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Can I exchange a very well-intentioned but misguided gift for something I actually really do need?
January 4, 2013 11:59 AM   Subscribe

Can I exchange a very well-intentioned but misguided gift for something I actually really do need?

A friend gave me a very generous Christmas present that cost more than I would ever expect someone to spend on me (or I would spend on myself in most situations). It was a pair of earrings and--brat alert!--I already have a pair that I love/wear every day and do not wish to replace the one I have, for various sentimental reasons (and frankly, these are just not "me" at all). I am guessing my friend realizes I have these earrings that I wear every day, figured I liked earrings(?), and got me a pair that she figured I would never splurge on myself (which of course is wonderfully sweet but also came as a total surprise, as I was not even expecting to receive anything from this friend).

What I have been wanting for a long time, and have not allowed myself to splurge on, is a watch. So same thing, sort of, except the watch actually has a strong practical element--it, too, is just an accessory but I really could use one for reasons I won't bother explaining here. (The only reason I have not gotten one yet is because the one I want is one falls into the "How do I justify spending this amount of money on myself?" category--much like this gift!) SO: Would I be a total jerk to exchange it? (My friend didn't give me a gift receipt--not sure if that says anything--but I know where they came from and could exchange it without any problem.)

If you think it would be OK, should I ASK her/explain first? I see this friend about once a month--if I was keeping the gift I would definitely make an effort to show that I was wearing them the next time I see her. So if I did exchange it, would I point this out, e.g. "Hey I couldn't bring myself to replace my favorite earrings with the ones you got me, but I really needed a watch so I exchanged it"? That just sounds wrong, wrong wrong--the whole idea seems wrong but when I turn it around, if I got a friend something that they didn't want/need and they asked if they could exchange it for something they DID want or need, I would probably say "Oh my God, OF COURSE, please DO exchange it!" (and me being me, would probably feel embarrassed that I read them wrong and got them what I did--my own insecurity here is probably why I am extra-sensitive about potentially hurting my friend's feelings).

For what it's worth, the price of the gift definitely factors in here. If this was $30 or something I wouldn't be fretting--I would wear them when I see her but probably no other time and wouldn't feel too bad about it--but the thought of something this valuable going unused so much of the time makes me feel incredibly guilty (and in small part gnaws at the very-pragmatic element of my personality, to be honest). As soon as I opened it (she was not there) my first impulse was to call her and say, "Thank you so, so much for your generosity but there is absolutely no way I can accept this" but I just called her and thanked her profusely (another friend told me after the fact that rejecting the gift outright--even while professing extreme gratitude--is a big no-no so I'm glad I didn't do that). Anyway, the practical solution, to me, would be to exchange it for something I would use and love--but I don't know if there is a place for practicality when it comes to gift-giving. Anyway, I realize this is a totally wonderful problem to have--I'm just a chronic over-thinker so any insight is much appreciated. If it clarifies anything, we are both young adults and in the U.S., so I don't think there are any special cultural or generational factors to consider.
posted by lovableiago to Human Relations (42 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Given your occasional interactions with the person, and how you have a pretty good reason to exchange the item, I'd say go for it. And given that you feel guilty enough to ask the internet, I'd say you could tell her when you see her next. By the fact that you feel that this is wrong, you clearly won't give off any "your present was dumb and you don't know me at all" vibes.

As for the lack of gift receipt, I think that would be more commonly included with clothing, where the item could not fit.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:03 PM on January 4, 2013


I would make the exchange.

Then I would wear the watch and I would say "You will NEVER believe what happened. I woke up one morning, and someone had crept into my home overnight and STOLE the beautiful earrings you gave me!"

When they are shocked and ask if they took anything else, you should say, "Oh no. That was the strangest thing. Whoever broke in left this beautiful watch in their place!" Then show her the watch with a little wink.

I'd say just make sure to hit these points:

- The earrings were beautiful and you were so grateful for the gesture of the gift;
- You love the gift that you ended up with in the end and you're thrilled with it thanks to her.
posted by jph at 12:08 PM on January 4, 2013


Exchange it. Then, next time you see her, wear the watch and say "I loved the earrings, but I have these earrings which I wear daily [if they have sentimental value, you can say something like and they were from my great aunt or whatever here, it would be ideal if they did] and I wanted something I could wear every day [and think of you]." Change it up a bit so it's more how you would talk, but you should be fine.
posted by jeather at 12:08 PM on January 4, 2013 [19 favorites]


Could you possibly exchange it and then white-lie a little if she brings it up when you see her, like, "I loved the earrings but unfortunately they pinched/were too heavy/some such earring problem, and they didn't have something that worked better--but I did find this watch and just love it!"
posted by like_a_friend at 12:09 PM on January 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


You would not be a total jerk to exchange it. You shouldn't exchange a gift if it's a one-of-kind thing that someone put a lot of thought into making or picking, but for something like jewelry...go for it.

