General Question

jca's avatar

Do you feel insulted if you have given someone a present that had a lot of thought put into it (and money but that's beside the point) and this was not reciprocated?

Asked by jca (36043points) December 29th, 2008

This happened to me this Christmas – I put a lot of thought and quite a bit of money into a gift for a friend and she gave me something quite ordinary and inexpensive. I know that it does not take a lot of money to give someone a nice present, it is really the thought that counts (i have received great gifts that the giver bought at thrift shops or gifts that were handmade – like crafts or food) but I am feeling insulted that the thought i gave was not given back and wondering if this is something others have experienced.

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54 Answers

Sueanne_Tremendous's avatar

Don’t be insulted. Some people are just lousy gift givers.

Perchik's avatar

Whenever you give a gift, you run the risk that you’re putting more into it than the other person. However, a gift should be given, expecting nothing in return. The fact that she chose to give you anything means something. Don’t be insulted. Unless you agree beforehand to only spend x amount of money then you can’t be sure the gifts will be equal.

augustlan's avatar

Have the two of you ever exchanged gifts before? What kind of gifts does she normally give (you and others)? Is it possible that she is under too much stress to give a proper effort this year?

My best friend and I have had many Christmases where one of us has said, “This gift is going to be stupid, but it was the best I could do/couldn’t find anything I really wanted to give you.” Other years, we’ve given each other great gifts…it varies.

asmonet's avatar

Um. It’s Christmas. Serious?

nebule's avatar

yes I have… and it is incredibly disappointing but I wouldn’t let it stop you from putting thought into your gifts… Invariably I have found that even though this has happened to me quite a bit I find that I simply can’t (no matter how hard I try) put my heart and soul into gifts.

thinking about it a bit more though I generally lay more importance on how much they appreciate the gift…if it makes them thoroughly happy, makes them cry, touches them in some way… then that’s all that really counts I think…. it’s hard not to want other people to place the same amount of importance and thought into giving presents as yourself naturally – we are human and like to receive as well as give obviously.

However, I would say that if she doesn’t appreciate what you’ve done I would consider putting your efforts into someone that will appreciate them x

jca's avatar

Asmo: yeah, I’m serious. I really was debating before asking this question because I wanted to really make it clear i’m talking more about the thought than the money. That’s why I put the part about receiving great gifts from thrifts stores or handmade stuff. I was wondering if my feelings were valid or i’m totally off the mark.

90s_kid's avatar

JCA exactly!
I gave my brother a $20 polo shirt from AE and a $5 book
He got me gum from the dollar store and a $3 clearence shirt from target.
And sorry I just get concerned about money. I am big on thanking people about the though. I mean, comeon——bubblegum (which by the way was rancid) from the dollar store??
Ok then….

cyndyh's avatar

I’ve been on both ends of this one. I think the first time it happened to me I took offense, but things made sense afterward and then I felt like I was in the wrong. Now I try not to be offended because I’ve seen things play out like augustlan describes. I wouldn’t worry about it unless things feel like they’re always one-sided.

EnzoX24's avatar

It hurts me more when someone gives me a lousy gift and gives someone else a great one. Not that Im conceded or anything, but it shows they put a lot more effort into the other person. However, this really only affects me between me and my brother. He got a high end drumset for christmas and the only other nice gift was expected to be shared between us even though I’m in college.

GAMBIT's avatar

Yes I feel bad but I am still happy that I gave to them. “Better to give than receive”.

gimmedat's avatar

This sucks, but there’s really nothing one can do. Disappointment is just something that you have to learn from and keep moving forward.

Knotmyday's avatar

Nope. No expectations. I learned long ago that if I required anything from the holidays, I would spend them wallowing in disappointment. All I really concentrate on is decorating and lighting the house, cause that’s rewarding (and fun, beside the mind-numbing fear of falling from a ladder).

asmonet's avatar

@jca: It’s valid, I guess my answer didn’t hit the mark. I meant that it’s Christmas, not all gifts are perfect, not all moments are joyous. Sometimes we spend more with our time or money on others and sometimes we get stiffed. It’s the ‘bad side’ of Christmas. I’ve never gotten upset over it, most of my favorite presents are crap things that no one else would enjoy given to me by the best of friends. I once got a Hot Fuzz promo stand from my friend who got it from a dumpster. Same friend gave me a plastic crown from the dollar store. She’s gotten me other wonderful, irreplaceable gifts, my hand made copper and stone bangle from her trip to Italy for example.

