Maybe I should say no thanks in song?
January 30, 2011 12:45 PM   Subscribe

Unwanted gift etiquette - What do I do with this thing now?

Here's a quick one: I got a karaoke machine for Christmas (c/w 6 songs!). The thought was nice, but I really don't need a boombox-sized box with a cd drive and a CRT in my living room (especially when my TV is already connected to a computer which can handle Karaoke software if needed).

The friend who bought me this did say "if I didn't want it, she would take it for her music school", but I'm not sure if or how I should call her on that. She's the kind of personality who could care less about this kind of thing, or hold a grudge forever, depending on factors I don't understand.

So, do I keep it out for a few months and have a token karaoke party? Do I box it in the basement and come up with an excuse? Or do I come clean nicely some how? (Your help with the "some how" is much appreciated).
posted by Popular Ethics to Human Relations (22 answers total)
Call up your friend.

"Hi, Friend. I was just sitting here doing some cleaning and I realized that I really don't have much room for your generous Christmas gift. I remember you saying that you could use it for your music school. Would you like to come get it?"

Easy peasy.
posted by inturnaround at 12:51 PM on January 30, 2011 [7 favorites]

What are the chances she will ever ask you about it? If she is likely to ask about I would keep it in the basement and then when she asks mention "oh yeah, we used it a few times and it was fun but why don't you take it for your music school". If she won't ever ask you about it just sell it on craigslist for $15.
posted by ChrisHartley at 12:53 PM on January 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

You should give it to her music school. No need to involve her at all. If she asks, then you've done something good with it that she recommended. If she doesn't ask then don't bring it up.
posted by monkeymadness at 12:56 PM on January 30, 2011 [2 favorites]

Have a Karaoke party AT the music school for her students. At the end say that you could see the students enjoyed it so much you would rather it stay there and you would love invitations to other Karaoke parties at the school (whether you go it up to you...)
posted by saucysault at 1:08 PM on January 30, 2011 [7 favorites]

If it goes to the music school, I'd be wary about not involving her. She goes there, and so might see/recognise it, and it sounds like if it's to go to the school, she might want to be seen as the giver (by people at the school).
posted by -harlequin- at 1:09 PM on January 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

What saucysault said. If you don't want to go that far, then what inturnaround said, with the exception that I would offer to bring it to her (rather than have her come pick it up).
posted by Majorita at 1:38 PM on January 30, 2011

Are you a Karaoke person? Either you are or you are not. I ask because if she had good reason to think you were, then it would be more awkward to give it to the school, but if she was just guessing and guessed wrong, then you tell her you loved the thought of her gift, you tried it several times, but you are very uncomfortable singing and think it would be put to much better use at her school. At the end of that conversation, I would quickly add, "What are you doing Thursday? Do you want to get a drink?" This will show you have no hard feeling and will call the issue with her right away.
posted by AugustWest at 1:42 PM on January 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

If there's a chance you'd hurt her feelings, and space is not an issue, just keep it.
posted by vincele at 2:00 PM on January 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

Tell her you've used it a few times and it was a blast, but then you found it to be more convenient (space-wise) to use your computer. So you say "Thanks for re-introducing us to Karaoke, but we don't have the space for the machine, especially if we can do Karaoke with the equipment we already have." And suggest that the machine goes to her school.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 2:05 PM on January 30, 2011

Response by poster: Ah Augustwind, I wish I could take that easy route. But she and I have gone out for Karaoke many times and enjoyed it.

I'm leaning towards that plan vincele - it's the least risk approach. But if she's at all sincere about the school offer, I'd like to send it where it will be enjoyed per inturnaround.

Saucysault - that's really creative, but I'm sure she'll catch on the minute I suggest it (which might work out anyway).