If she asks, you can tell her the truth. I would never volunteer the information. She may be slightly embarassed like you say you'd be if you were her or she could feel grateful that you found something that you would enjoy better. Who knows? But your intent was not to hurt and that counts for something.
posted by inturnaround at 12:09 PM on January 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


I have a friend who just told me about her brother freaking out about the 500 dollar watch she bought him. She had picked it up for about 40 bucks, and had to talk him down about the great deal she was able to get.

Likewise, my grandmother always places cheap jewelry in expensive boxes. Unless you follow the designer closely, with jewelry, this can be easy to fake.

Feel free to attempt to return it, but understand that it might not be as nice as you imagine, and that you might run into snags returning it.
posted by politikitty at 12:11 PM on January 4, 2013 [20 favorites]


I think it is completely fine. Sometimes, I don't include a gift receipt because I forgot - not because I want to prevent them from exchanging it. If ever I gave a gift and someone wanted to exchange it for something they wanted more, I would be all for it because the whole purpose of gifting them something is so that they have something they enjoy and use.

I think if it makes you guilty, you should bring it up. Perhaps ask her whether or not it is exchangeable? You can say something like, "I really liked the earrings you gave me for Christmas but for whatever reason, I am unable to wear them. I would love a watch, however, and I was wondering if you are familiar with the exchange policy?"
posted by cyml at 12:12 PM on January 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


My dear friend just gave me a wonderful, wonderful present. And she made a point out of telling me I could change it. Which I did. And tomorrow I'm telling her how and why. If someone is a friend and wants to give you something nice, they will want you to enjoy the gift.
Last year my friend gave me an equivalent (if not as expensive) gift, and it was perfect. Sometimes, things just don't fit.
posted by mumimor at 12:25 PM on January 4, 2013


I disagree with everyone above -- do not tell her that you're exchanging the gift. I certainly don't want to hear about my gift being disliked. If you're worried about her noticing, wear them the next time you see her and then exchange them for the watch.
posted by freshwater at 12:27 PM on January 4, 2013 [13 favorites]


I wonder if you would be comfortable with a little white lie - e.g. you're sensitive to metals and can only wear your current one(s) without any problems, hence would she mind if you exchanged them for a watch? Giving an objective reason like that may avoid any thinking on the gift-giver's part that you've insulted her taste (not that I'm saying you did, just that it is possible she may feel that way).

Personally I wouldn't exchange it, but that's probably because I'm fairly socially anxious and if I were the gift-giver I would feel mortified (like I was being presumptuous for thinking I knew your tastes but didn't). I seem to be in the minority though.
posted by pikeandshield at 12:32 PM on January 4, 2013


If you were my friend, and told me what you just said, I'd be THRILLED that you were able to get something you truly wanted.

This is why I now give gift cards.

I'm sensitive to metals, so I'd have no problem saying, "Oh too bad! They're so pretty, but I'm allergic." At which point I'm sure my friend would say, "Oh, take them back and get something you like. And then I would.

Do write her a lovely, hand-written thank you note and mail it to her.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:39 PM on January 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


I like the little white lie of "i'm allergic to most metals" but only if the friend notices you never wear the earrings.
to make yourself feel better now-- what if the earrings were a regift?
Perhaps your friend was given this very nice, very expensive but-not-right-for-her pair of earrings.
And she gave them to you because she couldn't return them?
that's what I'd be telling myself.
posted by calgirl at 12:49 PM on January 4, 2013


I'd keep the earrings if there was any chance at all that she'd be hurt otherwise. Determining that doesn't have much to do with current social norms about exchanging gifts, or even what you would do if the situation were reversed. It has to do with how she felt about the gift, and how she is generally. Can you tell?