Another friend literally gave me a bag of rocks. And I couldn’t have been more excited over them.

It sucks when your expectation doesn’t hold with reality, but I think the only reason for you to be having thse feelings is that you had an expectation. Maybe not intentionally but by putting that much effort into a gift you kind of built yourself up to expect a lot in return, it’s natural. I’ve done it too, but, well. You did it to yourself.

If you know you’re putting that much effort into a present and investing your emotions into it then next time maybe you should reconsider and scale it down a bit. It seems to me that the best plan you could have is to adjust your behavior to fit with a variety of outcomes. Sound like you only planned on a good one – consciously or not – and got upset.

Honestly, I’m happy with some Tic-Tacs and a bow, take comfort in the fact that someone thought you were worth even a moment’s consideration. It’s more than some ever get. :)

cookieman's avatar

I see your point jca. My wife has this problem with her niece and nephew every year.

Personally, I expect nothing from nobody – and I’m never disappointed.

scamp's avatar

I’ll let you guess for yourself how I felt. I got my SO a Garmin 200, Two shirts, some socks (which he asked for) an eelskin wallet, and a few other things. He got me a storage case for my DVDs.

PupnTaco's avatar

In keeping with a tradition set over the last three years, I made fruitcakes this year for 30 or so people (not the yucky kind, these have dried fruit soaked in Barbados rum, then baked into a spice bread with toasted pecans and topped with brandy) at no small expense when I probably shouldn’t have. They were shipped from here to Colorado, Oregon, New York, Maine, etc. I received no gifts in return, a couple Christmas cards, and maybe 2/3 of the recipients sent an email of thanks.

Now, it is better to give than to receive – truly – but next year, I’m trimming the list.

Knotmyday's avatar

@scamp- did you know that eelskin wallets are actually made from hagfish skin? Should make you feel a little better. Imagine if it did that in his pocket. :^D

scamp's avatar

@Knotmyday Thanks! that does make me feel better, ha ha!!

@PupnTaco I am one of the few people who actually loves fruitcake. My Grandmother used to make the best dark fruitcake. I wish I had her recipe so I could make it myself. If you care to share yours, I’d be forever in your debt.

wildflower's avatar

No it wouldn’t – I really, genuinely enjoy giving gifts and most of the time the best reciprocation I can get is to see the receiver happy to receive it. The best is when you give something they hadn’t expected and they are surprised and happy with it :)

I also genuinely enjoy receiving gifts, but as far as I’m concerned, you don’t have to receive and give gifts and gestures at the same time or in even quantities.

PupnTaco's avatar

@ scamp my recipe is Alton Brown’s “Free Range Fruitcake” – it’s online here.

scamp's avatar

Thanks so much!!

galileogirl's avatar

It’s all about point of view

1. Are you giving the gift for the material value of what you get in return?
2. Are you giving the gift for the emotional reaction/gratitude of the recipient?
3. Are you giving the gift for the pure pleasure of giving?

These and others are all valid reasons. My reason is number 3 above. I have found that if I give just for the pleasure of giving, I am NEVER disappointed. I give without any expectations. It’s not about tit for tat. But throughout the year I receive unexpected kindnesses when I least expect them.

bodyhead's avatar

I’ve had this discussion with a bunch of people before.

Giving someone a gift is not a contract.

You should always expect nothing. It’s no one’s job to give you a gift. It’s no one’s obligation to give you a gift.

Just because you gave someone else a gift doesn’t mean they have to get you one later.

A lot of my friends are really too poor to get me gifts. Besides that, I have more stuff then I even want. I would much rather them give me nothing then getting me something I feel guilty getting rid of.

Cards are nonsense too. It’s like saying, I care, just not very much.

The joy is in the giving, not the receiving. I’m a big proponent of practical gift giving. Give someone something they need and not something that looks cute. Many times, I consider ‘my gift’ the enjoyment I see on the faces of those I’ve bought something for.

Now if you feel like they aren’t reciprocating properly in the entire friendship, that’s a different story.

