This is probably one of the most privilege-soaked articles I’ve ever written. Nonetheless, I feel like most people can relate to that awkward moment when you open a gift you’re not enthused about and have to fake it ‘til you make it.

I have had quite the practice faking excitement during the holidays. For starters, I have a different fashion sense than my mother and all of her generous sisters, which has made for quite a few raised eyebrows over the years (still love that leopard vest, Aunt Jan!).

No Christmas topped the Christmas where my brothers got video games and I got three self-help books. My mom is nothing if she is not subtle. I took the hint and tried to get my act together through loving myself, allowing myself to be vulnerable, and living life through a positive lens. I think I’m doing quite well since I erased the following sentence: “Yeah, screw you too, mom.”

In order to really sell your enthusiasm for your new present (whether that be a pack of razors, a Glee T shirt, or personal hair towels), you have to remember to keep your face in a smiling position BEFORE you open the present. You don’t want to be grinning ear-to-ear, because there has to be a noticeable change once the gift is unwrapped. When you see the present (even if it is a box of deodorant), force the corners of your lips to your ears – as if you were trying to split your bottom lip in half. If people tell you that you look like you’re in pain, just tell them you’re too excited to look beautiful.

Avoid saying things like, “Oh, wow!” or “This is … um, interesting,” or “Gee whiz, I’ve always wanted Bart Simpson socks.” Stick to, “Thanks so much!” and tell the giver how you’re going to use their gift. Some examples would include, “Wow, this Kermit the Frog tie will go great with my new business suit!” or “These glow-in-the-dark roller blades will cut my commute time in half!” or “Although this eHarmony membership might bother my current partner, it will allow me to work on my communication skills.” And you can always follow up with, “I wasn’t expecting that, I love a good surprise!” This is one of my favorite expressions because then most people just assume your surprised face is one of horror and they expect that same look for years to come.

In all seriousness, I have appreciated every gift I have ever received, because the fact that someone took the time to think, plan, browse, and purchase something just for me, fills me with more joy than I can properly express.

Enjoy your Holidays!

Kat Stubing