The Gifting Dilemma

Two weeks ago, SM invited me to his 50th birthday party. I was happy to accept. I then received a second text explicitly telling me not to get any gifts. We had an SMS exchange where I tried to convince him of the virtues of accepting and giving gifts…he didn’t change his stance, though I did make him promise not to not get me a gift on my 50th.

I love accepting gifts and to a slightly lesser extent, giving. The problem of course is when the “giving” goes wrong, especially during Diwali or festival time, typically when the gifts involve perishables.

Last week, SW, an orthopedic colleague emailed me, “We received two boxes of sweets from a dear colleague, one a Ferrero Rocher and the other containing Chinese peanut candy, packed almost identical to the Ferrero. Both were stale (manufactured in March 2013)! Do we quietly throw them away? Do we call him (he is a close friend and is probably unaware of what he has bought in bulk for distribution) and let him know it was old stock? Do we send it back to him so he can take it to the vendor and demand a refund? Do we just believe he is a common mortal and has recycled gifts he received and by letting him know would we only hurt him?”

SW sent this email to a few friends and he received five varying replies. First, “When I find myself in times of trouble, BLOODY MARY comes to me, speaking words of wisdom, Let it be, Let it be…” Second, “I would keep quiet and forget about it. Probably a case of recycling! Not worth creating a crack in a friendship for 2 boxes of chocolates.” Third, “If your ‘dear colleague’ is one of the recipients of your e-mail, you problem is solved. If not, resend this email by ‘inadvertently’ including him.” Fourth (the only non-doctor), “Always tell the truth. If he is your real friend he will be offended but not for long or let it go.”

This is a seemingly tough call, simply because we are always worried about offending the other person. Gifting and receiving gifts are sensitive issues and I know people who actually make lists of who has gifted or not or reciprocated and then remember all this (I don’t reciprocate, but I will gift if the occasion allows!).

I find it difficult to believe someone would recycle perishables. Having said that, I suspect I have sometimes received stale, probably recycled chocolates! Do people actually do this? I know it happens with crockery and crystal, but with food items?

The other issue here is of how close you are to the “gifter”. With very, very close friends (school and college friends, etc.) and family (parents, siblings and children), it is quite straightforward. You could tell the person right away. With those who don’t matter at all, there is also no issue, because you could just throw the gift away and not bother to tell, because it’s not relevant or worth the effort. The problem is with “close”, but not “bum-chum close” friends and family, close colleagues and co-workers…essentially people you care about.

My advice was, “Throw it away without doing anything right now. One day in the future when both of you and especially him are suitably drunk, bring up the topic of the chocolates and ask him where he got them from, etc. See how and where the conversation goes and then drop the ball and tell him.”

SW did take a decision. What would you do?

5 Comments

  • Throw away the chocolates – it is not worth it – even with bum-bum friends.

    Related to this – has anyone experienced this – RECYCLED TEA – really re-heated tea ?

    A very close relation of my wife gave me tea when we were visiting, which had been reheated. I thought there was something strange in the taste, but could not fathom out what it was until I was told by my wife that she had seen the tea being re heated… In such homes, I now tend to ask for coffee, or something else, to get some really FRESH beverage. Or just plain water…

    And I have been told of recycled tea bags – in the UK…
    The mind shudders at just the thought of this…

  • Throw away the chocolates – it is not worth it – even with bum-bum friends.

    Related to this – has anyone experienced this – RECYCLED TEA – really re-heated tea ?

    A very close relation of my wife gave me tea when we were visiting, which had been reheated. I thought there was something strange in the taste, but could not fathom out what it was until I was told by my wife that she had seen the tea being re heated… In such homes, I now tend to ask for coffee, or something else, to get some really FRESH beverage. Or just plain water…

    And I have been told of recycled tea bags – in the UK…
    The mind shudders at just the thought of this…

  • SATURDAY, 1 SEPTEMBER 2012
    JOY OF GIVING- ONLY BLESSINGS, PLEASE!

    JOY OF GIVING!
    ONLY BLESSINGS, PLEASE!

    These days it’s common fad. People invite you to celebrate some special occasion in their life, be it birthday, anniversary, wedding or whatever, and tell you not to bring gifts, not even a bouquet of flowers and they solicit your presence to grace the occasion (This is exactly what I was told by my cousin Nirmala, who was celebrating her 70th birthday). But it does give you an awkward feeling to go empty handed A friend of mine says he is quite okay with this idea of such sweet guys not wanting gifts but whenever he has own birthday bash, he would still want his quota of gifts and also from such noble souls. He wants the first person who started this ‘stupid’ trend to be quarantined, lest he or she spreads this dangerous and contagious disease and a day will come when he will receive no more gifts.

    He continues further. To him receiving gifts is fun and he really doesn’t know why people don’t accept them with grace. He fully understands, as he puts it, their aversions towards flowers – to carry all those bouquets home and then pay to some BMC sweeper to get rid of them the next morning – or may be one could be simply allergic to flowers. But the same logic doesn’t really apply to non – floral gifts, which will always have some use or the other, unless of course if they are recycled ones like pressure cooker, milk cooker, lemon set, set of crystal bowls, ice pail, casserole, photo frame, wall – clock, cuff – links (who wears them these days any way?) or say, tie – pins; and shamelessly admits how he had given to his friend a gift of the milk cooker, which he had received as his wedding gift and how, as the luck would have it, it had come back to him on his 25th Wedding Anniversary and not from the same friend but it had exchanged many hands before it got landed on his lap( there were a lot of scratching and several fresh engravings on it. But tale – tell signs that it was the same one, could not escape his keen eye and it is needless to say how it will again be recycled, if he hasn’t already done it). To this day I do not know how he confidently proclaimed that it was the same gift. All this, you would say, would give you clue to the whole man.

    Then there is this other guy. For him there is lots of fun choosing an appropriate and befitting gift for a friend – a gift that matches the occasion and the event. He does so meticulously every time he has to find such a gift for his friend or someone special. Although he must be putting in a lot of efforts, he says it is quite simple – all that is required is to know your friend, his likes and dislikes and choose the gift accordingly and finally the great satisfaction, for him, is to see that broad smile on his friend’s face on receiving the gift from him. So much for the ‘Joy of giving’!

    As kids you too must have enjoyed your birthday parties and the whole process there after – holding the gift, removing carefully the wrapping paper without tearing it, peeping inside with some anticipation to find out what the gift is but perhaps never bothering to find who is it from – so much fun. Both giving and receiving gifts must have been fun then. But now as a grown up, is it? I am not simply good at it. Some people have natural turn for it. But then this other guy, I told you about, gave me this nice tip – Chocolates and alcohols (here you have a very wide range too – whiskey, wine, rum, —) are always welcome, even if the invitees are told, “No presents or flowers, please – blessings only!”

    VINAY TRILOKEKAR
    You can read my other articles on my blog :htpp//vinaytrilokekar.blogspot.in

  • M R Sundaram wrote:

    Welllllllll…………..may be yours was a wise decision. Do not talk abt it and maybe, if he is a bosom friend tell him casually that the chocs were rotton!

  • Trassi D'Souza wrote:

    Basically, I have stopped giving gifts. For weddings or functions, I enclose a Rs.500- note in an envelope. That way there is no hassle, first for choosing a gift, second by getting cheated by a shopkeeper, and third by the gift not being appreciated by the receiver.

Leave a Reply

Your email is never shared.Required fields are marked *