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Lame Gifts

I will start this off by stating that I love to give gifts. I take the time to make mental notes of what my friends and relatives like. I will go to the ends of the earth (or the internet) to find the perfect gift. I love the look on a person’s face when I give them something I know they will love. I will even try find a way to make an office Secret Santa gift special while staying in the given price range. It is almost like a sport for me.

This is a story about my husband’s relative and spouse. They cannot graciously give or receive gifts. They moved to our town three years ago and we have been friends with them. They don’t like giving gifts but they sure like receiving them. My husband and I have birthdays that are two weeks apart. During the month our birthdays is in we don’t hear from them. They won’t answer calls or text back and after the month has passed they show up again. It’s like they are afraid they will have to buy us something. I don’t expect birthday gifts but telling me “happy birthday” would be nice. Whenever they want to do something for their birthdays we happily go along.

They got married and bought a house at about the same time. They told me the only reason why they had a wedding reception was because their parents friends are rich and they knew they would receive good wedding presents. The got married in a courthouse a few months before the wedding reception for insurance reasons. We did not go to the wedding reception because it was out of state and would have been too expensive to for us to attend. We offered to buy them an appliance for their family room as a wedding and housewarming present. They were going to install a wet bar so the appliance would tie in perfectly. They told us to hold off on the purchase because they would need to find the right appliance for us to buy. It would have to be a certain size and color.

The months passed and Christmas rolled around they never told us what to buy and we still hadn’t given them their gift. We then decided to give them a gift card so they could buy the appliance themselves. We wanted to cover Christmas, the wedding and housewarming all at once so we put a lot of money on the gift card. When we exchanged presents with them they thanked us for the card and gave us our gifts. DH received an obviously used desk decoration the smelled like mold and had parts missing. I was one of those little things you could buy at the drugstore and the price was printed on the box. If it was new the cost would have been $9.99. We think they bought it at a garage sale. When they handed me my gift they said “we had a hard time digging up a gift for you”. I was given a piece of pottery from the pottery class the wife takes. The piece looked like it did not turn out well and was uneven and the color was off. We did thank them. They ended up buying the appliance from a friend, used. The used appliance is an average size and color so I guess what they wanted was not so specific after all.

My DH was more hurt than I was about the lame gifts. I kept telling him it’s the thought that counts. He then pointed out that they gave no thought to the gifts they gave us.

The next year I still bought them nice and thoughtful gifts but did not spend as much on them. I found the gifts for them a few months before while on vacation. They loved the gifts and I was happy. They gave a new calendar to DH and a piece of costume jewelry for me. For them, this was quite thoughtful and I was touched.

Last Christmas rolled around and the wife is pregnant and due in February. We bought the husband a small kitchen gadget that he was talking about. For the wife I bought her a little present the ended up being much cheaper that I thought it would be so I included a bottle of wine that complimented the little present. It was a brand of wine that I knew she liked. I even included a small gift for the baby that was not born yet. We went to their house to exchange gifts a week before Christmas. When the wife opened her gift she said “why did you give wine to a pregnant woman?” Maybe this was not so considerate but she was not going to be pregnant forever and wine keeps. The baby gift I got them played a little song and they said they will find a way to break it so it wouldn’t make noise. After they opened up our gifts to them they told us since the wife is pregnant they did not have time buy gifts. It is not a matter of money if you believe their bragging on how rich they are. The wife has not had any complications to her pregnancy that made her unable to move and the husband is young and fully mobile. They did have a pile of wrapped gifts that were sitting in a corner. They were all wrapped in the same wrapping paper so it looked like they did get gifts for some people and had yet to hand them out. I guess we didn’t qualify this year.

The last gift we gave them was when they had the baby. I did not feel right going to the hospital to see the baby without having a gift in hand. My DH said it was a waste of time and money giving them anything but I convinced him it was the right thing to do. I knew they don’t like flowers so I bought a little newborn outfit. When I gave it to them they said “why did you give us something the baby is going to outgrow? “ There was no thank you or anything. Oh well, I guess one day I will learn. Since I did not get a Christmas present from them casting them off into the fiery pits of e-hell will be nice. Merry belated Christmas to me! 0314-12

{ 155 comments… add one }
  • Rebecca December 17, 2015, 2:45 am

    Oh I know you love to give gifts, and that you don’t expect anything in return, but wow, I sure would have stopped giving them anything a long time ago. If asked about it, I’d say, “Oh, we’ve decided to just give gifts to immediate family.”

    • Wild Irish Rose December 18, 2015, 10:48 am

      Yup, that’s me. Ingrates get nothing but “Merry Christmas!” from me. I too like to give gifts, and I’ve probably had one or two recipients complain, but overall most of the people to whom I give presents are grateful. In my case, money is pretty tight so I never spend much on any one person, but even if I spend a dollar it’s on something I know the recipient would like. People who can’t say a simple “thank you” aren’t worth the dollar, in my opinion.

  • Mojo December 17, 2015, 4:04 am

    Christmas one – lame gifts.
    Christmas two – generic small gifts.
    Christmas three – no gifts from them at all.
    Maybe there’s a signal you’re not picking up on?

    Not every family goes in for gift exchanges between adults. Maybe you could approach them and verbally agree not to exchange individual gifts, except for the children? Maybe suggest you give family treats instead, a box of biscuits, cake, wine, ham; or offer to host a slap up dinner for them and the child at some point over the season.

    What’s going on right now just makes you disappointed, so mix it up a little.

  • just4kicks December 17, 2015, 4:39 am

    I wouldn’t waste anymore time or money getting them gifts, they seem like they don’t appreciate (or your time and effort) them.
    Tacky and definitely rude!

    I could fill pages with the gross and tacky gifts my late MIL used to give me.
    She got my husband fabulous gifts or cash, and my kids always got money so they could buy what they wanted, so it’s not like she was a clueless shopper, she just didn’t like me.
    I opened up a box one Xmas to find a glass reindeer with one of the antlers broken off.
    I immediately apologized and said “Oh no! I must have broken it off when I opened it….I’m so sorry I wasn’t more careful, thank you for the gift!”
    Her reply? “OH….you didn’t break it….I bought it that way at the flea market. They wanted $1.00 for it, but I haggled them down to fifty cents because it was broken!!!”
    Gee….Thanks….I think…

    • JeanLouiseFinch December 17, 2015, 9:47 am

      Wow! I would have had a hard time not just silently picking it up and marching it over to the garbage can in front of her, perhaps saying “sorry you had to waste your time.”

      • just4kicks December 17, 2015, 10:30 pm

        She was a real winner….I could fill pages with stories.

    • Anon December 17, 2015, 10:49 am

      I hope you’re husband stood up for you at some point. I would be embarrassed to have a mother like that who obviously hates my spouse.

      • just4kicks December 17, 2015, 10:25 pm

        @Anon: sadly no, (not to speak ill of the dead) his Mother was a saint in his eyes and could do no wrong.
        It was just easier to keep my mouth shut where she was concerned, unless one of my kids was a target, then I put a stop to it….real quick.
        She didn’t like any of the DIL’ s, we were never good enough for “her boys”.
        My husband would take her to breakfast once or twice a week and she would get the biggest kick of calling me and telling me how all the “lovely ladies” at the restaurants were “eyeing up” my husband.
        One day, I was very pregnant and very cranky and said “Oh yeah? Did any of them give (husband) their phone number?”
        “….Uh, no….why?!?”
        “Because I would call her and tell her to MAKE ME AN OFFER!!!”
        THAT went over like a lead balloon….but sure felt AWESOME…She was actually speechless.

        • Becca December 18, 2015, 4:28 pm

          Your MIL sounds like my dad’s mother. 5 boys. She hated women in general “so glad I never had any girls!”. My grandpa loved his granddaughters so much because he always wanted at girl lol lol lol, I miss that man so much.

          My dad’s mom wasn’t that crazy and outwardly vile though, thankfully. I’m sad your dh wasn’t more supportive but we all have those blinders in some aspect. My mom has them for her alcoholic sibling. I’m happy you have a wonderful sense of humor and knew it wasn’t you, it was MIL being a jerk.

          • just4kicks December 19, 2015, 6:38 am

            @Becca: in relation to MIL, I learned to just laugh it off….better than crying about it.
            Although I did lay into her one night when she screamed at my then 7 year old who reached into a bag of chips (which was out for everyone to eat) grabbing the bag closed around his wrist saying “If you touch MY food again, I’ll break your fingers!!!”
            I’m not joking.
            No dementia or Alzheimer’s….just plain mean and obnoxious.
            No back up from my husband either….”Oh, she was just JOKING for Christ’s sake!!!”
            No…She wasn’t, but you can go tell our son “the joke”, because right now he is scared of his own grandmother.

            I had a very special relationship with my Dad’s father, I was one of five granddaughters, he cherished us all….I sure do miss him, and my grandma.
            He taught me to play billiards, and one Christmas, I actually beat my grandfather in a game before dinner.
            I overheard my dad say to my grandpop, “Hey, Dad….it was nice of you to let her win, you made her Christmas!!!”
            My grandson said, “Are you kidding?!? I didn’t let her win…She beat me fair and square! I’ve taught her TOO well!” 🙂

          • just4kicks December 19, 2015, 6:39 am

            @Becca: ….grand pop that should say on the last line….not grandson.

    • Lisa H. December 17, 2015, 11:11 am

      Holy weird MIL Batman! Just WOW!! Your late MIL sounds like an ‘interesting’ person. Would love to hear about other ‘gifts’.
      (Interesting = nut job)

      • just4kicks December 17, 2015, 10:28 pm

        @LisaH: another year I got a very mismatched cookware set, some of the pots and lids still had old food stuck on them….another great “find” at the flea market.
        As I thanked her profusely and got up to put them in the kitchen (they went in the trash before she even left the driveway), she yelled out to me “Oh, you’re welcome! Maybe NOW you’ll be able to cook a decent meal!”

        • crella December 18, 2015, 9:34 am

          Good Lord…that’s awful! I don’t get these jealous MILs. They do want their sons to get married and give them grandchildren, don’t they? Surely they realize they can’t do it on their own.

