Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Life...in general => Holidays => Topic started by: MorgnsGrl on November 30, 2012, 08:09:50 AM

Title: When someone doesn't "do" gifts.
Post by: MorgnsGrl on November 30, 2012, 08:09:50 AM
DH's brother has been estranged from the family for a number of years, but is now back in touch and will be joining ILs here at our house for Christmas lunch. He has said very firmly that he doesn't "do" gifts. He won't be giving any and he doesn't want to receive any. Usually I make a bunch of cookies and candy and give a little bag of each to the adults (my brother and his wife, SILs and BILs) because we don't otherwise exchange gifts between us. My instinct is to include him in this, but I think he really meant it when he said NO GIFTS. But it feels so awkward.

I guess I need reassurance that it is okay to find this awkward and still heed his wishes. :P
Title: Re: When someone doesn't "do" gifts.
Post by: Hmmmmm on November 30, 2012, 08:14:20 AM
I would go ahead and make a bag for him and hand it to him as he is leaving but tell him he is welcome to decline if he'd rather not take it. 
Title: Re: When someone doesn't "do" gifts.
Post by: lowspark on November 30, 2012, 08:22:12 AM
I'm one who doesn't really "do" gifts (although there are a very few specific exceptions to this) in that I would rather people didn't buy me stuff and I don't want to buy other people stuff.

The main reason for this is that I buy what I want and most of what other people end up buying me is stuff I just don't want. So it's easier all around if they save their money. In addition to this, I'm terrible at figuring out what other people want and end up agonizing over and spending too much for stuff they probably don't want either!*

However, if I was at a gathering where the gifts being exchanged were homemade cookies & such, I'd love to receive that as it's consumable. I'd go ahead and include him since you're handing them out to everyone. Even if he said "no gifts" it might make him feel left out if he didn't get a package of cookies like everyone else.

If he grumbles or makes any comment about his no gifts policy, just chalk it up to experience and don't bother with him next year. Either way, though, you'll have done the right thing.

*I know this makes me sort of scroogy but it's a result of years of giving and receiving gifts that just didn't work and at this point, I'd rather just go out to lunch together or something like that instead.
Title: Re: When someone doesn't "do" gifts.
Post by: faithlessone on November 30, 2012, 08:39:33 AM
I think this is one of those situations where you're damned if you do and damned if you don't.

If you do give him a parcel, he might be offended and reject it.

If you don't, he might be offended, and feel bad that everyone else got something and he didn't.

If it were me, I'd make one up for him. It's easier to take back/redistribute an unwanted package than it is to magic one up out of thin air if he does seem disappointed.
Title: Re: When someone doesn't "do" gifts.
Post by: Deetee on November 30, 2012, 08:54:33 AM
In this case where you have a lovely handmade gift of yumminess and you do not expect reciprocity I think you should err on the side of kindness and give him the cookies. But if he declines you can send them to me.
Title: Re: When someone doesn't "do" gifts.
Post by: Lynn2000 on November 30, 2012, 10:01:11 AM
Could you make up the right number of bags, but not put people's names on them, and rather than literally handing them to people, just set them out and tell people to help themselves? That way he has the option to take one if he wants, or not, without being put on the spot.
Title: Re: When someone doesn't "do" gifts.
Post by: Allyson on November 30, 2012, 10:33:19 AM
I'm pretty much the same as you, lowspark. I don't do gifts except for a couple of people (my best friend and I have a tradition of exchanging small, fun items and as we collect them year round it's not difficult!)

Here's the thing for me, though. If I tell someone 'I don't do gifts' and then they get me something because *they really want to*, I will accept it graciously and enjoy it. Especially if it's food! So long as that person truly doesn't expect reciprocity and isn't going to feel slighted or secretly bitter that their giving me a gift didn't make me break my 'no gifts' policy for them.

The reason I don't do gifts is that I find it very stressful, and often in the past, when I've picked out a gift for someone I've thought was pretty cool, I've seen that look of disappointment in their eyes, or accidentally hit on an issue I didn't even know was there. I'm just no good at finding things that work.

So if I were this person I would be completely fine with receiving something from you in the spirit with which it was intended! But, that's me, and obviously I can't speak for all the no-gift people.
Title: Re: When someone doesn't "do" gifts.
Post by: TootsNYC on November 30, 2012, 10:38:18 AM
I think if I were the OP, I'd decide this wasn't a "gift" so much as a "party favor" sort of thing.
Title: Re: When someone doesn't "do" gifts.
Post by: Venus193 on November 30, 2012, 10:39:34 AM
Could you make up the right number of bags, but not put people's names on them, and rather than literally handing them to people, just set them out and tell people to help themselves? That way he has the option to take one if he wants, or not, without being put on the spot.

