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janbb's avatar

How to handle unwanted gifts (read details)?

Asked by janbb (57139points) December 1st, 2014

My son’s SO is a lovely young woman. She travels a great deal and brings me many gifts when I see her. Many of them are not my taste or things I would use such as costume jewelry. I am also trying to reduce the amount of stuff I have so that I can downsize at some point. I have been accepting gratefully and then just putting the things I can’t use away but I wonder if there are other ways to handle this. She is from a different culture too so I am not sure what would be gracious. Should I talk to my son about it or just accept the gifts? She is not going to be at my house often but I would like to curtail this custom if I can do it politely.

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22 Answers

zenvelo's avatar

Have a sit down (without your son present) and acknowledge her graciousness. And then lovingly tell her that where you come from unsolicited gifts carry an obligation that is more than her relationship with you, more than family obligation. And that while you appreciate it, any more gifts will go to help the poor (i.e., Goodwill).

Pachy's avatar

With due respect to @zenvelo, I think you should talk to your son FIRST to seek his advice based on the the feelings you express above. Afterwards, if and when you do talk to her, I suggest you not mention the “unsolicited gifts carry an obligation that is more than her relationship with you, more than family obligation” part. Focus on your wish to reduce your stuff, which is an incontestable personal desire which provides (or at least should provide) no grounds for hurt feelings.

tinyfaery's avatar

I think it’s rude not to accept a gift. Once it’s yours do whatever you want with it. Got anything cool? I’ll give you my address. :)

marinelife's avatar

I would just accept the gifts and see if the relationship lasts although since you called her his SO instead of his girlfriend, I am assuming there was news this visit.

dappled_leaves's avatar

I agree with @Pachy that it might be better to ask your son first, if you can trust him to not make a big deal about it. Some people are very touchy about a lack of appreciation for gifts – as you clearly realize. If he tries at all to dissuade you from talking to her, I think you shouldn’t.

Pachy's avatar

@tinyfaery, I think it’s wise to deal with the issue rather than let the discomfort build. However, I do agree with @dappled_leaves that if @janbb‘s son requests she not talk to his SO, it’s probably better that she try to live with it.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Just smile and say thank you.

janbb's avatar

@Dutchess_III That’s what I’ve been doing but it is a lot of stuff and I hate her to go to the trouble. That’s why I am exploring the idea of other suggestions.

@Pachy I agree with you and @dappled_leaves. I would talk to my son before doing anything and follow his advice.

@marinelife Not a fiancee or anything as yet – but it is a serious relationship.

janbb's avatar

@tinyfaery I would never not accept a gift but would like to limit the amounts if possible in the future.

Here2_4's avatar

It depends on what her customs are. Some people visit bearing gifts, but sometimes it is respectful to honor the wishes of the recipient, such as a special request made. If that were the case with her, I might ask her to make my gift be a donation to something worthy in my name. That would make it a double gift, and she would thenknow her gift is appreciated.
Also, I believe that with some cultures, the giving is more symbolic than the gift, and the gifts are not meant to become heirlooms. In other words, it is the thought that counts, and they don’t worry about if you have kept everything.
I agree with those who say talk with your son first. Find out more details of her custom. It could be you have worried much more than you needed to.
I can easily understand your desire to not hurt any feelings. You are a very sweet penguin. I am certain it will go well if you talk with him.

seekingwolf's avatar

I would not talk to her directly, go through your son. See what her motives are and if he can gently get her to stop buying you tacky gifts. If she does not, then I would sell them on eBay or give them away. I like to sell my unwanted gifts on eBay. Easy money and the item goes to someone who actually wants it.

tinyfaery's avatar

But I said I’d give you my address. ;)

janbb's avatar

@tinyfaery The gifts are in the mail!

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Some cultures have a gift giving requirement.

jca's avatar

I would graciously accept the gifts but emphasize that you really appreciate them and yet it’s unnecessary for her to be so generous. Emphasize that you enjoy their company more than anything and you’d love to see photos. That said, when she gives you gifts, just accept them and re-gift them if it bothers you. I’d find that way easier than saying anything and risk offending her or upsetting your son.

Another thing you could do is trying wearing the jewelry she gives you. Sometimes I find that other people give me things I may not purchase for myself, because I don’t consider it something I’d wear, yet when it’s given to me, I am willing to try it out. I may try a style of clothes or jewelry and find it’s flattering and I like it. If not, I can give it away, not as a new gift but just as “someone gave this to me and it’s not my thing. I thought you might like it.”

janbb's avatar

Update: Talked to my son about the issue. We have a very open relationship. He understood the problem and had had the same issue with her. We haven’t come up with the solution yet but will talk further.

Thanks for the input all!

Dutchess_III's avatar

Let us know!

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

I suspect she’s an intelligent and thoughtful woman (given the person you are and who I’d expect your son to be @janbb), so I’d wait until you’re on your own. Perhaps out shopping or going for coffee. Then I’d tell her the truth. That while you value her thoughtfulness and love that she thinks of you, you really have simple needs and you’d rather she didn’t buy you presents. Suggest she saves the money and you both go and do something together when with each other, go to the theatre, cinema, for dinner! A girls night out for the two of you that would mean more than a million presents.

Honesty is always the best policy. While she’s from another culture, I’d expect she can understand and respect your preference.

stanleybmanly's avatar

I think you should come clean. Tell her that it is painful to you to think of her shopping for things that you’ll never use. I’m constantly forced to tell well meaning people this, and you shouldn’t feel bad about it. If she insists on gifts, point her toward something you will use or can share, candy for instance

janbb's avatar

She did bring some finger potholders that she knew I was looking for and that was really nice but the rest is really stuff I can’t/won’t use.

Here2_4's avatar

Ha ha! Maybe she does that on purpose so you will tell her what you would iike.

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