Anyway, if there is any chance she was sure the gift would be a grand success and was really excited about it and is now going to be hurt, it's not worth rejecting the earrings.
posted by BibiRose at 12:52 PM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you got a much fancier or more expensive present than you expected from someone you're not that close to, there's a good chance that it's a re-gifting. Go ahead and exchange it, say you were allergic and don't worry about it.
posted by windykites at 12:52 PM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Are you absolutely sure she picked these out specifically and spent as much as you think? Several jewelry stores around here will throw in a random pair of earrings if you spend $X. It's not impossible that they came free with a larger purchase, and she simply thought you might enjoy them. A super sweet thought, of course, but it could explain the apparent expense as well as the fact that they don't suit your style.

I'd definitely exchange them. I got a gift this year that I can't possibly use, but it wasn't super expensive so I plan to just donate it to someone who might need it more than I do.
posted by mochapickle at 12:53 PM on January 4, 2013


No.

A gift is something you don't have control over. It's not a way of getting other people to do your shopping for you, not even in the nicest possible way. If the gift isn't to your liking, then oh, well, but it's not like you're any worse off now than before you got the gift.

If you want a watch, go buy a watch, but don't use the earrings to pay for them.

Here is what you need to do: take a piece of good quality white writing paper in post quarto size. Get a cheap black ink pen. Write a thank you note to your friend on it for her "very generous gift" and tell her how greatly you appreciate her kindness to you.

The next time you see her, do not wear the earrings. It would be extremely nice to do so, but it's not an obligation, and more importantly would lead her to believe that you actually liked the earrings, when you do not.

If she asks you why she hasn't seen you wearing the earrings, she shouldn't, as that wouldn't be polite of her. It's none of her business, except to silently monitor for your likes and dislikes. But if she does ask, you just say "oh, I'm saving them!"
posted by tel3path at 12:54 PM on January 4, 2013 [20 favorites]


Wear the earrings the next time you see her and then exchange them, if that won't damage them or ruin their ability to be resold.

After that, don't mention them unless she asks, at which point just effusively praise them and change the subject.

Gifts that you don't like or can't use is a Don't Ask, Don't Tell situation. There is no need to rub it in and at the same time, she shouldn't pry overly much.
posted by the young rope-rider at 12:56 PM on January 4, 2013 [6 favorites]


And yes, write a thank you note.
posted by the young rope-rider at 12:58 PM on January 4, 2013


I obviously don't know where she got them or what their policy is, but the store I work at won't accept returns or exchanges for earrings unless they are still sealed in packaging, therefore unopened and unworn, for hygiene reasons - so before worrying about this, you may want to find out from the store if you even CAN exchange them. Definitely don't wear them unless you're completely sure what your options are.

(I know it says you know the place and can exchange them, you probably know all this already, but thought I'd mention this just in case given some of the suggestions here)
posted by stillnocturnal at 12:59 PM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think it is horrible manners to tell someone you are exchanging their gift!

It's OK to exchange it, you just can't tell the gifter about it.

I would wear them once in my friend's presence, and then return the earrings. After that, a white lie is acceptable - you lost them, you gave them away because they gave you an allergic reaction and you wanted to be sure someone could enjoy them, etc. - but I would never ever say that I turned the earrings in for something I wanted more.

Hope this helps.
posted by jbenben at 12:59 PM on January 4, 2013 [10 favorites]


Oh yeah, and totally thank her, with a note and/or in person.

Sometimes in a thank-you conversation you will be told something like, they came free with some other thing I bought, or I gave these to every woman on my list this year, which might tell you something about the wisdom of exchanging them or not.
posted by BibiRose at 1:02 PM on January 4, 2013


Ah, if you can't exchange them, you have a few other options:

--Donate to a charity shop
--Sell on consignment
--Sell on eBay
--Keep them and wear them when you see your friend (not much of a sacrifice!)
--Give them to a teenager in your family who likes jewelry and who would be Very Excited
posted by the young rope-rider at 1:03 PM on January 4, 2013


No.

A gift is something you don't have control over. It's not a way of getting other people to do your shopping for you, not even in the nicest possible way. If the gift isn't to your liking, then oh, well, but it's not like you're any worse off now than before you got the gift.


I very much disagree with this line of thought. A gift is a thing that is freely given and, once given, the giver has no control over if. The receiver has total control. They should, of course, thank someone for their generosity, but they're under no obligation to keep, use or even like what they were given.
posted by inturnaround at 1:04 PM on January 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


I agree that it's fine to exchange a gift. There's no reason to accumulate useless junk and most friends wouldn't want you to. But do not tell her! It's just a gift that will be forgotten soon, so don't bring unnecessary attention to it.
posted by Kronur at 1:05 PM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm a little surprised how many people would tell the person; unless it was a close family member or someone I was really comfortable with and 100% sure they wouldn't be upset, I would not tell her. I've exchanged gifts before, but mainly clothes, and I could easily give a justified excuse if necessary (didn't fit, already had something too similar, etc). In this case I might try it but I highly doubt I would tell the gifter outright, especially if I didn't know how they felt about it.

