1. CuriousGeorgette

    My friend and I both have an elderly parent living with us. Since his mom came to live with him I’ve always sent her a nice gift along with his for Christmas, and by nice I mean I spend the same on her as I do for him. I will typically get them gift cards to their favorite restaurants or retailers and tailored to the recipient. He, on the other hand, sends me a gift and something like a bag of candy you can get at the drugstore (think Hershey kisses, etc.) for my parent. This is really starting to annoy me but I can’t think of a polite way to bring it up to him without sounding greedy. It’s not the cost disparity that I find so annoying but rather the lack of thought. He knows what kind of things and interests my parent has so that’s not the issue, either. I’d really rather stop the exchange between us, anyway, so does anyone have a good way to broach this subject with my friend? Thank you.

    • Because no one can dictate what another person should spend on presents for others, I support your suggestion of stopping the exchange completely (well, maybe send a card).
      “Hey, Friend, we’re both getting too old for gifts. How about this year we just exchange cards, or maybe a good book?”

      Another way of acknowledging the holiday without worrying about gifts is to suggest a nice lunch together around the holidays. “Friend, neither of us need more stuff to clutter our house. How about we all go to lunch together between Christmas and the new year?”

      • Jody

        I like JustLaura’s second suggestion. Often the elderly are just as happy to spend time with somebody in lieu of a gift (no matter how well-thought-out the gift is). This is coming from experience with my parents, my mom was happy to go out to a meal and have some face-to-face time with others.

      • Clara

        Laura is absolutely correct, you have no control over what your friend gives you and your Mom, you only have control over your own actions. Suggest that you stop exchanging or cut back on what you spend and the thought you put in…if you really still want to give a little something just don’t spend as much time and money as you did in the past.

    • Alicia

      I do not think you should broach this topic with your friend. You are giving gifts within your means and in keeping with what you wish to give. YUour friend is doing the same . You say that the two of you are friends not that each of you is friends with the others parent. I can totally understand only giving a small token gift to a friends parent with very little thought in it if I percieved the friend only as a friend not the friends parent. I personally only give gifts at the holidays to my family and very very close friends. If you do not want to for your own pleasure give his parent a gift you are under no obligation to do so. But to say that you think his only giving your parent a token gift is bad is controling his budget and that is unfair. Give whatever gifts you freely and happily give and be thankful for whatever gifts are freely and happily given and do not worry aqbout keeping tabs on equity or who gives what.

  2. Julia

    Today I was a guest at a dinner party hosted by a neighbor. When I sat down, I noticed that my glass and fork were both dirty. I did nothing, not wanting to embarras my host. However, I was disgusted by the thought of the dirty dishes throughout the meal. What is the proper way to respond in this situation should it arrise again in the future?

    • Elizabeth

      I think you responded in the best way you could by not saying anything. I have a family member whose dishes are occasionally a bit dirty…I just try to put it out of my mind and be thankful that her cooking is so delicious and that it’s not going to kill me. If it were really egregious, I think it might be ok to say something jokey like “Oops, looks like the dishwasher lost the battle against this one!” and ask for a new fork. Or, if you could discretely clean it off with your napkin in your lap, that might work too. I would love to hear other ideas, too – this is a really awkward situation!

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