Author Topic: Is there a polite way to discourage someone from buying you a gift?  (Read 2950 times)

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PoisonIvy

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My partner and I recently bought our first home and are now in the long, slow process of renovating it.  My mom wants to buy us a housewarming gift of artwork to frame and hang on our walls.  I'm not sure how to handle this - I personally try to refrain from buying things like this for people unless it's something I know they like (eg, a friend of mine collects a certain type of pottery) or they've specifically asked for it.  Something about home decor is very personal, and I think it is very difficult to buy for people unless you know their taste to a T.

There's a few reasons why, although I am touched by the gesture, I would rather not receive this specific kind of gift.

1. The place is very small, and we already have a lot of artwork to put on the walls (when we actually strip off all the disgusting wallpaper and replaster them, that is).  In fact, some of it will probably wind up being sold, as I don't think we have enough room for it.

2. I live overseas, so the piece would have to be shipped here, and I would need to pay for it to be framed locally. Picture framing can be expensive, and right now every spare penny is going towards repairing a leaky shower and a kitchen that is in dire need of replacing.

3. On the point of knowing someone's taste - Mom likes a specific style of art and while I think it's lovely in her home, which is decorated entirely in that style, it is not to my personal taste and it would look very much out of place in our home.  She sent links to a few art websites that carry prints from the artists she likes, so I can pick one for myself.  This sounds great in theory, but the ones I've seen so far are all in this particular style, and neither my partner or I are keen on them.  She's even suggesting the types of subjects I could choose, eg, a painting of three women, to represent me, her and my sister.  (My sister has been estranged from my mother for over a decade, which is a whole other can of wiggly things.)

I suppose I could just let her buy it and not hang it - the chances of my mother visting my new home are very slim as I always come back to the USA for visits - but I hate the idea of her spending money she can ill afford on something that I may not even be able to hang up.  Plus I'd feel guilty because I know she wants me to have something that reminds me of her.  It would be cruel to stick it in the attic, even if she was never the wiser.

Would it be rude of me to suggest a different gift?  My mom is insisting on getting us something, and she seems to have her heart set on this.  (Really what I need is a new toaster but I don't think "Aw Mom, I think of you every time I eat a bagel" is quite what she had in mind.)

LeveeWoman

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Re: Is there a polite way to discourage someone from buying you a gift?
« Reply #1 on: October 25, 2012, 09:58:31 AM »
Except for the issue about your sister, why not tell her the reasons why you don't want this kind of gift?

PoisonIvy

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Re: Is there a polite way to discourage someone from buying you a gift?
« Reply #2 on: October 25, 2012, 10:23:11 AM »
I did try saying, "[Mom's favourite style] doesn't really fit with our decor", but she seems to think that she's solved the problem by sending links to websites with lots of different artists.  I also explained the space issue but she said "That's silly, how small can the place actually be?  Not smaller than mine!" 

I'm the first child to buy a home, and I think because I'm so far away, I'm not married yet, and kids aren't on the agenda (never say never), she feels like she's missing out on a lot of milestones.  I don't want to rain on her parade.

Would it be rude to suggest something else?  I could probably find room for a vase or similar.  And although I don't really like the paintings that Mom likes, I could definitely live with pottery that's in that style.

fountainsoflettuce

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Re: Is there a polite way to discourage someone from buying you a gift?
« Reply #3 on: October 25, 2012, 10:24:40 AM »
We had a similar situation upon purchasing our house.  So we sent out links to the art we liked, as it was already given that parents would be purchasing us housewarming gifts.  We also brought up in each and every conversation for a short while the style we were going for and the reasons, ie our house was built in early 1900's so we want an Art Deco, etc.  and our search for just the right dining room table and chairs, etc. 

faithlessone

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Re: Is there a polite way to discourage someone from buying you a gift?
« Reply #4 on: October 25, 2012, 10:34:20 AM »
I agree - is there any reason why you can't tell your mother the truth? You have three very legitimate reasons why art would be a bad gift for you. Do you think she'd be upset?

If you really want a toaster, ask her if she can get you one of those instead. You can get really nice, colourful/stylish/fancy toasters.

audrey1962

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Re: Is there a polite way to discourage someone from buying you a gift?
« Reply #5 on: October 25, 2012, 10:36:42 AM »
She's your mom - you can be candid with her.

Zilla

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Re: Is there a polite way to discourage someone from buying you a gift?
« Reply #6 on: October 25, 2012, 10:55:18 AM »
I did try saying, "[Mom's favourite style] doesn't really fit with our decor", but she seems to think that she's solved the problem by sending links to websites with lots of different artists.  I also explained the space issue but she said "That's silly, how small can the place actually be?  Not smaller than mine!" 
 

But if she is sending you links, why not choose a small artwork that you like?  I like that she is giving you the option to choose.  Do you not want artwork at all on any of your walls or that instead of artwork you want something else more pressing? 

PoisonIvy

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Re: Is there a polite way to discourage someone from buying you a gift?
« Reply #7 on: October 25, 2012, 12:07:14 PM »
Thank you for all the replies.  I am a bit reluctant to get art - or much of anything that takes up space - at all.  We've downsized from a spacious 2-bed modern rental to a Victorian 1-bed flat (no closet space), so we're trying to get rid of stuff, not bring more in.  But I know she wants to make a nice gesture, and I don't want to take that away from her. 