That said, I also agree with the comment above about earrings often being non- returnable. I have worked retail many years and every place I worked was like this. Hygiene issue.
posted by celtalitha at 1:08 PM on January 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


If I spent a bunch of money on a gift for a friend, and I never saw her use it and was left to think that it was sitting in a box somewhere not being used by someone who needs/wants/loves it, I'd be super bummed and I'd wonder why she just didn't tell me if it wasn't her thing. I'd be totally psyched to know that she was able to exchange it for something special she wants. When I give a gift, I want the receiver to love it and if they don't, let someone ELSE love it!

Obviously though, everyone feels differently about this, so you'll have to try your best to gauge this particular friend.
posted by hannahelastic at 1:10 PM on January 4, 2013


But inturnaround, that's what I said. It would be rude for the giver to ask about the gift afterwards, because it's none of her business, and the OP is not actually obligated to wear the earrings in the giver's presence for this exact reason.

It's true that the OP is in no obligation to keep, use, or like what they were given, this is absolutely true.

However, a gift exchange is a way of contributing to a friendship. It's not about the thing. Obviously we all try to give gifts that will delight the recipients, but we may or may not succeed. This is where it's the thought that counts is such an important principle. Someone who was trying to please shouldn't be told they've failed. Like, unless they gave peanut brittle to someone with anaphylaxis by mistake, in which case there'd be an obvious pragmatic reason which doesn't apply here, but otherwise the principle is the same.

If you exchange the gift and get a watch instead, you're making it about the thing. Now maybe you can find a way of doing this such that the gift-giver will 100% guaranteed never find out, in which case, go for it. I would point out the pitfalls that others have, namely that you don't know for sure how much she really paid for them, or that they're new, or that it will actually be possible to exchange them. But as long as she doesn't know about it, it's your risk to take.

Otherwise, what you need to do is thank her for her kindness and sweep the actual earrings, which were merely a vehicle for her kindness, under the rug. You could also wear them once if you are keen to please her. But if you want a watch, find a way of getting one which doesn't unfavourably compare your friend's gift with that watch.
posted by tel3path at 1:16 PM on January 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


I have weird conflicting feelings, because you're surely within your rights to return it, but if she'd wanted to give you cash, she'd have given you cash. She may not want you to know how much it cost. She may have regifted it. Lots of different things may have happened. You certainly have the right to return it, and if you returned it, I wouldn't give it another thought. You seem like a lovely, kind, considerate person, irrespective of what you decide to do.

But I admit that to me, a gift like this is an act of kindness, and if the person doesn't take it upon themselves to give you a gift receipt, and if you're not trading it for a reason like "I already have this precise item" or "it doesn't fit," if your reason is just "I want something else more," I have slightly mixed feelings about it. Don't get me wrong -- none of the responses here telling you that you should return it bother me in the slightest, and they all seem very logical. But there's a little part of me that thinks cash is cash and a gift is a gift. I don't mind gift cards -- I both give them and enjoy getting them -- but I hate to see them lead to an assumption that a gift is intended to be a simple wealth transfer, such that a gift is just store credit.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 1:18 PM on January 4, 2013 [10 favorites]


I would probably return them. I try to avoid keeping things I don't use or love, so I would want to get rid of them. (If you can see maybe wearing them for special occasions - maybe keep them? I don't know what your earring lineup looks like.)

I guess maybe it would be slightly more virtuous to give the earrings to Goodwill vs. returning them to the store and getting something you want. But I'm not even sure about that; returning them at least says (if you get found out), "I recognized the monetary value of your gift" while giving them to Goodwill veers towards "I treated your gift like trash."