Maybe put some thought and money into a charity or soup kitchen next year. It won’t make you thankful for the gifts you didn’t get, but it will make you thankful for the house you live in.

galileogirl's avatar

bodyhead: Ditto on cards. I gave up on card duty years ago. There seemed to be nothing personal about signing a card so why do it. I haven’t sent one in years, I send a note or call people during the year. If the occasion doesn’t arise to do either of those then why send a card on a holiday?

flameboi's avatar

I decided not to receive anything for xmas years ago, I’m the official gift provider in my house, and when they want to buy something for me, they all put together some cash a go to Ralph Lauren (I always have to go and change the sixe of whatever they buy), I decided not to care about what I receive, but what I have the chance to give, and make them smile, at the beginning it was kind of weird because I had gifts for everybody and I was walking back to my bedroom with my hands with one small thing or whatever, but now that I’m much older, I know that my role is to make them happy and proud that I’m doing good in life so no one care anymore if I get something or not.

mea05key's avatar

The right thing to do is make sure the present makes the person happy and not thinking of anything in return. Its hard but once u have mastered it then it makes life better

cyndyh's avatar

jca, After reading the above I have something to add. I don’t have a thing anymore about the thought someone puts into a gift for me. But I do have a thing about someone appreciating handmade gifts. If I spent a couple nights knitting custom made cashmere or angora socks which I also need to buy the yarn for I do want to know someone likes them enough to wear them once in a while. Since I don’t like this feeling and I do feel more invested in this sort of gift, I tend not to make gifts for people unless it’s something I know for sure they’d like.

nessah's avatar

Any gift given should be given as a matter of love, respect or value of that other person. You don’t give a gift to someone dear thinking that you should get a better gift back in response! Sorry but I think you should stop thinking about yourself and just enjoy the thought that you did your very best to give a lovely gift to someone you care about. If the gift is not reciprocated what does this matter?

qualitycontrol's avatar

I got a diamond ring in the shape of a heart for my girlfriend for xmas…she got me nothing. I got her a heart locket with her name engrved on the front, and I love you on the back, with pictures of me and her in it for her birthday…I got nothing for my birthday…I’m wondering if I’ll ever get present, other than, the bedtime present. Does it mean she doesn’t love me? no. Does it mean she’s lousy unthoughtful gift giver? probably.

90s_kid's avatar

That’s terrible qualitycontrol.

scamp's avatar

@qualitycontrol something tells me that you should be glad you didn’t give her 3000 other things for Christmas.

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

Some years, if you’re a little depressed, and a little short on cash, or time strapped, it’s hard to give good gifts. This year, I found about 5 perfect things for someone I don’t even exchange gifts with. For my daughters, I really struggled, and wasn’t happy or excited about anything I gave. However, the idea of not having any gifts to give was much worse. The one thing I was excited about giving, my one daughter didn’t like at all. What set me off was 1) less money than I thought I would have, 2) too many late nights at work with no time to shop, 3) no inspiration.

I tend to give practical gifts, because, let’s face it, there’s only so much “stuff” one person can own before it becomes clutter.

cyndyh's avatar

My problem is more that the folks I buy or make gifts for either have the thing they want because they bought it for themselves or neither of us can afford it.

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

Perhaps we owe it to our friends to collect something that we won’t buy for ourselves. It takes 3 of something to make a collection.

cyndyh's avatar

My husband and I have to agree not to buy anything for ourselves through November and December just so we avoid this. I just can’t count on my kids or their SOs to do this for me, too.

90s_kid's avatar

Cyndyh you shouldn’t do that.
Give for the holidays.

