WE'VE all received them. Those inappropriate, ill-conceived or lacklustre Christmas presents that leave you wondering, just what in Santa's name were they thinking?
Last year Australians received almost 17 million unwanted gifts, according to the classifieds website Gumtree. Which means many of us have become practised at lying to loved ones about whether we like our presents.
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The speech and body language expert Michael Kelly said people often revealed their true feelings without realising they were doing so.
''When someone doesn't like your gift and they decide to hide [it] their voice may be very flat … or they may have very halting, restrained speech … so it's not spontaneous,'' he said.
The recipient might also develop a ''frozen smile'' to conceal their disappointment, might be overly effusive or might touch the giver to show they like the gift, but end up holding on too long.
''If they don't like the gift, they may just put it aside quickly, even though they say that they like it,'' Mr Kelly said. ''So there's a disconnect between their body, the words they speak and their voice.''
So how can you tell when a person genuinely likes their gift? Mr Kelly said the body language of people who were truly happy with their present tended to include holding eye contact and reaching out or embracing the giver, and when they said ''thank you'' their voice inflected upwards.
''When you think about the face, the eyes and the smile light up and the eyebrows rise all at the same time. So it's unrehearsed, it's spontaneous.''
The director of operations at Relationships Australia, Lyn Fletcher, said problems with Christmas presents could occur when expectations were not met.
''There are two reactions we're dealing with; the reaction of the receiver and the response of the giver - people don't usually give a gift hoping the recipient will hate it - so those two things coming together can create a sort of tinderbox for people in terms of conflict,'' Ms Fletcher said.
''It can be a recipe for discomfort at the least and for disaster at the worst.''
Ms Fletcher said such conflict was usually a sign of deeper, already existing issues in a relationship.
''A person might be thinking, 'Here you go again, getting me something I clearly don't like. You don't really know me, you don't want to please me.'''