Dear Miss Manners

As I’ve mentioned, there is an upcoming family wedding. I’ve received broad hints from the bride’s mother that the Bride Does Not Approve of the gift I’ve selected for the couple. (The groom, however, does. I know this because he was so very enthusiastic when I asked if he’d like to get one.)

I am of the gift-giving philosophy (and Miss Manners backs me up) that I am not a delivery service. You may express your preferences, but I am in no way bound by them. (That is, after all, what makes it a gift, and not extortion.)

I specialize in choosing gifts that visibly disappoint the recipient upon opening, usually followed a month later by an enthusiastic “That was really great, I never would have thought of that!” To me, that’s a good gift – one you didn’t even know you wanted.

I pay a lot of attention to what people might like, and if I can’t come up with something good, I admit defeat and give generic gifts like flowers or chocolate.

Now, it’s not as if I want to give the bride a poke in the eye with a sharp stick. I really do think she will enjoy the gift once she has it. But there is the family peace to consider. I don’t care all that much about family peace anymore, but I would not like the parties involved to see my actions as intentionally hurtful. What to do?

I throw this out to the wisdom of the crowd. What do you think? Respond to familial pressure, or assert my own gift-giving prerogative? I’m inclined to do it my way, but I do have those High Autonomy Needs and I’m thus aware I might be overreacting.

13 thoughts on “Dear Miss Manners

  1. I’m similar in gift-giving style. I say, no one gets to tell you what to give someone else.

    As far as I can tell, gift registries are suggestions, not commands! Give how you like, and that person can take their controlling behavior elsewhere.

  2. The bride’s mother is telling you what you should and shouldn’t be giving as a wedding present? Is she offering this service to everyone, or just you? Or is the bride insisting that items on her registry only are permissible? Yeesh.

    I looked at the link. It seems like a perfectly nice gift. Give what you like. Chances are that the WEDDING and all its horrifying insanity is making everyone a little punchy, and that after the damn thing is over, everyone will calm down again. I hope.

  3. FWIW I got us a Sony BluRay player last xmas for ~$150 that does everything the Roku does & plays (& decodes) BluRay disks as well. The catch is that you either need an ethernet cable where you place the player (we did) or spring for a model w/WiFi which are more common & less expensive now. And I’m with you on the ‘gift giving =! delivery service’ bit, when I give a gift it’s the gift I want to give.

  4. I bought my then-boyfriend a TiVo for Xmas. I knew he’d love it because he is a total vidiot – watches a LOT of TV and movies.

    Initially he was disappointed. Part of it was that he’s a gadget lover and like to pick out his own. Part of it was that he didn’t think I could possibly know anything about a cool electronic device that he’d never heard of.

    Bottom line, of course, is that now he cannot imagine living without TiVo. He has to have the latest greatest biggest TiVo box as soon as it’s available. Same thing with the Flip video recorder I gave him. Didn’t like it. Now he’s never without it.

    So I say go for it. Sometimes you DO know what gift is perfect better than the recipient does.

  5. Go with the Roku. The bride will come to love it, once she plays with it. Besides, I ditched everything but basic cable once I had one.

  6. Hmm, You, the groom and Miss Manners vs Bridezilla and her momma.

    As someone who received 2 coffee makers, 5 woks, and three sets of ugly towels as wedding gifts, I’d say you’re in the right. Mick Jagger put it best: “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try real hard you might find you get what you need.”

  7. My mom would watch Grey’s Anatomy on her ROKU 24 hours a day if I didn’t make her go to sleep. I imagine the problem is that it doesn’t fit into the bride’s romantic vision of her great day. I would take it back and get her a cordless drill instead.

  8. I dunno, they’re newlyweds. she might think they have no business watching tv. ; )

  9. Do you want to be invited over on thanksgiving?
    Or, approach the bride herself. Who knows where it’s coming from, really. It will give her a chance to deal with you directly.

  10. Perhaps some zanax for the MOB might be in order-I chalk it up to pre-wedding personality disorder…its a great gift, I would love it.

  11. Perhaps some zanax for the Bride and a double dose for the MOB might be in order-I chalk it up to pre-wedding personality disorder…its a great gift, she will love having….

  12. i see i’m in the minority here. i think you should give them what they want.

Comments are closed.