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Holidays and festivals often mean a lot of gifts. What if you were to re-gift some of these to others? Should recycling a gift be appropriate etiquette?
Recently a group of us were having lunch at a friend’s place. All of us carried along a small gift for the hostess; a box of chocolates, a packet of biscuits, a set of hankies and so on. After lunch and some good conversation about everything in life; we decided to visit another friend who was recovering after an operation. Our hostess brought along the chocolates and biscuits we had just given her. Some of us felt a slight pang that she was giving away what we had brought for her. But, of course, we did not voice our misgivings.
It does happen, that a gift we have given, is passed on for various reasons. One, the receiver doesn’t like it all that much; two, she already has something similar; three, she doesn’t have the time to shop for a gift. So, she recycles something that she has.
Let’s admit it; most of us have done re-gifting or recycling a gift. But when it happens to our gifts, right under our eyes, we do feel unappreciated and uncomfortable.
Are we right to expect the person to whom we are giving a gift, to value it, keep it and treat it with the amount of consideration we have put in when buying the gift? This is one of those tricky questions where there isn’t one right answer.
When I give a gift, I’m happy. Especially, if I’ve thought about what the person likes and have put in some effort to get it; pack it and present it with a big smile. I’m in anticipation of her pleasure when she receives it and, of course, the warmth I’m expecting to receive in return for my efforts. Psychologists say it is often the giver, rather than the recipient, who reaps the biggest psychological gains from a gift.
But if the person were to give away the gift, a symbol of my good feelings towards her, then my happiness rapidly shrinks. Because it seems my judgment is flawed. It feels like I’m not being valued anymore.
Young people often give gifts to their parents to make them happy. But, very often, parents feel they cannot put the gifts to good use. They pass on the things to someone who needs them. Because there is no doubt in their minds about the warmth of their feelings towards their children. And right there, arises the conflict between the old and the young.
A son gives his mother a pair of gold bangles. She’s worked hard all her life for the family and the son wants her to enjoy something pretty and valuable. He is pleased with himself that he has thought of this gesture and can afford it. He wants his mother to be happy and delighted. To treasure his gift and him. But, he is furious when he discovers that she has given them to her other, needy son.
The mother feels the bangles are hers to do what she sees fit with them. But the son, is still attached to the bangles. They are expensive. And he feels only his mother should be using them.
He says, “I gave them to you, not to him.” The mother doesn’t feel happy about the strings attached to the gift. She feels the hidden message is, “I’m still the owner. You are a renter who can use them but you can’t do anything else.”
The son feels he is taking care of his Mom when he is gifting the bangles. But when she gives it away, then he is dumbfounded. His mother is not valuing him nor the gift. She seems to be favoring the other brother and trying to make him happy! And with something that he earned and bought. Unfair!
All of us have unwritten rules about gift giving in our minds.
Some people feel that gifts exchanged should be of equal value. Some people feel that if a gift is given, it must be reciprocated. Others don’t agree. Some people feel that gifts can be passed on if they are of better use to another person. Some people say when the gift is something consumable, something to eat or drink; then it doesn’t matter so much.
There is a conflict between people, spoken and sometimes unconscious, when they do not share the same attitudes towards gift giving. The son has some rules for the gift; his mother has different ones. Our hostess had certain internal rules, different from ours. But if you take the time to understand yours, then you will realize where the other person differs and you can back away gracefully from conflict.
Some generally accepted rules of gifting may make life easier (with some inputs from emilypost.com)
Ultimately it’s about good manners and being kind to the person who cares enough to give us a gift.
As Ms.Post says, “Follow the basic rules of etiquette: be kind and respectful.”
Image source: pixabay
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