Author Topic: Polite way to say "don't bother with the token gift?"  (Read 3611 times)

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LadyL

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Polite way to say "don't bother with the token gift?"
« on: December 07, 2011, 09:56:23 AM »
As mentioned in my "you want me to sleep where" thread, I am spending Christmas with LordL's family. It's my first Christmas away from my own family and I'm still mentally adjusting to that a bit.

One thing I realized is that obviously I won't be able to open gifts with my family on Christmas day like always. I was thinking of doing most of it before or after, as well as seeing if they don't mind me taking a gift or two from them up with me to open on Christmas (I would call them when I was opening it). This way I get the fun of opening presents and don't feel left out when LordL's family is doing so.

Part of why I'd like to arrange my own gift opening experience is because I don't want his family to feel responsible for including me in their gift opening. They don't normally spend much on gifts for me ($15 or so) and quite frankly the gifts are usually token gifts. Last time it was a large, gaudy, inexpensive necklace with plastic beading - the type of thing a girl preteen or younger might wear. They are historically not great gift givers but are ok with shopping from a list for LordL, except they never ask me what I would like, so they just buy me generically "girly" things. I guess I would prefer to side step the whole issue rather than have to awkwardly open my one small box while LordL opens his mounds of presents, and have to ooo and ah over whatever it is they get me. I am really really bad at faking those sorts of reactions and doing so makes me uncomfortable.

In my family my mother and father get LordL and I pretty much equivalent gifts, and they also treat him like a member of the family, whereas in LordL's family I am treated more like an afterthought - and I guess I'd rather skip the charade of them buying me something for the sake of doing so. I would prefer to ask them to either get me something small and consumable like chocolate or just a card, but I'm not sure if there's any polite way to communicate that.

Worst case scenario I will treat it like a drama exercise and practice my best "I'm excited/this is wonderful!" face  :P. I want to be gracious but also would prefer to avoid as much awkwardness as possible.

otterwoman

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Re: Polite way to say "don't bother with the token gift?"
« Reply #1 on: December 07, 2011, 10:15:19 AM »
I think the best way to deal with this would be to have LordL talk to his parents about what would be a better gift for you. They are going to get you something. People are like that, can't have someone just sit there and not receive a gift. If he could suggest a better idea, then at least it wouldn't be a waste of their money and maybe you wouldn't have to fake a smile.

The Wild One, Forever

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Re: Polite way to say "don't bother with the token gift?"
« Reply #2 on: December 07, 2011, 10:19:56 AM »
I think putting on the "this is wonderful" face is about the best you can do.  There is no way to ask them not to gift you the token gift.  Is it possible for LordL to have a word with them about the types of gifts you'd prefer?  If not, just roll with it.  It's one gift, one day, and you'll get your "real" presents when you open gifts with your family. 
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turtleIScream

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Re: Polite way to say "don't bother with the token gift?"
« Reply #3 on: December 07, 2011, 10:34:16 AM »
If your future in-laws buy off a list for LordL, am I correct in assuming he is the one passing this list to them? I would suggest that when he gives them his list, he includes some ideas for you as well. It doesn't make you look gift grabby or ungrateful, and helps him communicate to his family that he wants you included as a full-fledged family member.

If that doesn't do it, you can come to my house for intense training in the "wow, what a great gift!" charade.

Just Lori

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Re: Polite way to say "don't bother with the token gift?"
« Reply #4 on: December 07, 2011, 10:48:22 AM »
My family is like yours.  When a person marries into the family (or is in an established relation.ship with a family member) they are treated like a member of the family.  That means they help out with the dishes and receive an equivalent amount of Christmas presents at the big celebration.  I say this because I am very sympathetic to LadyL's predicament.  You can't dictate feelings, and I think it's perfectly normal to feel uncomfortable and a bit of a second class citizen in this instance.  However, I don't think you can ask someone to NOT get you any present without compounding the awkwardness.

