Case Studies: Gifting Limitations and Expensive Thanks

By Casey Benson September 21, 2012 07:00 AM
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Case Studies: Gifting Limitations and Expensive Thanks

Dear Case,
About two years ago, I gave my friend several outfits at her baby shower for her pending little girl. My friend seemed to like the selections and thanked me for the gifts. Recently, she asked me to stop by her yard sale to peruse the “junk she was schlepping.” While skimming the basement finds, the baby clothing I gave to her/her daughter was up for sale with the tags still attached. I couldn’t help but be a little offended, since I had spent a good chunk of money and time thoughtfully choosing those gifts. Am I right to feel snubbed?
- Trashed Treasure

Dear Trashed,
Yes, it may be distressing to see your thoughtful gifts in a “junk sale” next to the unused gravy boat and dusty collection of old suitcases. However, when you give something away, it is no longer yours. That means you don’t get to decide what happens to it. Case is sure your friend didn’t mean to hurt your feelings and for whatever reason, couldn’t or didn’t use the gifts. A good rule to follow when purging is if you haven’t used the item or thought about the item in a year, then you don’t need it. By now, her daughter has likely grown out of the clothes and she did what any of us would do when deciding if something is sellable. Try not to take offense. If you are feeling bold, mention to your friend that you felt slighted and ask her what went wrong. Still, when gifting, it is the thought (not the value) that counts.

Dear Case,
My sister-in-law works for a major hotel chain. As one of her perks, she receives an allotment of free rooms to use at locations across the country. Fortunately, with her help, my husband and I were able to stay at a beautiful hotel for a few nights at no charge (albeit with several logistics issues). In gratitude, my husband and I offered to take his sister and her husband out to dinner. They chose a swanky place that was quite expensive and ordered every course available, complete with cocktails, appetizers and desserts. It was awkward and off-putting, as I felt that we were taken advantage of. After all, the dinner was meant to thank her, not break the bank. My husband disagrees and says it’s a small price to pay for her efforts. Who is right?
- Not a Fair Trade

Dear Trade,
Case agrees it is distasteful that your S-I-L and her hubby would elect the steak and lobster when you were footing the bill. When someone else is buying, the considerate thing to do is to limit oneself from extravagance or offer to pitch in. However, an offer of gratitude cannot come with limitations, as in “you can have the chicken, but not the crème brulee.” Consider that your meal was probably less expensive than your hotel stay would have been. Even if you experienced “logistics issues” with the room, she still did you a favor. Take this experience as a fair trade and a lesson learned. Perhaps next time you can send her a nice thank you note rather than taking out a loan for another six-course meal.

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