The greatest gift of all is… love, of course. But maybe your aunt got you an ill-fitting sweater instead, or enough Starbucks gift cards to keep you caffeinated into the spring. That doesn’t mean you can’t make some romance with what you did get. Here are a few ways you can turn those less-than-perfect presents into something a little more gratifying.
1. Suggest a date (to eat up those gift cards): Here’s an easy one — grab an activity partner for those gift cards. It might seem a little unsavory to take someone out for free, but if that’s mentioned up front (as opposed to randomly producing a giant print-out during the settling of checks) it’s totally kosher. And it doesn’t just have to be coffee or dinner. Find someone willing to help you pick out new shirts at J. Crew. Ask someone to pair up with you for those yoga classes your hippie cousin bought you. Find the fun in the free and share it.
2. Suggest a “return” date: In the realm of chores, returning something usually lingers right at the top. There’s something so incredibly belabored about waiting in line and having to explain that no, you don’t actually want these mom jeans, Michael Bublé CDs, or egg poaching cups. But what’s that saying — “misery loves company”? Find someone else with an equally miserable set of tasks in front of them and try and make merry of it. You can make small talk whilst actually gaining a sense of accomplishment. If things are going well, offer to spend your store credit on them — or at least treat your partner to a drink after.
3. Be aware of your surroundings: OK, so no one took you up on your offers, and now you’ve hit the lines alone. Now the impetus is even more on you — and your eyes. Look around! Take off the headphones — and the grump face — and evaluate your fellow prisoners at the customer service counter. Are any of them cute? Is the girl giving you your gratis coffee friendly, sweet, and potentially available?
Related: 10 Signs Your Barista Is Actually In Love With You
4. Talk to people — as in strangers: Making a move in these situations can be tricky, but it can be done. Smile. Put your casual, jovial pants on. Ask them a question about the return policy. Discuss the exact level of disdain the person working the register has. Ask the clerk what they would do with $50 at The Gap. Keep it light. This isn’t a bar (or unless it is, in that case thank the person who gave you this gift), so don’t get too sexy or lay it on too thick… which leads directly to my next point.
5. Don’t push your luck: Look, not everyone is as progressive as you. Some people can’t see the joy in life’s less desirable tasks. Some people just want to get in and out of Target without getting knifed. That’s fine. If your attempts to flirt with the guy exchanging socks for cash seem to be falling on deaf ears, abort the mission quickly. Nothing’s going to make the process of waiting in line worse than the thick cloud of awkwardness that will arise when someone is forced to tell you to leave them alone. If your attempts to establish contact don’t work, shake it off, and move on. At least you’ve crossed something of your To Do list today and those Bublé CDs are out of your life for good!