General Question

perg's avatar

Neighbor gave me a very generous gift, one I probably wouldn't buy for them. Should I accept?

Asked by perg (2624points) September 29th, 2010

I have lived next door to a younger couple for a good long time and we get along very well. Since I moved in, they’ve had two kids and, though I’m older and childless, we hang out regularly. We occasionally do favors for each other, though they have generally done more for me (husband has an industrial mower and occasionally vrooms over my small yard, wife has watched my dog for a weekend). I generally give them small gifts to thank them when I feel the scales are a little off-center.

They just bought me an expensive present ($130) for a milestone birthday I celebrated this week. It’s computer hardware and the husband works in tech, so I’d been seeking advice; he went ahead and bought the item. I don’t know if the wife knows – it’s not that he has ulterior motives, but he tends to act impulsively. I accepted it with thanks but am tempted to ask the wife if she would like to return it or maybe just give it back to them myself and say it’s too much. Downside is it might hurt their/his feelings and sour the relationship.

If I had more dough to throw around, I’d happily buy them a similarly priced item (if they were OK with it) for a similar milestone. I don’t have that kind of money. I have no idea what their financial picture is like, though I suspect, overall, it’s better than mine.

What would you do?

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14 Answers

chyna's avatar

I think you should send a thank you card and accept the gift. Since he is in the business, maybe he got a big discount. Either way, they are showing you how much you mean to them. You must be a really good friend and neighbor!

Seek's avatar

It’s not your responsibility to make sure they are being responsible with their money.

Graciously accept it, and send a thank you card. That’s all you’re required to do. Oh! And enjoy your new equipment. And happy birthday!

perg's avatar

@chyna He didn’t get a discount – he gave me the receipt in case I had problems with it. He got a good deal, but no better than any I could have gotten. I jokingly told him that I hoped he would write me off as a business expense ;). But yes, we do have an excellent relationship, as we do with the family on my other side – they cross my yard to each others’ houses all the time, so maybe I’ve been a better neighbor than I think. I think I may just mention it to the wife before I open the package (we’re both home tomorrow) to be sure she’s cool with it. As I say, he tends to act impulsively and I’d hate to do something that upsets her.

perg's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr Thanks for the b’day wishes! Now I’m looking forward to turning 25… for the third time.

Randy's avatar

You should definitely accept and thank them. Maybe with baked goods or a home cooked meal?

They didn’t get it for you because they thought you needed it. They got it for you because you mean a lot to them. And I’m willing to bet every dime to my name that they didn’t purchase that while thinking “If we get this present for our neighbor, then we’ll get something equally expensive in return!”. Friendship isn’t about balance and who spends the most or the least. It’s about caring for each other. Just let them know how much you appreciate the gift and their friendship. That is what gift givers want in return.

Oh, and a happy birthday from me as well! =)

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

If you have reason to believe that the husband makes impulsive purchases, and if you think that his wife may not know about it, talk to the husband and not the wife. Let him know how gracious and thoughtful it was, and that you feel guilty accepting something so expensive. Offer to give it back. In doing so, he might reveal that his wife knows about it and that the price is not an issue. Then you can accept it with a clear conscience. If he takes it back, you may be teaching him a lesson in financial responsibility that can cause problems in marriages. It may also send a tacit message that such expensive gifts should not be given in the future.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

I’d accept and send a thank you card as @chyna suggested.

DarlingRhadamanthus's avatar

I am fairly sure he got a large discount if he works in he field. At some time, thank them again and gently say, ” I was so grateful for the gift you gave me. I cannot thank you enough…I just don’t think I would ever be able to reciprocate in kind to such a generous gift.” And see what they say.

In truth, if they have lived next to you….they probably know that you wouldn’t have that kind of money. That may be why they gave it to you!

Sometimes, I have sent generous gifts to friends who would never be able to do the same. I knew they would never have the money to do the same. My gifts are in giving, not in expecting back. I am repaid tenfold with their friendship. They may feel exactly the same about you!

If you still feel guilty, offer to watch their children/house/dog or their house while they are away. Bake them something more often. Do little things with great love a bit more often. That’s all you need to do.

angelld's avatar

I’m sure they were showing their appreciation for you. It is not the amount that the gift cost, but the sentiment it represents. They think a lot of you so go ahead and accept this gift from them. But also, make them aware that you are uncomfortable accepting a pricey gift. If they are true friends, they will understand. Don’t feel obligated to buy them something expensive in return. Invite them over for dinner and movies, or offer to watch their children so they can get away for a weekend.

BarnacleBill's avatar

People have different relationships with gift-giving. Not everyone attaches a price tag to the gifts they give or rate the recipient worthy of a gift of a certain dollar value. Had this not been something you needed coinciding with a milestone birthday, they would not have given it to you.

Be a gracious recipient. Please don’t make them feel bad about the gift by telling them they spent too much. I hate it when people do that to me; it’s embarrassing and makes me feel I have poor judgement. Generous thanks are in order. You probably are going to get fruitcake for Christmas.

skfinkel's avatar

Thank them. However, it might make you a bit circumspect about talking with them about big ticket items you might want in the future.

diavolobella's avatar

Just thank them for the lovely gift in general terms and let it go at that. If you mention it to the wife, thinking she might not be aware of the expense her husband went to, you are setting up the husband to be in the dog house with her and/or possibly giving her the impression you don’t think she is as generous as he is and would not have condoned the gift herself. If he tends to act impulsively she surely is aware of that by now and knows that is part and parcel of being his spouse. She might be annoyed with him if she didn’t know he spent that much and she might not because she knows how he is or because she is aware of the cost of the gift and they gave it to you jointly with full knowledge of the cost. If she doesn’t know the cost, and you clue her in, you take the risk of thanking him by getting him into trouble, which isn’t a very nice way of repaying someone. Just write them a thank you note for the lovely gift and leave it at that. Anything else may be viewed by one or both of them as judgment.

kittykat219's avatar

Yeah I would accept it as well! :)
Just say thank you over and over again though! :D
You can’t really give it back to them since it will hurt their feelings and make them feel bad for getting you the present.
Make them a thank you card and bake them some cookies for their kids and all will be well :)

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