          I love your “I would call her and tell her to MAKE ME AN OFFER!!!” quip. When mine was going on about how I was an awful DIL and DH could have done so much better, I said to her ‘You realize that you’re saying that your son isn’t bright enough to pick a decent spouse, don’t you? When you ridicule me you’re also ridiculing him. What must people think of you?” (boy, I waited and waited till my Japanese skills got good enough for sarcasm!) That stopped 90% of it right there.

          After the coat incident DH, DS and I only exchanged gifts among ourselves. I’d had it.

          • Mary December 18, 2015, 10:42 am

            That is a great response!

          • just4kicks December 19, 2015, 6:45 am

            @All who commented: thanks!
            She was actually speechless after the “make me an offer” comment.
            It was awesome!
            Of course my husband was ticked I mouthed off to his mom.
            How about you tell HER not to intentionally upset your WIFE?!?
            Or is that asking too much, Norman Bates?

    • Cat December 17, 2015, 1:20 pm

      Reminds me of a co-worker who gave me a gift from the Dollar Store with the $1.00 price tag still stuck to it.

      • Ella December 18, 2015, 1:38 am

        A few years ago I saw something that reminded me of a friend. I hadn’t seen her for awhile and was going to a fair where she sells her art to I thought why not. It was near Christmas, so why not spread joy. It was a pair of fun slipper boots with a character on it she collects. Just some silly fun. I had to call and ask her sister for sizing. So when I get there after buying some of her art and talking for awhile I give her her gift. She asks sounding annoyed “are these just slippers? I can’t wear them outside?” it was so embarrassing. Then she pulls out a beat up Happy Birthday bag and says “Here. I heard you were getting me something so I got you something too.” inside was a still dusty old empty photo album and a dirty beat up pony toy she got from who knows where. I smiled and thanked her and we said our goodbyes. I feel just because one receives a present doesn’t mean they must give one, especially when it’s stuff for your junk drawer. In that case there is no thought so it can’t even fall under “it’s the thought that counts”

    • crella December 17, 2015, 7:50 pm

      Me, too! I was obviously an afterthought. The in-laws never had Christmas, we started it when we had our son. Christmas, if it falls on a weekday, isn’t a day off in Japan, we celebrate on December 23rd, the Emperor’s birthday, it’s a national holiday so the whole family is available with no scheduling problems. On that day in our city for many years a famous clothing maker would have a sale. MIL would stop by there on the way to our house to get DH’s gift, bring a toy for DS and something out of her dresser drawers for me. I always helped her change over her clothing with the seasons and so recognized the gloves she gave me one year, and the brooch she gave me another year.

      One year though, she gave me a big box. I opened it and in it was a lovely faux suede duster style coat. I was surprised that she actually bought me something. In January she called me and asked me to give it back, as she wanted to give it to a friend of hers. Having me open it on Christmas day was all for show, so FIL and DH could see that she ‘got me something’. I should have known, it was much too nice for her to give to me, judging by past gifts!

      • m December 18, 2015, 12:29 am

        So? Did you return it? I sure as hell wouldn’t have 🙂

        • crella December 18, 2015, 5:40 am

          I did indeed…had I kept it I would have remembered that phone call of hers demanding it back every time I wore it. It would have been no pleasure to wear it, knowing it was just an empty gesture.

        • just4kicks December 18, 2015, 6:44 am

          @Crella: Wow. That takes the cake!
          I’m so sorry she did that to you.
          I’m in total agreement with @M, I wouldn’t have given it back.
          Just curious, what did happen, if I may be nosy?

          • crella December 18, 2015, 9:25 am

            Well, after that I certainly didn’t want it…she really hadn’t bought it for me, after all. I was just totally ‘ick’ about it after that. I wouldn’t have worn it even if I had kept it.

            DH surprised me by taking me out to Sogo and buying me a lovely black cashmere coat…he was horrified by what she’d done.

          • NostalgicGal December 25, 2015, 4:17 pm

            I know it’s totally mean, but I would have tried the coat on and because it was for someone else it probably wouldn’t have fit. So the next business day after the holiday I would have taken it to a charity and donated it and kept the slip. She asks for it back, I would have said I’m terribly terribly sorry but the tag on the box said TO ME FROM YOU so I thought it WAS a gift TO me. When I found out it didn’t fit I donated it to charity, I have the slip if you want that.

            Not nice but one of those thoughts that makes my day better sometimes. You can think it just don’t do it. Mental health…..

      • Ella December 18, 2015, 1:44 am

        That’s just… I’d be beside myself.

        I remember when I was in my early twenties and my older brother was forming a connection with his long time girlfriend and her parents. The in-laws came to our house. We opened gifts. One year I got drunk drawer candle sticks. The next I and my parents received packages. Old fanny packs with the father in laws business name for some decades ago, with plastic little flashlights printed the same. My parents were particularly sad, as they had attempted to find gifts the in laws would like, and the IN laws didn’t seem interested in reciprocating.

      • lolkay December 18, 2015, 3:35 pm

        I speak Japanese as well, and the first thought that went through my mind was ????????????

      • lolkay December 18, 2015, 3:37 pm

        “Nanka saite” is what I was thinking when I read what your MIL did.

        I also speak Japanese but thankfully my ex-fiancee’s family is just full of wonderful people and I would never complain about the woman I would loved to call “mother”.

      • Anonymouse December 19, 2015, 12:12 pm

        Ouch, crella! My MIL did the same thing to me AND my SIL with a string of pearls (given to SIL when she was married, taken from her a year later, given to me to wear at my wedding, and taken back 2 years later to wear at a cousin’s wedding). In her defense, she had dementia and forgot that they were a gift, however her husband (who actually made the phone call demanding them back) did not.

        In response, both SIL and I went out with the boys and bought our own pearls. And the Saga of the Pearls has been a favourite “crazy MIL” ever since.

        I’m glad your DH bought you a nice coat to replace the one she took.

        • crella December 19, 2015, 6:41 pm

          It’s wearing to fight with someone with dementia, though. It’s easier sometimes to give in. MIL would call me 20 times a day when something got stuck in her head.

    • Lex December 18, 2015, 4:27 am

      Why didn’t your husband challenge his mother on her spiteful behaviour? How can she give great gifts to your husband and then have the bare faced gall to explain that she gave you a broken gift for 50p DELIBERATELY. In front of everyone! I’m appalled!

      I’m also curious – please grace us with more stories of her dreadful behaviour.

      • just4kicks December 19, 2015, 6:48 am

        @Lex: My husband was too busy counting the fistfull of cash she had given HIM!
        She treated him just fine, and oh, “I guess she didn’t know what to get you….”
        Cash is just my size!!!

        • just4kicks December 19, 2015, 7:40 am

          @Lex: hmmm, let’s see…
          –she took a very expensive pair of sunglasses out of our car, denied taking them, and then I found in her bureau after she passed away. I threw them at my husband, as he was pissed I’d accused her all those years ago of taking them
          –let her mutts lick her fingers clean at dinner and them attempted to serve my then toddler with the same slobbering covered fingers
          –yelled at me for putting hot sauce on a meal my husband made her for her birthday
          –insisted on coming over for Sunday dinner after the flu made the rounds through our family, I was the last one to get it and was in bed after spending the entire night lying by the toilet.
          My husband came into our bedroom, after I had finally stopped vomiting and had just fallen asleep to tell me to “You had better come out here for dinner, my mom is PISSED I’m doing all the cooking AND tending to the kids….She wants to know where the HELL you are!!!”
          –my mom overheard her in the ladies room at our wedding reception (my MIL stepped into the ladies room to blow her nose as she’d been crying) saying to another guest, “HAPPY TEARS?!? You think these are HAPPY tears?!? I’m just devastated!!! My son could’ve done SO MUCH BETTER….he’s RUINED his life!!!” My mom almost decked her.
          Although my husband is a very successful self made business man, he barely graduated high school and didn’t go to college (which isn’t for everyone, I’m not saying that) while I had a degree in English and Journalism
          –always referring to the children as “My SON’S KIDS”, like I didn’t have anything to do with it.

          I literally could go on for hours, those are just a few highlights.
          I’m not perfect, and neither are my folks, but she was just a nightmare.

          • Lex December 21, 2015, 3:35 am

            Wow…. just wow. It’s a shame your hubby wasn’t prepared to stand up to his mother – especially over the dinner thing – if I were sick and my MIL come round to find her son cooking it would be a perfectly normal occurrence. Although knowing her she’d join in, but still. She sounds toxic. Sometimes I wonder how the children of people like that manage to grow up into relatively well adjusted adults…

          • Anon December 21, 2015, 9:43 am

            Ugh, I honestly would have divorced him. He doesn’t sound like that great of a guy. Especially yelling at you when you were sick.

            You should have thrown up on her.

          • Melalucci January 4, 2016, 1:48 am

            Anon, I totally agree.

        • channamasala January 12, 2016, 11:23 am

          Forget the MIL, it’s your husband who doesn’t sound great.

    • MamaToreen December 21, 2015, 11:25 am

      My DH’s father’s mother only put up with her DILs and Grandchildren as they made her sons happy. Cold, cold woman. Glad I never met her.

      • @just4kicks December 22, 2015, 4:42 am

        @Anon: it’s become a non issue since she passed away, but if my husband complains about MY mom (who isn’t perfect by any means, but not a toxic person) he gets the “raised eyebrow” and a “do you REALLY wanna go there?!?”

        Yes, the flu episode really grinded my gears, as my kids would say.
        I said to my husband, loud enough for our “guest” to hear, “Why can’t your Mom “tend” to HER grandkids, especially since that was the reason she refused to cancel that day, to visit with the grandchildren.

        • @just4kicks December 22, 2015, 5:17 am

          ….And, if I could’ve vomited directly on her, I sure would’ve. 🙂

          • NostalgicGal December 22, 2015, 7:18 pm

            if I’d known I’d loaned you my banana reaction. They hate me. If I swallow some I have the time it takes to reach my stomach, then bend over and unload. Yes I can barf on demand. A coin (slice) of banana and count the seconds.

            I do agree on all your stories on here, he must have been a gem for you to put up with her….

