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Picky Gift Recipient – To Give Or Not To Give, That Is The Question

I have a story about my mother-in-law’s rudeness and I am also looking for some advice on the best way to handle the situation.

This past Christmas was the first year that both my husband have professional careers. We decided that we would both spend a good amount on our parents as a way to thank them for supporting us over the years of college and grad school. My MIL is a difficult person to shop for so my husband thought it best to ask her to pick out what she wanted. One of the gifts she wanted was a wrapped canvas picture of their family pet that passed away that year. We picked out our favorite picture of the pet and since it was only cost about half of what we wanted to spend we bought her a few more gifts of items that she uses.

Christmas morning comes and when MIL opens the portrait she just stares at it and tells us, “Oh, pet looks old in this picture. I wish you picked a different one.” She put it aside and the picture is still sitting in a closet. My husband was upset but I didn’t think much about it until a week after Christmas. When I got home from work sitting on my kitchen table was the other items that we had bought all still in their gift bags. I made sure to include the receipts with the gifts since I know how difficult my MIL is to shop for but she apparently didn’t even want to trouble herself to exchange the gifts. My husband called her to get an explanation and she told him that she didn’t like the scents (candles) and never wears the piece of jewelry we bought an accessory for. Her other excuse was that we needed the money more than she needs the gifts. Not only did she deny our gifts but she thinks that we are poor and need her to help us.

Fast forward to this weekend and MIL wants to give me a Valentine’s day present early. It’s a charm for my bracelet that happened to be the same one my husband just bought me. I was so tempted to tell her no thanks I already have that one and not accept it but I just smiled and thanked her for the gift. MIL does the same thing to my husband’s father and sister. My father-in-law no longer buys her gifts but my optimistic sister-in-law thinks every year she’ll get her mom something that she actually likes. My question is, do all you etiquette savvy folks think that we should still give gifts or should we just stop giving her anything? Should my husband tell her we are not buying her anymore gifts because of how she treats them or should we just keep ignoring the behavior? I want to just stop giving her anything but my FIL is always appreciates what we give him so it would be really awkward to give something to everyone else but her. Thanks for your input!

I’m of the opinion that grown adults should not be expecting to receive Christmas gifts from each other or feel this burden to give gifts out of a sense of duty and obligation.   I’ve reached the age where I really don’t want any more knicky knacky stuff, no more clutter, no obligatory gifts.    You’ll have to get more creative in your gift giving to MIL.    Take your MIL to a nice restaurant.  If they travel by car, give gift cards to nice highway restaurants like Cracker Barrel (this one went over really well with my in-laws).   Make and can some unusual food items….I made Strawberry Margarita Jam one year that was a huge hit.   I get hard to give women chocolate covered strawberries from Shari’s Berries.   Send a beautiful evergreen centerpiece from the florist.


{ 85 comments… add one }
  • Kirsten December 5, 2013, 2:44 pm

    For everyone suggesting food: I bought my husband’s aunt some expensive chocolates one Christmas – the first I’d met her. She gave them back to me as we were leaving, saying, “We have enough sweets in the house”.

    Why she didn’t just give them to someone else once I’d gone, I’ve no idea. I don’t doubt she meant no harm, and I laughed it off before taking them away, but to hand back a hospitality present did astonish me. It also massively embarrassed my husband, so I’ve never given her anything since because I don’t want that happening again.

    Restaurant: she’ll complain. Flowers: she’ll complain. Pretty much anything: she’ll complain.

    Put in the absolute minimum effort possible eg Amazon certificate then expect her to whine, and for goodness’ sake, take back your door keys! I’d have been furious for her for that one!

  • Ken December 5, 2013, 2:48 pm

    My family stopped exchanging gifts two years ago. My siblings and I are all working adults, and my parents still work. Whenever we need/want something, we buy it for ourselves. Every year for Christmas, we would end up with presents that we would keep, but barely, if ever, use. If any of us give my parents grandkids, we’ll probably buy gifts for the children. Until then, lots of good food and company is fine with us.
    As for the whole, key, no key debate, I have a close family, we live in a more rural area, and we’re always walking into each others homes. I hardly ever lock my doors. I have keys to my mom’s house, my sister’s house, my grandmother’s house, and my bosses house. I don’t even knock on the doors when I stop to visit. If I did, I would get a look like I lost my mind. I’ve often dropped stuff off for people, or had people drop stuff off for me at my house. When my sisters and their boyfriends went on vacation last year, me and two of my friends surprised my youngest sister by repainting her dining room while they were away. And before anyone asks, yes, she was planning on painting the room and I knew how she wanted it done.