We had a similar situation upon purchasing our house.  So we sent out links to the art we liked, as it was already given that parents would be purchasing us housewarming gifts.  We also brought up in each and every conversation for a short while the style we were going for and the reasons, ie our house was built in early 1900's so we want an Art Deco, etc.  and our search for just the right dining room table and chairs, etc. 

Our place is early 1900s too, and we're looking at Art Deco as well as 50s and 60s (we're both very big on the Mad Men style).  My mom knows that we're really into this, but she loves the Southwestern and Native American style, which is what all the links to the websites she's sent are.  I guess she wants us to have a little piece of something she loves.

Does anyone think it would be rude if I replied with a link to something more to our personal taste?  I'm just wondering if it's rude to say, "I'm not really into what you're suggesting, but I'd like something more like this?"  I very rarely get gifts I don't like - I really am grateful for the thought!  It's just that the restrictions are a bit strange.  She really has her heart on me getting something Southwestern, and I don't understand why.

lowspark

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Re: Is there a polite way to discourage someone from buying you a gift?
« Reply #8 on: October 25, 2012, 12:13:30 PM »
Mom, thanks for your thoughtfulness in wanting to get me something for my new house. I looked over the links you sent and nothing quite fit in with the style of my house. However, I've had my eye on this item/painting/vase/whatever [insert link] but I didn't want to splurge on it. It would be so cool if you could get that for me and I could think of you every time I look at  it.


O'Dell

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Re: Is there a polite way to discourage someone from buying you a gift?
« Reply #9 on: October 25, 2012, 12:19:52 PM »

Does anyone think it would be rude if I replied with a link to something more to our personal taste?  I'm just wondering if it's rude to say, "I'm not really into what you're suggesting, but I'd like something more like this?"  I very rarely get gifts I don't like - I really am grateful for the thought!  It's just that the restrictions are a bit strange.  She really has her heart on me getting something Southwestern, and I don't understand why.

I don't see how that would be rude of you to do. She initiated a discussion about the gift, so it's fine for you to give her your input. If you can, you might want to send her some images of your new place so she can *see* that it won't fit on the wall or go with your other decor.
Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.
Walt Whitman

BeagleMommy

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Re: Is there a polite way to discourage someone from buying you a gift?
« Reply #10 on: October 25, 2012, 12:29:23 PM »
I think you would be fine to say "Mom, the Southwestern style of art doesn't fit our style.  We really love (insert type of art) shown here (insert website).  We are especially fond of the piece on page eleventy-one on the website."

You could also mention how you would think of her every time you look at the suggested piece.

Amara

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Re: Is there a polite way to discourage someone from buying you a gift?
« Reply #11 on: October 25, 2012, 04:43:04 PM »
"Mom, you know what I would really love? A retro toaster! Since we are passionate for the mid-twentieth century look, that would be so neat. So many of those styles are artistic, and we'd use it every day. I'd think of you every time I saw it knowing you chose it for me. And look at the beautiful choices they have!

( http://www.toastercentral.com/index.htm )
« Last Edit: October 25, 2012, 05:20:57 PM by Amara »

CakeEater

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Re: Is there a polite way to discourage someone from buying you a gift?
« Reply #12 on: October 25, 2012, 06:13:08 PM »
I'm very much with you on not buying home decor items for other people's houses, for all the same reasons. My PIL just bought us a stack of stuff that is all supposed to go around our front entrance that will really make it annoying to walk in and out of our front door, and doesn't go at all with the style of our house.

The worst part was recently, she showed me two big plant pots when we were at their house and asked if I liked them, then told me she'd bought them for my brithday to put either side of our front door. What an awful way to go about it.

Anyway, I think the fact that your mother has asked you before buying anything is a great thing that allows you to give her some ideas. Maybe you could compliment her style at her house, and how well everything gels together all being in the same style, but that unfortunately, that style just won't suit your house, and this or this might be better.

Vall

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Re: Is there a polite way to discourage someone from buying you a gift?
« Reply #13 on: October 25, 2012, 06:31:32 PM »
I think it would be okay to gently steer her in another direction since she is asking for your input.

If I were in this situation with my dad, I'd simply say, "Dad, I really appreciate the thought and I miss you too.  What I'd really like is just a photo of you that I could hang on the wall".  It would be relatively inexpensive for me to buy a photo frame in my home's decor that would suit me (plus, I like displaying photos of people that I love).  If nothing else, I could put the photo away in an album.

Rhindle

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Re: Is there a polite way to discourage someone from buying you a gift?
« Reply #14 on: October 26, 2012, 01:25:32 AM »
Like BeagleMommy said, how about sending her some links to specific pieces in your preferred style(s). I'm thinking maybe she just doesn't get it but a half-dozen links might help her understand better what you would go for. Maybe they could be very small pieces, to ameliorate some of the shipping expense. Maybe you can ask for the framing to be included so that you only have to pay for the labor of putting the frame and glass on.

My mother sensibly actually walks around the store with me and buys something I point at, but I've been there with other loved ones who just don't get my taste at all. Hope you find a good middle ground with this.