  • Jewel December 17, 2015, 4:44 am

    Time to learn your lesson, hopefully in time for this Christmas! These people do not appreciate your generosity, so it’s time to stop gifting them anything. And, if they can’t even wish you a Happy Birthday, I wouldn’t blame you for making yourself scarce for theirs.

  • Brandi December 17, 2015, 6:22 am

    I would stop trying so hard for them. You are going to end up with child’s birthday parties and gifts for the child as well. People who are as ungrateful as this lot seems to be doesn’t deserve that sort of effort. However, even though you may think you are giving out great gifts the couple in question may not think so. This may be another reason for their attitude.
    From this point on I would consider this group to be a gift card only group and not to some store they may not even got to, but something more general. Amazon gift cards are a good idea.
    With the child I would still go with the gift cards because this way they can pick out their own toy.
    It may not be as satisfying to you, but it would save you a lot of grief latter.

  • JO December 17, 2015, 6:43 am

    They may be relatives, but no, these people are not friends. I would limit contact and cease all gift giving, if I were you.

  • NostalgicGal December 17, 2015, 6:55 am

    I think you were a couple of Christmases too late in cutting them down to the Christmas card list.

    They remind me of one here in the archives where a book lover had an aunt send her a $200 gift card to (bookstore). She carefully spent a morning shopping, took about $195 in books to register, offered the gift card, and the clerk quoted a new total that was less than $3 lower than the first one.
    It would not have been out of line for the aunt to have sent the $200 gift card, but a used up one? She said she never could broach it that maybe it was an accident. She couldn’t afford the balance on the books either.

    OP send a Christmas card and otherwise avoid them this year and see what the response is? Let us know.

    • Goldie December 17, 2015, 9:19 am

      Wow! Though, in this case, I’d have double-checked the card to make sure it was read correctly. I just read a story somewhere else this morning about someone who took a $80 gift card to a restaurant, only to be told that it had a balance of $20. The balance ended up being $80 after all and the restaurant gave them the money back.

      • NostalgicGal December 17, 2015, 5:49 pm

        They checked it a couple of times after she went WHAT????? Her aunt sent her a used card with $2.83 on it left. By the card serial number, it had been activated at place A, apparently sent to aunt, who used it at point B then sent it to niece who tried to use it at point C. She never dared broach it but just MAYBE aunt had bought another one intending to send it to niece and mixed up the cards. She never has been able to bring it up with her aunt.

        • Livvy17 January 5, 2016, 2:44 pm

          It is possible that the funds were stolen off the card…..years ago, gift cards didn’t always have the activation code covered, and theives could go to a store, take note of all the card numbers and activation codes. Then the thieves would wait for the cards to be purchased and activated, and then they could spend the money on the card. It used to happen a lot, especially right before christmas, when thieves could reasonably count on the fact that there would be at least a few days between purchase and when the intended recipient got the card.
          Thankfully, they have put a lot of security measures in place now to make sure this doesn’t happen anymore, but it’s possible that the Aunt didn’t use the card at all – some thief did.

    • KrissyN December 17, 2015, 9:40 am

      Aw, that bookstore story is awful. That poor girl. I would have been horrified at the register if that were me. I’ve had a few gift cards turn out to not have been activated, so I check them all now within a day or two of receipt even if I’m not going to use them for a while.

    • Joanne December 17, 2015, 12:45 pm

      This reminds me of my disastrous 40th birthday party. My mom had just died, but my aunt gave me a really nice dinner at her house, and I invited two friends (normally our birthday parties are just family). My other aunt gave me a gift card for a chocolate shop that I love, and she told me that there was $30 on it. Fabulous! One of my friends (who HATES giving and receiving presents) gave me a gift card to an art store (also fabulous). Being him, he gave the amount in the form of a math problem (an easy one, and it came out to $40, appropriately enough). When I went to the chocolate place to redeem the first card, I was told that there was $3 on it, not $30. So I made up the rest out of my own pocket. At the art store, was told that there was $12, not $40. When I phoned both to thank them for their gifts and let them know that I’d redeemed them, a little circumspect questioning revealed that both of them had received the cards from other people and had just passed them on to me. I never told either that the amounts were way off. I did appreciate the gifts, but not the embarrassment of being “caught short” twice!

      • Becca December 17, 2015, 5:38 pm

        It’s okay to give people cards you’ve used a portion of but to USE ANY of it and then say “Here’s a $30 card!” is absolutely disturbing, why would you set up a person like that? Just say “I don’t know how much is on here, you should check the balance first!”.

        Like they don’t realize that they will be caught and then look even worse that way. I’m so confused and disgusted over people who think they’re so cunning yet fall so short 🙁

        I’m sorry that you had not one but two of the insincere folks in your life that caught you at the same time 🙁

        • EchoGirl December 17, 2015, 6:59 pm

          My interpretation is that the two friends who gave the gift cards were the victim of this kind of cunning; they regifted the cards without checking the balances, thinking the people who had given them the cards were honest, only to find out that the balance was short. Their mistake was in not checking the balance before passing the cards along.

      • Simmi December 18, 2015, 1:29 am

        Wooooow. My mum refitted a gift card to me once, that had had $200 on it, and appropriately told me “hey sweetie, I have this gift card, and it’s going to expire soon, can you use it for anything?” I thanked her profusely and promptly checked the balance and went and bought my cousins brand new doona cover sets of their favourite characters. Mum got to use the card, I got to go shopping, and the kids loved their surprise – everyone was happy!

      • Blanche December 19, 2015, 12:48 am

        It’s very possible that what they gave were OLD UNUSED cards– and that the balance difference was because of fees charged by merchants. Many cards carry a monthly fee if they are not used after a certain period of time. Not everyone is aware of this, especially when regifting!

    • Elsie December 17, 2015, 6:24 pm

      With the gift cards, the giver might not have known the card was close to empty. Gift cards used to have the numbers openly displayed, so some dishonest people would copy down the numbers, then put the cards back on the display. They’d wait until after the holidays for the cards to be purchased (and thus activated), but not long enough for them to have been used by the recipient. Then they’d drain the cards. That’s why gift cards have scratch-off stuff over their numbers now.

  • LadyV December 17, 2015, 7:01 am

    Of all the jaw-droppung moments in this story, the worst one for me was the whole “wife is pregnant so we didn’t have time to buy gifts” situation. I’m not ever willing to assume that someone else’s pregnancy is as complication-free as it appears, so I MIGHT have cut the couple some slack on that one. (Although with the internet, it’s hard to believe the wife couldn’t do ANY shopping.) I would have even accepted the excuse of “we’re saving money for the baby, so we couldn’t spend a lot on gifts this year.” But to claim they didn’t have time to shop when the proof of their lie is so blatantly obvious is incredibly tacky. OP should feel no compunction about never buying gifts for these clods ever again!

    • JamieC December 17, 2015, 4:04 pm

      Being pregnant isn’t really an excuse. Christmas isn’t a surprise. I’m 35 weeks preys an and while I’m not really feeling long mall trips at the moment, I started Christmas shopping in October and ordered a bunch of stuff from the Internet.

      • Amanda H. December 17, 2015, 8:20 pm

        Agreed. My first child was due on the 21st of December. I worked up until the very first day of December, in a retail job that had me on my feet, while heavily pregnant. I still got Christmas shopping done (Hubby had less time than I did as a grad student at the time). It’s not like the holiday sneaks up on you or anything.

        It’s not like anyone is owed gifts. But to say you didn’t have time to shop when you obviously did is just classless.

        • Goldie December 18, 2015, 9:33 am

          How can people still use that excuse when all of your shopping can be done online? Was it difficult for OP’s relative to go on the Internet in her fragile state?

          • Goldie December 18, 2015, 9:34 am

            Oh! I see Lex has already brought that up. Sorry, should’ve read the comments first!

        • NostalgicGal December 25, 2015, 4:37 pm

          I had a heel tear and four stitches, and was not supposed to be on it. I still went to work and dealt, and would go into the big box store late (24/7) to shop (still had to do my life no matter what) and would trade my crutches at the door for a motie. The store gets a lot bigger when you are on a motie but I was there late so there weren’t crowds. Now I could get up and take a step or two and reach stuff, but I did need that motie. Sitting in the middle of an aisle was a patient man in a ‘regular’ motie wheel chair. I tootled up and asked if he needed help, no. Then I realized he was next to a clot of stuff on the top shelf. He couldn’t reach and his way of coping was waiting until someone came along. I explained I had stitches but could get up, I’d be glad to snag him what he wanted. So I gimped, climbed, and snagged an X. Handed it down. Asked if he was sure he didn’t want two (as long as I was up there) no thank you. He hung around to make sure I got down and hobbled back to my seat first. Each step on the one foot HURT pulling on those stitches but a few times were bearable.
          Moral=you can get it done. Looking like a blimp and carrying xx extra pounds just means have more patience in your life. You can get it done. And now days with most stuff on line, especially like the big A, they will ship it to wherever you want. I have often sat there and done my shopping and shipping rather than hunt stores and the mall. It’s -20 and there’s 2′ of snow and you can’t see your hand in front of your face. As long as the lights are on, the wifi is working and your CC isn’t flat, you can still go shopping until you drop. (sore mouse fingers not feet).

    • Lexi December 17, 2015, 4:26 pm

      Normally I would agree that pregnancy isn’t an excuse, but you have to remember that all pregnancies are different. Just because you can’t see something physically doesn’t mean there isn’t anything wrong. I suffer from major depression and anxiety, and all of my pregnancies exacerbated the depression to the point that nothing was done. Sure, it might not have been the case with OP’s relatives, but you can’t make a blanket statement about pregnancy like that.

      • Honeybee December 18, 2015, 10:35 am

        On the other hand, the husband isn’t generally affected by any complications of pregnancy and can go out and do shopping, so even a complicated pregnancy isn’t an “out” for claiming no time for shopping. Just be honest (in the case of the couple in the OP) and say that you don’t want to (couched in kinder terms if you want to maintain any real relationship otherwise).

        • Lexi December 18, 2015, 12:20 pm

          My point is that if you don’t know, don’t make a blanket statement. We only have the OP’s assumption that the wrapped gifts they saw were for other people, when they don’t really know.S ure, the husband could have done the shopping, but it’s also possible that the OP’s relatives are like anyone else and was trying to “save face” by saying they didn’t have time and were embarrassed.

