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The Group Gift Revisited

December 15th, 2014 at 06:53 am

I mentioned the group gift my husband's siblings are getting my mother in law in another post. Things have changed. The item was to be a media console that looks like a fireplace and is a heater. The picture I was shown and price given initially was $250. Although there are seven siblings total, only five are participating. So that would be around $50 each.

The youngest sibling showed the picture to my mother in law who said it wasn't big enough. There were not enough spaces for her dvd player and cable boxes. Another sibling went looking for other options and found a $400 one. It was decided to ask my husband's mom again if this one would work. It turns out she wants the money so she can shop for one herself.

The question then was how much money the group should give her. In the end it was decided we would give $350 as a group. We had all been willing to put in nearly $90 a piece. This new amount would be $70 each. Of course, this is still above the original $50 we thought we were going in on!

We usually spend $35-40 on my mother in law, so we are spending nearly double our budgeted amount. This comes down to a reason I don't like group gifts. They don't turn out like you expect them to.

Now, I'm not mad at how it turned out. But it does confirm my desire not to participate in the future. I'm not really thrilled that my mother in law requested a large gift and then changed it to cash. I do think she will buy the item and I would guess she will like it. It is so different from my parents who could care less if they get a gift and often tell us we don't need to get them anything. My mother in law is on a fixed income, and usually we get her a bottle of wine, nice soaps or lotions and some quarters for her condo washing machine. Quite a difference, huh?

The other unfortunate outcome of the gift discussion was one sister getting mad at a brother when he was upset about all the group texting. The brother's wife even indicated they had limited texting. The sister was trying to get everyone's advice and do us all a favor in doing the shopping. She felt shut down by their responses. We were later asked to contact the brother to tell them our decision on the gift. This was fine with us and easy in the end because he didn't answer his phone and so we left a message. Just yucky communication between some family members for something that should be enjoyable.

We won't be visiting this side of the family this year, so in the end we are just going to write a check and send a card to my mother in law. It feels a little odd, but if she is happy that will be the most important thing.

Do you think we should have handled the group gift differently? What do you think of someone asking for a gift than changing it to cash?

11 Responses to “The Group Gift Revisited”

  1. Joan.of.the.Arch Says:

    I'd probably let myself roll it over in my mind for a while, then try to forget about the way this gift has come about and morphed.... If that fixed income is a low fixed income, I'd be concerned about whether that kind of heater might raise her electric bill too much. Well, I hope it all works out. Maybe with all the trouble this year, no one will move to arrange a group gift next year.

  2. CB in the City Says:

    Par for the course for a group gift! They always seem to turn into an uncontrollable beast!

  3. creditcardfree Says:

    @Joan, I had the same thought about her electric bill. She lives in a garden level condo and so imagine it can't be on too long without getting too warm. It seems to be a pretty air tight there! I suppose I don't really know how she handles her money. She does have investments, but I think tries to live on the social security when she can. She is likely to live awhile as there have been no major health issues and nearly all her older siblings are still living. I don't expect she be out gambling it away. Smile

  4. butterscotch Says:

    I have never been a fan of the group gift, and I really hate gift cards and cash. Things like that feel like you are giving someone something out of obligation, not because you actually thought of something they would like or need. If I cant think of something to get someone I either ask them what they need or I don't get them anything. Same goes for me, I don't want anything so I tell people that. I specifically told my mother to NOT send me a check for Christmas. She said she didn't know what to get me and I told her I don't need anything so don't worry about it. But she feels bad. SO then I feel bad. I hate that people feel like they have to "get" someone something just because it is Christmas.

    If someone asked me for cash rather than the gift I was going to get them I probably wouldn't get them the gift or the cash. If they told me they were having money problems I might do it, but just cash for the sake of cash I wont do.

  5. Joanne Says:

    Creditcardfree, I love the idea thet you mentioned of giving your MIL , quarters for the washing machine, in her condo. That is a great idea , and so practical.

  6. creditcardfree Says:

    @Joanne, thanks. It is a practical gift and one she has even asked for in the past. Not sure what has got into her this year!!

  7. Jenn Says:

    Oh yikes. Group gifts have never worked out for our family either. It's usually started by someone who thinks she has a good idea for a gift, but she doesn't want to fund it. We've even experienced the leader of the group-giving effort ultimately having motives behind the gift selection that weren't exposed until later.

    And requesting cash after someone has hinted at the gift you'll be receiving? That's tacky.

  8. creditcardfree Says:

    @Jenn, yes it does to seem to be the youngest sibling that has this great idea once in awhile and in the past I've wondered about motivations as well. I think this is something MIL said she was interested in, so that spurred the idea this time. Just because there is a large family doesn't mean you need to pool resources and get extravagant gifts! I know we opted out a few years ago when a computer or tv was given. Why didn't we remember this time!!

  9. Deb Says:

    Holy cow, people! This is someone's mother! I, personally, would give my parents anything they asked for. My parents have given so much of their money and time to their families, so now that their income is limited to SS, I would be happy to give them anything they wanted, and I'd enjoy having them be pleased. And maybe they'd feel as appreciated as they are.

  10. creditcardfree Says:

    @Deb, we really are happy to give to her extra this year. It isn't the financial difference than the whole group issue. If she wanted money, it would have been nice to have been asked directly, too. Smile I do think my mother in law will be very pleased in the end and that does make me happy!

  11. FrugalTexan75 Says:

    I love the idea of quarters for the laundry! I rarely have cash, and so getting quarters to do my laundry means taking cash out of an ATM, and then getting change. Such a hassle.

    I hope she gets what she wants after all this trouble!

    I do want to say though that I get why the brother/sil with limited texts spoke up about the group messaging. I have definitely seen that people with unlimited texting don't have any/very little concept of how texting - esp group texting - can eat through limited texts super fast. I'm lucky in that my brother and mom both have iPhones, so all our texts don't count against me. If they did ... yikes.

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