So you got a shitty sweater that’s two, four, probably five sizes too small. What you need to do here is to try to look at the positives: Is it green? Yes. Do you like green? Great! Go with that. Compliment the color, thank them, and throw that shit back in the bag and toss it into the nearest open fire when they leave.
If there is absolutely NOTHING about this gift that you can try to compliment, do what you’d otherwise do: say thank you, raise your upper lip in an attempt to form a passable smile, and hug the relative responsible for the piece of shit you’ve just unwrapped, knowing full well you’ll be doing the same next year.
I mean, this person spent money on your gift, went out shopping for it, and wrapped the thing. If you think about that instead of the shitty gift in laying limp your hands, your reaction might seem a tad more real and less like you’re putting on an act.
You’re probably pretty curious where the hideous hand-stitched sweater came from anyway, so you asking where it came from is kind of authentic. It also offsets whatever reaction you give, and puts the attention on the gift-giver instead. Not bad, right?
Acting is exponentially easier when you’re wasted. Even if the gift-giving charade is happening in the morning, there’s no better time of year to enjoy some Bailey’s in your coffee. So in case what I’m saying isn’t abundantly clear, I’m encouraging that you drink and drink hard.
If the TV is on, open your gift, pretend to the best of your ability that you don’t hate it, then point something in the room, preferably as far away from you as possible (I’ve found TV to be the easiest object to point at) and deflect the audience away from your reaction to said gift. I tend to point to the family pet and react to something they’ve done, even if it’s something remarkably uneventful, like taking a drink of water.
So the sweater’s both ugly and too small. You know this just by looking at it. So get this shit over with and put it on. When the giver sees that it’s too small and/or stupid, they’ll hopefully offer you the receipt, which you can then use to get something else, though the best you’re going to get out of it all is just store credit.
I did this one a lot. On Christmas morning, I open gifts with my cousins, so when the relative whose gifts are predictably terrible presents their gift to the lot of children, I ask that my cousin join me, as she usually issues the exact same, ill-fitting garment in different colors to us both. By having somebody alongside you who’s also acting, it lessens the stage fright, which results in a more convincing reaction. Trust me.
I did this with clothes all the time. If I got a shitty outfit, I’d hold it up (showing it off to the audience) and hide my disdain behind whatever article of clothing I’m dramatically presenting.
By this I mean bring up your love for gift cards in casual conversation. By telling the terrible gift-giver how much you’ve grown to love gift cards, you’re planting a seedling of a gift idea that will hopefully be in full bloom by next Christmas.