General Etiquette > Family and Children

How to avoid "bad" gifts?

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Isilleke:
BG/. For Christmas at my house we do a Secret Santa kind of thing. We all get one person we have to buy a gift for. Since doing this we also upped the amount spent so to make sure everyone gets something they want, we make a list.
My mom does still buy everyone a (little) gift. END BG/.

My mom came home today and told me she bought my gift for Christmas, but that she was afraid I wouldn't like it. I asked if it came from my list and she told me it didn't. I asked what it was and she wouldn't tell me. Fair enough, but then don't tell me I'll probably won't like it.
After about 5 minutes she asked me if I still wanted to know what my gift was and I told her yes. So she showed me. It's an infinity scarf.

Now, I do have to admit, I'm a pretty bad gift getter. I try to avoid lying when I don't like something and just say that I appreciate the gift (which I do, because it does show they thought about me), but my face almost always gives me away. I was raised to believe to always say thank you and never show ingratitude and it's not that I would ever tell someone what a horrible gift they gave me, because most of the time they didn't. It just isn't me. Which is why I try to avoid giving gifts to people so they won't feel obligated to gift back.

But I do feel with my family that they always put me on the spot. Just last year I had at least 5 or 6 different things on my list (all under budget) and my sister (actually her husband, but she bought it) gave me books. Don't get me wrong, I love books, but I usually lend them from the library because I will more often than not just read it once. They know this and not only that, she gave me books from an author she (and my brother) collects. The first thing my sister said was "I can exchange them if you want" and she had to because I already had read all 3 of them and she already had 2 of them.

And now I feel just awful because I made it pretty clear that although I thought the scarf is pretty I will never ever wear it. I already have a pretty big bosom and in my eyes an infinity scarf only attracts even more attention to it.

But at the same time I feel that every time they just ignore what I want and give me things I don't need nor want. And then make me feel bad about not being happy with the gifts.

Can I tell them I would much rather not have anything if they don't bother listening when asked? Or do I suck it up and be grateful I get anything at all?
I'm getting pretty tired of always being the bad guy when I feel that I give them lots of (asked) options that they always tend to ignore because it's not a gift in their eyes. (Last year I asked for empty DVD discs for example, which I would have loved because it's quite expensive and it would have been a little less I would have had to spent on it.)

And how do I apologize to my mom if I have to? I didn't say "oh my god what did you buy?" but I did say something along the lines of "ooh, wauw, I, this is pretty, but it's not really me is it?"

bah12:
I don't think there's anything that you can do about it.  You already give them a list and they choose to ignore it.  I think you can try to exclude yourself from the "Secret Santa" ritual in the future, but is it worth it?

It may be easier to suck it up and say "thanks" than try to fix it.  Also, I don't think it's fair for them to hound you about gifts when they purposely choose not to gift you from your list.  I doubt they are being intentionally cruel, but it is a little mean to put you on the spot like that. 

turnip:
Let me put it this way - I think the ability to graciously thank someone for a bad gift is a worthwhile skill to be practiced and cultivated.   I plan on practicing this skill with my daughter before gift giving events.    I remember a Terry Pratchett book where a woman was described as being able to "Graciously accept a bag of rats" and I think that's someone to emulate.

So I don't think you should try to avoid bad gifts.  I think you should see these interactions with your family as an opportunity to develop a new skill.   

SiotehCat:

--- Quote from: turnip on December 18, 2012, 06:11:00 PM ---Let me put it this way - I think the ability to graciously thank someone for a bad gift is a worthwhile skill to be practiced and cultivated.   I plan on practicing this skill with my daughter before gift giving events.    I remember a Terry Pratchett book where a woman was described as being able to "Graciously accept a bag of rats" and I think that's someone to emulate.

So I don't think you should try to avoid bad gifts.  I think you should see these interactions with your family as an opportunity to develop a new skill.

--- End quote ---

I completely agree with this.

I think that when your mother asked if you still wanted to know what she got you, I probably would have responded with "I'm sure that whatever you got is fabulous".

Tea Drinker:
I don't think the real problem is that she's getting you things you don't like.

The real problem is that she's putting you on the spot. If she had just handed you a wrapped package and said "Merry Christmas!" or even "I got you something unusual," you'd be okay to just say thank you if it wasn't what you wanted.

"I got you something, but you probably won't like it" is either Eeyore-style "nothing ever goes right" or a passive-aggressive attempt to make you say you liked something that she expected you not to like. And it's not even the sort of PA where the person doing it is making their own life easier, or trying to get their own way in an argument. It looks as though she has gone to at least as much trouble to get you something she expected you to dislike--and make it hard for you to just thank her and quietly regift it or give it to charity--as it would have been to get you something from your list.

The closest I can come to an etiquette answer here is to suggest being passive-aggressive right back, and smiling and saying "Mom, guess what? You were right!" after opening the gift she says you probably won't like.

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