When Someone Got You A Gift, And You Have Nothing For Her

December 21, 2017  |  
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It happened. That thing you were terrified would happen during the holidays. You were terrified of it and yet, entirely unprepared for it: somebody gave you a gift, and you had nothing in return for that person. There are so many ways this can occur. First of all, there are some people with whom you just didn’t think you were on that gift-giving level. Then there are the people you didn’t think you were going to see during the holidays—like that cousin who said she wouldn’t make the Christmas dinner, and then got a last-minute, day-of flight. The holidays also pop up quickly, so sometimes you don’t even realize you’re walking into a “holiday” happy hour with a friend. You just think it’s a regular happy hour and there she is, sitting with a gift. Oh right…it’s December 13th. Here is what you can say and do when someone gets you a gift, and you have nothing for them.

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Say it’s in the mail

Tell the person you actually mailed them something and it just must not have arrived yet (then go overnight them something).

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Say you wanted to make them a meal

Tell them you were hoping you could make them a special holiday meal. Say you wanted to set a date for that meal tonight.

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Confess you haven’t had time to holiday shop for anyone

So the person doesn’t feel like you just forgot her, say that you haven’t had time to holiday shop for anyone yet—not your significant other, family, or best friend.

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Keep gifts in your car

The best way to avoid this issue entirely is to keep spare gifts, wrapped, in the car during the holiday season. If you’re at a store full of gift-worthy trinkets like cute mugs and tree ornaments, pick up some extras for times like these.


Say you forgot the holidays were so near

Say you’ve been so busy you completely forgot the holidays were even approaching and haven’t shopped yet, but you do plan on getting them something.

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Be very grateful

No matter what you do, be very grateful. If the person gave you this gift in the true spirit of giving, then all they want is for you to enjoy and appreciate it. Give them a strong hug and a huge thank you. Sometimes, that’s enough.


Buy the drinks/dinner

Say that you actually meant to treat them to this meal or round of drinks as a holiday gift, and pick up the check.


You forgot theirs at home

You can always go with the old “I forgot yours at home!” excuse. Or say that something came up and you weren’t able to stop at home in time to get the gift before meeting this friend.

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Donate in their name

Tell them you’re just donating in friends’ names this year rather than giving gifts. Then run into the bathroom and make a donation in their name right away on your phone so you can show it to them when you return to the table.


I meant to ask you what you want

Nobody can get mad if you just say, “I didn’t know what you wanted and want to make sure to get you the perfect thing. So, what do you want this year?”


Host a white elephant

Say the reason you haven’t brought a gift for her is that you’re hosting a white elephant party and want everyone to bring a gift there. Then tell her the date of the (fictional) white elephant party that you will go home and plan immediately.

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Say “We aren’t doing gifts this year”

You can always say that you and your partner (or family) aren’t doing gifts that year. You can say everybody is tight on money and/or has too many things, so you aren’t accepting or giving gifts this year.

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You ordered theirs; it hasn’t arrived yet

If you don’t want to deal with the hassle of overnighting something to the person, you can say you’ve ordered them a gift to your home that hasn’t arrived yet. Then you can just bring them a gift next time you see them.


You got something and realized it was the wrong size

You can say that you did, in fact, buy the person a wearable gift but after bringing it home realized it was the wrong size and haven’t had time to exchange it yet.


The package was stolen

You can always go with the old “The package was stolen” excuse and claim you’re going to replace it ASAP.

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