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From an article on MSN entitled "Holiday Gift Giving Ps & Qs.


Problem : No Gift to Give

Sometimes you’ll receive a gift from someone you weren’t expecting to give something to. If the individual is a neighbor or coworker, and you haven’t distributed gifts to others yet, be sure to include him or her when you’re doling out goodies. If it’s too late, whip up a batch of festive cookies or pick up some moderately priced, but nicely packaged, wine or coffee to give in return.


Isn't that just perpetuating the problem? If you didn't get them anything, maybe it's because they didn't make it on to your list...because they aren't family or a close friend. I am so tired of Christmas meaning everyone I come in contact with gets a gift. Why am I spending money on people I don't actually hang around with? My usual response is to thank them graciously, tell them I am sorry that didn't get them anything and then drop it and hope they don't try again next Christmas. I hate being put on the spot like that. I think this type of mindless "I don't know you well enough to know what you like, but here...have a gift assortment of 'jelly's of the world'" serves anyone’s best interest.

I will concede that last Christmas (my first Christmas in my new neighborhood) I was taken aback when several neighbors brought over cookies or lumpia or sausage balls. I had nothing to give. This year I will return the favor by cooking brownies or cupcakes or something and handing them out. It seems to be a tradition in this neighborhood, and that's OK. It was everyone in the cul-de-sac and now I understand that's just what they do. I don't have to play, but I like them and I love the friendliness of the neighborhood. The co-worker, kids dance teacher, kids friends parents, hairdresser, lawn-guy, cousins girlfriend, etc.. thing just irks me though.
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I can't say I am surprised by advice sponsored by retailers would be to spend more on useless gifts.

I agree that thanking a person for a random small gift is enough. Most of this has stopped. Now if I can just convince my family to stop buying me what they like, but for which I have no use.

I am also rebelling against gift cards, and giving cash. The only gift cards I bought were because I can use the gift cards and thought the bonus cards would be of value. Having learned my lesson on the limitations of the bonus cards, I won't do that again.
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I tend to give those 'extra' people stuff like a card with a candy cane, or some baked gingerbread or fudge, or something like that. Not an expensive gift (or jellies of the world), but something that is enough to say Merry Christmas without going crazy.

I have been trying to decide about bringing something to a couple neighbors this year (like gingerbread), but I can't decide because I'm not in the habit of doing it and I don't want to start an expectation or make anyone feel compelled to get something for me. Maybe I could write a note?

One neighbor let me borrow her phone one morning when I was locked out and another was just in an accident and I went to high school with him so I feel like I should do something.
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I think vkg is correct saying the "give a gift back" is most likely because newspapers are supported by retailers and advertisers. Most "Miss Manner" type columns say receiving a gift doesn't obligate someone into recipricating. Not everyone celebrates the holidays, not everyone who celebrates the holidays does so by giving gifts, and not everyone who gives gifts can afford to give everyone they bump into a gift.
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Did the article writers even look to see what the etiquette people say about this or just ask retailers? Receiving a gift doesn't obligate you to give a gift back. In fact a gift given much later or a "uh...I left your gift at home" looks worse then a sincere "thank you for thinking of me". Everyone has different means and different spirit around the holidays. My mother's side of the family doesn't celebrate Christmas at all for religious reasons (the short version, assigning Jesus a birthday = bad). Why should they feel obligated if a new neighbor didn't know that?

I gave a gift to my son's teacher who also babysits for him and a gift to her daughter (our kids are the same age). I sure as heck don't expect a gift back. I did it because I really appreciate having a reliable babysitter that he's excited to see, not to give them an obligation.

Lara Amber
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My mother's side of the family doesn't celebrate Christmas at all for religious reasons

We got a new coworker a year or two ago and I gave her something (I think it was hersheys kisses, nothing big) and she didn't give anything back. Apparently she also doesn't believe in gifts for religious reasons. Nobody minded her not giving a gift.

