What to do When Someone Doesn’t Like Your Gift

Gift giving is a personal thing…or not. Pouring your heart into picking the perfect present for someone only to find they didn’t like it can feel like a slap in the face. It may infuriate you or crush your feelings. The first thing to do is to take a look at the situation so you’ll know if the problem lays with the gift, the receiver, or you.

Gifting…An Age-Old Tradition

Gifts have been given since the beginning of time. From Egyptians storing their gifts in pyramids for the afterlife to Romans presenting one another with gifts believing it was good luck to give, presents have been part of society as far back as can be traced. Gift giving was even a popular tradition in biblical days.

There is psychology behind gifting too. Gifting is an expression of love. It’s rewarding to give…unless the gift proves to be unwanted.

🎁 What Was the Gift?

If a gift you gave turned out to be a flop, it’s time to take a closer look at the situation. While it is said it’s the thought that counts, that isn’t always the case. And sometimes, the thought can even be the problem.

There are many scenarios where gifts are not appreciated. Sometimes, they aren’t even accepted. By taking a good look at the gift you gave and the story behind it, you’ll get a better feel for what’s going on.

What are you really saying with the gift?

Perhaps you have a friend who’s a bit on the old-fashioned side. You’ve been after her for years to get her neglected hair styled to no avail. You have the perfect solution for her birthday – a gift card to a nice hair salon. She takes the gesture as an insult though and gives the gift card back.

The gift that keeps on giving

If you re-gifted a gift that was given to you, you might track its history. There’s a chance the new recipient was the original gift giver or has already been in the mix somewhere down the line.

While regifting doesn’t make you a terrible person nor does it make your gift bad, it can be an insult to given a re-gifted present.

What does the reaction say about the recipient?

Perhaps you spent a lot of time and money choosing what you hoped to be an amazing present that the recipient would love. Instead, you found out directly or indirectly that the gift was a fail.

If, in reflection, you find that the gift just wasn’t good enough or that the person is simply unappreciative of your efforts, you may want to reevaluate your relationship with the person or at least think long and hard before buying them another gift.

Was the gift the wrong fit?

If you gifted a person who obviously wears a size XXL a petite, shame on you. You were either careless or ruthless. Likewise, if you gave a diabetic a box of sugar-laden chocolates,…not ok.

But if the size hoodie you truly thought would fit or the color of a candle isn’t the right shade for the house, chalk it up as an honest mistake and with any luck, the recipient will too.

Were there strings attached?

If your gift of an engagement ring was rejected, there’s definitely more to the story. Clearly, it was the marriage proposal that was not accepted rather than the ring.

Maybe you are seeing someone and gave a gift that was interpreted as being too expensive for the present commitment. Even if you didn’t intend for any strings to be attached, the recipient may have gotten the wrong message.

It’s time to sit down and talk.

Did you buy for yourself?

Sometimes we buy for ourselves, either outright or subconsciously.

If you are a coffee lover, it’s easy to see a beautiful coffee basket – not imagining anyone not adoring it.

But if the person you give it to doesn’t like coffee, you can’t expect them to like the gift. It’s a good idea to question giving gifts you fall in love with to be sure the recipient will like it too.

🤔 How Should You React to a Rejected Gift?

Gifts are rejected in different ways. How you should react to a gift being unloved, unappreciated, or unaccepted depends on the attitude behind the rejection.

Some possible reactions on the recipient’s part include:

Hurt feelings

If you’ve hurt someone’s feelings by giving the “wrong” gift, you should attempt to have a heart-to-heart talk with them. They may be being over-sensitive or they may have just cause.

In the event you gifted your best friend chocolates, knowing she’s trying her best to lose weight, an apology is in order.

If you gave her sweets and she has been thinking about eating healthier, you had no way to know if you weren’t told and the mistake was an innocent one.


Honesty is usually the best policy. Sometimes though, it can come across as being rude.

A gift doesn’t have to be your favorite thing on the planet. You can show gratitude for the thought behind the gift.

But, if you are close enough to someone to handle if they admit they really don’t care for the gift but they still think the world of you, no harm done.


When a person gets angry because you gave them a gift that didn’t meet their expectations, the recipient may be someone you don’t need in your life.

On the other hand, if you gifted your boyfriend your ex-husband’s favorite cologne and he knows it, you may be in the wrong.


Some people are embarrassed about not liking a gift but feel it’s their duty to let you know or are so transparent, they can’t hide the fact.

Or there’s the possibility that the gift was embarrassing.

If you give a new girlfriend lingerie, you probably overstepped some boundaries.

😐 Your Reaction to the Reaction

You can’t control the reaction of someone else, but you can choose how you are going to react. If you see you were in the wrong or it was an honest mistake, offer an apology and get over it. It’s not worth you or the recipient holding a grudge over it.

If someone gets angry because the gift was good enough or expensive enough, be happy you didn’t spend more. The recipient is ungrateful and deserves a bad gift.

The best thing to do in most situations is to communicate. Keep the conversation light and try to find the humor in it. If you gifted chocolates to someone who can’t have them due to medical reasons or a diet you should have remembered, take the blame and tell them you’ll give them a sugar-free version or even a gift certificate to a juice bar or yogurt stand instead.

If the recipient offers the gift back, should you take it? Certainly. You can either use (or eat) it yourself, return it, or give it to someone who will hopefully like and appreciate it.

Gifts are curious things and people can be peculiar too. Try to use good judgement when choosing gifts and if you don’t hit the mark, don’t stress as long as the thought behind it is genuinely caring.

Cheryl Jerabek
Cheryl Jerabek
Cheryl is a professional writer that has been writing ever since she could hold a crayon. She has authored over 200 fiction and non-fiction books for teens and adults (both credited and ghost-written) on a wide range of subjects. Cheryl also writes blogs and articles on various topics and themes. Residing in a small mountain community in Southwest Colorado, Cheryl draws her inspiration from the gorgeous scenery, her 2 adult children, and 3 grandchildren. She enjoys traveling, party and event planning, and hanging out with family and friends. “I write so you don’t have to,” is Cheryl’s motto.

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