  • lakey December 5, 2013, 2:56 pm

    essie December 5, 2013 at 7:43 am
    Look her in the eye when she complains about the gift and say, clearly and emphatically, “You’re welcome.” If she continues, “Yes, it’s always nice when one’s efforts are appreciated.”

    I like this. I do believe that excluding her from gift giving could give her more excuse to be negative. However, you also don’t want to enable what is truly ungrateful behavior. Using Essie’s comments MIGHT get through to the ungrateful person. One of the things that is so frustrating about people like the MIL isn’t that they occasionally act thoughtlessly, it is that they make a habit of it. This causes the stress of knowing, at every event, that that rude remark is coming.

  • Angel December 5, 2013, 3:05 pm

    I would talk to your hubby about it since it is his mom, but if I were you guys I wouldn’t get her anything. If you go to their home for the holidays and regularly bring dessert–or wine or something, that’s one thing, but I wouldn’t bring anything for her. Or FIL either–since you can’t bring one a gift and not the other.

    I wouldn’t say anything about it, or make an announcement or anything–I would just go ahead and NOT bring gifts. If she calls you out on it just say, you left the gifts we gave you behind last time–do you still want those–because I didn’t buy anything else new for you. And see what she says. I would bet that she probably won’t say anything else!

  • Marozia December 5, 2013, 3:23 pm

    How completely vulgar is your MIL!!!
    Buy her a gift card from a store or take her to a restaurant.
    No need to blow your brainpower on this woman any more buying her gifts.

  • Anonymous December 5, 2013, 3:42 pm

    To all the people suggesting flowers, not everyone likes them. For example, I’m one of those rare women who’s pretty indifferent to all things floral–flowers die, they scatter petals, they serve no purpose other than being decorative, and I’d just rather have something that’s either useful, or longer-lasting. I’ve never been rude about it, but people who know me, know that I’m not a big flower person. For example, at the end of the final summer that I worked at my parents’ office, the other assistants collectively bought me flowers, which they gave my parents to give to me right before I was about to get in the car and leave for another year of university. The car was packed with all my things, and the flowers would have gotten ruined, so I quickly wrote a thank-you card to the people at the office (I actually had a box of blank cards expressly for this purpose), and left the flowers behind for the kitchen table. My mom said that I was “rude, ungrateful, and selfish” for doing that, but really, I didn’t see the point of taking the flowers with me, under the circumstances. Now, that’s an extreme example, because people don’t pack as much to visit out-of-town relatives at Christmas, as they would for a year of university, but it’s the same general principle–travel, other luggage, car heaters if it’s cold out–that means that flowers aren’t always a good gift idea.

  • The Elf December 5, 2013, 3:58 pm

    Kirsten, I hear ya. Food’s no guarantee. The central point – about creating drama, about being overly picky, about failing to show gratitude – remains. But at least if it gets returned, you get a tasty treat!

  • Jessabeth December 5, 2013, 4:46 pm

    My family’s all but given up buying presents meant for my grandmother. She isn’t rude about what we get her, but she doesn’t use them (she’s very particular & “doesn’t need any more stuff, anyway” but still likes opening presents) & eventually gives them back to which ever person gave her the gift originally. Now we just give her something we’d eventually like in our own houses.

  • Cat December 5, 2013, 5:02 pm

    I give people food: not chocolates, not candy, food. Prime rib is a good one if the person is a meat-eater.
    I once gave my brother a Pheasant from Scotland. They go out during Pheasant season in Scotland, shoot a wild bird, pick/draw it, wrap it in sealed plastic, put it on dry ice, and fly it to the US. Our ancestry is from Scotland and it was a chance to taste what great, great, great grand-daddy would have eaten at Christmas.
    You can send Beef Wellington, steaks, chicken, turkey, pork, and whatever else you can name all by mail. Let Ms. Picky say she has given up meat and I’ll have a fine dinner. I’ll kill the fatted marrow (zucchini) for her.
    Failing that: there are breakfast breads, fruits, and cheeses. Just don’t do what my friends did and present a vegetarian new brother-in-law with a box of steaks. He had just married into the family and forgot to tell the new brother-in-law ( or anyone else) that he did not eat meat. Secret Santas can get you if you don’t watch out.

  • jojo December 5, 2013, 5:06 pm

    Have a family agreement – no gifts for anyone over 18!
    For family celebrations, club together a set amount per person to go out and do something you all enjoy and that will make you laugh.
    There are a million ways to make happy memories together for really not much money and they last far longer than things.