I believe a gift should be given because you want to, not out of obligation, but there are some social conventions that are difficult to break. Everybody in my office gives a real gift (not necessarily something expensive), so that's what I do.
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I am also rebelling against gift cards, and giving cash. The only gift cards I bought were because I can use the gift cards and thought the bonus cards would be of value. Having learned my lesson on the limitations of the bonus cards, I won't do that again.

I give gift cards when I think it's something a person really wants. I have two relatives who quilt. They're getting gift cards to the biggest quilt store around. Another knits, and is getting a gift card to a huge yarn store. (Both well over the internet). Someone who has had to cut back on small luxuries like manicures is getting a gift certificate to a day spa near her.

This is money for luxuries or extras that they might not otherwise get.

After my mother died there were dozens of things left that no one wanted. (This despite my sister's ruthless, "you gave it, you get it" rule). And I started thinking in terms of giving something that will bring a happy memory rather something that needs to be dusted.

Nancy
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And I started thinking in terms of giving something that will bring a happy memory rather something that needs to be dusted.

I am a big believer in this! I'd rather give a nice time out with no worries then another dust magnet.

The other nice thing is when you can't afford the whole item wanted, but can help offset the cost with a gift card. When I bought my last Coach purse I had several gift cards from family that I had saved to help pay for it. I'd rather have the $25 or $50 towards that purchase in the future then $25 of bath stuff I would never use.

Lara Amber
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(This despite my sister's ruthless, "you gave it, you get it" rule).

Most if not all of us have more stuff than we need. I can understand "you gave it, you get first choice", but gifts are to be used by the recipient. They may be of no use to the giver. If they don't have sentimental value, then it either Goodwill/donation or trash.

Our remodeling will be complete soon. All of our stuff, plus whatever I keep from my parents home has to fit. My husband was stressing that everything wasn't going to fit. It took awhile for him to understand that if it doesn't fit, it ships (to family or friends if they want it, donation if in good enough shape, or trash if unusable). Packing was done in a limited amount of time, and more than should have been kept was packed because not all family members were present.

I give gift cards when I think it's something a person really wants.

I understand. It is just that I really hate the idea of problems that occur with gift cards. In cases where a specific gift card would be appropriate, I use an image from their website and create wrapping for cash. It keeps me happy, and I haven't had any complaints. Thought I have started adding cardboard behind the cash. One present was opened by tearing the wrapping in half. The receipient worked in a bank, and had no problem replacing the damaged bills.
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Getting a gift card, or cash with a nice note, can often hive you the option to pick up the item on sale, discount, with a coupon, etc, letting you max out the value a little more.

Laura
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Last time I checked, gifts were just that: gifts. I'm not bartering for anything.
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"I believe a gift should be given because you want to, not out of obligation"

I have long since stopped doing practically anything out of obligation. I am much happier now.
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I have long since stopped doing practically anything out of obligation. I am much happier now.

Glory Glory Halle Berry!

My wife used to admonish me for having no ambition or goals in life. I felt defending myself was in order. It's simply that my ambitions and goals are different than hers.

My goal is to reach a point in life that I have no more responsibilities. I want to be able to just take a nap in a hammock whenever I want, on a whim. I want the ability to decide I'm going to Cozumel on a Tuesday morning and be there by lunch time. I want to hang out with whom I choose, when I choose, and where I choose, without having to worry about expectations, obligations, or other such pesky factors. That's my ambition. That's why I work so much now, and don't spend everything I make as soon as I make it. That's why I put effort into raising good kids. Every choice I make today is, at least in part, inspired by that end-game.

Maybe I want to move to Thailand and become a tuktuk driver for a while. Or maybe I wanna run more barbed-wire fence and raise Llamas. Or maybe I wanna try both of those things, and hang out in smokey jazz bars at night too. I dunno. Who knows what my whims will be in the future? No matter what they are, I want the freedom to indulge them. I don't want to have to say, Oh I wish I could go do this-or-that but I've got work, or I've got some other reason I can't.

xtn
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