    • Lex December 18, 2015, 4:48 am

      Exactly – I do all my shopping online. I haven’t set foot in a shopping centre at Christmas for about the last 5 years. This is not an excuse.

      • NostalgicGal December 23, 2015, 11:22 pm

        My folks would never tell me what they wanted in their later years, for Christmas so sometime in late Oct or early Nov get them on the phone and get something they wanted wormed out of them….. while being logged in to Amazon. After making sure they wanted it, its’ in the cart, got it going to their address, and hit Order. Then tell them it’s on the way they’ll see it in so many days. It was the only way to get them to ‘fess up; so after a few years of that I would ask them flat out and get a few item they did want. Else I would just hit send and it would show up (one year dad had gotten ahold of a stainless steel frypan at a rummage sale but it was kinda beat up though he liked it. I found a lovely Caphalon on sale, and it showed up at his door two days later. He did like it but that was one of the get him talking and order right away. I admit I abuse online shopping a lot.

    • Livvy17 January 5, 2016, 2:55 pm

      I’m sorry, but just as an aside, why do we always put the blame on “the wife”? Why is it her responsibility to get all the shopping for HIS relatives done?

      Obviously the wife in this case is an ingrate, based on comments she made in receiving the gifts, but I just wanted to point out that there’s a lot more venom and expectation in the comment section for “the wife” than “the husband,” even though HE is the one who is a relative of OP’s DH.

  • Rattus December 17, 2015, 8:28 am

    To be perfectly honest, the birthday avoidance would have been the point where I removed them from my gift list. I wouldn’t feel resentful about it, but they obviously are not fans of the gift exchange. Gift receipt, yes, but not exchange, and who needs to be that involved in a one-sided relationship. If they are otherwise okay people, though, I would still hang with them.

    • SJ December 19, 2015, 10:46 am

      Seriously. To ignore someone their whole birth month takes more effort and planning than anyone should put into being rude.

  • Lisa December 17, 2015, 9:18 am

    No more gifts for these people!

    You’ll end up being invited to birthday parties for the child, christening, graduations, etc. So limit your gift giving to a small item for the kid.

    Ungrateful adults don’t need gifts.

  • Michelle December 17, 2015, 9:19 am

    I can’t believe OP let it go on for so long. I would definitely stop giving gifts or if you feel like you must, gift cards.

    One question: If they did not want clothes the child would grow out of, what were they planning to dress the child in? Or were they planning on saving money by letting him go naked?

    • Amanda H. December 17, 2015, 8:21 pm

      Potato sacks, obviously.

      • Simmi December 18, 2015, 1:30 am

        I laughed harder than I should’ve.

  • Cerys December 17, 2015, 9:45 am

    Since you love giving gifts, don’t let their rudeness get in the way of your enjoyment. Continue your sport of gift-finding, working on the assumption that this is the only gift-based enjoyment you’ll get out of these lovely people. A continuing onslaught of thoughtful, inexpensive gifts may eventually break down the walls of cloddishness – and if it doesn’t, then so what? Their crime can also be their punishment – an ongoing existence of rudeness and dissatisfaction. It sounds as if they deserve it.

  • JeanLouiseFinch December 17, 2015, 9:56 am

    Just be thankful that these people don’t bother to try and “exchange” gifts any longer. My aunt used to give awful tacky gifts, mostly homemade, but sometimes even her old, used and broken appliances. This was not because she was poor, it was because she was really cheap. This became a source of amusement for my husband and me, but because she and my uncle were always at events and holidays, we had to keep buying them gifts. If you find yourself in a situation where you know the gift giver will give you something tacky, cheap and lame, it’s better to take the high road and give them a little something they can use, but confine it to cookies or candy.

    • wren December 18, 2015, 10:07 am

      I have an aunt-in-law who is frugal and cheap, both. Every year we get washed styrofoam meat trays, the kind you get meat on in the grocery store. She saves them, washes them and gives them to us as a gift. So we thank her and throw them away. Can’t recycle them in our area. Yet she has two bedrooms crammed with brand-new stuff she will never open or use, which could be regifted!

      • Yasuragi December 18, 2015, 7:50 pm


        I…I mean…just…WHAT?

        Styrofoam meat containers? How does she imagine you’re going to make use of them?? Do you do a lot of in-house slaughter and meat processing?

        Does she have a mental illness? Sounds like hoarding behavior.

        • wren December 19, 2015, 7:36 am

          She just can’t throw away anything that she thinks might have a use, somehow, somewhere, for someone. About 30 years ago we were visiting her and she had an old foam container that she asked if I would have any use for and offered it to me. To be polite I said sure, and thanked her. That started it. Does she have a mental illness? I don’t know. As for us, no meat-processing these days. Too doggone messy. I have finally convinced my husband that we should give her a gift card to the grocery store she likes so our gift will benefit her instead of going into the vault of misfit gifts.

          • Yasuragi December 19, 2015, 8:36 pm

            Did she spend her young days in the Great Depression? My grandmothers did and they had the same pack rat mentality. We would have to go through their fridge and cupboards on the sly and throw away food years past its expiration date.

            As kids we’d get packages/garbage bags full of old clothes on Christmas and birthdays. I guess they hoped we’d get use out of them but they were both obese and 3xl bowling shirts were not the preferred style for eight year old girls.

            My mom always passed the boxes onto the church dorcas. Sometimes I swear we’d see them same clothes go through this cycle two or three times.

          • NostalgicGal December 19, 2015, 11:13 pm

            I covet those trays in early spring for putting under recycled Styrofoam or plastic drinking glasses for starting plants. Keeps the pots ‘housebroke’ while watering. However I would never gift one to someone!

          • Cat December 20, 2015, 7:54 pm

            My grandmother used to take aluminum foil we had used to cook meats and wash it in cold water. The grease stayed put. She’d save it until it began to stink. We never knew why.
            She also “saved” Christmas paper but it was never reused. We don’t know what she did with it.

  • Anonymous December 17, 2015, 10:11 am

    RUDE COUPLE: “Why did you get wine for a pregnant woman?”

    OP: “The wine is for AFTER the baby is born. You’ll see.” (particularly effective if you have kids).

    RUDE COUPLE: “Why did you get something that the baby’s going to outgrow?”

    OP: “So, you’re going to let Junior run around naked until the end of puberty? Interesting approach.”

    But yeah, family gifts or just a card would probably be best in the future. Although, I’m not really sure how you’d do a “family gift” for a couple with a baby. Board games, movie and snack boxes, picnic baskets, and all the standard “family gifts” I can think of, all require a certain amount of cognitive ability, and of course babies can’t eat solid food, because they don’t have teeth.

    • NostalgicGal December 17, 2015, 5:56 pm

      When I buy for a new baby I always buy the next size up unless the kid needed the next size up from the start, in case I go one size larger than that.

      A high school senior classmate had a baby and I did the buy the first size larger then newborn, and brought it over. I told her everyone’s going to get her newborn and when that doesn’t fit and this one does, the kid won’t be nude while you get some bigger ones….

      • Carolyn December 17, 2015, 10:13 pm

        I usually try to buy size 9 months for newborns. I gave some onsies in size 9 month to an employee once & she thanked me profusely when the child could wear it because all the other baby gifts were outgrown at that point & she didn’t have $ to go out & buy a ton of baby clothes since daycare was so $$$. She was like when you gave me this size, I thought it was weird but now it makes sense & I will be buying the same size when I need baby gifts because my son had an overnight growth spurt & I was grateful to have something that I could dress him in.

        • Amanda H. December 18, 2015, 12:27 am

          I always hated it when people gave me actual newborn-sized clothing, because due to the fact that Hubby and I are both quite tall, our babies could only fit in newborn-sized clothing for maybe two weeks, tops, before growing out of them. It’s very frustrating when you have a super-cute set of pj’s your baby can’t wear fresh out of the womb because the sizing is too tiny.

          • NostalgicGal December 19, 2015, 11:16 pm

            I was a preemie in the olden days, and mom had to buy doll clothes for me or make them. She said I finally didn’t swim in newborn size at 6 months old. So kids are different. From gifting others I usually find one size up from newborn is best.

        • klb4n6 December 21, 2015, 8:01 am

          I always do that too. I have a four month old and I received a lot of 3 month clothes, some newborn outfits, and a bunch of six month outfits. I have probably a bin full of 9, 12, and 18 month clothes, so I will eventually need to buy some but for now we’re fine. He is just now in the 3/6 or 6 month clothes. Surprisingly, he was in newborn until about 6 weeks, though he could wear some 3 month items much earlier. He wasn’t a tiny baby but some of the 3 month things were huge on him. I had relatives give me hand me downs and a large amount were three month – I have an entire drawer of just 3 month onesies and he’s now just about outgrown about 75% of them.

          One thing I wish people would think of when giving gifts is what season it will be (approximately) when the baby will be those ages. Nothing like getting a cute shorts and t-shirt set that’s sized 6 months when the baby will fit in it middle of winter. Or a winter snowsuit that’s 12 months and he’s a summer baby.

      • Anonymous December 17, 2015, 11:23 pm

        That’s a good idea, but what I meant was, kids’ clothing is always going to be outgrown, and the only way to get around that is to simply NEVER buy/accept gifts of clothing for your child, until he or she is fully grown, which is obviously not feasible.

    • NostalgicGal January 8, 2016, 6:45 pm

      Mom’s side of the family was generally closer knit and they had a huge collection of what we called the ‘mound of baby crap’ that got passed around. I was one of two that were in a 10 year gap between that generation and the new generation (we belonged to the first generation but were just between). Between some showers and occasional additions the stuff was passed to the next one that needed it (Yes the white wicker bassinette was actually mine). Only a few times did we have some ‘clashes’ so more shower gifts filled in. You could generally count on needing not much until the kid got to walking good. (somebody’s kid wore it three times, outgrew it, and it got passed on….) Baby showers were small, more cake and coffee affairs, held in someone’s home, Not Too Many Stupid Games and over with in a couple of hours. Wine, no. New coffeepot, maybe. Mom said she got formula (it took me so long to come home she’d dried up, and she wasn’t even sure I was going to come home so she didn’t ex press to keep lactating.) bottles and diapers (cloth ones mind you)

      From such an ancient age, my advice for a gift to a family with a baby, IF they’re not going disposable diapers is going together for a subscription to a diaper service, or a certificate to go out to eat AND find them a sitter.

