One of the most enjoyable aspects of holidays is opening the presents. Whether you take your time opening a present and carefully preserving the wrapping paper or viciously rip it apart, there is nothing worse than being all excited only to be disappointed by what is inside.

We have all been there. Awkwardly smiling as family or friends watch you unwrap a gift you don’t particularly like, the courteous ‘thank you’ while you try to avoid eye contact. It’s a performance.

As the saying goes, ‘it’s the thought that counts.’ This is intended to convey the recipient’s appreciation for the gift giver’s time, effort and expense in procuring a gift. It is just a shame that the product was either a garment that you would never wear or a useless item that would make its way around your study or house, finally ending up stashed away in a drawer, closet, garage or recycle bin.

But, if the thought is paramount, what does the boring, unwanted present indicate about the giver’s thought process at the time of purchase? What they truly think of you? And whether they are a good judge of character?

Giving gifts is a hard business. The wrong present may ruin your relationship by sending the wrong message. The receiver may instinctively believe that a cheap gift equates to less value placed on the connection, and that the more expensive the gift, the greater the importance on the relationship.

While your first thought may be throwing it away, deciding what to do with unwanted gifts is complicated when bearing in mind the giver’s feelings.

The way you deal with undesired gifts from a close friend or family member is going to be very different from how you deal with unwanted items from a work secret Santa.

My own unwanted gifts collection includes hundreds of euros worth of chocolates despite being diabetic, an advent calendar given on Christmas Day, a book about the wrong football team, an ugly-cute art project with macaroni and spray paint, a statement mug – which will look great in the back of the cupboard alongside the other statement mugs – socks, socks, and more socks, and hygiene products – the latter of which made me wonder if there was a hidden message behind it?

But, in the true spirit of Christmas, my spouse advised me to receive graciously and refrain from moaning and whining. However, I still believe it is the giver’s fault. Admittedly, I have also been one of these wrongdoers, for the past three years giving my nephew an iTunes gift card every Christmas until I learned this year he has never owned an iPhone.

Repurposing a gift is another great way to express gratitude. A horrible hand-knit jumper given by a family member who has recently taken up knitting can be repurposed discreetly by using it to line the dog bed.

Then, of course, you may learn to live with it. Whether it’s an ugly coaster made from recycled plastic waste, or an environmentally unfriendly gift like a cinnamon and nutmeg triple scented candle, which is supposed to smell like a high-end spa but does the opposite of masking bad smells, or a papaya leaf as an alternative to a plastic straw, one must act sustainably and sacrifice emotions for the sake of our planet’s survival.

Finally, throw it away. Be honest and tell them the truth. I’ve always thought that if you praise a cat for bringing you a dead mouse as a present, you’ll get one every night. Train the cat to bring you the latest electronic gadget or, at the very least, a bottle of expensive Chardonnay.

It is perfectly fine to tell someone what is on your Christmas wish list if they ask. It is a win-win situation for everyone. You acquire what you really want while providing your friend or family member with the peace of mind that their money is being spent on something you will use. That, after all, is the thought that really counts.