So, I suggest you play a little game of "pretend" at the family gift gathering.  Pretend you're a guest who's been invited to witness the family gift giving event.  You can even take mental notes - "Good heavens, does he really think she's going to wear that?  Oh look, another loud toy to wind up the children. I'm guessing we'll have a meltdown within the hour!"  Pretend you're an anthropologist watching a longtime family tradition, or pretend you're Mr. and Mrs. Boast, who wound up on the shores of Silver Lake for Christmas because of that nasty prairie weather.  (I'm willing to bet that at least 3/4 of the Ehell regulars know exactly what I'm talking about.) 

I don't advocate building a fantasy world to avoid family conflict, but I have found that the pretend game (also known as the Jane Goodall approach) has kept me sane during many a family gathering.

Bibliophile

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Re: Polite way to say "don't bother with the token gift?"
« Reply #5 on: December 07, 2011, 10:56:13 AM »
I would either have LordL suggest a gift or just keep quiet.  There is no polite way of saying "Your gifts are so bad that I'd rather get nothing."  As for taking up gifts from your family and calling them as you open, that sounds like it would be disruptive to LordL's family's gift exchange.  It also might come off as a bit of a rub in the face - to see how the gift quality differs, etc.   

“Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others.” ~ Groucho Marx

gramma dishes

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Re: Polite way to say "don't bother with the token gift?"
« Reply #6 on: December 07, 2011, 11:01:51 AM »
I wouldn't open any gifts from your own family in his family's home.  I just think there's something about that that seems unduly unkind. 

It's as though you're saying "Your gifts for me aren't good enough, so I'll just bring some better ones with me and then I'll call the people who gave them to me to let them know how much I like them so you will feel ashamed about the junk you gave me." 

WE all know that would not be your intent, but I suspect that's how it would be interpreted.




buvezdevin

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Re: Polite way to say "don't bother with the token gift?"
« Reply #7 on: December 07, 2011, 11:09:01 AM »
Would it be possible for Lord L to revise his list to a list of possible gifts for the two of you as a couple?  Household or other items for joint gifting would avert the inequity of multiple gifts for him, and a token gift for you, but would not require his family to double the giifting allowance.
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Ruelz

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Re: Polite way to say "don't bother with the token gift?"
« Reply #8 on: December 07, 2011, 11:20:19 AM »
I think your husband needs to make it clear to his family that you're a couple.  I can't see it being 'right' that he gets mounds and you get a token.

Even my ILs gave us equivalent gifts...as did my family...or 'joint' gifts for the house...etc.
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nrb80

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Re: Polite way to say "don't bother with the token gift?"
« Reply #9 on: December 07, 2011, 12:34:45 PM »
There really isn't a way to say that, nor is there a way to politely hint at "better" gifts.  There's also nothing wrong with providing a less expensive and less personal gift to the unmarried partner / fiancee / signficant other of a family member.  In fact, this is quite traditional -- until one is married and therefore part of the family, a more modest gift can be much more comfortable for all concerned.  A girlfriend / boyfriend / significant other / fiancee may be made uncomfortable by extensive and expensive gift-giving, and on the family's side it might seem inappropriately intimate before a marriage.  You may find LordL's parents are like mine, and while presents were more modest prior to my marriage, now my husband gets more thought-out and more expensive birthday and other presents than I do (including routine I-saw-this-and-thought-of-you gifts from my Mom, of which I get none.) 

From my perspective, I would not give, for example, my brother and his girlfriend (who I very much like and want to become my sister in law) a couple gift as they are not married.  I think many other people feel that way - it's not right or wrong, it just is, and unless one knows that the giver is comfortable with suggestions and couple gifts for unmarried couples, it can be an awkward thing to ask for.

Finally, I think a lot of understanding is important at Christmas - and to assume the best of intentions.  A $15 present from my perspective is not a cheap one.  I also recall a thread a few years back that got incredibly vehement regarding providing stockings for significant others sharing the holiday - those who thought that they were a nice inclusionary touch, and those who thought that they were presumptuous, rude, and insensitive to hang a stocking.