I probably wouldn't tell her that I returned it, unless I knew she would be cool about it (like my sister - I would totally tell my sister if I exchanged something and got something I liked better) or there was a compelling reason (like, I returned a sweater my stepmother bought me because the zipper was broken; I actually wanted to exchange it for the exact same sweater, which I liked very much, but they didn't have it in that color anymore, so I told her).
posted by mskyle at 1:33 PM on January 4, 2013


I agree that you are within your 'rights' to exchange the earrings, but I have to admit that if I found out a friend did this with a gift I spent a significant amount of money on, I would probably be pretty hurt (secretly, anyway). Probably better to just be the bigger person, but there it is - I wouldn't say anything, but it would definitely sting. You know your friend best, so I would try to get a read on whether she's one of the (many!) people posting here who would be truly glad that you made the exchange, or whether she's not. After all, you say you weren't expecting this gift, so it's not like you were planning on some windfall to purchase the watch.
posted by rainbowbrite at 3:11 PM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I would exchange it, if it is indeed possible....and I would say, "Every minute I look at this watch it will remind me of how fabulous you are. I am naming my fabulous watch after you, Fabulous Friend! Thank you so much for helping me get a special and indulgent gift that I both needed and wanted even if it didn't start out the way you planned. We rock as a gift-team and your fabulousness is here on my arm in perpetuity. Thank you!"

I actually would speak like that, because that's how I speak. (I'm a bit of a dag.) Change your script as you see fit, but focus on the opportunity to get what you need/want, and the daily reminder of your friend's fabulousness. That would make me happy. And I wouldn't be disappointed.

The trick is to focus on the awesomeness of your Fabulous Friend.
posted by taff at 3:13 PM on January 4, 2013


Exchange them. That's fine.

Don't mention the exchange to her, especially not in an attempt to be kind or cute. That is not fine. That is a faux pas.
posted by ellF at 3:38 PM on January 4, 2013 [7 favorites]


I love to buy presents for people, and I love them to be something they like.

but if I spent money on someone (especially a fair bit!) and they didn't actually like the present, but did want something along the same lines that I didn't know about before and my gift money could be put towards, that sounds great.

seriously, I wouldn't care at all. I mean, if I MADE them earrings and they told me they didn't like them, that would suck, but making a mistake in your friends' style is nothing to be worried about, I bet she won't care. if she's your friend, and not overly concerned with "what's polite" she'll be happy to get you something you like.
posted by euphoria066 at 4:00 PM on January 4, 2013


What ellF said. Exchange them with no guilt but absolutely do not tell her. I wouldn't bother with any white lie unless you are cornered (e.g. she is at your place and asks to see the earrings she got you... which would just be weird).

There is no way that a friend you see once a month is going to wonder why you aren't wearing the earrings she gave you, next time you see her. No way.

If I were the giver, I wouldn't mind in the least if the gift were returned, but I would FAR prefer to be spared the awkwardness of being informed about it. That conversation would just put both of you in the position of trying to persuade the other that the situation is genuinely okay and leave neither of you certain that it was.

Etiquette-wise, being forthright is not an end in itself.
posted by torticat at 5:06 PM on January 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


The universal symbol for 'I wasn't sure you'd like this, feel free to exchange it' is the gift receipt. That one wasn't included indicates that, for whatever reason, this was the specific gift your friend wanted you to have.

There's no way to know why she chose what she did, and no polite way to ask. Accept the gift that was given, write a lovely thank you note, and give yourself permission to save up and splurge on the watch you really want.
posted by Space Kitty at 7:48 PM on January 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


I don’t think it’s OK to return gifts. It’s tacky. It’s a gift, if they wanted to give you cash they would have. Would you ask "can I have the cash instead"? You’re saying "I don’t want your gift, I just want your money". You are not exchanging a gift, you are selling it and buying something else with the money.

If you don’t like the earrings then wait a while and give them to someone else. Save and buy the watch.
posted by bongo_x at 10:10 PM on January 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


I think you need to use this experience to give yourself permission to just buy yourself a watch that has no history or anxiety or drama attached. Even if you exchange the earrings for a watch you will always have some weird association with it when you put it on. So just save up some money if you need to and buy a watch. You need one. You deserve one.

Keep the earrings. Don't wear them if you don't want to. If your friend asks tell her you're saving them for something special. Please don't wear them and then return them, that sounds really icky.
posted by like_neon at 3:53 AM on January 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm kind of baffled by everyone saying it's never OK to return or exchange gifts. This is how you end up with stuff lying around the house and in closets and boxes that you never use and don't want around, and end up giving away in a couple years anyway. I'd find that more insulting (and more of a waste of money) than if they just exchanged it and got something they liked. It's a gift, not an albatross.

