Author Topic: How to avoid "bad" gifts?  (Read 6029 times)

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Luci

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Re: How to avoid "bad" gifts?
« Reply #15 on: December 19, 2012, 09:58:19 AM »
I don't see anything wrong with removing yourself from the gift-exchange scenario. I have done so many years ago in my family. I explained that I have all that I need and do not want to accumulate any more.

If someone from another planet could come down and read all the agita about giving and getting gifts, they would be scratching their tiny green heads. IMO it has strayed FAR from the original intent.

Now the first paragraph is a way to avoid bad gifts, and something I've tried. We are only giving cash and steaks and candy bags this year (no vegetarians or diabetics). A couple of years I asked the children to donate to a choice of charities in my name and get me a jar of gourmet mustard. It kind of worked. I love them, but there is just no stopping them. Sigh.

Love the bolded - both the image and the sentiment.

rose red

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Re: How to avoid "bad" gifts?
« Reply #16 on: December 19, 2012, 11:10:09 AM »
We've all gotten gifts we don't like, but what I don't understand is the OP's situation.  Her mother came right out and admitted she's sure the OP won't like the gift.  That's not thinking about the OP at all.  And to keep saying she's sure the OP won't like the gift seems like she's passave aggressively fishing for reassurance from the OP, forcing the OP to lie to make Mom feel better. 

WillyNilly

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Re: How to avoid "bad" gifts?
« Reply #17 on: December 19, 2012, 11:27:08 AM »
Like a few PP, I think in part the problem is with what you are asking for.  Absolute part of the problem is also with your family... but you can only change you, not them, so I'll address the you part.

IMO the best wish lists are very vague, and for the most part fun "I would never buy this myself but would love to have" items or "I can never have too many".  So "red, wool scarf from Trendy Store" is a no good.  "Natural fiber scarf that matches my black coat and red gloves" is good. "Blank CDS" is no good, but "I like to burn a lot of mix CDs, so anything to help with that" is good (that opens them to getting you a labeling kit, or a set of nice colored markers to write on the CDs, a travel CD case or car visor CD holder, or fancy colored CDs in colored jewel cases, or even just an iTunes gift card, etc).  "Two piece, flannel, womens size 8 pjs, in purple and/or yellow" is no good, but "comfy lounge wear or pjs, size 8" is good. "LeCruset, red, bakewear" is bad but "cooking stuff" is good.

If you just give a specific list of items, especially practical items, its just not fun to shop for you.  And well... the joy of gift exchanges is supposed to be in the giving, not in the receiving.  So for you to take the joy out of giving before the whole thing even starts... its just never going to work out well in the end. And then just be ready to be surprised - you might not realize how much you actually end up liking the random thing they found for you.

BeagleMommy

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Re: How to avoid "bad" gifts?
« Reply #18 on: December 19, 2012, 11:40:00 AM »
DH does this.  He never gives the gift away before the occasion, but I always get "I bought you something interesting, but I'm not sure you'll like it".  He's seeking reassurance that he knows my tastes.

He's missed the mark many times.  I usually say thank you and then it goes in the charity bag at the end of the year.  That's where the forest green (not my best color) mohair sweater that felt like I was wearing itching powder went.

OP, if I were you I would graciously accept any bad gifts, thank the giver and then either donate it or give it to someone you know will use it.

Lynn2000

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Re: How to avoid "bad" gifts?
« Reply #19 on: December 19, 2012, 11:51:50 AM »
Ah, gifting and all its angst... :) I believe that with gifts, it's the thought that counts. And sometimes, as PP have said, that thought is not very pleasant. So I don't believe that everyone must be grateful for every gift, no matter what it is or how it's delivered.

I can understand the OP being hurt. The way her mother set the whole thing up, the only "correct" answer was for the OP to assure her that the gift was, indeed, wonderful and perfect, in a way that is beyond normal gracious gift-accepting. And I don't think that's polite. Should it happen in the future, maybe the OP could refuse to play the game--"No, I don't want to know in advance what you got me." (Unless the giver is sincerely offering to take it back and get something else.)

I don't think the OP needs to change her wish list. People say, "What would you like?" and she tells them. If they don't want to get those things, fine, but as long as she's not asking for outrageously expensive or difficult gifts only, I don't think she should have to change what she supposedly wants to accommodate them. The only change I suggest is that, perhaps, she talk up the gifts she wants more--like, "Oh, I would love to have these blank DVDs because I'm going to do XYZ with them, which I've always wanted to do..." If, to her, it's an exciting and longed-for gift, trying to share that feeling with others, and maybe that will make them feel better about buying that gift for her.

