Etiquette & superstition: bad gifts


For Christmas this year, a friend of mine gave a pair of yellow underpants with a picture of a trumpet on the butt to a very polite five-year-old boy. The five-year-old very quietly said thank you and managed not to cry in front of my friend, which seems rather remarkable to me.

ETIQUETTE: If someone gives you an absolutely horrible gift, you need to figure out a way to thank them while still maintaining your integrity. Don’t lie and say you love it unless you want to receive more of the same in the future. It’s best to take an oblique route. At this point in time, most people are onto the “This is so unique” or “You really shouldn’t have” evasion, so try to get to the heart of the sentiment behind the gift. A simple and sincere “Thank you; this was so thoughtful of you” should work if the person gave you the gift from the heart. It’s not necessary to hide the gift in your closet for years and haul it out every time the giver comes to visit, but hold off a bit before donating it to Goodwill. Maybe that orange feathered hat will grow on you.

SUPERSTITION: Giving a gift of shoes will make the recipient walk away from you. A gift of a handkerchief will bring the recipient sweat, tears and/or illness in the coming year. Giving a gift of knives or scissors will sever your relationship with the recipient. The only way around this one is if the recipient gives the original giver a coin, thus “buying” the knives or scissors and breaking the curse. The gift of an umbrella will also sever a relationship, most particularly a courtship; don’t try the coin trick with this one, because it won’t work. Giving a clock or watch is associated with death.

Photo by via flickr

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  1. […] an umbrella on a table, on a bed, or give one as a gift. All unlucky, and as we’ve mentioned before, the umbrella gift will sever a relationship. If you drop your umbrella while you are walking, ask […]

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