  • Anna December 17, 2015, 10:14 am

    I both love and hate giving and receiving gifts. With people I love, care about, and am happy to have in my life, gift giving is a chance for me to show them I’m thinking of them, and when they give me gifts, I feel that they are thinking of me, and since we’re happy to have each other in our lives, the gift exchange is overall a positive experience, even if the gifts aren’t perfect or even if the amount spent wasn’t even, or even if one person didn’t have a chance to give a gift and the other person did.

    With other people, it’s a fraught experience all around. When the relationship is tense, or obligatory, or whatever, giving and receiving gifts is no fun at all. With these people, maybe they just don’t have the emotional investment in the relationship that makes gift giving and receiving a positive experience. Yes, they should still properly thank you and act politely, but I would interpret the fact that they are not putting effort into the gift giving relationship as a sign that they don’t want to be part of the gift giving relationship, and are doing a bare minimum only out of obligation. Perhaps it’s time to take their hint and step back.

    My mother is someone like you–wants to have a gift giving relationship with all relatives regardless of the actual relationship that exists. For as long as the both of them were alive and in the same family, she desperately tried to come up with gifts for my grandmother (her MIL), and my grandmother, who did not like her at all, would rudely accept them (why do I need this? Why did you buy me this? I don’t want any gifts! What am I going to do with this? I already have this!). My grandmother was trying to signal to her that she did not want to have a gift giving relationship with my mother, but my mother never learned, and it lead to a lot of really awkward Christmases where my mom was upset and my grandmother was snarky and rude.

    If my mom had just stopped getting her gifts, I think everyone would have felt a lot more relaxed! Yes, my grandmother was rude, but at a certain point, my mom was just asking to be hurt and offended over and over again.

    • stacey December 17, 2015, 7:34 pm

      I don’t think the situations are comparable. Your grandmother was bullying your mother. It was graceless and mean spirited. I agree that your mother could have let herself off the hook and had a more relaxing Christmas, but she might have been of the opinion that your father would object or that it would provoke your grandmother to remark on the sorrows of being overlooked for a gift from a close family member. This couple is rude- but the expectation of giving and receiving gifts among adults varies widely. With parents and parents-in-law or other close family and gifting issues, it’s usually more about a power play when one party is consistently rude.

      • Bellyjean December 18, 2015, 9:02 am

        Agreed, Stacey. And I bet you anything, if Anna’s mother had NOT given a gift – there would have been hell to pay. I bet the MIL was extra cranky because she couldn’t logically be angry at Anna’s mother. If Anna’s mom had ‘neglected’ to get the MIL a gift, then the MIL would have been delightedly justified in being aggrieved. Why didn’t Anna’s dad stand up for her mom?

  • Ciotog December 17, 2015, 10:28 am

    Having had a similar experience with some family members, it made me realize that “where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” It’s not about the money, at all, but about them not taking the time, effort, or care with gift-giving and with our relationship.

  • Dyan December 17, 2015, 10:53 am

    I am sorry but these people don’t deserve any gift, I would give them a Christmas card next year, and be done with it…or donate money in their name to a food bank or animal shelter.

    they don’t seem to care enough to even say thank you…sorry NO more gifts for you at all

  • Arizona December 17, 2015, 10:59 am

    I’d run it as an experiment. Don’t get them a Christmas gift this year and see how they react. If they’re not really interested in gift exchange among adults, they probably won’t say anything (or anything negative about the lack of presents, at least). If they’re grubbing nice gifts from you at no return “cost” they’ll probably bring it up and you can say that you’ve chosen to decrease your adult-to-adult giving to put more time and energy into making the holidays a fun time for the younger generation.

    As for their baby, maybe talk to other relatives about doing “group presents” for little one. Baby needs a new car seat, for example, so you, DH, and DH’s parents all pitch in and give it for the baby’s birthday/Christmas with a specific “this is from all of us” note. (And the part of me that’s just a little bit mean suggests that, when kiddo gets into the teenaged years and starts displaying behavior like their parents, give a card with a certificate stating that you’ve made a donation in their name to a charity of your choice.)

    • Anonymous December 17, 2015, 11:27 pm

      I think that’s a bit of an interesting assumption to make about a child who hasn’t even been born yet. Kiddo might grow up to be a wonderful, kind, unselfish person, despite the parents’ influence.

      • MamaToreen December 21, 2015, 2:05 pm

        Sadly, most kids follow what their parents model for them

    • NostalgicGal December 25, 2015, 5:24 pm

      My wedding shower was held three days before my wedding, at my hometown. A lot of gifts, several people put together for (the electric frypan on legs had like 10 names so maybe $4 a person with tax) and we got a lot of towels. Often with a matching washcloth but that was the gift. The towels didn’t match each other but I didn’t care. It was a TOWEL and it could be used. I think I still have a few of them after over 30 years. Did I have a registry? One place for a china pattern (long mixup there between mom not explaining self and me being surprised be told to go do so).
      Moral=nothing wrong with contributing to bigger ticket items. Everyone’s name goes on the card and the item gets bought. Just make sure you aren’t dealing with a registry flipper. (whatever you buy they take back for the money). Yes I have done things like buy stuff not off someone’s registry with no return policy and/or had it engraved so they can’t.

      Locally stores have registries for couples, and either not much gets bought so a few of the family ladies are there to pick up what was bought for the shower and open checkbooks to buy off some more of the stuff (or pick up the last few items depending). And some have to be told your table is empty please come pick out more stuff as it’s weeks to the shower yet. Works a bit better that way and there isn’t any of this ‘return it for refund’ after the wedding. It was surprising to go into the one dealership the other day and find a couple shelves bearing stuff for someone’s registry! (mostly a merging of families, and as well as selling tractor parts the place sold themed toys, so there was a selection of toys…. and a few had bows stuck on which meant they’d been purchased)
      What we do think is tacky locally is if you’ve registered at more than four places…..

  • Nicole December 17, 2015, 11:10 am

    I feel like I could share some stories about fun MIL Christmas presents to make you feel better. There was the year of the two dish towels (we had purchased a dishwasher, apparently she did not approve) or the year of the homemade lotion labeled as ‘weight loss lotion’. She is morbidly obese, I had put on a few pounds because DH was very ill over an extended time). The one that takes the cake is the year she asked him what scent I used. He told her. She went out and bought two bottles, one for her and one for me and wore it whenever we were around. Disconcerting but I was later told that she was upset that he was no longer under his thumb and these were all her childish ways at attempting to force his affection from me. I was perfectly happy sharing, but after she chain smoked around me when I had bronchitis (after being nicely asked not to smoke if I came in or we offered to have me wait in the car) and then watched me double over from a coughing fit without her or her husband moving a finger to offer me a glass of water or allow me to sit for a moment in the only two seats in the room that her and FIL were occupying… I decided that limiting contact with her was for the best. She kept trying to sabotage my career even after I was widowed though… I never understood that. A nasty, spiteful woman that never figured out that it was me who kept forcing him to visit her.

    • wren December 19, 2015, 7:38 am

      This is one of the saddest stories I have read on this site. I wish you a joyful holiday season.

    • crella December 19, 2015, 11:28 pm

      She sounds like a horrible person. I’m sorry you went through that.

    • NostalgicGal December 20, 2015, 12:00 am

      The last year I lived at home I got bronchitis, both lungs and very bad. They taught me to do beat on my chest with cupped hand while lying down to help bring the mucus loose, so it was front, back and both sides and this HURT. Several times a day. Both parents smoked 2 packs a day and I literally spent the winter in my room with my door shut (we had one heat vent to upstairs) and as little time downstairs as possible. They decided to visit grandparents which was a 3.5 hour drive. I begged them that I might be able to stand one but not both smoking in vehicle at same time. I said this to both.
      Mom tried to if Dad lit up to put hers out but about 45 min of solid smoke (one after the other), I told dad to stop the pickup yes RIGHT NOW

      He thought it was a throw up, and instead hit the snowy ditch and with a mitten for a filter, at -20, started hacking and pounding and spitting up rust. He came over to ask what the h*ll was wrong and I did a pretty good glob of rusty bloody glrup almost on his boot.

      I finished finally and said have a good time at the grandparents, I was walking home (45-50 miles)
      My dad was furious, and my mom got out of the pickup and backed him that way. Once in a great while she could get cold icy mad and this was one of them. I said I just can’t take the smoking and -20 with the wind in my face was preferable to the last 45 min.

      He had to give mom his cigs, get in the car and spend 45 min without a cigarette. I got home and he was going to give me a yelling out, and I went right to my bed to cough up again. Mom told him off and I was left alone after that…. he got to call the grandparents and explain, and with mom standing over him, why we weren’t going to be showing up. I had four months of it… I think the MIL and FIL would have been Christmas card list after that if you were making DH go visit her.

  • JD December 17, 2015, 11:17 am

    These people either don’t want to exchange gifts at all and don’t know how to say it politely, or they are clueless and rude about how to give and receive gifts. Either way, help them out by not giving them anymore gifts, unless you want to give to the child/children.
    And in my opinion, your husband was right — there was no need to bring a gift to the hospital to see the baby. They weren’t going to appreciate it, but even if they did, I don’t see that it was necessary. I see people come without gifts all the time, in fact, it’s the standard here. They stop in at the hospital, briefly view little babycakes, chat a bit with mom and dad, see if there is anything anyone needs (like a quick burger run or pick up a cup of coffee), and then, if no one needs anything, leave in about 15 minutes. That’s the standard new baby visit around here.

  • DGS December 17, 2015, 11:21 am

    I would encourage you to stop trying so hard to buy them gifts and simply send a holiday card from here on out, as they are clearly ungrateful, thoughtless and boorish. One does not have to spend a lot to come up with a thoughtful gift, and clearly, the message that has been sent that OP and her husband are not important to these relatives. If you must, OP, send the baby a small gift (an inexpensive age-appropriate toy from the drug store or dollar store, under $10) but otherwise, refrain from putting so many thoughts towards these clearly thoughtless and clueless people.