I think I'm narrowing my goals: I'd like a way I can return the gift, and still show my appreciation, or somehow transmogrify it into something appreciable, without insult.
posted by Popular Ethics at 2:06 PM on January 30, 2011

I think I'd say something like "DearFriend, I love the karaoke machine that you gave me but I keep thinking about the kids at your school. So, I figured out how to do karaoke with my computer and if it's OK by you, I'd love it if your kids could use the karaoke machine."
posted by jamaro at 2:19 PM on January 30, 2011 [14 favorites]

I think you're overthinking this. Keep it for a while, then give it to someone who or some place that wants it, but not the music school.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 2:25 PM on January 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

Maybe bring it up casually that you really aren't getting that much use out of the thing, it turns out you don't feel like karaoke-ing that often, and you remember she said something about a music school using it. Although you loved the gift, you'd be excited if it was actually getting a lot of use from people like music students. Or something along those lines. It's all in how you frame it. Maybe you could "lend" it to the school? They can borrow it until you want to have a karaoke party (which turns out to be never)?
posted by smartypantz at 2:32 PM on January 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

I heard it broke.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 3:01 PM on January 30, 2011 [8 favorites]

Umm, it kind of sounds to me like she was fishing to get it back in the first place? I mean, who gives a gift and then says "if you don't want it I'll take it?" (Disregarding the perfectly acceptable, IMO, "if you don't like it I have a gift receipt for you.")

I'd donate it to Goodwill and go bottlebrushtree's route of saying it broke, perhaps irrepairably, or in a way that would be more expensive than buying a whole new machine.
posted by IndigoRain at 3:38 PM on January 30, 2011

Do you live with someone else? Give it away and if she ever asks about it, play good cop/bad cop. Whenever my parents would give me a huge, unwanted gift, I'd donate it and blame my spouse. We'd reverse it if it was a gift from his family.

2nd excuse is what bottlebrushtree said: "Oh, it was so much fun when we used it, but unfortunately, it broke." Be careful not to get too enthusiastic about how much you enjoyed the gift, or you might find yourself the unwilling recipient of a replacement!
posted by LuckySeven~ at 6:44 PM on January 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

Donate it and say someone else is borrowing it? Someone she may not know. Then that person and you have a falling out, or they move and take it with them because boy, they must've forgotten it was originally yours.
posted by kpht at 7:06 PM on January 30, 2011

I like ClaudiaCenter's solution. I think if you try to give it back to her you risk hurting her feelings, but there are a lot of organizations that can use the thing. There's no hurry to give it away, so wait and see. Maybe you'll even have a chance to give it to her music school at some point down the line.
posted by vincele at 7:38 PM on January 30, 2011

Invite her over and use it with her a time or two. Have a blast and express your appreciation. Box it up, store it, & wait three more months. Then donate it to a charity shop or, if she's mentioned it, then give it to her to give to the music school.
posted by studioaudience at 7:57 PM on January 30, 2011

If I or my friends say "if you don't like it I have another recipient who might" it means that a) I wasn't sure it was a good present but took the risk because there would be an alternative b) wanted you to not feel obligated to keep an unwanted gift and c) I am not heavily invested in you keeping this gift.
As long as you don't say "didn't like it" I wouldn't be bothered, though I might be a bit disappointed I didn't get you a good gift!
If you want to make it a positive situation perhaps buy a karaoke cd for the school as a gift and put a ribbon round it?
posted by Omnomnom at 11:09 PM on January 30, 2011

She knows you like Karaoke because you went OUT for Karaoke. That's not a guarantee that you want to sit around at home doing Karaoke without a bar full of friends and strangers, working off only 6 songs plus whatever you buy yourself.

I'd recommend using it once just to say you've done it, hanging out with her without mentioning it, then inviting her out for Karaoke, saying it turns out your favorite part is the bar, too bad the machine didn't work out the way you'd hoped. Presumably this would segue into talking about bars and machines, and then if she doesn't bring it up, you'd say "hey, didn't you say your kids might like this? I can see how it could be fun at school, since it's not like [Bar] is gonna let your 6th graders in." The only drawback would be if the conversation doesn't go the way it seems like it would and she starts showering you with advice on how/why to enjoy using the machine at home, in which case you'll have to be polite but firm in your disinterest.
posted by aimedwander at 7:15 AM on January 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

I don't get why this is hard.
You said your friend asked you to give it to her for her music school if she didn't want it, and that she's not the type to get upset over things like this.
So what's wrong with the very first comment from inturnaround? "Thanks so much for your thoughtful gift. I love it, but I don't have enough room for it. You said you could use it for your music school -- would you like it back?"
posted by chickenmagazine at 8:42 AM on January 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

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