How To Handle Gifts You Don't Like



Sometimes I take risks when giving gifts. These "risks" are either perfect or awful. For example, my husband is an awesome ice hockey player & loves skating & rollerblading. We were at the airport a few years back & we saw kids flying around on heelies & he said "I want those! How fun would the grocery store be with those?" I thought, "That would be amazing!" So a couple of months later I surprised him with an adult pair for his birthday. hahahahhaha i can't even not laugh when thinking about how bad it was.


He looked at me like "What the-?" before proceeding to try them on & tell me he'd been kidding about heelies. And then he attempted to "skate" in them. In the kitchen. And he fell. HARD. a couple of times. It was bad. I mean hysterical, but bad. I returned them the next day.


You win some, you lose some. I tried. It happens to the best of us.


SO, this brings me to: what do you do when you GET a gift you don't like? A reader emailed me with this question specifially asking about home decor items.


When I get a decorative accessory of some sort that I really don't like, I thank the person for their gift & am very appreciative of it. I then take it home & hide it somewhere in my house for a while. What happens when they come over the next time? Do I take it out & display it so they think I love it? Nope. I'm not that sweet. I eventually exchange or donate it.

This may sound harsh, but I'm also not flying a sign that asks for more decorative gifts either. As tempting as it is to display items that you hate when people come over, I don't think it's the best idea because then they think you love what they got you and they WILL BUY YOU MORE.


I remember hearing a story about a bride at her bridal shower who received something she couldn't stand. I think it was something like a fruit salt shaker set?? And she said something like, "I love it!!!" and went on about how fake food was so cute. And from that point on, people thought she was into porcelain food & started giving it to her at every occasion. Soon she had a whole collection displayed in her home out of guilt & I don't know how many years it went on like this until she had to tell the truth. Let that be a lesson. WOW

I'm always genuinely thankful & appreciative when I receive something, because the person giving it to me put time & energy & money into their gift, but I don't think that means I need to hang it in my house. I appreciate the gift & the thought, but I am way too picky about my home to display things I don't love. I would never want to hurt anyone's feelings but I don't think it's something that's very fair to be hurt about either.


As a gift-giver, I want the person I give a gift to to really like what I've given them. And if they don't, I want them to exchange it and/ or give it away. I would feel terrible if they displayed something in their home that they didn't like just to please me. Because that's not what the gift-giving is about: It's about pleasing the receiver, not about you as the giver. (Can you imagine poor Dave trying to learn to use his heelies & wearing them all the time just to please me & make me feel like he loved my gift??) It's just not a fair thing to expect of gift-receivers and if a person expects to see their gifts displayed around your house when they come over then I would say they're giving you the gifts for themselves as well as for you. (Of course it feels good to give a gift but that isn't why we give.)

You wouldn't wear something that didn't fit you right just because it was a gift, would you?
Well, I say the same goes for something in your home. If it doesn't "fit right" you shouldn't feel guilty about not displaying it.




And, now I have to admit that it's been a VERY long time since I've received a gift I didn't like. It seems my family & friends have caught on to how defined my tastes are and may even slightly FEAR buying me decorative accessories. (eeek!) But seriously, in the past few years, the people around me have learned how picky I am about something that's going to go on my wall or a table top or a shelf. I've been up front in conversations explaining how I am & I think they've also worked really hard to find things they know I'd love. (For example, my aunt just gave us this HUGE awesome scary guy doorknocker & I LOVE it!!)

My mother-in-law is awesome about decorative accessory-type gifts. She's a realtor & is always coming across things at house sales & buying them because they're great deals. If she thinks I might want something, she shows it to me & asks if I want it. There is no pressure here & love this! And, since she knows I'm comfortable telling her that I don't want something, if I do take something from her, then she knows I really love it. It's a win-win for both of us.



**And a quick note to any friends or family who might find a gift of theirs stashed in a closet somewhere in my house: it doesn't mean I don't love it, remember how I switch out my things all the time? It's probably just off-season ;)**



So, my advice is to be vocal about your tastes so you can help others avoid giving you something you won't like. (This may sound selfish but I honestly think people are happier when you love their gifts... and it's so much less awkward when opening them! ;) And when you get something you really love, don't be shy about telling the giver how great it is & why you like it so much. And, if you do get something you don't like, of course be gracious & appreciative of the thought but don't fall into the trap of displaying things you don't like... or you will get more.
xoxo,


lauren

ps- to any friends or family members: If you checked the closets & the storage room & your gift is still nowhere to be found.... uhhhhhh ;) ;) ;) love yas!

26 comments:

Lona de Anna said...

Lauren..this had me in stiches...so very true..sad but true...lol..too funny!

Carolyn said...

Great visuals. Especially the Mad Men-esque falling guy! You are so right. My grandmother will ask my mom if she likes something because she's thinking about giving it to my mom's sister and if my mom says 'yes', she gets it for Christmas! What a bad trick.

