An unwelcome, annual occurrence

The festive season is filled with love, laughter, and gift-giving. But it can also mean that we potentially face, in social settings, at least one awkward gifting situation. And since there’s only so much the champagne can do to help ease the situation, here are some potential awkward situations and how to circumvent them:

You’re not sure if the person will be around for Christmas.

The simple solution: strike up a convo about the holiday season.

The most casual, sneaky way to find out if you should be adding someone to the Christmas shopping list is to bring up the holidays in conversation. This not only lets you know someone better, it also makes them reveal any info that might help with your gift-giving.

If bringing up Christmas isn’t enough to spark the conversation you’re hoping to have, casually ask if they’ve started their shopping or where they’ll be doing their shopping. Then tell them you’re getting started and wondering what to get. Chances are, they might drop some hints.

You left someone out on your list.

Imagine the horror when someone hands you a gift but you don’t have one in return. We’re already cringing.

If you meet somewhere other than your home, you can say you left your gift at the door in a hurry. (But make sure you have it in hand the next time you see the person!)

Otherwise, it helps to have a stash of "just-in-case" gifts. It might seem impersonal, but a few gift cards to places like popular restaurants or shops can save you the awkwardness of showing up empty-handed. Plus, if you don’t use the cards you can always save them for another occasion.

You didn’t receive a gift.

In the age of social media keeping us connected to many people who would otherwise just be considered casual acquaintances, this dreaded situation becomes a potential reality.

The other person will probably feel awkward (especially if they didn’t prep emergency gifts like you did), so don’t make them feel any worse. Don’t make them feel like you made a tremendous amount of effort with their gift.

Then, quickly change the subject to anything other than the gift.

You, um, kind of hate what they got you.

Be gracious no matter what you get. Nobody wants a Christmas party ruined over unappreciated presents. Even if you absolutely hate a gift, don’t tell the giver right away. Sincerely thank them, then later on you can either tell them that the item doesn’t work with others in your closet or that you already have something similar.

Or, if you’re not good at dealing with uncomfortable situations face-to-face, don’t tell them anything, grab your gift receipt and buy something you actually want.

You got someone something inappropriate.

The last thing you want is to offend someone at a Christmas dinner with an inappropriate gift. With someone you’re not that close to (or worse, some more senior to you), play it safe. Take into consideration the recipient’s views and values before you send something deemed too raunchy or offensive.

You received something inappropriate.

First off, don’t expect people around you to also see the inappropriateness in the gift. If you find the gift offensive (a result of the giver’s innocent but absent-minded decision), tell him or her in private later. Don’t ruin the festivities by getting butt-hurt about it.

The easiest way to solve your problems is to just not worry about what another person’s shopping plan is. It’s the spirit of giving, after all. If you don’t have any expectations, you won’t be disappointed. As cliched as it sounds, it really is the thought that counts. (Still, it doesn’t hurt to include a gift receipt!)

With that, eat, drink, and be merry! Happy holidays!

This article first appeared on THREAD, Zalora's fashion, beauty, and lifestyle content portal.