In light of a recent entry entitled, “It’s The Thought That Count,” which paints the picture of a woman being asked if she has a certain kind of teapot to which she responds “No,” and is very much not looking forward to receiving said gift, I sort of ran into a similar situation just today. My mother-in-law was out shopping for my son (of her own accord, probably for Christmas) and asks me if my parents ride Harley motorcycles (they do) because she’s found a cute Harley Davidson vest for my son. I’m not sure how to respond at first because I don’t fancy putting my active 1.5 year old in fussier clothing like vests, turtle necks, button up shirts etc. I keep it very simple with my son because that’s what works for us. I know I would NEVER put my son in this vest and would probably promptly donate the item upon receiving it.
She asks again because she’s at the store, and I respond “I’d say no just because I would probably never put him in a Harley vest,” not said rudely at all, and she responds OK and that’s that. But I later asked my husband if it’s rude to deny a gift if someone outright asks you, “Do you want this?” What is the etiquette there? Is it OK to say no, and if so, should we give reason/justification? And I’m not talking about, “Hey do you want my old toaster?”, but more, “Hey I’m at the store, do you want me to buy you this such-in-such?” Thanks! 1121-14
I ask my adult kids if they prefer a specific item I am considering buying as a gift. I do it quite frequently, too, because as they have grown older, moved out of the house and married, I am less sure of their preferences and needs. I ask my new daughter-in-law more than others lately because I do not know her tastes very well and I don’t want to waste money buying something she will feel obligated to use when she would rather not. But our gift giving tends to be more spontaneous and not secretive so our style of gifting easily supports this open and frank discussion regarding preferences.
And in regards to buying items for grandchildren, I always ask ahead of time because I do not assume to know what my children’s preferences are in rearing their kids. I remember receiving what I considered to be prostitot clothing for my then 18 month old daughter years ago and refusing to use them so now that it is my turn to be grandmom, I don’t make that same mistake in assuming.
If someone pointedly asks you, “Would you like/want this?”, you are quite free to be honest and say, “Thank you for asking but I don’t need it/doesn’t fit my decor/it’s not my style/I have too many/I have enough/etc. Thank you for thinking of me.”