DoxaHome.com said...

Lol, very funny read and oh so true! The collection of fake fruit is too funny and a lesson to learn;)

Best,
Jaime

EAC said...

Oh, you're so right. I have made the mistake of displaying ghastly tchochkes in the house only to receive more. The thing is, my in-laws DO expect gift receivers to display/wear unsuitable gifts and I have heard them complain about this daughter in law and that one who don't. Now I realize that while the gift giver is complaining, the receiver has shed herself of unwanted items and will perhaps not receive any in the future. I wish our local newspaper would pick up this post and publish it on the front page...

Kathy said...

I SOOO wanted my own pair of heelies when my then 10-year had them. Now I'm glad I never got them. Ouch!

MyLittleHappyPlace said...

I can really relate to this post! My in-laws have wonderful taste, but they are in their late 60s & 70s. Needless to say, their taste is different than mine, yet they seem to buy gifts THEY like, because they feel their taste is ubiquitously shared.
It makes it tough, because my husband doesn't believe in returning something, for fear of upsetting his parents, the giver, etc. It's very different than what I grew up with (the giver wanting the receiver to be happy)

It's a tough situation. Like you say, you can be grateful without necessarily loving the gift, or feeling obligated to use it. I'm glad you reminded me of this!

Cottage Dreamers said...

I received a couple of hand made pillows from a family member a few years back that are out of this world ugly. Fortunately they got lost in a move. Then, just this last summer, she gave me a quilt she made to match it. Yikes! (It's black, red and white with holly hobby like figures appliqued all over it.) The dog loves it and it's too big to fit in my washer so I think it's fixing to also "get lost in a move" in a couple of weeks! The only thing is, she says she wants to take pictures of them all together sometime.

Peggy & Fritz said...

Lauren,
I love this post so much. I like you are super picky and particular. I sometimes get gifts and think how did they think that was me. However, many of my friends know my personal style and/or decor and either say forget it on home stuff or know how to get it right. LOL! I agree - I want my friends to like what I give them - I spend a lot of time learning about them and their interests or listen to little things they say. If you listen well you can generallly learn what people like. One year after graduating from high school my best friend said how she always wanted a gumball machine. I bought it in March and gave it to her a Christmas filled with gumballs and a box to refill it. She LOVED it and said it was one of her favorite gifts.

My mom for years gave us stuff we didn't want. We finally told her if you bought what's on our list it would be a surprise and that's what we really want. She finally got it and now we're all happy. Also, now she says if you don't like it just ask for the receipt. She said the same thing to my brother in law. We knew he was family when he opened a box with a crazy hat in it and he looked at my mom and said, "RECEIPT PLEASE!" We all laughed but in the end it wasn't money wasted. I love reading your blog and have passed it on to friends.

Thanks so much for always posting such great stuff.

Peggy & Fritz said...

Lauren,
I love this post so much. I like you are super picky and particular. I sometimes get gifts and think how did they think that was me. However, many of my friends know my personal style and/or decor and either say forget it on home stuff or know how to get it right. LOL! I agree - I want my friends to like what I give them - I spend a lot of time learning about them and their interests or listen to little things they say. If you listen well you can generallly learn what people like. One year after graduating from high school my best friend said how she always wanted a gumball machine. I bought it in March and gave it to her a Christmas filled with gumballs and a box to refill it. She LOVED it and said it was one of her favorite gifts.

My mom for years gave us stuff we didn't want. We finally told her if you bought what's on our list it would be a surprise and that's what we really want. She finally got it and now we're all happy. Also, now she says if you don't like it just ask for the receipt. She said the same thing to my brother in law. We knew he was family when he opened a box with a crazy hat in it and he looked at my mom and said, "RECEIPT PLEASE!" We all laughed but in the end it wasn't money wasted. I love reading your blog and have passed it on to friends.

Thanks so much for always posting such great stuff.

bagfashionista said...

also --- it'll be a waste of money for the giver to give something that the receiver doesn't like...i'd much rather get nothing than a whole bunch of stuff that i have absolutely no interest in!

Jennifer said...

oh you are so in my head about this! it was especially rough for me (how selfish does that sound?!) when we were first married. there were lots of wonderful and thoughtful gifts that just weren't "us." this is nothing new though -- my mom still has this weird glass fish-shaped bowl/vase (the fish's mouth is the opening!) that she got as a wedding gift. it has been a joke in our family for years because no one quite knows what to do with it. bless her heart she's tried to make it work because the woman who gave it to her was a good family friend and she never had the heart to toss the fish bowl. ironically, almost 30 years later, I am seeing these bowls all over the place (Z Gallerie, HomeGoods) and always take a camera-phone pic to send to my Mom. so maybe the bad gifts aren't so bad, especially if you like a good little inside joke ;)

Tammy@InStitches said...

That's exactly why cash always matches everything ! ;)

Vintage Junky said...

