How to Rewrap Christmas Gifts

As Christmas barreled towards me like a supernova, my armpits got as sweaty as the Shoe Bomber

going through customs.  My fear, receiving a present that I despised and having to fake my approval.  Opening a gaily-wrapped box with yards of ribbon heightened my anxiety to Code Red.

Last Christmas, my family watched with baited breath and I tried to camouflage my true feelings.

“Oh, thanks.  What is it?” I said.

“It’s that thing you asked for,” said my son.

I didn’t have a clue if this was something I had wanted as a gift.  I understand that I’m difficult to buy for at birthdays and holidays.  I don’t wear a lot of jewelry.  I have bottles and bottles of perfume on my bureau that I do not use. Don’t even think about buying me clothes.  If I wanted flip-flops, a whoopee cushion, a Low-Fat Cookbook, or a hermit crab, I would buy it for myself.

In order to avoid hurting people’s feelings, I started a practice I am ashamed to admit.  I unwrap my gifts before Christmas and then rewrap them before getting caught.

You’ve heard of the Regifter, the guy who has the nerve to recycle your gift by giving it to someone else.  I called myself the Rewrapper.

I have pinpointed the exact moment my rewrapping habit started, a birthday celebration ten years ago.  It was a typical party, cake, ice cream, “Happy Birthday to you,” the works.  But as my family gathered around in a circle, my husband hoisted a medium-sized box in the air.  Panic.

With a huge smile, my husband placed that box into my lap as my family looked on with glee.

Hmm, it had some weight to it.  Please God; don’t let it be a statue.

Sweat trickled down my side.  Rapid blinking.

“Well, what are you waiting for?  Happy Birthday, “ he said.

I unwrapped the box with the precision of a surgeon, trying to drag out the inevitable. I felt my lips tighten and gritted my teeth.  Inside the box was a bronze statue of a nude couple in an erotic embrace.  What the hell was he thinking?  It was downright pornographic.

Hoisting the shiny statue high in the air, I announced, “And the Oscar goes to…”

My husband’s face dropped a mile; tears may have even trickled from his eyes.  The house became as silent as a corpse. Shock and discomfort circled the room.

That moment I transformed into The Rewrapper.  I couldn’t risk hurting anyone else’s feelings ever again.  Now, before an occasion that involved the exchange of presents, I take a peek at the present beforehand and rewrap it.  The gifts I receive since then are as bad as ever, but I am prepared with a smile and a kind word.  I say bring it on!  I can muster a positive, heartfelt response to even the worst gift.

For instance, last year I received size 11 men’s shoes from my husband.

“Thanks so much.  I needed these.”  And a gift card to get a massage at the Spa.  The place had gone out of business.  No problem.  “I love it!”  An industrial-sized space heater from my kids.  “Fantastic!”

But this year there were no presents under the tree for me.  What was up with that?  “Merry Christmas,” said my husband, “Here’s a gift I know you will like,” and he handed me cash.


This article previously published in the Pleasanton Patch.

About staceygustafson


  1. I give everyone a list. And they usually get what i want. I buy stuff for myself, put in the closet and then hand to my husband at Christmas (he is relieved). So I guess that’s the same approach except I get what I really want!

    • staceygustafson says

      I’ll have to try that. Shop for myself! I may even wrap the gifts and put on my name tag. My husband’s surprise – Priceless.

  2. Too funny. I used to go around shaking presents until I figured out what was inside. I’ll have to try the rewrapper trick!

  3. It must be a talent people possess…the ability to buy personalized gifts?! I know some people seem to have more of a knack at it than others. Sounds like it doesn’t run in your family :/!

    You certainly have figured out a great strategy! I had to chuckle :)!

    My husband admits having done this one year as a child to all of his gifts. He says it was the worst Christmas ever!

    • staceygustafson says

      Yes, it’s not always satisfying to sneak a peek. My family “hides” my gifts in the trunk of my husband’s car.

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