Thursday, October 27, 2011

Unwanted Gifts

The thing is, I really hate to be ungrateful. 

But after 7 years of being Mum and living in a space that is becoming too crowded with toys and personal effects (which is seriously threatening my sanity), I have reached a point when I no longer care about being politically correct. 

So. Here is my rant. 

It really annoys me when relatives who know me and my kids well enough repeatedly give us presents that I have hinted, suggested and even explicably indicated NOT to give. 

1. Presents like stuffed toys. The bigger they are, the more they irk me. Especially when they are from people who know us well and are aware that my boys already have WAY TOO MANY! So many that they are competing for sleeping space on the tiny beds. And the bigger they are, the more dust they collect, which means more dusting and cleaning and washing for me to do! Damn it! 

Still, there are relatives who will bring us stuffed animals YEAR AFTER YEAR!!!!!  If we don't even want another brand new one, how do you think we will react to one that is second-hand? Hot washed or not. Super cute or not. 

2. Age and/or developmentally inappropriate toys or books. Very recently, a relative gave my 5-year-old Chip a brand new toy that is marked on the box as suitable for Age 3. DUH!!! The fact that it is from someone who knows my kid is already developmentally more advanced for his age speaks volume about her thoughtlessness. 

3. Old smelly books. While books are generally more welcome in this household, we are never secretive of the fact that we have hundreds of them and have run out of space for more, unless they are of great quality and literary content. So you can't blame us for being equally unenthusiastic about old smelly books with crappy content, especially when we are given dozens at a time. We still have a big stack of these which the boys have read just ONCE. A few never even captured their attention beyond page 3. Once I have more time and energy, I shall be ruthless in spring cleaning our book shelves and these will be the first lot to go. 

4. Oversized clothes. Normally, people who buy clothes as presents will choose those that are one or two sizes bigger, a practice which I can understand and appreciate. Imagine my surprise to receive a dress for my newborn that is suitable for Age 4! And this is from a relative who has daughters, so she must know how tiny infants are. I just don't understand why she would give something that has to be put in storage for 4 years? Can't find anything in stores that can fit those under 2 years? 

Of course I could do the politically correct thing - smile and thank these well-meaning individuals graciously and dance with pretentious joy and enthusiasm first, followed by giving all these unsuitable presents away to people who will appreciate them better. 

No one gets offended and no feelings hurt. 

But these people will continue to think their presents are really appreciated and they will keep bringing the same type of presents. 

I have tried giving constructive feedback to the select few, as tactful as possible, in the hope that the message gets relayed in the most harmless manner. Unfortunately, most don't listen. 

Even our suggestion of not bringing any presents didn't sit well with some people, who ended up bringing 'tokens' which are just very cheap stuff that still takes up space and are practically useless and joyless and had to be chucked the day after. What a waste of money! Sigh. 

I wish it would be easier to regift or donate things away. We have received presents before that I was too embarrassed to give away, yet found it wasteful to throw since they were new. Even when we want to donate them to charity, it means we have to find time to make trips to the charitable organizations, which can be taxing given our already crazy schedule. 

Don't get me wrong - we appreciate the kind thoughts that these relatives have of wanting to buy our kids presents but we just wish the gifts are more suitable and that our feedback is taken into consideration. 

I am not sure if risking our reputations and being labelled 'ungrateful' is a worthwhile price to pay. But I am certain we aren't going to let these unsuitable gifts take up valuable real estate anymore. I shall be ruthless. 


K said...

I feel you. I have who repeatedly gave my girl boy's clothings. I suspect it's because they like my boy more, which is obvious. Another one gave a 2nd hand snow globe which still has a card attached saying it's addressed to her, and dated 5 years bk. The box was already yellowed. My sis who is pretty well to do always bought bday gifts under $10 for my kids. It's not how much that matters. but trucks and train sets under $10 and definitely not of good quality. they usually spoil by the next day. It's not that I'm upset that the kids will miss a toy. I'd rather she not give at all! Imagine the kids' dismay that the presents they had been eagerly looking forward to actually were not meant for them or not usable. I hate it.

Dominique@Dominique's Desk said...

I too will junk or donate away the stuff that are not suitable for my kids etc.. I do have relatives who are the same as yours.. but have stopped them in their tracks by refusing to accept their gifts.. it helps that my kids are quite vocal and are not afraid to tell that relative " no.. I don't like it" and " I rather you give me XX okay?" It normally works when the kids voice out so I don't have problem with unwanted stuff since then.

Domesticgoddess said...

K, I know what you mean. I would be mad too. It would have been so much nicer if they just give the $10 ang pow and let the kid choose their own gifts instead of buying something that spoils the next day.

Domesticgoddess said...

It's true that if kids are the ones who reject the gifts, we adults don't have to be the 'bad' guys. Unfortunately my kids aren't as decisive. Usually they will accept all gifts politely and ignore them later.

Evelyn said...

Hi! It gets easier to be ruthless about unwanted gifts after you've done it a few times. I have such a long list of preferences (no barbie, no disney, no plastic, no batteries, no books based on TV characters, no ugly prints) that it's just easier to smile and say thank you.

My mom-in-law's seen enough stuff put away in donation bags and she's taken to sewing for us rather than buying. My mom unfortunately has a soft spot for soft toys, so there are more of them lying around than I'd like, but since we have a history of mother-daughter spats I'm just happy she's shopping for us.

Anyway I have a ready excuse for people who ask about their gifts that are no longer in the home: It's at my mom's or mom-in-law's place!

p.s. Sorry if I've double-posted, I wrote a comment earlier but forgot if I'd submitted it -- it's my sleep-deprived brain at work!

Domesticgoddess said...

Hi Evelyn, I can imagine it gets easier with practice. We are already liking the feeling of decluttering gifts. I also have a long list of likes and dislikes. Unfortunately some people just don't get it, so we are seen as picky and snobbish.

Like your excuse, except that we can't use it much since a lot of the presents are from my mum/siblings and mum-in-law.


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