I am going to forward your post to my mom, husband and sister. They give me such a hard time because they say I make a "face" when I don't like something.... a fake nice face. I have never seen the "face" but I am always nervous opening gifts in front of people.... I don't want to hurt their feelings, especially when they something along the lines of "wait til you see me gift... it is so you... and it is potpourri and some scented oil with sticks.... not me at all. So I have this bad reputation of being a snob and picky. And, I feel it is ill- deserved. My mom will only buy off my "list" and my sister and husband know me well enough to get me the perfect thing every time... case in point... I got rolls of ribbon, a silhouette necklace of my little guy and a photo book full of photos of him for my birthday and I couldn't be happier!

Smiles!
Michelle

Signature Style said...

You are dead on about receiving gifts you don't like! That is too funny. I have a question for you. Are the person who has the laundry sign? I am trying to find the letters with no such luck.
love you,
nancy www.rivieraboardwalk.blogspot.com

LindsB said...

That poor girl with all the fake fruit in her house- that is so sad for her.

great post and the perfect time too, you never know around the holiday season if you have to bring out those old gifts that someone gave you just to make them feel better :)

Alicia B. Designs said...

you are too funny. I think everyone has someone that just DOESN"T get it gift wise. For me it's my aunt and uncle who live in CO and are incredibly out of touch with...everything. They give us really terrible innapropriate gifts every single year and guess what, that Thank You Note is left till last EVERY YEAR. Its so hard to say nice things about something that you've just given to the Good Will! Yikes. Anyway, cute post!

xoxo

Bloggers Abode said...

So true- all of it! My best friend has a MIL that gives her awful things because she never said anything AND displays all of it when she visits! I cringe....

Struggler said...

I barely dare comment here for fear somehow, someday, someone I love very much will discover what I've written and be terribly hurt. Yes, it happens, yes, some gifts are awful, but they were given with the best intentions and I try to remember that even though they take up closet space ;)

Rachel said...

Such a good post!
You know, this is why I LOVE gift certificates! I'm so picky about things that if someone isn't sure what to get me, a gift card is always nice. Who doesn't like shopping with "free" money??

It's been hard after getting married, though. My MIL and SIL don't do gift cards, and even though I'll tell them some things I could use or want, I don't always get what's on the list. Seriously, this year I think I may get a pair of flip-flops. Ugh! They are also the type that go out of their way to tell you what thought they put into getting your gift. Like you, I usually am very appreciative of their thoughts and the gift, but I have never felt the need to wear it or display it if I don't like it.

Windlost said...

Lauren, how hilarious and how true. I find it VERY frustrating when people give me decor gifts that don't relate to my style. I have an aunt who always gives me a cat calendar every year. I love cats. I hate cat calendars. I always re-gift it to my Mom, who doesn't care. She, on the other hand, has a sister who gives her "cat in basket" sweatshirts. She has never worn such a thing or other old lady attire, but my aunt always gives her something very hillbilly and ugly that she resembles nothing in her wardrobe. It infuriates my Mom to no end who is upset that her sister doesn't pay any attention to "who she is". I could not agree more.

On that note, David's beloved Grandmother (he loves her WAY more than me and she can do NO wrong) has started giving him house plants as she down sizes. I hate house plants. Love flowers, maybe a fern, otherwise no thanks. Now we have four, all in ugly pots. The last one came in a bright blue pot. Our only good plant windows happen to be in the living room, where I am trying to achieve a tasteful and refined look and now have four ugly plants ruining my decor.

I just don't water them. If she shows up with another one, she will die.

:)

Great post. I beg people to give me gift cards to Pottery Barn, Restoration Hardware, and my favorite local decor shops and bookstores.

DONNA OWNER OF "ON A WHIM" said...

Hi Lauren, Thank you so much for stopping by my blog and for the wonderful comment you left. I too am so glad to find out you have a blog and what a great blog it is. Oh, by the way, I do remember you and so does my grandaughter. We never forget the nice ones . It is meeting people like you that make having a shop such a joy and we THANK YOU so much for that. We look forward to seeing you soon. If we do not get to see you durning the holidays, we wish you and your family a beautiful Christmas and a Happy New Year.

red ticking said...

PLEASE do not buy me any fake fruit ...especially ceramic! brilliant post... soooo cute...x pam

Maria Killam said...

Great post Lauren, I am the same. My family definitely does not try to buy me home decor items because they know I won't put it out if I don't like it!! Honesty is the best policy!!

Mary said...

Great post. I loved reading all the comments.
Thanks Lauren!

Haven and Home said...

I am the same way. My family is scared to buy for me as well. But then sometimes they find something so off the wall it is perfect!

Southern Aspirations said...

This is such a great post! I am that person who feels terribly guilty about NOT liking something and hurting the giver's feelings. I will now envision the poor faux fruit girl. Reading this has almost given me permission to purge (donate) my pile of unwanted gifts! I will try!

Also, hysterical about poor Dave and the heelies. I love it.