Burning Question: Feeling Gifted?

This week we’re back with one of those questions that can seriously stump people (read: us). What do you do when people give you home-decor type gifts that you don’t really like? Say your mother-in-law is constantly buying stuff to spruce up your space (but you’re less than enthused at the items of her choosing). Do you put the stuff out for a while and then gradually move it into storage? Do you just learn to love it and display it for the long haul? Do you only put it out when the gift giver is visiting? Do you admit off the bat that it’s not your style and ask if they’d mind if you exchanged it for something that’s more your speed?



  1. says

    We live across the country from our entire family so any gifts we receive that aren’t our style are stored until we feel it’s safe to give them to Goodwill. Then we try to casually mention that we’re doing some “redecorating” so if they ever ask about it we have an excuse for getting rid of the not-so-great item.

  2. Laura B. says

    My mom’s partner is obsessed with garage/yard sales and brings home random stuff all the time. I’ve learned from my mom’s experiences of recieving oddities to always politely decline.

  3. says

    My new grandma-in-law gave my husband and me a watercolor painting of the two of us for our wedding. It’s terrifying. Seriously terrifying. It isn’t exactly something we can re-gift so I hung it in the bathroom above the potty to “scare the cr@p” out of people. I figure we can phase it out over time but she lives around the corner and comes over a lot, so we can’t just toss it.

  4. says

    Oh lawrd. Tell me about the weird icky knick-knacks. I always feel bad, but I keep it out for a bit. Then it goes in the garbage, not storage!! :)

  5. Lisa says

    I was seriously just thinking about sending you two an email about this the other day! I’ll be interested to see the poll results!

  6. Carrie says

    We were plagued with this problem 2.5 years ago when we got married. Ahh…the joys of gift giving! Worse yet-I have to switch out family photos when my mom comes to visit! She snoops around the house and actually counts how many pictures of my family are in frames compared to my husband’s family!

  7. Samantha says

    Oh man, my mother in law thinks that since we had a modern beach wedding, (7/7/7 too!) that we would love over the top cheesy beachy decor. Ugly gaudy seashell lamps, strange seagull statues and so on…she sees that my style is contemporary modern, yet still buys me that ugly stuff. I put on a fake happy expression when I open the gifts and then when I get home I donate them to Goodwill. We’ve been living together for 6 years and we have finally been telling her more and more lately that we don’t have a beach theme at all in our home–lets hope she gets the idea soon!

    P.S. She visits our home about once a month and can clearly see that we do not have a cheesy beach theme! Oh mother in laws,ha

  8. Sarah says

    I thank them for the gift and then throw it away/donate it when I get home.

    I have no room to keep things just because someone gave them to me. If it’s not your style, it’s not your style, and you shouldn’t feel obligated to keep it, much less display it, and why clutter your house with things you don’t want or like?

    I can’t deter my mother-in-law from giving me anything, even after telling her it’s not my style, so this is the easiest approach.

  9. tarynkay says

    I picked one and two- depends on just how horrifying the object is, and how often I see the person. When a friend who lives overseas gave me a truly hideous home decor object, I had no qualms about regifting it directly to Goodwill (okay, well only after it lived in the Closet of Guilt for several years and we moved it three times) But we’ve definitely gotten some things as gifts that we never would have picked out in a million years, but that we’ve learned to love over time because the gift giver was so close to us and the thing in question was obviously made or chosen with so much love.

  10. says

    I blogged about this too, not too long ago! My uncle was visiting and we hadn’t seen him since our wedding, where he gave us a very interesting artefact made out of whale bone and horse hair (don’t ask). We have kept it in a box since, but we did bring it out when he came over. It wasn’t in the most obvious of places, but you could catch of glimpse of it, which I hope he did. It’s a sticky situation.

  11. Jackie says

    Some people see this as mean: but I was taught that once you’ve given something, you have no “right” to it anymore. You certainly no right to expect that your hideous vase will be put in the front foyer. If your gift isn’t able to be used by your original gift-ee, but they can give it to someone who will use it, so be it. I dislike the notion that gift-giving needs to come with a whole lot of guilt. When you’re on the receiving end, you accept it nicely and politely, and then it’s yours to do with as you please.

  12. Amanda V says

    Oh Sherry and John,

    I love this post! I cannot wait to read what people do in this situation.

    My Dear M.I.L. not only does this with home decor items, but with everything! Clothes, shoes, knick knacks… She’s really a penny pincher (which is an awesome thing) and will look for the best deals instead of sticking with someone’s style. Bless her heart for her generosity and excitment, but I’ll usually thank her and just store it for a month, then give it to the goodwill.

    Last year for Christmas was “everyone gets 3-4 pairs of shoes” year. She got so excited about Zappos, that she bought everyone at least 3 pairs of shoes. Oye, gotta love em!

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