Receiving gifts from people who were not born to shop may be a mixed bag. Sometimes, an anxious shopper will give you something terrific, and other times you might receive something that you absolutely hate. It is always important to bear in mind that the thought is what counts. The gift should be received graciously and the person who gives it should be thanked.
This may differ a bit in close relationships, such as with a spouse — particularly if a spouse's gift-giving ability has been called into question in the past. Perhaps your spouse insists on getting you tools, or a wife only ever gets her husband socks. Where money is not an issue, and where couples have had time to discuss presents in the past, expectations may arise for a slightly better one.
When this does not occur, fights over the insensitivity of gifts can occur. Some couples simply stop giving each other anything because it results in blowups or hurt feelings. One way to avoid this is to present each other with lists for possible presents. Couples may want to agree they can only give each other things off their lists. Though this may take some of the surprise out of an occasion, it also takes out the sting. Each member of the couple gets something he or she would want, rather than something he or she would gladly throw out the nearest window.
When the matter has not been discussed in advance, receiving gifts you hate should be met with gratitude, even when you don't feel it. Perhaps Grandma will always choose that shade of puce for you, or perhaps a new boyfriend really did think his present was just what you would love. Do give the person the benefit of the doubt, especially if it is a first offense.
Occasionally, some gifts are not only undesirable but also inappropriate or offensive. A boss who gives underwear, for example, is crossing lines set up for appropriate behavior in the workplace. In these instances, it is definitely appropriate to give the offensive gift back to the giver, with a statement that you cannot accept it or that it would make you uncomfortable to accept it. This may help head off approaching sexual harassment or at least halt the person in his or her tracks.
Gifts given by friends that perhaps contain offensive language or are designed to insult may also be returned to the friend or the store, if you have a receipt. They do not require thanks if they are inappropriate. You can, if you want to be polite, thank the giver while returning the gift and say it really cannot be accepted. No further reason is required.