I had an odd experience where I offered a gift to someone, they refused, and then offered that gift immediately to someone else.
The first time I was at work, walking down the hall and I had a special treat with me, a caramel-filled chocolate bar in my bag. I spotted a work colleague from another department (I rarely see her at work but she is also a personal friend who I invite to dinner from time-to-time) and stopped to chat with her. In the course of the conversation, I offered to share the chocolate bar. She said thank you but no, and then said, “I’m headed to a meeting, I can share it with my group.” And held out her hand for the chocolate. I was taken aback and said something to the effect of, “Well I want some too, I’m going to keep it.” Then we were both awkward and she said she had to run to her meeting.
Then a few weeks later a similar thing happened. I had baked a bunch of muffins and brought them to share with some friends at a work convention. They were greatly appreciated and all but one were eaten which I tucked away for later. I was making the rounds saying good-bye to people and stopped to congratulate a woman who had run a successful presentation and I offered her the last muffin. She said no thank you, she was full from dinner and we hugged and I started to leave but she turned to a man sitting in a booth to the side and offered him the muffin. He said, “Eh, sure, why not?”, and she turned back to me and gestured for me to give him the muffin. I didn’t know the man, had never seen him before but didn’t want to embarrass her so I handed it to him (I’m sorry to say not at all gracefully and without saying a word or even looking at him) and left.
In both cases, I offered a friend/work colleague an item I felt was special and wanted to share with them specifically and they first (politely) refused it but then gave it away to another person like it was their gift, not mine. I feel like it’s still my gift to keep and offer to someone else and not theirs to give away but am I wrong? What is the polite thing to do if I encounter this situation again? 0511-13
Would your attitude change any if the intended recipient of your food gifts had graciously accepted and almost immediately stated an intention to share it with others? Once a gift is offered and accepted, the giver loses all rights to how their gift is used.
So, the issue is that your intended gift recipients decline the food gift but offer to regift it to someone else for you. Simply decline saying, “I meant this for you. Perhaps another time.” In the case of the muffin man, you got stuck in an awkward situation with no graceful way to decline. My thought on that is, why are you placing so much emotional and tangible value on a muffin? In the grand scheme of things, it cost pennies to make yet its value lies in promoting your gracious generosity. If I make food items I intend to give away to others, in the end it really doesn’t matter who ends up eating them as I have achieved my purpose in making and bringing them, i.e. I have blessed others with a small treat that cost me little to make. It’s a double whammy of goodness if someone declines the food yet it goes to a second person who does appreciate it. The first person has a happy glow that you thoughtfully considered them to receive a food gift and the second person benefits from a surprise treat. Two happy people for the price of one muffin.