  • Stacey Frith-Smith December 5, 2013, 5:33 pm

    Maybe your MIL is a control freak. Maybe she’s insecure. Maybe she is just impossible to please and sets up these tests so that she can play the martyr. Whatever. I think that all you need do is decide what is an acceptable policy for you as a couple towards her in relation to gifts and to implement it. (Dinner out? A performance? Invite her to ONE evening and…if she snubs your event like she snubbed your gift- score! You get credit for giving a gift and she can’t pull the same stunt of trying to return it.) And let your husband do the event selecting, gift buying, gift making or communicating. That takes you out of the picture and gets her potential reaction somewhat off of your plate.

  • Kimberly December 5, 2013, 6:09 pm

    I would buy MIL something I absolutely loved and wanted for myself from now on.

    That way, when you get back, you can enjoy it. 🙂

  • AnaMaria December 5, 2013, 6:28 pm

    OP, you have my full sympathy- gifts to my mom end up in the back of her closet, untouched. Even gift cards end up sitting around the house unused. One summer during my undergrad I spent a summer in France and bought my mom some nice perfume in a beautiful bottle from a perfumery in Paris, but had a horrible time finding something for my dad- I ended up getting him a knick knack of the Eiffel Tower from the airport gift shop. Well, my dad proudly displays the knick knack in our home and tells guests how his daughter bought it for him right after she climbed the actual Eiffel Tower, whereas my mom keeps the perfume in a box under her bathroom sink (my dad really likes it and has convinced her to wear it a few times, but that’s it!). I am in graduate school this year and unless money falls from the sky I won’t be doing any Christmas shopping, but even if I had money I’ve decided to just give my mom cards or flowers for special occasions from now on. I love her dearly, but my hard-earned money isn’t going to sit in the back of her closet any more!

  • crebj December 5, 2013, 9:04 pm

    Time is a precious gift. If it’s possible for you, offering an afternoon of doing what MIL wants to do could be wonderful. Art museum? manicure/pedicure together? helping to clean out the basement? The conversation could go places you hadn’t imagined. It worked for me.

  • kingsrings December 5, 2013, 11:32 pm

    One of my friends used to be notorious for seemingly hating every gift that was ever given to her. She was always showing gifts given to her by others to me and complaining about how they were bad gifts. I tried so hard to make her happy with gifts. One time, I spent hours shopping in Greenwich Village for her and finally found a beautiful, handmade candle holder. She clearly expressed her disappointment with the gift. I was so hurt! I vowed then to never give her another gift.

    I’ve gotten bad gifts before – the very tarnished old bracelet my friend gave me because “I know how you love old stuff”. Yeah, I love old stuff in good condition! And I’ve lost track of how many lavender-scented gifts I’ve been given. I can’t stand the smell of lavender! But I’ve always accepted them politely and graciously, then quietly handed them over to someone else who would like them.

    I also agree with Admin’s sentiments that adults don’t need Christmas presents. If there aren’t a lot of adults to buy for, it’s not so bad. However, for larger families, it gets to be so challenging and costly to buy so many presents. In those cases, everyone should just draw one name, or come to the agreement that only the kids will get presents.

  • La December 6, 2013, 7:35 am

    At this rate I’d get her something genuinely so-bad-it’s-good (or if you’re feeling particularly uncharitable, so-bad-it’s-awful, such as diabetic chocolate or a 3D Blu-Ray of the Star Wars Holiday Special). The plus side with the so-bad-it’s-good is that you’ll wind up with something humourous to decorate the downstairs loo with, and hopefully she’ll appreciate your nice gifts a bit more.

    Alternate ending: your MIL has a taste for tacky kitschy items and that deer behind taxidermy with eyes and teeth is just the thing she always wanted. (Yes, that does exist and it is very creepy in a hilarious ‘oh gods what possessed you to make that’ way.)

  • Miss Merlot December 6, 2013, 7:36 am

    I have a similar problem but my MIL has an excuse – she has Alzheimers. She loved to open her gifts on Christmas Day and is certainly grateful at the time, but because whatever you get her is not part of her “known” items, she never uses them and sticks instead to what she knows. What she actually opened on the day will be forgotten by Boxing Day.

    Chocolate, wine and bath stuff are good standbys that she will use, but otherwise we buy really cheap items on Ebay so she has the pleasure of opening something, but we don’t waste money on something that will be forgotten.