Roe

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Re: Polite way to say "don't bother with the token gift?"
« Reply #10 on: December 07, 2011, 12:40:54 PM »
I wouldn't open any gifts from your own family in his family's home.  I just think there's something about that that seems unduly unkind. 

It's as though you're saying "Your gifts for me aren't good enough, so I'll just bring some better ones with me and then I'll call the people who gave them to me to let them know how much I like them so you will feel ashamed about the junk you gave me." 

WE all know that would not be your intent, but I suspect that's how it would be interpreted.

I agree with this.  And I also agree with 2LittleYorkies.  It's one day and one gift.  You'll have your gift opening when you visit your family.  There's really no way to say "thanks but your gifts aren't to my taste or aren't good enough so don't bother."  I know that you want to say it "nicer" but really, is there a nicer way to say that?  Good luck!

jimithing

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Re: Polite way to say "don't bother with the token gift?"
« Reply #11 on: December 07, 2011, 12:45:43 PM »

Finally, I think a lot of understanding is important at Christmas - and to assume the best of intentions.  A $15 present from my perspective is not a cheap one.  I also recall a thread a few years back that got incredibly vehement regarding providing stockings for significant others sharing the holiday - those who thought that they were a nice inclusionary touch, and those who thought that they were presumptuous, rude, and insensitive to hang a stocking.

I remember this thread. It got pretty heated.

You guys are not married yet? Are you engaged? dating?

I have to agree with nrb80. I don't think it's necessarily required that they gift you the exact same. My inlaws are very generous gift givers. And even after 8 years of marriage, they still give my husband more gifts than they do me. And I'm OK with it. I get it. He's their son. They don't leave me out, or anything, but I wouldn't necessarily expect to be treated the exact same.

And I think if you were to complain about the kind of gift or quality of gift, that would only make them treat you even more differently than their son, and alienate you further.

I do disagree with gramma dishes about bringing in gifts from your family to open. I don't necessarily see a problem with that, since you are actually going to be there on Christmas. I think it's fairly normal for people to bring in their other Christmas gifts so they can be opened on Christmas morning, itself. When we go to visit my husband's family, I bring my family's gifts so that we can open them on Christmas day, which is pretty much the norm, and his family does the same. I don't think that sends a message that their gift giving is insufficient.

bopper

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Re: Polite way to say "don't bother with the token gift?"
« Reply #12 on: December 07, 2011, 03:08:23 PM »
I would tell LordL some items he could mention to guide his family in giving.
"LadyL sure does like Godiva Chocolates (or whatever consumable is your fave) so I know she would like something from them no matter your price range."

My Dh's grandma used to buy me presents. She would get super-bright sweaters for me and more toned down ones for my DH.  I don't like super-bright sweaters. At some point I told my DH's mom to tell her mom that she should get me sweaters like the ones she would get for my DH.

Hijinks

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Re: Polite way to say "don't bother with the token gift?"
« Reply #13 on: December 07, 2011, 03:13:27 PM »
I don't think you're coming across very well here.  If it were me, I would go and visit my new in-laws and enjoy their company and spending time with them, and be properly appreciative of any gift that they chose to give me.  My own family's gifts would be opened at another time when I could be on the phone with them.

Being part of a couple means compromising and spending time with each side of the family if applicable.

O'Dell

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Re: Polite way to say "don't bother with the token gift?"
« Reply #14 on: December 07, 2011, 03:25:52 PM »
Worst case scenario I will treat it like a drama exercise and practice my best "I'm excited/this is wonderful!" face  . I want to be gracious but also would prefer to avoid as much awkwardness as possible.

You're best bet to avoid awkwardness is to accept the token gift graciously. Consider perfecting the "I'm excited" face to be a investment in the future. The hinky present might not always be from your in-laws. ;)
Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.
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