Gift Gripes: What to do when they hate your present

Dear Ms. Demeanor,

I love my family and like to give them gifts occasionally. While buying a gift, I always consider the person's needs. My gifts are always admired, liked and accepted with pleasures by everybody in my family except my sister-in-law. She never says "thank you" after receiving a gift; rather she always finds faults in the gift. And not just with mine -- she does this to everybody who gives her a gift. I last gave her a very beautiful gold ring, and after a few days she was complaining about the quality of gold. I even gave her the choice of picking a gift for herself, and even then she complained later. I am really depressed. Should I stop giving her gifts?



Dear Jizzaa,

Before you throw in the towel, have a talk with your sister- in-law. Say something like, "I want so much to please you when I give you a gift. Yet stories always come back to me about how I always seem to miss the mark. I'm stumped and I'm asking for your help. Can you give me suggestions? Can you tell me what I've done wrong? Would you prefer I make a donation to a charity in your name? If so, which charity?"

Perhaps she'll realize how inconsiderate she's been. Just remember to say these things in the spirit of honest exploration -- not criticism. I know it probably seems as though I've put you on the bottom end of the food chain. However, sometimes that is what taking the high road means -- putting our ego aside to achieve a higher good. (In this case, family tranquility and your own peace of mind.)

You sound like you put a lot of thought into your gifts selections, but here's a checklist I use when selecting gifts, to be sure I am putting the recipient's likes, and not my own, into the selection process. When shopping for a gift, ask yourself the following:

1. Why am I giving it?
2. Is it sincere?
3. Am I giving it without strings attached?
4. Does it reflect the receiver's taste, not mine?
5. Is it too extravagant?
6. Is it kind? (Beware of gag gifts.)
7. Is it appropriate? (E.g.., no candy for a dieter.)
8. Can I present it in person?
9. Is it presented beautifully?
10. Do I feel good about giving it?

Keeping these things in mind can help you find the truly right gift the other person -- not just you -- will love.


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