  • Rowan December 6, 2013, 7:48 am

    How brilliant when two websites that you read meet in glorious harmony. First of all, this letter and then “Passive Aggressive gifts for your MiL”… http://www.mommyish.com/2013/12/05/passive-aggressive-gifts-for-your-mother-in-law/

  • bloo December 6, 2013, 8:17 am

    “I would buy MIL something I absolutely loved and wanted for myself from now on.

    That way, when you get back, you can enjoy it. :)”

    – Kimberly

    Love it! Extra points if it’s something with your name already engraved on it (a la Homer with the bowling ball). 🙂

  • Margo December 6, 2013, 8:34 am

    What is your relationship with your MiL like generally?
    Her behaviour is very rude, and how I would approach it would depend on what the wider relationship is like, rather than focussing on the gift giving alone.

    If your relationship is normally good and positive, then I would approach it on the basis of talking to her, (your husband may need to do this, rather than you, as it’s his mum.) Let her know how disappointing and discouraging it is to have your (joint) efforts thrown back at you. Explain that you’re very grateful for the help they have given in the past, but that you are no longer in a position where you “need it more than” them, and that you are in a position to, and would like to be able to give them nice things .
    And then I would go down the route of either giving her EXACTLY what she asks for, with no substitution, or giving her things which are not returnable and which can be shared and enjoyed, such as flowers, edible gifts, or (if you/husband WANT to spend additional time with them, eperiences such as taking them out for a meal, or for a day ot somewhere.

    However, if her behaviour more generally is unpleasant then I would stop trying. She has made it quite clear that she does not appreciate your efforts, doesn;t want your gifts and is not police or gracious enough about it to be discreet. So get you FIL something you think he will like and either don’t buy at all for MIL or get her something small which doesn’t require much thought or effort on your part – a box of chocolates, bottle of a perfume she regularly uses, gift bag of the toiletries she uses, or whatever. She may still be rude about it, but at least you haven’t wasted time or energy trying to please someone who is determined not to be pleased. Ideally get something which will either be used straight away (flowers are good for this) or which you’d be happy to have to keep or regift (so if you get a bottle of wine, get one you like, if you get toiletries, get ones you’d be happy to use or which you could regift or donate to a women’s refuge.

    I do get that not everyone likes flowers, or food gifts, but if you have someone who is determined not to like anything, that becomes pretty irrelevent. And at least with flowers or wine other people who are there can enjoy them, and they are perishable so you don’t get stuck having a git given back to you or seeing it hang around her home for ever after being despised.

    Even in these circumstances, and faced with someone behaving so rudely, i would not give a it to charity in their name unless they had asked for that or shown me that they approved of the concept by giving a gift to charity in place of giving one to me. It isn’t really a gift and I think it would be better to give her nothing .

    If she is generally a nice person and just totally clueless in this one area then you could ask her how she would feel about you giving to charity in her name instead of a concrete gift – if she is worried about you spending too much, or is really picky, then this may be welcome, and then you can decide exactly what you want to spend.

  • Lythande December 6, 2013, 8:50 am

    You would think gift cards seem like a good idea, but they can go just as unappreciated. The first Christmas after I left home and had my own job, I sent hefty gift cards to the grocery store to most of my family, figuring at least it would be useful – hey, if someone bough me $200 worth of groceries I’d be ecstatic. When my sister complained about it, I believe that was the last year I gave her a present.

  • Goldie December 6, 2013, 9:54 am

    Yes I am with Admin! This is the exact reason why my family stopped exchanging gifts. Our first year living in the same area (I was 30 and my parents 60), I bought my mom a knick-knack at Hallmark as a holiday gift, that she didn’t like, and asked me to return. I felt hurt then, but 16 years later I realize that Mom had saved me many years of spending the money I didn’t have on useless gifts she didn’t want. I host a family dinner instead, which everybody likes and enjoys.

    Maybe MIL’s execution could’ve been a bit smoother, but the idea is great – why don’t we all stop buying useless things for each other, just because we feel we’re obligated to. The only group of people benefiting from this tradition are the manufacturers of said useless gifts.

    Now, with all that said, I am not sure that I’ll have the cojones to communicate this to my DIL, when the time comes that I have one. I am very very conflict avoidant. I’ll probably just nod, smile, say thank you for the scented candle or the ornament, and put it together with all the other ones…

  • Enna December 6, 2013, 12:35 pm

    I’ve never had anyone be ungrateful for a gift I have given them. However if they were being super fussy and rude I would buy them a charitable gift so the moeny would be going to a good cause. If the person was then grumpy that they hadn’t got anything they could use themselves I would politely remind them of their negative responses so they shoudln’t give me mixed messages.

