How to Effectively Hide Disappointment Over Holiday Gifts

Anthony Humphreys/Thrillist 

How should you react to receiving a giant photo-screened blanket featuring your friend’s D-list Instagram-famous dog as a present? With believable fibs of mercy. That’s why we’ve assembled a handy (and totally arbitrary) guide to help you become a more efficient liar, because telling the truth is for Valentine’s Day. (Ha, still lying.) 

Anthony Humphreys/Thrillist

Do Not Say These Things

“You would get me this.”

Just say “I know who this is from!” Because of course you knew right away it was your mother who bought those sweat-wicking spandex gym clothes for you.


The holiday cookies are sweet enough. Opt for a more believable “Oh wow, thanks!”

“This is just what I wanted!”

You might see each other every other day, and he might have your number, but did you really want a framed photo of you and the Seamless guy who apparently has mad Photoshop skills? Just say, “Oh wow you put so much thought into this!” and switch to Szechuan Garden in 2016.

“Oh, you shouldn’t have.”

There are plenty of As-Seen-On-TV things you would have actually wanted to receive, but not one of them was a Shakeweight. Simply reply with “A shakeweight! Thanks!” See? Facts.

“You know me SO well. I love stuff like this!”

No you don't and everyone knows it. “I can’t believe you got me something, thanks so much!”

Anthony Humphreys/Thrillist 

What To Do When Words Fail You

You’ve reached the pinnacle of holiday disappointment and didn’t know you be more unnerved by someone’s lapse of judgement since they replaced the first Aunt Viv on Fresh Prince. When you have misplaced your grab bag of kind words, opt for these physical manifestations of gratitude instead.

Go for the giant hug

The gifter need not see your face of disgust. 

Offer a really hard pat on the back

Just get all your frustration out.

Feign excitement by jumping up on your couch like the Tom Cruise of 2005

We all believed his love then. Even Oprah.

Hand off the gift to others as if to show it off

This buys you a bit more time to think of something to say, and you can take a break from being offended at the sight of it.

Interact with the gift

Put it on, open the packaging, examine it, read the instruction booklet -- do anything that makes you look like you’re really interested in whatever it is.

Anthony Humphreys/Thrillist

Facial Expressions Not To Make

Fix your face. Your Aunt Tabitha had no way of knowing that the vintage beanie baby she got you punched you in the throat with memories of your terrible high school girlfriend. Your disappointment will either haunt her until Groundhog Day or she’ll just tell your mom you’re an ungrateful lout just like your dad and next year’s round of mandatory familial get-togethers will suck even worse. Here are some expressions to avoid.

The strained smile

That is not a smile. That is a grimace. You look like a Civil War infantryman biting down on a bullet as he gets his leg cut off. Don’t do that.

Openly weeping with disappointment

“I thought it would be an engagement ring but they’re tickets to The Blue Man Group!”

The fading smile

You were cheesing while ripping open the package… but the smile slipped off your face faster than sprinkles on ice cream. So what if your mom got you exercise clothes? Those are expensive! (And the more you work out, the more ice cream you’ll be able to consume guilt-free.)

The look of apathetic nothingness

React, dammit! They’re out there making robots that emote more than this.

Eyebrows shooting up all the way into your hairline with bulging eyes

Tack a smile onto that face. It’ll buy you a few seconds to formulate what you’ll say to HR about Mailroom Jim’s surprise holiday present.

Anthony Humphreys/Thrillist

Approach Social Media With Caution 

While a very important part of the holiday season is creeping through Twitter looking for the hilariously ungrateful reactions to getting the wrong color iPhone in 140 characters or less, social media could get dicey when the tables are turned on you.

Don't brag on social media

Don’t do it. Don’t overcompensate. No matter how #blessed you want your ‘Graming Grandma to think you are,  it’s unnecessary. Also, your savage friends will call you out. They know your preferences and don’t care about Grandma’s feelings.

But if you ARE going to post your presents...

You should include that one you really don’t like. You can find a way to hide it among the others and with some clever filters. Vignette the whole thing.

Hide your face with a Snapchat filter

If only humans could barf rainbows in real life during awkward situations.

Sell or trade your gift online

Think you’re the only person who got a disappointing present? There has to be someone out there in the market for a meat grinder.

Anthony Humphreys/Thrillist


Hours, days, weeks, months, years from now, you will be asked about the quacking duck slippers you were gifted. Be prepared.

“I use it all the time!”

They don’t need to know the Flavor of Love Season 2 boxset is propping up the kitchen table.

Tell the truth.

“I actually already have a singing sea bass! Do you think I could exchange it/I think you should give it to someone who has not yet known the joy of a singing sea bass.”

“My roommate borrowed it.”

Do they know you don’t actually have a roommate?

“It’s on my desk at work!”

(You work from home.)

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