I think if I were the OP, I'd decide this wasn't a "gift" so much as a "party favor" sort of thing.

Agree with both of the above.
Title: Re: When someone doesn't "do" gifts.
Post by: wolfie on November 30, 2012, 10:40:35 AM
Since this brother is coming from an estrangement the entire Christmas party is going to be strained and awkward as people try hard not to do anything to restart whatever causes the separation to start with I would tread very lightly.

Do you have direct contact with him? If so I would send him a quick note saying that you usually give out Christmas cookies - would he like some? Then take his answer at face value.

If you don't have contact I would make the bags as you usually do and take some extras with you. Don't give him one but put the extras out so he can help himself.

He said no gifts - I wouldn't want to make him feel like his wishes aren't being respected and that reestablishing contact was a bad idea over some Christmas cookies.
Title: Re: When someone doesn't "do" gifts.
Post by: WillyNilly on November 30, 2012, 10:46:22 AM
I think if I were the OP, I'd decide this wasn't a "gift" so much as a "party favor" sort of thing.

I was actually thinking cookies aren't really a "gift" in the modern, common sense.  They are more of a way to share in holiday cheer.  Yes its an item you are given, but its different then the average "gift" when everyone is getting a bag of cookies; cookies are more like an embodiment and continuation of the holiday as whole.
Title: Re: When someone doesn't "do" gifts.
Post by: MindsEye on November 30, 2012, 11:07:40 AM
I was going to suggest that you not give him anything, since it said "no gifts" and it actually seems kind of PA to me to give someone a gift (or bag of cookies or whatever) after they have explicitly said that they do not want anything.

However, I like this suggestion a lot.

Could you make up the right number of bags, but not put people's names on them, and rather than literally handing them to people, just set them out and tell people to help themselves? That way he has the option to take one if he wants, or not, without being put on the spot.

Except... I would add the suggestion to make up more bags than you need... maybe an extra 4-5.  That way if he doesn't take "his" it isn't so obvious and won't hurt your feelings or make him feel put on the spot anyway. 

Then once everyone has had a first go at the bags, you can cheerfully announce that there are still a few more available because you felt like doing extra baking this year, and to please help themselves to extra if they want.
Title: Re: When someone doesn't "do" gifts.
Post by: CakeBeret on November 30, 2012, 11:22:59 AM
Could you make up the right number of bags, but not put people's names on them, and rather than literally handing them to people, just set them out and tell people to help themselves? That way he has the option to take one if he wants, or not, without being put on the spot.

Except... I would add the suggestion to make up more bags than you need... maybe an extra 4-5.  That way if he doesn't take "his" it isn't so obvious and won't hurt your feelings or make him feel put on the spot anyway. 

Then once everyone has had a first go at the bags, you can cheerfully announce that there are still a few more available because you felt like doing extra baking this year, and to please help themselves to extra if they want.


I like this a lot. I dislike gifts in general and it's often a source of much discomfort. I wouldn't be perturbed by a bag of cookies, but I can see how some might. This is a good way to hand out cookies without any 'pressure'.
Title: Re: When someone doesn't "do" gifts.
Post by: DaDancingPsych on November 30, 2012, 01:53:09 PM
I would probably not refer to the cookies as a gift. I might say something like, "Just wanted to share some cookies with everyone." Or "We always make too many, so I hope you can find a home for these extras." Rather than thinking and giving as a gift, share the cookies as a treat.
Title: Re: When someone doesn't "do" gifts.
Post by: magicdomino on November 30, 2012, 02:06:54 PM
Another gift-hater here (Didn't know there were so many of us lurking in the woodwork, did you?   :) )  I could live with a small bag of cookies, although I like the idea of making up a bunch of anonymous little bags and distributing them like favors.  If the gentleman still doesn't want cookies, he can pass his on to someone else without feeling like he is rejecting Extra Special Chosen-Just-For-Him cookies.
Title: Re: When someone doesn't "do" gifts.
Post by: JeanFromBNA on December 01, 2012, 02:21:11 PM
I think that homemade treats are in their own category.  I have eased back on gift giving and receiving considerably because often it's just an exchange of gift cards, but I wouldn't refuse Christmas cookies or a pie.  It would seem like I was insulting the cook.
Title: Re: When someone doesn't "do" gifts.
Post by: CrazyDaffodilLady on December 01, 2012, 02:32:53 PM
When you're passing out the bags, you could offer him one and ask, "Would you like a treat bag?"  He can accept or decline, no big deal.