I do think attitude is the key. If it seems like the OP's family are just not going to be good gift-givers, by whatever measure, I would suggest that the OP try to change her own attitude about it--maybe trying to find it funny instead of disappointing. Practice accepting the gifts graciously--maybe try to think of some compliments in advance, like, "Oh, what a beautiful color!" or "It's so soft!" Then get rid of the gift without angst if you don't like it--regift it, sell it, donate it, exchange it, whatever. And, if it seems like they aren't putting much effort into your gifts, feel free to put less effort into theirs. "Oh, Joe wants this DVD set that falls in the right price range. Click. Done. Time to bake cookies." Then, you aren't building up all this emotion about it, only to be disappointed later. I'm not saying this is the ideal way things should be, but I think it's a decent coping mechanism for the way things are.
~Lynn2000

Isilleke

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Re: How to avoid "bad" gifts? Additional information post 20
« Reply #20 on: December 19, 2012, 01:31:08 PM »
Hi,

just to clarify, it's not that I go around saying this is what I want, we made a deal at our house a couple of years ago that we would all write down a couple of things we would like to get.
The DVDs from last year were an example, but I did put other things on it as well, like tshirts size 38.
So, while I understand that people are saying that I shouldn't tell them what to get me, that that is basically the point at my house. Also, practical gifts are what we are used to (for example, this year my 2 brothers and brother in law all asked the same gift; some kind of expensive cleaner for their hobby).

I do try to just say thank you for the gift and such even when I don't really like it, but it's just as
I have a cartoon face, I swear... it's immediately evident what I'm thinking.

...
After a while, it's depressing to think that someone either knows you so little or doesn't care. I know that's not the case with my mom, but it starts to feel that way!


Susiqzer said.

Because honestly, I do appreciate that someone thought about me and put time into it for me and if it wasn't that the list is a must in my house I wouldn't even be so annoyed by it...

It's mostly my face that I'm concerned about, because I'm actually quite good at deflecting when I feel that my opinion doesn't matter/shouldn't matter/would do more harm than good with words, but my face doesn't cooperate with me!

briarrose

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Re: How to avoid "bad" gifts?
« Reply #21 on: December 19, 2012, 02:07:25 PM »
I feel for you. This year for Chanukah, my MIL wrapped up her college alumni magazine (a school I didn't go to) and a 15-year-old used copy of a magazine my college puts out with a note on it that there was something for my husband to read. Luckily, she wasn't here when I unwrapped my "gifts" to see my expression.  :-\

mj

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Re: How to avoid "bad" gifts?
« Reply #22 on: December 19, 2012, 02:41:51 PM »
With all the information in your OP, is it possible that people are nervous to gift you?  And that's why your Mother thought you might not like it?

I'm trying to say this delicately, so I hope you take this in the spirit I'm intending (which is helpful.)  But you don't sound like an easy person to gift, to me.  A wish list is only suggestion.  A lot of people prefer to shop without them.  It sounds like you have a history of reacting poorly to gifts off of your wish list and family members are picking up on it. 

I don't think this is necessarily anyone elses problem, other than your Mom addressing the issue poorly.  If you cannot participate in a gift exchange with good spirit, maybe it's best for everyone that you opt out. 

rose red

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Re: How to avoid "bad" gifts?
« Reply #23 on: December 19, 2012, 02:50:52 PM »
^ That's what I don't understand.  If the OP reacts poorly and relatives are nervous because she's not easy, then stick to her wish list.  Easy.  Jazz it up with a scarf or chocolate or stuffed animal if they want, but make the main gift from the wish list. 

The joy of a gift is not about giving or receiving.  It about both.

I do agree the OP should opt out if possible since her family doesn't seem to take her wishes seriously.

Sharnita

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Re: How to avoid "bad" gifts?
« Reply #24 on: December 19, 2012, 02:54:36 PM »
I think the problem with that is that it takes the surprise and fun out of it for a lot of people.  If she knows they will stick to the list because she is only happy with hose things then she knows more or less what she might get.  For some people they feel like they are filling out her order and not getting a gift.  OS on the none hand they are scared of her disppointment and dislike but on the other hand they don't want to go through a dreary exercise in filling her order,, either.

mj

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Re: How to avoid "bad" gifts?
« Reply #25 on: December 19, 2012, 02:55:53 PM »
For a lot of people, shopping off a wish list isn't giving in the spirit they prefer.  I cringe every time I get a wish list from an adult that contains specifics/brands and where exactly to get it from.  If I do buy off of it, I feel like I didn't think of the recipient at all and feel equally as bad as I would if I gift off of the list and not hitting the mark.  To me, gifting off a list suggests that I thought of them on a deeper, more meaningful level, even if I didn't get them something they necessarily liked - I tried really hard though.

