter the cost. Fail to do so. Wait for the party to be over. Make a mental note to research chastity belts for pets. Fail to do so.

    4) Enter into an argument, and realise three minutes in that I am terrible at debates, and my opponent is also. Try to awkwardly segue the conversation to be about hopscotch or something. Fail to do so. Try to convince them that they successfully converted me to their ideology.
    (You guessed it) Fail to so.

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