  • Alli December 17, 2015, 11:30 am

    A gift isn’t a gift if you expect something in return. Accept the fact that gift giving is not important to them and either:
    A) choose to continue to buy for them in the manner you have done in the past or
    B) buy something inexpensive that they could share as a couple (like a bottle of wine)
    C) Stop buying

    The choice is yours.

  • nannerdoman December 17, 2015, 11:33 am

    “Why did you give us something the baby is going to outgrow”?

    I realize these were brand new parents, but didn’t they realize that the baby is likely to outgrow everything you buy it for, oh, the next 18 years or so??

    • Danielle December 17, 2015, 5:44 pm

      This comment, and the fact that they procrastinated so long about the appliance made it seem like what they were hinting at is that they want cash. Since OP is not forthcoming with money, this couple has become more and more ungrateful and insensitive. She needs to learn that just because someone is family, doesn’t mean you owe them anything. If someone isn’t grateful for a gift, don’t get them another one.

      • Bellyjean December 18, 2015, 9:05 am

        Oh, that’s interesting. I didn’t even think of that. I think you may be right, Danielle.

      • Goldie December 18, 2015, 9:39 am

        I think so too. Most of the weird comments people make about their gifts that make no sense on the surface, probably boil down to wanting cash. After a relative’s toddler’s birthday party, the relative apparently commented about being upset that “a lot of people gave gifts without gift receipts. Now I have all these extra toys that I don’t know what to do with.” When that comment made its way to me through the grapevine, I said, “what does she mean she doesn’t know? It’s Christmas season. Drop them off at a homeless shelter. Drop them off at a children’s hospital! What she really meant was, she’d like to return them for store credit or cash, but cannot do it without a gift receipt.”

  • Daisy December 17, 2015, 11:34 am

    There’s kind, and then there’s stupid. If it gives you pleasure to select beautiful gifts, talk to any social assistance agency and adopt a family for Christmas. They will cherish everything you give them, and you can say to your relatives, “Oh, everyone has so much that this year we’ve decided to help someone less fortunate.” That’s happiness for you and happiness for the family, and as for your relatives – well, two out of three ain’t bad!

    • JeanLouiseFinch December 18, 2015, 9:17 am

      I wish there was a “like” button. This is a perfect solution. After all, if you tell people, “Oh, we selected a family who is in need and got presents for them instead of buying presents for everyone else,” the people you didn’t get gifts for will just look selfish if they object. Alternatively, you could just give a charitable donation in their name. BTW, these people don’t sound rude, they just sound cheap, especially if they brag about the money they make. Maybe its a good thing they found each other. However, if you give their child gifts, make sure its something the parents can’t return for the cash or can’t touch until the children are 18 (like a US savings bond.) My daughter’s best friend had a really cheap mother who would return stuff like toys for the cash until I started to get her daughter “personalized” gifts.

  • mark December 17, 2015, 11:38 am

    I honestly dislike the whole gift giving thing. From buying the presents, to opening them, and writing the thank you notes (which I don’t write, I may call or text). I want something I buy it. Things that I want and don’t have are usually way more expensive than the traditional gift amount.

    I also dislike neighbor gifts and co-worker gifts. I’m staring a several of them on my desk right now which reminds I’ve got to go out and buy them something they likely never will use or buy some chocolate thing to fatten them up.

    So I have to agree with Mojo above, take the hint and start sending cards if you want or even better go ahead and text them birthday/holiday/season greetings etc. They’ll probably be relieved. My own mom texts me and the kids on our birthdays, we all love it, (the kids also get a card with a $20 bill in it.)

    • Ernie December 17, 2015, 5:34 pm

      Yeah, the OP says that these people don’t like to give gifts, but do like to recieve them. I’m not really sure that is true. It seems to me like they interpret their relationship as one that shouldn’t involve gifts.

      I don’t ever think less of anyone when they don’t want to have a gifting relationship with me. Sometimes, among adults, that can just become an exercise in wasting money and inducing stress. It doesn’t make them less of a friend, its just that sometimes, adults need to know when to draw the line.

      Presents are nice, and should not come with any expectation of reciprocation. It sounds to me like these people, in maybe a not-so-tactful way, have tried to signal to the OP several times that they don’t want to do this with them.

      • Jazzgirl205 December 18, 2015, 7:50 am

        I do not exchange gifts with my most beloved friend in the whole world. We used to years ago but one year she said, “Let’s stop exchanging gifts at Xmas.” and we stopped. We’ve given each other gifts at other times of the year, just not Xmas. Right now, I feel compelled to hand embroider some tea towels for her but I will wait and give them to her in January or February.

        • Ernie December 18, 2015, 5:20 pm

          I also don’t exchange gifts with my closest friends for christmas. We may or may not on a given birthday, mostly dependent on if a birthday party happens.

          Once we realized that we were just doing what amounted to a gift card swap year after year, we all decided to just stop and enjoy each other’s company rather than spend money that none of us really needed to.

          I was re-reading the OP’s letter, and the part about the wet bar gift being instead purchased as a used thing gave me the impression that maybe the OP is greatly overestimating what the value of a gift for these friends should be. Even for the friends and family that I do exchange gifts with at the holidays, there is a limit.

    • KimB December 18, 2015, 11:11 am

      I agree. I don’t like gift-giving and receiving and for several reasons. It’s consumerist, not good for the environment (to buy yet more cr*p to collect dust) and I have everything, as do most of the people around me. There’s nothing we need. I have 3 kids, my husband has health problems and can’t work, so we’re single inc0me and I refuse to spend the few dollars I have on gifts for people who don’t need them.

      When I receive gifts, which I haven’t in a long time (just small things from the kids/husband), it’s usually been something I’m not really into or want. I thank them and try to figure out where to put it until I can dispose of it (usually to charity). I like a minimalist house.

      I buy for three people, my kids, and occasionally my husband. And of course for my kids friends when they’re invited to birthday parties. Anything else is wasteful and unnecessary.

      Life is about spending time with family and enjoying experiences together, not about the latest iPhone or Xbox.

  • Kirsten December 17, 2015, 11:44 am

    You should give gifts because you want to give them, not because you want something in return. If giving this couple presents makes you feel good, carry on, but understand that they won’t be doing the same for you.

  • Amara December 17, 2015, 11:55 am

    It seems to me that you just keep asking them to continue their behavior. After all, you keep giving them expensive gifts, thank them for their (non / cheap / thoughtless) gifts, and apparently don’t mind their rudeness and excuses. What should they change? It works for them.

    What doesn’t work and what I really cannot understand is why you so easily accept their rudeness and ignore your husband’s hurt. Wouldn’t it be better to drop them from your gift and acknowledgement list and, if you are desperate to “replace” the gift-giving to someone, add an Adopt a Family?

  • riversong December 17, 2015, 12:01 pm

    I think these people simply don’t want to exchange gifts with you. Didn’t we talk with the office story that someone who gets a gift isn’t obligated to give one? A gift is a gift, and if you don’t like what you get in return then don’t give one anymore. They don’t sound like they are very gracious when they receive presents, and that is definitely rude of them. But not getting you a present isn’t reason to cast them into e-hell.

  • Kat December 17, 2015, 12:01 pm

    Funny lame gift story:

    Holiday “gift requests” among my family go through my mother, in that she will ask me “Your sister and I want to know what you want for Christmas.” My past request to forgo gift exchanges was verbally agreed to and then subsequently ignored by everyone except me (which was not a pleasant surprise, though they meant well); so I generally play along. Last year I told mum that the only thing I wanted was donations to our upcoming fundraiser for a large arts project I’d spent the past year and a half getting ready — and the fundraiser itself acted like a pre-sale so if the project funded, the donation would buy you the product we were working to produce. Win-win.

    Then after I arrived at my family’s hometown for the holidays, mum got a phone call from my brother, who was at the shopping center with his wife, asking what I wanted as a gift. I reiterated that all I wanted was a donation to the fundraiser — whatever they could afford or would have spent on something else. Even $1 is a vote of confidence that encourages others to donate too.

    The next day was the gift exchange. My brother and his wife got me… a highly fragranced department store bath and body set. Which I can’t use because lotions or bath gels with chemical fragrences make me break out in hives. (I also find chemical fragrences too strong and unappealing and they make me sneeze.)

    I used to have an entire shelf in the closet dedicated to storing all these lotions I can’t use (they give me a bath and body set every year), until last summer I finally gave up and asked mum to take them off my hands. Thankfully she can use them.

    • Cat December 17, 2015, 4:29 pm

      Or give them to a women’s shelter where a bit of pampering is appreciated by those who can use chemical fragrances.

      • Bellyjean December 18, 2015, 9:10 am


      • Kat December 23, 2015, 3:47 am

        I did donate a shave kit they gave me to a charity resale shop one year. They took it, so I guess they thought they could sell it. There was some chuckling among the staff, though.

        If I could find a women’s shelter, I’d be more inclined to donate something practical (toothpaste, menstrual supplies), or something nice, like handcrafted soaps and lotions. It rubs me a bit the wrong way to donate an albatross to a charity. If I don’t want it and wouldn’t use it, why would I assume that it’s ‘good enough’ for someone worse off than me? That seems a bit elitist to me.

        • Livvy17 January 5, 2016, 3:23 pm

          I wouldn’t worry about elitism, a lot of the women (and children) in shelters have virtually nothing with them (many are forced to flee with nothing, to escape abusive situations), so need to rely on the shelter for soap, lotion, etc. I’m sure they’re not fussing that whatever they are provided isn’t wanted by someone else. I could see what you’re saying if you were donating USED items, which you tried and didn’t like, but new things are fine. Please do throw in toothpaste and menstrual supplies if you’re so inclined; they are needed, but don’t think of your gift as an albatross. Just think that different people have different tastes….. given the number of very highly scented Bath and Bodyworks stores, a whole lot of people must LOVE highly fragranced lotion and soap!! 🙂

  • Roslyn December 17, 2015, 12:03 pm

    Well…at least you do know that they remember when your birthdays are…

  • Dee December 17, 2015, 12:23 pm

    OP, you are playing a game where the rules were clear right from the beginning – the other couple puts no thought or effort into your relationship while you and your husband do all the work. You seem like a very nice person but clueless – even your husband gets the glaring and obvious clues. If you don’t like the game why do you keep playing it and even forcing your husband to participate? This couple has made it clear – they do not like you. Stop trying to have a relationship with them. They don’t belong in e-hell since they have never tried to mislead you. They’re simply jerks and you are trying to make something glorious out of nothing. You need to examine why you are doing that. That’s the problem.

