General Etiquette > Holidays

When someone doesn't "do" gifts.

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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

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. 

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.

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.

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.


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