You shouldn't worry or stress or feel awkward over a situation that you didn't create.  It's sufficient to behave as graciously as you can under the circumstances.
Title: Re: When someone doesn't "do" gifts.
Post by: Docslady21 on December 03, 2012, 06:57:36 PM
Is it ok to say something acknowledging you respect his "no gifts" policy, but you made him extra cookies in case those don't count?

I tend to call it out into the open when something like this occurs. "Brother, we agreed no gifts, but I always make everyone cookies. So I sat there and thought 'what if he would want cookies and I hurt his feelings? What if he doesn't and I make him feel bad?' Anyway, I made an extra bag because I figured this year I would learn for sure. If you want them, awesome. If not, awesome."

Title: Re: When someone doesn't "do" gifts.
Post by: Winterlight on December 03, 2012, 07:40:34 PM
How about putting the bags in a bowl and passing it around? Then everyone can take or not as they wish.
Title: Re: When someone doesn't "do" gifts.
Post by: sweetonsno on December 03, 2012, 08:28:24 PM
When you're passing out the bags, you could offer him one and ask, "Would you like a treat bag?"  He can accept or decline, no big deal.

You shouldn't worry or stress or feel awkward over a situation that you didn't create.  It's sufficient to behave as graciously as you can under the circumstances.

I think this is the best way to go. Think of these as a party favor and offer them. So long as you haven't wrapped them up beautifully (colored plastic wrap and a ribbon is fine, I think, but I'd avoid getting anything fancy) or attached big cards, I really don't think they'll read as a gift.
Title: Re: When someone doesn't "do" gifts.
Post by: Mikayla on December 04, 2012, 03:48:32 PM
I think if I were the OP, I'd decide this wasn't a "gift" so much as a "party favor" sort of thing.

I was thinking the same thing.  "This isn't a gift; it's leftovers".

Title: Re: When someone doesn't "do" gifts.
Post by: Lynn2000 on December 04, 2012, 04:15:49 PM
Is it ok to say something acknowledging you respect his "no gifts" policy, but you made him extra cookies in case those don't count?

I tend to call it out into the open when something like this occurs. "Brother, we agreed no gifts, but I always make everyone cookies. So I sat there and thought 'what if he would want cookies and I hurt his feelings? What if he doesn't and I make him feel bad?' Anyway, I made an extra bag because I figured this year I would learn for sure. If you want them, awesome. If not, awesome."

I think this is a "know your audience" thing. Some people would appreciate their wishes being openly acknowledged; other people would feel defensive about it and put on the spot. If I wasn't sure I would default to not saying anything. If Brother said anything himself ("Hey, I said I don't do gifts"), I think the above wording would be a great response.

And OP, thank you for respecting his "no gifts" wishes. I know some people who would think that request was "silly" or "not in the spirit of the holiday" and insist on getting him something anyway. Or, more charitably, they personally would feel uncomfortable not getting him anything, so they would get him something small (but more gifty than cookies for all), and then make him uncomfortable.
Title: Re: When someone doesn't "do" gifts.
Post by: Rhindle on December 04, 2012, 05:44:00 PM
I second what Lynn2000 said. Getting gifts at this time of year is very uncomfortable for those of us who don't do the gift thing.
Title: Re: When someone doesn't "do" gifts.
Post by: Hmmmmm on December 04, 2012, 07:16:01 PM
I was all for the generic bag concept and handing out bags as treats until I started thinking about how my sis and BIL does their homemade treats.  They package them specific for each receiver.  More peanut brittle for DD, lots of rum balls for me, tons of turtles for DS, and very little chocolate for DH.  And they wrap,them beautifully or creatively and they are under the tree and are just as anticipated a gift every year as anything else and are opened with all the other gifts.  I'd hate to start getting a generic bag as a party favor because someone else doesn't like gifts.  and I know my sis would feel like she was no longer giving personalized gifts to us.

So, OP, if you give the same to everyone, then I think having a an extra for him is fine.  But if you hand them out when other gifts are distributed, then I probably wouldn't give him one then, but instead hand it to him when he leaves, and make it look as non-gifty as possible.
Title: Re: When someone doesn't "do" gifts.
Post by: bopper on December 05, 2012, 02:50:56 PM
Give the cookies to everyone and then have some extra bags "'in case" and tell him that you have extra bags so if he is interested, there are some for him to take, but if he is not interested you take no offense.