September 2010 Weddings
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What do you do about bad gift-givers?

Ok, I'm looking for some advice.  I realized this morning that for the past four years, my mom has given me ugly sweaters for both Christmas and birthday presents.  Usually they're non-returnable because she buys them from stores that aren't on the East Coast.  It occurred to me that it's partially my fault that she keeps wasting her money, since I've never said anything.  She knows I like sweaters, especially cashmere, but she has awful taste and doesn't seem to notice the styles and colors that I like, or my size. 

Should I say something, or let her keep throwing money away?  She never asks me what I want, so it's not like I can prevent this by giving her an alternative.  I've dropped hints about gift cards in the past but it falls on deaf ears.  If you think I should say something, WHAT?  I don't want to be an ungrateful brat, but I would want to know if I'd been getting someone gifts they didn't like/want for years.  

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Re: What do you do about bad gift-givers?

  • That's a really good question! My sister used to be that way. She has great taste, but kept giving me stuff for Christmas that seemed like quantity over quality.  This year, I emailed her asking what her kids and husband had on their wish lists, and specifically said that, for us, we still had items on our registry, and specifically were hoping to get a composter.  Voila, we got the composter! 

    So, um, that's just one year, but it seems like it worked to be more direct and just say, in a casual way, what you're interested in. 

    My mom definitely prefers to get me actual items rather than gift cards, but I've got her trained to think I'm picky, so she only buys from stores that I can exchange at, and specifically says that it won't hurt her feelings if I return it.

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  • I would thank her for the gifts but let her know that you have enough sweaters to last you forever. Next year, I would create a wishlist on Amazon.

    My dad is the same way, he is not a good gift giver, thoughtful but has no idea what people like or are into. For instance, this year he gave me a piggy bank shaped like a mini jukebox (ceramic). I have no use for this thing. 

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  • This may be one of those cases where you just need to be blunt.  I can't remember, but it doesn't sound like you have the closest/greatest relationship with your mom, but it's wasteful for both of you since she's throwing away money on things you'll never use and you end up having to store/get rid of them.  Leading up to a gift-giving event, send her pics of what you want w/ appropriate sizes (I do this with my mom, either tearing out catalog pages or sending her links, but she is always asking for ideas, too).  Or, if that's too forward for your relationship, be a little sneaky and have your DH (J?) talk to her..."Laura wants x, but I was going to give her y...do you want to get x for her?"  Then it's not quite as overt as "give me this" but saves face for both you & your mom.
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  • This year, when people asked me (or H) what I wanted, they were referred to my amazon wish list.

    Lo and behold, I loved every single thing I got this year. Everything was off my wish list. Now I need to get everyone I shop for to make their own!

    (Yeah, I'm lazy like that)

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  • image SusieQ1981:
    This may be one of those cases where you just need to be blunt.  I can't remember, but it doesn't sound like you have the closest/greatest relationship with your mom, but it's wasteful for both of you since she's throwing away money on things you'll never use and you end up having to store/get rid of them.  Leading up to a gift-giving event, send her pics of what you want w/ appropriate sizes (I do this with my mom, either tearing out catalog pages or sending her links, but she is always asking for ideas, too).  Or, if that's too forward for your relationship, be a little sneaky and have your DH (J?) talk to her..."Laura wants x, but I was going to give her y...do you want to get x for her?"  Then it's not quite as overt as "give me this" but saves face for both you & your mom.

    You're right, my mom and I have a rocky relationship.  It's kind of hard to define, but she's very selfish and not very 'mom'-like.  I think I might just straight up tell her what I want (though this means I will have to actually come up with something!) even though she doesn't ask.  Or maybe have Jeff send an e-mail like you suggested.  I WISH she would just ask, because I would set up an Amazon wish list or something similar, but it seems kind of rude to do so when she doesn't ask for suggestions, KWIM?

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  • image LauraT25:

    You're right, my mom and I have a rocky relationship.  It's kind of hard to define, but she's very selfish and not very 'mom'-like.  I think I might just straight up tell her what I want (though this means I will have to actually come up with something!) even though she doesn't ask.  Or maybe have Jeff send an e-mail like you suggested.  I WISH she would just ask, because I would set up an Amazon wish list or something similar, but it seems kind of rude to do so when she doesn't ask for suggestions, KWIM?

    ITA, it's rude to say "I want x" when you haven't been asked.  But, IMHO, family is the one social group where tact CAN be thrown out the window.  Friends may come & go but blood is blood...forever.

    Not sure if my mom has figured it out yet, but my sis & I will go to bat on each other's behalf (for gifts, yeah, but moreso for family relationship/communication issues).  Then, it doesn't seem like either of us is being a raging biatch/brat, but can often resolve the issue since my mom knows we're closer with each other than either of us is with her.  Another possibility, if you have a sibling you're tight with.

    If she's got a narcissistic personality, make it about her at your own expense...you want to make it easier on her since you're so picky/nothing fits right/etc.  Reverse psychology is amazingly effective.

    All that being said, she may very well just ignore what you have to say.  Definitely one of those situations where you make a good run at it, but if she doesn't take what you say to heart, just drop it.  No point in beating a dead horse.

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  • This was my favorite part of Christmas and have missed it the most since my mom has passed. We would go to the mall every December. She would bring paper and a pen we go to stores I tell her what I wanted in what size, color, shape ect. Yes, I would know essentially what I was getting, but I wouldn't get everything and she would throw in other things she knew I would like. Suprisingly she knew me VERY well even though for years I would deny it.

     Sorry for my bring down

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  • image Xtine22:

    This was my favorite part of Christmas and have missed it the most since my mom has passed. We would go to the mall every December. She would bring paper and a pen we go to stores I tell her what I wanted in what size, color, shape ect. Yes, I would know essentially what I was getting, but I wouldn't get everything and she would throw in other things she knew I would like. Suprisingly she knew me VERY well even though for years I would deny it.

     Sorry for my bring down

    Don't apologize, I think that's sweet :) 

    When I was still living at home, we would sort of do this - my mom would go shopping with me and my sister and point out what we liked, and she would buy some of it.  We'd always pick more things than she'd buy so we'd still be sort of surprised by what she wound up getting.  She'd then have one of us distract the other while she made the purchases - we knew what she was doing, but it DID keep us from knowing what she got! I think she might still take my sister to the mall and get her to show her what she wants.

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