General Etiquette > Holidays

Dictating someone else's present?

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I'm not sure if this was just my BIL not thinking, or actually a bit rude?

My sister got married this summer and my BIL called me last night saying he wanted to discuss an idea for a Christmas present for her. He wanted to get her a concert ticket for a band she likes but didn't want to go with her because they are not his taste.

He said he had spoken to my parents and suggested they buy me a ticket as well, as their Christmas present to me, so that my sister and I could go together, but they told him they had already bought a present for me. He then asked if I would by my own ticket and his present to me would be to contribute something towards it (note, not pay the whole price so it would cost me money).

Now, the cheapest tickets are 65, going up to 120, and I am not a particular fan of this band either. I think they are ok, but I wouldn't choose to pay to see them.  I asked him when it was and he gave me a date next summer when I am actually away anyway so I explained I wouldn't be able to do that.

Then he asked if any of my sister's friends liked the band and I mentioned one who lives close by them. It was then he told me the concert was in a city 3 hours away, meaning paying for an overnight stay. I told him the friend in question wouldn't be able to do that as she's a single mum and doesn't have a lot of money, and would have to find a sitter. I suggested a friend who actually lives in that city, that way my sister could stay with her and it could keep costs down, but perhaps he should buy two tickets and offer to pay for my sister and her friend if he didn't want to go himself? He said he would think about it but would give first refusal to the friend who's a single Mum, despite my explanation of why this was a bad idea.

Is this just him trying to do something nice and not thinking, or is it a bit rude? Essentially he's buying his wife a ticket to a concert in a city that requires an overnight stay (hich he's not paying for) and he's asking someone else to part pay for their ticket to go with her...Well, actually first he was going to lump me with a ticket as a present from my parents, thank god they refused because I wouldn't have been impressed!

I think what he should be doing is buying two tickets and a hotel and telling my sister to choose someone to take. If he can't afford that, then he should find a different gift?

Edited to add that his wife (my sis) doesn't know anything about it and so will kind of be forced to spend money on travel and hotels.

Sounds like he's trying to do something nice for his wife, and is jumping through hoops so as not to have to do it with her.

He should either a) go with her, and make it a fun weekend or b) give up on the concert idea and buy her the double album.

I'd go with "trying to do something nice but didn't think it through". Partly because my DH did the same a few years back, but in my case it worked perfectly :)

Anecdote which can be skipped at will :)

I used to be a huge fan of NKOTB and was actually set to go to a concert with them back when I was 12. Unfortunately I ended up in the hospital instead, and missed out :(

Fast forward 20 years. I'd just discovered that NKTOB had gotten back together and were touring Europe! Not Denmark though, but they were coming to London. DH knew I wouldn't use that kind of money on myself if he didn't tell me to, so he said he'd give me a ticket for Christmas.

Yes, a ticket, because I would have gone alone if it had come to that.

What ended up happening was that I called my youngest sister (who absolutely adores London), and asked her if she'd like a ticket to the concert for her Christmas present, even though it meant she'd have to pay for travelling costs to London. She jumped at the chance, and we ended up having an amazing weekend together.

So yes, my DH gave me a Christmas present that caused me to spend more money, and we in turn gave my sister a Christmas present that caused her to spend more money.

What puts my DH's actions (and mine, for that matter) in the 'not rude' category is that we talked everything through in advance. We didn't just give my sister what would essentially have been a worthless present, if she hadn't had the money for travelling - we called her up first to make sure she'd be okay with it.

If BIL's doing the same - and not just springing this on people, including his wife - then I think he's in the clear.

I think he's not thinking *and* being rude.

I kinda' wish your parents had told him that it was inappropriate for him to ask them that. And he should be getting a lot of brush off remarks from you: "That won't be possible" and "I can't help you" etc. I think you shouldn't even get involved to the point of offering suggestions or pointing out why his solutions won't work. That's just encouraging him to involved you. I suspect you'll be better off emphasizing how you are not involved and won't be involved in this sort of thing to head off this sort of thing in the future.

One other thing you can try in situations like this, when you think that someone has their heart in the right place but just hasn't thought it through, is to ask questions about the things that you see as rude. "So let me get this right: you asked my parents to make their gift to me something to save you money?" "You are asking me to spend money on buying a ticket and go out of town to save you money?" "Why not just borrow money from me and pay me back?" Basically restate his ideas from your point of view. Sometimes that jars people into realizing what they are really asking for, and they retract their request. Sometimes they don't get it or still find their request reasonable, in which case you can just go with the "not possible" "can't help you out" statements above.

Here's the only way I think its ok.  I think your BIL should buy your sister/his wife 2 tickets to the concert.  He should give them to her.  Whoo-hoo she jumps and squeals and gets excited.  At some point he should then say "now honestly this band is not my thing.  I'm happy to go with you but if you have a friend who you would have more fun attending with, I think it'd be a great idea for you to invite them."  At which point your sister can have a chat with any of her friends (surely she knows her friends best) and can offer one of them the ticket - for free - but be honest with them about the location and the costs of splitting a room and transportation.  If no friends can or want to go, your BIL should go with her, the two of them paying for the room, and they should compromise by going somewhere else he wants to go but your sister isn't nuts about sometime.


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