  • gellchom December 6, 2013, 1:33 pm

    I see this a little differently than many posters seem to.

    I mean, yes, MIL’s not being a polite gift recipient, not at all. And maybe she does need to learn to be more gracious. But she isn’t asking for advice, the OP is. And the OP didn’t ask us how to teach MIL a lesson or manipulate her behavior through her husband or PA behavior; she asked whether she and her husband should continue giving MIL gifts and, if not, whether they should tell her why.

    I also am not so sure that her rudeness indicates ingratitude. She may be very much of the “it’s the thought that counts” school, which goes nicely, by the way, with the “I really don’t want more stuff” viewpoint that the admin described. Of course she should still be nice about it! But she may appreciate the gifts very much just because her son and his wife remembered her. I know that is my favorite part about any gift my children give me, even the ones that are perfect choices.

    Similarly, while I do indeed understand not liking feeling treated like you can’t afford what you can, it’s not really uncommon for parents to feel funny about taking money away from their children and wanting to give it back somehow. Again, there are obviously better ways to handle that. But there are worse things, too.

    If I were the OP and her husband — and really, I would leave the choice primarily to him — I would continue to buy gifts as always, but just not expect it ever to be a very gratifying experience. It’s a LOT easier to handle others’ obnoxious behaviors when instead of dreading them happening, I tell myself it IS going to happen. My mother taught me this; we call it “It’s going to wiggle” (because it’s based on using the same principle to be less grossed out by sticking your hand into a live bait bucket). Just do your best to choose something and don’t worry about how she will receive it. She may need to learn manners, but it is not her children’s place to teach her. And it wouldn’t work, anyway. At most, talk about your own feelings, not her behavior: “I feel bad that we never seem to please you. Maybe you could give us some guidance about the kind of gifts you like?”

    I know many people don’t like charitable donations for gifts, but *I* do, very much, and I would be thrilled if my children did that for my birthday. I don’t know the OP’s MIL, but she might be similarly inclined. OP, do you think she would like that? Just be sure it is to HER favorite charity, not yours or one you think she ought to learn to like.

  • June First December 6, 2013, 2:37 pm

    My dad can be the same way. “You shouldn’t have spent your money on this” is a regular phrase, then he’ll go out and buy the item we got him. For a while, we tried just getting him pictures of things. Then we started getting stuff that he actually needs, like a new handle for his grill or food or whatever.

    The time I really stopped him mid-complaint: I did a chore for him, and he was telling me how I did it “wrong” (ie, didn’t put the tools back where he wanted them). I just stopped, gave a big smile and said, “You know, I love the many ways you say THANK YOU, Dad!” He at least had the grace to look embarrassed. I have probably told that anecdote here before.

    The gift of time is a great one for these hard-to-shop-for people.

    And, Miss Merlot, I second your comment about people with Alzheimers. I keep hearing from my relative, “It’s nice, but it just doesn’t feel like ‘me’.” She is in the early stages, and is having a hard time wearing unfamiliar clothes.

  • Mojo December 6, 2013, 4:52 pm

    Our family rule one: consumables only. No nik-naks, gadgets, clothing or tat (unless specifically requested, with exact purchasing details).

    Rule two: you have to say thank you. Even if you’re going to give it to charity or feed it to next door’s cat!

  • Leefa December 6, 2013, 8:04 pm

    Get a gift that keeps giving. Tear, Oxfam, World Vision all do them. I bought my parents a pig one year, they got a lovely card and a family in a third world country got the actual pig. We do chickens or rabbits at Easter time as well. You can help build a well, buy bricks for the completion of a school or hospital, school books for children, micro finance a loan to a woman to start a small business, mosquito nets, immunisations, as well as different livestock which help provide income to poor families. She can’t give it back, and it benefits someone who truly needs it.

  • ebrain December 6, 2013, 10:20 pm

    Oh, my. I can’t imagine how best to deal with someone who seems so utterly to misunderstand the ideas of giving and receiving.

    I know my own mother had issues with giving gifts (they had to be used in the way she believed they ought to be) and with receiving gifts (we really ought to have known what she wanted). Many tears were shed over gifts given, taken back, and rejected. Not as bad as the OP…but still. Ouch.