    • lakey December 17, 2015, 5:55 pm

      It migjt not be that they don’t like OP. It might be that they aren’t as interested in gift giving as OP is, or they may simply be blunt to the point of rudeness. There are a lot of people who would just as soon not get into gift exchange traditions with people other than their closest family members. Even the rude comments may simply be because the woman has a lousy personality, rather than her disliking OP. Some people just say the first thing that pops into their head.

      • Dee December 17, 2015, 7:54 pm

        lakey – According to the OP, this couple DO like presents and that’s why they had a wedding reception. However, they apparently do not like even acknowledging someone else’s birthday WITHOUT presents, and won’t phone, text or pretend OP and her husband exist during the month of their birthdays. It is more than them possibly not liking the gift exchanges with OP (although that could be part of it). They don’t seem to extend friendship much if at all the other times, according to OP. Sounds to me like they definitely don’t want a good relationship with OP.

  • Just Me December 17, 2015, 12:49 pm

    In the future, I would take the $$ that would be spent on this couple and use it to purchase a gift for someone less fortunate. You can still take the time to find the perfect item, by searching out all year and collecting items for “personal” bags to be handed out at homeless shelters or battered women and children’s shelters. I would then send them a card telling them that a donation has been made to the shelters. Or, if you really want to “stir the pot” make a donation in their honor to a charity or not-for-profit that is totally against their personal beliefs, but not yours.

    • Ellex December 18, 2015, 3:58 am

      “make a donation in their honor to a charity or not-for-profit that is totally against their personal beliefs, but not yours.”

      Really? On an etiquette site?

      • Beth F December 18, 2015, 4:01 pm

        Just Me, you do realize that could lose someone his/her job, right? Donations are often public record and sometimes certain jobs do not allow you to donate to certain organizations because of conflict of interest. I agree with Ellex, I cannot believe one would suggest this on an etiquette site.

  • Cat December 17, 2015, 1:18 pm

    I can think of two replies to the wife’s questions. The first is that the wine is for them to toast their baby’s safe arrival after the child has been born. The second is how can you purchase clothing that the child will not outgrow-buy a man’s suit that might fit him when he’s forty and hope he doesn’t get chubby when he ages?
    In any case, you are fighting a losing battle in the gift wars. They are never going to make any effort to make you happy as you are trying to do by buying that what they want. I suggest making a charitable donation in their names if you feel you must do something. That will make you and the person receiving it happy. Otherwise, stop exchanging gifts.

  • Shoebox December 17, 2015, 1:19 pm

    I’m really, really curious as to what the OP is getting out of this situation. Yes, of course, gift-giving should be an unselfish act, but there are limits, and this couple has been pushing them hard for quite some time now, especially considering they don’t seem to be particularly close to you. When it gets to the point where gift recipients are so indifferent to your thoughtfulness that they feel free to complain when they don’t get what they want, you can consider yourself free not to burden them with such issues. Send a nice card on special occasions by way of taking the high road, and consider your duty fine.

  • stacey December 17, 2015, 2:48 pm

    When people show you who they are- believe them. You’ve been waiting around forever for this couple to get their act together and fulfill a basic social expectation that you place an enormous amount of emotional weight on. If they are otherwise friendly and satisfactory companions- enjoy them. But it’s frustrating, fruitless and tiresome to always be hoping that someone will meet your expectations. Either take them as they are if you truly believe they have redeeming qualities, or leave them behind… socially speaking. Some people are wonderful in a few important areas and deficient in others. The key is to know which areas are deal breakers for you, personally, in friendships and in other relationships, and to align your actions with your beliefs and values. If you no longer wish to see someone socially because they don’t value the exchanging of gifts, you needn’t wait any longer to act on that.

  • Becca December 17, 2015, 3:10 pm

    Do not waste your time, effort or money on people like this. They don’t like you, that’s the nasty truth. Nobody who cares for you in the way you deserve will make snide remarks every chance given.

    I carefully choose gifts as well and it’s the only thing I like doing at Christmas. My extended family growing up made it painfully obvious they didn’t care and my childhood left me with a quick switch on these tacky, rude, greedy creatures we mistake for loved ones.

  • Shoegal December 17, 2015, 3:22 pm

    These people should be embarrassed but my guess is that they’re not. Please just stop giving them gifts – and I wouldn’t be too eager to spend any more time with them. Their gifting or lack thereof seems to be sending a very clear message. Either they – do not like exchanging gifts because they don’t give with a good heart (or even remotely try) and they receive gifts with such obvious rudeness or they just don’t like you.

  • Dear! December 17, 2015, 3:34 pm

    Hi OP,

    Apart from the thoughtless gifts, it appears that the relative and their spouse may be the classic “gimme pigs.”

    Just stop putting thought and effort into them. I did that to my ungrateful extended family. I now choose to go to local charities that allow you to pick the gender and age or children to buy gifts for.

    I, too, love giving gifts, but I get ZERO joy from the gimme pigs of this world.

  • Tricia December 17, 2015, 3:49 pm

    My extended and immediate family (which doesn’t have children in it) haven’t exchanged Christmas gifts since I was a child. We get together and enjoy each other’s company and the holiday spirit with no gifts. We kind of feel like the gifts are more for the kids. I’m an adult and can just buy what I want. My love language is definitely not gifts.

    I wonder if that might be the case with these relatives? I imagine someone from my extended family purchasing an appliance for me while I have an ornament from Walgreens to give them and it makes things pretty uncomfortable. Not everyone speaks the language of gifts. Don’t bother buying these guys any more gifts. Maybe their love language is quality time or acts of service. It means much more to me for a friend to give me their time or to help me with a project. Just a thought.

  • BagLady December 17, 2015, 7:23 pm

    It’s true that gifts should not be given with the expectation of getting a gift in return. However, there *is* an expectation that gifts will be received graciously. If I give a relative a gift that I have carefully chosen and get some random thing from her that she obviously did *not* choose carefully, that wouldn’t bother me so much — maybe she’s just not a “gift person” (or as PPs have phrased it, gifts aren’t her love language).

    But if she reacts to my carefully chosen gift with “What the ehell am I going to do with *this*?” — that’s not a love language barrier; that’s just rude. And she would be off my gift list. So would her kid, at least until he’s old enough to accept his own gifts graciously. (Let’s hope he learns to do that, but I don’t hold out much hope, given who’s raising him.)

  • stephanie December 18, 2015, 1:29 am

    I’m probably seeing this in a different light because I’m pregnant, but I’m not so sure I’d be happy to be given wine by someone who knew I was expecting. If it was towards the end of the pregnancy and a “for after the baby is born” kind of thing, maybe, but just because you couldn’t think of anything else to get me? Of course I wouldn’t call you out, but I wouldn’t be too happy. And if the outfit was newborn sized I also don’t really blame their reaction, I always give new babies outfits at least 6-9 months. The last baby I gave an outfit to might have even been a 9-12months, and he fit in it at 4 months.
    I also realized that it’s a week till christmas and I have done NO shopping- between college finals, getting pregnant and feeling like crap, and helping out family, and my DH working 12 hour days even through thanksgiving weekend, we haven’t gotten to anything. Hopefully we’ll get to some shopping tomorrow.
    It seems like OP has been forcing this awkward gift exchange when there were plenty of signs that it wasn’t a good idea. You aren’t giving the gifts in the spirit of giving if their reactions and reciprocation or lack therof bother you so much. I mean, I fully support not exchanging gifts with them if you don’t want to, but why make such a big deal about it? Just move on with your life.

    • padua December 18, 2015, 12:26 pm

      i agree. i can see the other couple thinking these items weren’t the awesome, well thought out gifts you intended, especially if they’re ones you can’t use. i don’t drink and when my mother in law gave me a wine kit for my engagement party, i was disappointed not in the gift persay, but because she didn’t know me well enough to not get me that gift in the first place.

      • NostalgicGal December 23, 2015, 11:37 pm

        I have a grape, raisin, annto extract, grape juice and wine allergy. Plus with my medications alcohol is out. If you gave me any of these and didn’t know, I could be gracious, thank you, then feed to spouse (wine would have to be a regift). It’s not a crime to give an expectant couple wine, as they can enjoy it later or regift it. It might be good though to feel that one out a little first…. finding out if they enjoy wine…

  • Aleko December 18, 2015, 5:47 am

    I think OP’s statement ‘They don’t like giving gifts but they sure like receiving them’ is blatantly untrue. In almost every single case they have shown their annoyance and discomfort that the OP is showering them with lavish presents AGAIN. This is rude, certainly, but IMHO the OP is also being insensitive and downright rude to continue to indulge her love of giving gifts – and thus impose on them the obligation to reciprocate, which she clearly understands she is imposing – despite their obvious wishes.

    (Face it: short of saying ‘We wish you wouldn’t keep on like this. A card with best wishes is really all we want either to give to or receive from you’, how much more clearly could they have spelled out their desire not to be bought all these presents?)

    I note that the one positive incident is the one time that the OP says she throttled back and bought them small presents, which she says they ‘loved’ and reciprocated with small presents, and everyone was happy. But she doesn’t seem to have taken a hint from this; she doesn’t seem to have any notion that there’s such a thing as overdoing the gifting.

    • lkb December 18, 2015, 11:20 am

      I had a previous comment along the same lines as Aleko but it somehow disappeared in the ether. I wonder if the receiving couple is just plain uncomfortable with the OP’s largesse. I wonder if the receiving couple a bit financially embarrassed and don’t know how to end the gift giving, especially with a relative. (We don’t know how close a relative.)

      I must admit, the OP doesn’t come off as all that truly generous, and seems to be more looking for the applause that comes from giving rather than giving from the heart. Why are they comparing dollar value for gifts? Why are they looking for birthday gifts from this couple? Why are they looking at the pile of gifts at the recipients’ house (and who’s to say that the pile of wrapped gifts the OP saw weren’t also the less expensive gifts like the OP received?)

