The holidays are filled with awkward moments, with which Gift Guide writer Kate McPherson is all too familiar. Here are her tips for 'faking it' through the holidays.
Faking it through the Holidays
This is my area of expertise. I spend December shuffling from parties thrown by my first cousin twice-removed to parties thrown by Grandma and everyone in between. It gets exhausting coming up with fresh conversation topics and answering the same questions about myself a million times.
My strategy is to divert attention away from myself by asking questions rather than answering them. I never explain more than necessary because I’m too curious about which dinosaur my family members would most like to meet during a hypothetical time travel experience.
The trick here is to think of off-the-wall questions to ask. Never ask about politics, religion or children. These inevitably lead to conflict. Instead, ask questions about breakfast foods, mythical creatures or pop culture. Unique questions keep you from having to fake interest in your grandmother’s sister’s bunions, and they make you look far more fascinating than you actually are.
There are people in this world who should not shop online. As luck would have it, I am related to most of them. I’ve received more than my fair share of bizarre clothing, freaky stuffed animals and maple syrup.
In case you were curious, it’s really hard to seem appropriately grateful for a bottle of maple syrup, especially if it’s not the first time you’ve received one.
When you get a truly awful gift, do not get enthusiastic. You’ll overcompensate (“Oh my gosh! Maple syrup! There is literally nothing better in the entire world!”) and dig yourself in deeper. Instead, find something you actually like about the gift and praise it. Compliment the gift-giver on the unique earrings shaped like puppies she found or on the beautiful color of the sweater that is three sizes too large. If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything but thank you.
Always handwrite a thank-you note, especially if you think someone suspects your fakery. People who give weird gifts love thank-you notes. In the note, thank the gift-giver for thinking of you and reiterate what you like about the gift. If you can find thank-you notes with baby animals on them, all your sins will be forgiven.
Sneaking a peek
My mother, bless her heart, has hidden every Christmas present I’ve received in her closet near the medicine cabinet. Coincidentally, I seem to come down with terrible headaches right before she wraps our presents.
I’m not saying I’ve ever sneaked a peek. I would never do that, being the golden child that I am.
But if I was that kind of person, I would recommend thinking twice before taking a peek. Back away from that closet. Mothers are sneaky people who sometimes plant fake gifts to make you think you’re only getting underwear.
It’s also a challenge to make sure your reactions to gifts are appropriate. If the presents are unwrapped, it’s hard to tell your gifts apart from your siblings’, and if they’re wrapped it’s hard to hide the fact you peeked when your entire family is gathered around the Christmas tree.
If you open a present you’ve seen, maintain appropriate levels of enthusiasm. If you get the thing you bolded and starred on your wish list, by all means, run around shrieking. If you get a Christmas ornament, keep your reaction more subdued.
No matter the situation, the best way to make it through the holidays is to fake it. Keep a polite smile plastered on your face, and you’ll pull through just fine.