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People who make no effort when buying gifts

Am I being ungrateful? My friend, whom I've known for 20+ years, never makes an effort to find a suitable gift for me (or anyone else, I suspect). She always offloads the job either onto her daughter or, believe it or not, onto the recipient.

I've spent the last 5 years giving her a list of which books I'd like for Christmas, so she can pick one out at random and pretend it's a surprise. One year, she even asked me to buy (and wrap) my own present and send her the bill.

This year, it's slightly different - she got her daughter to pick out a book for me online and have it sent directly to me. I've met her daughter just 3 times over the past 2 decades and we have never discussed the type of books we like to read. I have, however, discussed my intense dislike of "misery novels" with my friend (child abuse, domestic violence, surviving sick situations, etc).

Today, you've guessed it, a misery novel arrived in the post - not wrapped or signed, no message from my friend - I only realised it was from her because I just happened to see her daughter's name on the bookshop label.. I take so much care choosing gifts for her, it just feels like a slap in the face when she obviously thinks, "Aw, that'll do for her, I can't be bothered even thinking about what to get." Is it just me?

Should I be feeling grateful for getting any gift, even if it's obviously given in an offhand, don't-care manner?

Created By on 21/12/2020

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11th Feb 2021 19:31:11
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Hi Molly

Your post reminds me of a woman my parents knew who used to go to boot sales and buy a load of second hand junk for them, having set her own maximum spend on this. They would buy her something attractive and she would hand over enormous quantities of rubbish bought second-hand in a plastic bag!!! Minimum effort whilst enjoying second-hand browsing and shopping!!

It's a very difficult situation you're in. Have you directed her to eg your Amazon wish list? You could say to avoid duplication of presents as you've had some duplicates recently (imply her novel) and to save money you are directing people to the wish list (which offers a range of presents and their costs, for every purse). I think this is my best suggestion.

Alternatively say to her that in future you are cutting back on presents and just sending Amazon vouchers to your closest family and friends, including her, so that people can choose their own present (for the above reason, if you like).

It could simply be that your friend has no idea on what to buy people and is no good at it. My partner is exactly the same. He completely lacks any empathy on this level, and hasn't the first clue on what to get anyone and inevitably I have had to do all of it for the past 30 years, including for his direct family (mother, brother, niece...). Alternatively obviously it could be that she likes to delegate the job for whatever reason. Perhaps her daughter enjoys the shopping experience and offers, with obviously the results you know!.

Anyway, if you've tried the above in vain apologies, but I think that's what I'd do, with some insistence!
11th Feb 2021 15:58:31
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I found all these answers helpful as would be upset too let us know what you decide MollyUK
19th Jan 2021 09:02:45
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I suggest that you stop exchanging gifts. For some choosing and giving a gift is a very important act of love. For others it is a chore imposed by convention and other peoples expectations. There is nothing to stop you giving a gift just dont expect reciprocation. Why were you still expecting this after 20 years of evidence?
Myself, I reckon teh ONLY thing anyone has to offer is time, attention and company. These are the real gifts and if you have those from the friendship then items while they can bring a smile are not what matters.
27th Dec 2020 15:12:22
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I can see where you are coming from ... yes there is a BUT she may not be very good at choosing presents or is indecisive. She may think you have everything you need which causes her to feel pressurised. I don't believe she would intentionally to upset you.
22nd Dec 2020 21:44:13
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I would say that yes, you are being ungrateful. I have never expected my friends old or new to give me presents on a regular basis, I just value the friendship. As for giving a friend a list of things I expected her to buy for me, I would not dream of it! That is not being a friend, but a burden.

To pass on a book that you have read for a friend to enjoy by all means, share magazines, a bunch of flowers as a cheer-up if she's down, a plant from the garden or some produce if you have a surplus, and appreciate it if she does the same

. Yes. Surely it is the thought that matters not an expectation. If she finds it a problem to choose or shop for presents to give, why make it hard for her?

Forgive me for being so forthright. I really feel for your friend!!!
22nd Dec 2020 15:01:06
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If has been your friend for over twenty years she must have many qualities and values that keep your friendship going .Just accept that present buying isn't one of them, and you could even agree to stop exchanging presents and buy yourself something or make a charity donation.

Info only - I had an E Mail to say the gift cards would not be included in the hampers I had ordered due to production difficulties.

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