      I think if I were a new parent and new homeowner, I would be uncomfortable with the offer of the appliance myself. It would be hard for me to say “Hey uncle/aunt, remember that appliance you promised us, well we just saw the perfect thingy at StuffMart, it costs $700, can we have the money now?” And perhaps the gift card ended up having to be used a household emergency.

      Yes, the receiving couple did stumble in the remarks they made but it just strikes me that the OP did too, albeit with seemingly good intentions.

      • padua December 18, 2015, 12:28 pm

        agreed. and i don’t think to get different wrapping paper for every gift. doesn’t mean just because the gifts are in the same wrapping paper that they were intended to be given out to other people.

    • Amanda H. December 19, 2015, 12:20 am

      Or the couple just doesn’t like instances where they feel they have to reciprocate (whether or not they really do). They mentioned having a wedding reception so they could receive gifts, but then a reception generally lacks the expectation that they’d have to give return gifts to the people who gifted to them. Christmas and birthday exchanges, on the other hand, carry an implication that one should really return the favor, and that seems to be what the couple doesn’t like. Hence disappearing during the month of OP’s birthday, and the lackluster holiday gifts. Nevermind that OP doesn’t really expect nice gifts in return. And the couple doesn’t seem to realize that it might be better to just skip gifts rather than give gifts that clearly were afterthoughts at best. Then you’re just saying “I forgot” instead of “I didn’t care enough to think this through.”

  • iwadasn December 18, 2015, 11:40 am

    She seriously didn’t appreciate a newborn outfit because the baby would grow out of it? Does she realize her children will end up growing out of everything she buys them until around the time they’re teenagers?

  • siamesecat2965 December 18, 2015, 12:15 pm

    I know exactly how you feel since I have a family member I exchange with who gifts, or at least used to, similarly. I will say she has gotten better, but I’ve come to realize she is more about quantity than quality or actually finding something that will suit the recipient, while I too love to put thought into what I buy for people, and really try hard to come up with something I know they will like. She’s just cheap. Unless she’s buying for herself. If it happens to be one larger, more expensive item, or several, less pricy items, so be it. As long as they fit into my budget, and i know the recipient will like them, that’s how I gift.

    I think I’ve told this story before, but here we go. The worst this relative has done was the year she was deployed just before Christmas. I get she was crazy, getting things in order etc. to be gone for months, but this really took the cake. I had planned to get her an Amazon gc, as on previous deployments, i knew she had ordered from them. Then she got an early gift from her then BF, a Kindle, and mentioned that an Amazon gc would be a great gift, if i needed ideas. Perfect!

    I then told her (as we both ask each other for ideas, so this wasn’t unusual or presumptuous), that I ‘d be getting oen too, so she could do the same for me. I figured it would be an easy thing for her to do, either before she left, or after, as she did have Internet access.

    I also was stopping at her place, on my way to my mom’s, to look in on her cats, etc. since her friend who was taking them couldn’t do so until after the holidays, so she had a bunch of people checking in on them. So I’m at mom’s, and she thanks me for her very generous gift card, and then asks if i got her gift. Um no, i didn’t. She then tells me she left if on the chair in one room, and she was sorry, but hadn’t had time to wrap it.

    Ok fine, i said thank you, and I’ll get it on the way home. So I stop, and look, to find a number of random items, just dumped on the chair, with tags on. I know her well enough to know that she simply
    shopped her closet and drawers, and just found a bunch of random stuff. One item was a drugstore bath set, which I know was a regift, again, i know her well enough to know she didn’t use that brand, and wouldn’t have spent the money to buy it! And the other gifts were from her favorite store, whcih I didn’t care for. Along with the gifts, was a random gift card. Now you know how credit and gift cards lose their shine and smoothness after being used, or in a wallet? yup, that’s how this was, and no indication as to how much was on it.

    So I get home, and check. Zero balance. Again, i know her well enough to know that probably found it in a drawer, and decided to add it. I was actually pretty insulted that she hadn’t even bothered to make an attempt. like i said, a gc, even a small one, would have been much better than the junk she gave me.

    Next year, i bought her several nice things, she bought me one. Yes, something I could and did use, but wow. So the following year, I decided to scale back on her gift, as I was a bit tired of putting time, effort and money into her, and she barely could be bothered (or at least that was the impression her gifts gave).

    She did a complete 180, and wow, was quite generous. Which she has been from then on. I have learned not to just say “surprise me” when she asks what I might want! So this year was a big bday for me, 50, and she asked again. I gave her some ideas, otherwise who knows what i’d end up with!

  • AnaMaria December 18, 2015, 11:00 pm

    I stopped buying gifts for my own mom and brother for this purpose. My mom literally never uses ANYTHING I get her, and my brother always gave me the cheapest junk he could find. The one sad part is that my dad LOVES anything I get him, so some years I end up handing just him a gift. One year I gave him a sparkly stuffed frog for his birthday and he drove my mom bonkers because he wouldn’t stop playing with it long enough to tell her how much ice cream he wanted with his birthday cake! (That was ten years ago. He still has that frog and he still plays the with it sometimes. I guess I know where my weirdness comes from!)

    • wren December 19, 2015, 7:45 am

      I wish I had your dad in my family, too. I’ll bet he gives joy to all who know him.

    • NostalgicGal December 21, 2015, 5:01 am

      Bravo to your dad!

      Mine started doing serious woodworking (I’d give a lot to have a fraction of his cabinetry skill.) and needed router bits. So I started during the summer and one of the old Deluxe Check Book boxes I started filling one. Some he went through often even with sharpening, some had interesting profiles but he would never get one, etc. Mid 70’s. I spent the incredible sum of $400 and that box was full (no panel bits, he had no router that big). Solidly full. Heavy. I wrapped it an

      d he was a present shaker and he was forbidden to shake it. Lift it once under supervision. One tiny box. Mom bought him a new router table. So that is all he had under the tree instead of the usual mound.
      Opened mom’s box, alright. Got handed the box. He opened it, pried the lid off and his eyes kinda bugged out. He poked through the box and knew how much $ was in that box. He held it like solid gold until we finished up with the mess cleaning and he was excused to go hide in his basement workshop.

      I became famous for putting soup cans in boxes to weigh them down and one year to try to get Dad from shaking boxes I put some snipped can pieces, busted glass (light bulb already broken, and a few washers and chinky bits in there into one of the old metal bandaid boxes and imbedded in the box wadding during wrapping. He picked it up, shook it, heard all that, and screamed for me as my name was on the from. He’s standing there white holding the box and going ‘what did I just break?’ I ran for upstairs and hid in my room. Mom came to me a few hours later and says dad wants to open that one box, he thinks he broke it. I confide to mom what I really did and we pretended it wasn’t going to matter until after Christmas when we might be able to order parts.
      The famous 2×12 chunk that had weighed down many a package, with a bathrobe rolled around it, and below that, the jingle tin. I think your dad and his frog would’ve fit right in….
      (yes I am the one that bought him the slot car set that one year)

  • Kate December 21, 2015, 6:36 pm

    I remember after my Dad remarried – I gained a stepbrother and a stepsister, and all of us (my own two brothers included) were within about six years in terms of age, very close. And all teenagers at the time. Sparks flew as you can imagine XD
    My stepbrother was the stingiest person I’ve ever met, and the worst gift buyer. He wasn’t great at it full stop, the things he bought for his Mom (the light of his life) were never that great, although there was thought there. For everyone else, he just didn’t even try.
    He didn’t even ask the rest of us for suggestions.
    I had nothing in common with him and a thorny relationship – we were like chalk and cheese, though we tried to get along for the sake of the family, but it frequently descended into barbed words.
    One year, I spent a really long time trying to find him a nice gift, and finally found him a huge mug (he liked to drink tea from the biggest mug in the house) where the handle was shaped like a drill (he liked DIY) and filled it with some sweets I knew he liked.
    In return…he gave me edible paper that cost 99p and I knew was bought from the corner shop which was literally over the round from our house. Zero thought, and zero effort.
    I was secretly so pleased when ten minutes after he opened his new mug (which he clearly liked) his pet dog knocked it off the table being nosy and it smashed on the floor. It felt like karma come to bite him lol.
    With anyone else, I’d have immediately offered to replace it. With him? I just didn’t say a word.

    • NostalgicGal December 22, 2015, 8:11 pm

      I know that melding two families sometimes takes some work, but.
      I love this one.

  • Angie December 22, 2015, 2:05 pm

    Gift giving can be the worst. I’ve gotten many strange gifts in my time, but I just try to grin and bear it.

    This year, my IL family decided that everyone would get someone else’s name and then buy that person a $10 gift certificate to make things “easier”. I think it would just be easier if we all kept our own $10 and just enjoyed each other’s company, but that is a story for another day…

  • Livvy17 January 5, 2016, 3:45 pm

    I too, am not a fan of all the gifting…..we can all afford for ourselves the things we buy each other. I’ve started asking people, “would you mind if we skip the adult gifts and just hang out together instead?” This has generally been met with an enormous sigh of relief, and a response of, “I would love that!”

    My mother is like the OP…she loves to find little treasures that she believes the recipient will love. She’s retired, and has lots of time to shop, so she will spend endless hours combing through the thrift store looking for things to give. However, from a recipient’s point of view, this is tough….we don’t need or want all these precious little treasures – she’d fill our house if we let her. Every time she comes over she has something or other with her to give, and 19 out of 20 times, it’s something that is destined to go back to the thrift store. We’ve told her many times that she shouldn’t have, or that we really don’t need all this stuff, or that she needn’t feel that she has to bring us things….but these fall on deaf ears. My aunt recently asked her to stop exchanging gifts, and you should have heard my mother complain, as though she’d been stabbed through the heart.

    I’m not saying the couple in the story is like this…their comments on receiving gifts were quite rude….but it’s worth considering that not everyone is comfortable being the recipient of generosity. Stop with the gifts, and see if you can just enjoy the relationship on its own.

  • Erin January 22, 2016, 1:50 pm

    Any pregnant woman I know who was a drinker pre-baby would not scoff at a bottle of wine, regardless of how far along she is!!!

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