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

@jca, did they appreciate the thought put into the gift you gave them, or did it make them uncomfortable?

qualitycontrol's avatar

why’s that terrible?

and what do u mean scamp?

p.s. scamp i haven’t talked to u in a while how are u doing?

whitelily14's avatar

It can be hurtful if you put a lot of time, effort, thought, emotion, &/or money into a gift and this isn’t reciprocated. But remember: ultimately, it’s the thought that counts. If you feel like this is a constant problem (happens every birthday/holiday etc) maybe set a price limit or spend less on them. Also, next time around when they ask for what you want suggest that they should get you something that reminds them of how meaningful your friendship is.

jca's avatar

Thanks to everyone for all your advice and input. Every answer has been interesting. Augustlan, to answer your question, it’s the second time we’ve exchanged gifts. For any of you curious what was exchanged this year, I gave her $40 in Starbucks gift cards (I don’t usually give gift cards because I think they’re impersonal, but she drinks Starbucks every day) and I gave her a food basket thing (Hillshire Farms because I know she likes that). She gave me a scarf, acrylic. Not a particularly beautiful scarf. I could go to Chinatown and get it. Scarves can be great if they’re beautiful. In this case it was not necessarily the money issue, it was more the thought that I felt I did not receive. As I stated earlier, I’ve received and given some handmade stuff that was great, or stuff from thrift shops that was perfect, so I’m not looking at dollar amounts as much as the thought.

I am giving you all “good answers.” Anybody who has not replied yet, feel free and I’ll get you, too. I’m still interested in hearing viewpoints, they’re all great. Thanks again.

flameboi's avatar

You might get something back someday and no, the bedtime present does not count.
true, we have not seen you in a long time, how are you :D

90s_kid's avatar

I think there will be a st. jca someday :P

Knotmyday's avatar

Hooray for promiscuous lurve!

cyndyh's avatar

@90s_kid: I don’t understand what you think I shouldn’t do. Will you explain what you meant for me?

90s_kid's avatar

You don’t give your husband presents on Christmas? I think that you should.

augustlan's avatar

@90s: I think she’s saying that she and her husband don’t buy anything for themselves, but do buy presents for each other.

90s_kid's avatar

Oooooh. I always understand things wrong sorry cyndyh. :S
Thanks augustlan

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

@jca, I think you can take comfort in your relationship not being materialistically based. I would chock it up to a down year.

cyndyh's avatar

Yes, thanks, augustlan. That is what I meant. In the months leading up to christmas we promise not to buy things for ourselves so there will be something left that we can get for each other for christmas. If we didn’t do this I’d have nothing I could get him because he’d continue to get these things for himself as soon as he wanted them and I’d have nothing left that he wanted that I could get him.

qualitycontrol's avatar

To me, material things aren’t important, especially in a relationship. It’s all about the fact that they thought of you. I would have been extremely happy if she got me anything because it came from her. A tie, a mug, a pencil…even some socks. I’ve always given my girlfriend gifts to show her I was thinking of her like flowers or for example, I had all the pictures of us developed and put into a photo album. Inexpensive things that have sentimental value are always a great gift because it shows you care about the person. I used to have love notes or cards I drew hand delivered to her at work lol. But I still don’t know why she’s never given me anything. Maybe she just doesn’t give presents lol idk.

qualitycontrol's avatar

@Scamp: I JUST understood what the hell you were talking about lol.

Nimis's avatar

My gift-receiving expectations aren’t really related to my gift-giving effort.
I really enjoy finding or making the perfect gift for someone
and don’t ever expect anything in return.

This may be especially true because I run on my own schedule.
I’ve been known to give “Christmas” gifts in July
and “birthday” gifts six months after the fact.
I give gifts when I find or think them up.

Although I don’t expect to get a gift in return.
that isn’t to say that I don’t have expectations when receiving one.
But it isn’t really about money or even thoughtfulness per se.

Obviously, not everyone has a lot of money.
(And money doesn’t even necessarily equal the best present anyway.)
But thoughtfulness takes a lot of effort and mental energy too.
And I understand that sometimes people don’t have that either.

But I do get disappointed when someone gives me a gift that isn’t “me” at all.
Especially if we’ve been friends for a long time.
It makes me feel like they don’t know me.
That makes me kind of sad.

I’d much rather get nothing at all.

jca's avatar

i’m still keeping up with all the replies – all interesting and thoughtful. thanks again and i think i got you all with the good answers. don’t stop now if you have more replies….


AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

@Nimis, I have to agree about the disappointed part. I’m really disappointed when I get gift cards; I usually end up re-gifting them. I would much rather get something small that says “you know me!” than saying “here, you choose.” The exception to that would be iTunes gift cards, because I never spend money on iTunes for myself. I usually go to the local music store and buy a CD.

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