Exchange it if you want. Just don't tell her. There is literally no good reason to tell her, and no good way to say it. (I'd be horrified if someone used the coy approach on me, for instance.) No BS, either. A sudden allergy to metals is going to seem very suspicious, especially if she's seen you wearing regular jewelry before or ever again. Them pinching is slightly better, but is still a rather obvious white lie. Hopefully she won't ask about them.
posted by dekathelon at 4:49 AM on January 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


Exchange the earrings. Keeping them and never wearing them serves no purpose at all except playing into some weird ideas of propriety that you participating in will never even be noticed. Keeping them and wearing them in front of someone you see once a month is equally futile and wasteful.

Gifts in my opinion shouldn't come with strings. The fact that she didn't give you cash or a gift receipt doesn't really mean anything. It's easy to forget to ask for a gift receipt at a store, or the earrings could have been a regift or from a second hand store etc., and many people think giving cash is tacky.

I've had my feelings hurt when people haven't liked gifts i've gotten them but I'd much rather they would have quietly returned the gift than kept it and had it go to waste and I certainly would have felt much worse if I thought that it had caused them any stress or worry. The gifts were meant to make them happier not impose obligation.
posted by SpaceWarp13 at 10:01 AM on January 5, 2013


Keeping them and never wearing them serves no purpose at all except playing into some weird ideas of propriety

Please understand, it's not "propriety" that makes at least me have mixed feelings about it. It's how you think about a gift. If you think of it as a stand-in for the same amount of cash, where the idea is to transfer a certain amount of money from the other person to you for you to spend as you most would like to spend it, then returning it only makes sense. (And some gifts -- gift cards and gifts given to you with receipts, for instance -- are obviously intended that way by the giver. And some people only give gifts that way, which is totally fine, obviously.) But if you think of a gift as a gesture, as "I am giving you this specific gift for a specific reason and I put thought into it," then returning the gift is, on some level, rebuffing the gesture. "Propriety" isn't the only reason to have at least some minor qualms about rebuffing someone's kindness; in fact, I'd have the same qualms even if nobody ever found out except you. It's not so much a conversation about returning the earrings as it is a conversation about how you think about a gift from another person. And there are certainly multiple ways to think about it that work perfectly well for different people in different situations, but the hesitation is not about some sort of stuffy notion of etiquette or rule-following, at least to me.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 11:10 AM on January 5, 2013 [8 favorites]


I agree with Linda_Holmes. This is a question where the abstract principle is nothing, and the particular situation is everything. Only you know what this gift means, in the context of your relationship with this person. It's not that readable from your question. In my own experience, it would be a surprise to get jewelry spontaneously from someone that was not a family member or someone you're dating, so there would be a question of "Why is she giving me this gift?" to be considered. Not like it's wrong for her to give it-- just, in what spirit is this gift given and how to respond accordingly in order to nurture the relationship.

If it's your in-laws giving you an electric blanket and you think electric blankets give you cancer and you know they just felt they had to give you a large-ish gift, return away! But with this story, it seems like there might be something more delicate going on.
posted by BibiRose at 11:35 AM on January 5, 2013


In my own experience, it would be a surprise to get jewelry spontaneously from someone that was not a family member or someone you're dating, so there would be a question of "Why is she giving me this gift?" to be considered. Not like it's wrong for her to give it-- just, in what spirit is this gift given and how to respond accordingly in order to nurture the relationship.

I agree with this in principle, but I think in this case, since the giver won't know what happened with the earrings either way, keeping them does nothing to nurture the relationship. This is a friend the OP sees once a month. The only way OP can "prove" to the giver that she likes the earrings is to wear them next time she sees her, and it would be silly for anyone to feel obligated to do this. Etiquette in no way requires it, and in fact, wearing the earrings in these circumstances would strike me as ingratiating and insincere, and more duplicitous than just verbally thanking the friend for the gift (and then doing what she wants with it).

I agree with you, Bibirose, that it's a bit odd to get such a personal gift from a friend who isn't super-close. But I think that's all the more reason the OP shouldn't feel pressure to keep it. Years ago, my husband and I received a framed Monet print from some friends. They were not close friends, but they were frequently in our house. We would never have hung that print on our own, and felt no obligation to put it in our living room to make them feel good or to prove our gratitude. We just assumed they would assume it was hanging in some part of the house they never saw, and they, being well-mannered people, never asked.

I think the OP's is a similar situation, since her gift has to do with a quite personal matter of taste. Contrary to what some posters above have said, I would never say to the giver "That was not to my taste"; but I also wouldn't feel obliged to keep the gift as if an unused item sitting in a box somehow honors the giver's intent.
posted by torticat at 5:48 PM on January 5, 2013


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