    I finally hit on the idea that others have expressed here – understanding what her preferred charity was (her church food pantry), and giving to that charity (generously) in her name. We made sure any acknowledgment went to her (and Heaven bless her priest for knowing to say, in his way, “Virginia, your children are so wonderful, and so generous on your behalf! You must be very proud of them!”) And we got her an elaborate card – not saying something crass like “we donated $$$ in your name to Food Bank” but rather, “Thank you, Mom! Because of you, # families were able to enjoy # meals. The love we have for you, and your own generosity of spirit in sharing your gift, made a difference to these people. Thank you.”

    And you know what? It was true. I loved my mother, and she loved to consider herself generous (even if she was unkind about getting gifts) and she took pride in rearing generous kids. And, of course, others need to eat. It worked all the way around.

  • Margaret December 8, 2013, 8:34 am

    Goldie #72 — you might not have to say anything to your future DIL. You have started a family tradition, and you can always tell your own children what you like. Think of the stress it will save the DIL! Personally, I have been telling my sons since they were old enough to understand, “Mommies always like flowers.”

  • Mabel December 8, 2013, 10:34 am

    It seems like everyone talks about the etiquette of receiving gifts, but not the etiquette of giving them. For kids, surprises are fine–but I agree that adults should probably cut down on the gift giving, especially if they aren’t considering the other person’s taste/likes/dislikes/available space.

    While complaining about a gift to the giver is poor etiquette, the feelings behind it are understandable sometimes. Certain members of my family like to buy presents and make them a “surprise”. These gifts tend to be items that they themselves like or blatant attempts to make over the recipient, such as inappropriate, ill-fitting clothing they claim that you “need.” They never ask what the other person might want (“That would spoil the surprise!”), and they won’t buy gift cards, which they consider “impersonal.” It’s especially frustrating when you spend hours trying to pick out something they will like, calling them for opinions, etc. and then you get something that they obviously put no thought into at all. I know it’s not about the actual present, but their inattention to even the most glaring details about people is maddening. I try to be gracious, but I’ve given up retaining gifts I don’t want–they go straight to the garage sale/charity thrift store. For the record, I am not the only person they do this to, and it’s not just confined to gift-giving. I also don’t ask these people for any advice (when I was job hunting, one of them told me to lie on my resume), and if they offer it, I thank them and then bean-dip.

    The MIL in this story, however, has no excuse for her behavior–she told them what she wanted and then still complained when she got it.

  • AngePange December 12, 2013, 4:42 am

    I had a problem last year with my MIL. At that stage, my now-husband and I were engaged, due to be married in November. I had hand embroidered some Christmas stockings and filled them with small, very thoughtful gifts. I was particularly excited about MIL’s gift because I knew she was going to love it (it pertains to a hobby she is completely obsessed with). However, I had embroidered on her stocking “Mom” and on FIL’s “Dad”. (We celebrate Christmas with DH’s family on Christmas Eve and my fam on Christmas, so my parents weren’t present). FIL accepted his stocking, but MIL refused to take hers because it said “Mom” and she is not my mother. I was horrified. DH has been calling my parents mom and dad for years (we were together for 10 years before marrying). Eventually I had to remove the gifts from the stocking, then she would accept them. Family. Soooo difficult.

  • TheCatLady December 12, 2013, 12:13 pm

    My mom is the same way. She gets so picky it is ridiculous. I solved this issue by taking her to lunch and I shop for her the same day… we try stuff on together, or cruise things we like, and I buy her what she wants within reason. She loves our annual shopping trip, and it saves me the hassle.

    I tend to ignore ingrates, they just want to be grumpy about something. My theory is that they require the drama to be happy for the holiday, I would hate to ruin their fun by getting them something they like.

  • Dear! December 13, 2013, 7:21 am

    Get her a gift card and keep it moving. You can’t change someone and make them appreciative. If she gives it back again, just donate it to charity or use it for yourself.

  • KC Kidder December 10, 2014, 5:05 am

    Send a check in her honor to a charity and give her the card stating this has been done. if she whins about this, have a star named for her the next year as she is really a Prima Donna

  • Anonymous November 4, 2015, 1:27 pm

    I have the same problem with my fiance’s mother. I put SOO much effort into her gifts every year. I found something we got her 4 years ago sitting in her closet unopened. I’m staying out of picking her gift this year. We’re getting her and her husband a gift certificate to a nice restaurant..that’s all I’m doing for her. My fiance likes to buy her weird things, like gag gifts that make her ask ” why would he do this? ” she always complains to me when he does that so I told him to go for it this year 🙂 can’t make her happy anyway

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