When it does get to the point that feelings are hurt and the suggestion is to buy directly from the list, it turns into a different animal than the spirit of giving was intended. 

zyrs

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Re: How to avoid "bad" gifts?
« Reply #26 on: December 19, 2012, 03:01:01 PM »
A wish list is just that - a list of wishes. It is not a list of requirements. I often deviate from wish lists.  If I didn't, I would have given my father socks for the last 25 years.

I find it really hard to get socks that fit and if I find a set that kind of do, then I just buy those the next time I'm in the store.   So I never find out if there is a type that might fit better.   Asking for socks on my wishlist is an awesome way to maybe find a different type that fit as well.  You can never really have too many socks.

 

rose red

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Re: How to avoid "bad" gifts?
« Reply #27 on: December 19, 2012, 03:10:04 PM »
I think the problem with that is that it takes the surprise and fun out of it for a lot of people.  If she knows they will stick to the list because she is only happy with hose things then she knows more or less what she might get.  For some people they feel like they are filling out her order and not getting a gift.  OS on the none hand they are scared of her disppointment and dislike but on the other hand they don't want to go through a dreary exercise in filling her order,, either.

Than the whole family shouldn't be making wish lists either.  Or separate into two groups; those who want wish lists, and those who want to be surprised.

At least the OP knows what she's getting so she can start practicing her game face.  If you decide to donate the scarf, think about how happy someone will be to get something warm and you can smile at that image.

Lynn2000

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Re: How to avoid "bad" gifts?
« Reply #28 on: December 19, 2012, 04:23:17 PM »
Personally I love wish lists. I think they can be used in a lot of different ways--to get exactly what a tricky recipient wants, to inspire an original gift, or not consulted at all of course.

In the OP's case, it sounds like the family insists they give each other wish lists. So, no problems with people feeling resentful about receiving them from others, or else we've got a really conflicted group of people! :) Then, they buy things that AREN'T on the list. Maybe they're just using the lists for inspiration. Sometimes, especially with the OP, these things miss the mark. The OP responds graciously with words, but her immediate expressions show her dismay, and the givers sometimes jump on that, or demand she respond with greater enthusiasm than is reasonable. This is the situation I'm getting from the OP, please someone correct me if I've got it wrong.

Ways to hide/manipulate facial expressions that I can think of:
--Practice in a mirror beforehand. Similar to practicing saying things in advance so they sound more natural.
--Assume you will be horribly disappointed with the gift before you open it. Then, when you open it and it's not quite that bad, your happy/relieved expression will be more genuine.
--Say more when you open the gift. Maybe start by admiring the packaging before you even open it. Then, just keep babbling whatever halfway true compliments come to mind, even as you're unwrapping it. Hopefully this will distract people from your actual facial expression.
--Suddenly cough or sneeze as you see what the gift is, so any weird expression will be attributed to that. Even better if you can use a tissue to partially cover your face until you recover.

Some of these sound kind of convoluted, I grant you. But, I totally understand wanting to be polite, and being undermined by immediate reactions you can't always help. And I think these are some reasonable ways around that.

FWIW, my problem has generally been the opposite, that I have trouble expressing the enthusiasm I genuinely feel. So I've gone the reverse route, practicing expressions, tones, and words that convey my (genuine) enthusiasm with a gift. I've found this has also come in handy with gifts I don't feel genuine enthusiasm for.
~Lynn2000

magicdomino

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Re: How to avoid "bad" gifts?
« Reply #29 on: December 19, 2012, 04:46:51 PM »
*sigh*  The OP does have my sympathy.  I gave up on Christmas lists a long time ago because it seemed like the lists of what I wanted became lists of things I was guaranteed not to get.  And even though one appreciates the thought, and one would always smile and thank the giver, when it happens constantly over several years, one wonders if anyone is paying attention, or just checking my name off a list.   :-\

All I can offer in advice is the patience to tolerate the misfires with as much grace as possible, until sometime in the future, you can opt out of Christmas gifts completely.