How to navigate this wedding gift dilemma?
January 25, 2021 9:23 AM   Subscribe

Friend X is getting married. I will give them a gift, and because Reasons, I want to spend quite a bit to purchase something big from their registry. Friend A also wants to give them a gift, and suggested going in on one together. Friend A is a senior and on a very limited income and will not be able to spend that much money. How to navigate this politely and without hurting Friend A's feelings?

I absolutely do not want to say to Friend A "I'm spending more than you, so let's not go in on it together." That would make them feel really bad, and this year has already been hard enough on them.

So I think my options are:
-- Say yes to Friend A, accept her small contribution, purchase the large gift and say it's from both of us. I don't care about Friend A potentially "getting credit" for having purchased half of a large gift. I worry that Friend A will understand that I chipped in 90% of the purchase price and feel bad about it.
-- Say yes to Friend A, split the cost of a small gift from both of us. Separately purchase a more extravagant gift just from me. I think there's a good possibility Friend A will never know about gift 2. Does that seem reasonable?

What else am I not thinking of? 
posted by BlahLaLa to Human Relations (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Can you say to friend A, "contribute whatever you can, but I am intending to spend quite a bit, and and happy to share equal credit with you on it"?

edit: can is a hard word, perhaps "wish"?
posted by nickggully at 9:27 AM on January 25, 2021 [7 favorites]

Best answer: I like option 2. Let them go half on something small, then buy the large thing yourself
posted by emjaybee at 9:28 AM on January 25, 2021 [13 favorites]

I feel like you should just say you already purchased a gift from the registry (purchase one first), and sent it directly from the registry w a message already. You could add that you're happy to share in the cost of a small additional gift if she would like.

Too many potential hurt and confused feelings could stem from other options, when this one doesn't have any bad consequences imho.
posted by cacao at 9:41 AM on January 25, 2021 [47 favorites]

I've done something like this a few different ways. Your "option 2" is a good one and I'd suggest doing so if you can. You're right that option A, if they're paying attention, will realize how much you're footing and that can be quite embarrassing.

The last time I was in a circumstance like this, there wasn't any good option left on the registry to split - all that was left were very large items - so I asked some other folks to step in and we made it a "large group purchase" when, in fact, most of those folks contributed only a token amount and the whole point was to help our family member not feel embarrassed about their limited resources.
posted by Tomorrowful at 9:43 AM on January 25, 2021 [8 favorites]

I have done A with family members (eg when siblings were still in college, the gift for our mom from us is 80% from me money wise, but the card just says from February, March and April). It went fine but we were relatively frank about it and are pretty comfortable talking money, YMMV. I usually posed it as "I'm thinking about getting X for Mom, do you want to chip in $Y and it can be from all of us?"

Sometimes the person with less $ can chip in another way - delivery logistics, finding the gift, wrapping/card - sometimes that's not relevant.
posted by february at 10:05 AM on January 25, 2021 [1 favorite]

Similar to Tomorrowful's suggestion, if you're okay with a white lie and if circumstances allow it you could say that your SO/parents/non-mutual friends were also chipping in because they like X, so with A's help you can afford [big present].
posted by trig at 10:07 AM on January 25, 2021 [2 favorites]

february has it. Just be straightforward; Friend A is a reasonable adult with decades of experience and will probably understand.
posted by aniola at 10:17 AM on January 25, 2021

Response by poster: I appreciate the answers so far. Because of logistical reasons, I can't fib re: "I already bought something" nor "let's get a larger group together to chip in."
posted by BlahLaLa at 10:20 AM on January 25, 2021

"Oh that's wonderful, I was thinking of getting her X, but I can only afford $X*90%, if you could chip in $X*10%, it would make a lovely gift from the two of us."

Now she is doing you a favor.
posted by muddgirl at 10:24 AM on January 25, 2021 [43 favorites]

I wonder if she has a gift in mind that you could split. Possibly offer her a choice between something like that and contributing to the gift you choose.
posted by BibiRose at 10:38 AM on January 25, 2021

I really think muddgirl has it; tell her that the gift you were hoping to buy is just slightly above your budget, but that if she could chip in just a small amount, it could be from both of you. Win-win.
posted by juniperesque at 10:39 AM on January 25, 2021 [5 favorites]

A or B is fine. She is well aware of her own financial situation. I don't know her or you, but there is a chance she knew you would spend more and was trying to save face and hop on your more extravagant gift. Me personally, I would go with option A. It is the one that makes her look best and the bride will know you did a good thing.
posted by AugustWest at 11:09 AM on January 25, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Either scenario is fine; personally I prefer option B, as it prevents any possible "feeling bad" by Friend A as outlined in your scenario. (It can also feel nice to give two separate gifts, I've done this exact thing before for a friend going in on a large item and then buying something just from me)

In general it's extremely unlikely Friend A will find out you got an additional gift for Friend X. Wedding gift exchanges and thank yous tend to be private and not something people WILL just randomly bring up in public later. However, if all three of you spend lots of time in the same room together and Friend X is an openly talkative/shareable person, just give them a quick "hey I didn't let A know about this additional gift so keep it on the hush-hush" and you'll be fine.
posted by andruwjones26 at 8:26 AM on January 26, 2021 [2 favorites]

I prefer B also.

Letting your neighbor onto your big plan gave her a bit more undue credit than she deserves, not that you're really virtue signaling.
posted by kschang at 11:40 AM on January 26, 2021

Is there a related gift she could buy that you could give with yours? “I had my heart set on getting her this kitchen aid mixer. Would you be interested in buying these bowl-scraping paddles to go with it? I hear they make all the difference”.
posted by purenitrous at 11:49 AM on January 26, 2021 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I did end up doing Plan B, so thanks for the advice. Friend is a senior so I said, "I'll do the online order!" and was able to take care of all of it. She'll never know there are two sets of gifts, because you're right - the giftee won't be chatting her up about it. A win-win!
posted by BlahLaLa at 6:41 PM on February 18, 2021

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