Just say 'no' to gift requests
August 10, 1999
On the sitcom “Oh, Baby,” a single woman in her 30s stands at the office bulletin board, reviewing the postings of her colleague’s weddings and baby showers with a friend. Every few minutes, a co-worker approaches and says she is collecting money for a baby shower, a bridal shower, an engagement party, a son’s soccer team, a daughter’s Girl Scout cookies. With each request, the two women robotically open their wallet and pass over their money without ever breaking their conversation.
That scene perfectly sums up the single-woman’s dilemma: How do you cope with the increasing tide of requests to provide your married friends with money and dry goods without seeming bitter and cheap?
It’s not that I’m against wedding presents. When a friend gets married, it’s cause for celebration, and it’s nice to give her something that expresses your good wishes. But I am against bridal registries like the one a friend recently confronted, on which the least expensive item was a $75 salad bowl.
I’m also confused by engagement parties at which gifts are expected are getting married and getting engaged two separate achievements?
But mostly, I’m against showers. One of the worst things about being female is that every six months or so someone invites you to spend what would have been a perfectly good Saturday afternoon watching a friend, co-worker or female relative open gifts.
Bridal showers are a relic from the days when bridal showers made sense. Back in the time when a young bride moved from her parent’s house to her marital home, it was customary to gather together and provide the young lady with modest gifts to help her set up a household: wooden spoons, dish towels, salt and pepper shakers, a laundry basket.
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But today’s bride no longer receives spaghetti strainers and ironing boards at her shower. Why should she? She and her fiance moved out of their parents’ houses years before, and they are possibly already living together. They have all the basics.
No, a 1999 wife-to-be gets luxury items at her shower espresso machines, pasta makers and all manner of designer cookware. The poor relation who thinks she’ll be able to skirt by with a mere salad spinner or set of steak knives is in for an unpleasant surprise when her gift is held up for public scrutiny. Because somewhere along the line, wedding presents started being distributed at bridal showers. This has in turn ratcheted up the price of wedding presents, which now require a small bank loan to purchase.
So I’ve decided to stop. I no longer consult bridal registries, preferring gift-giving to order-taking. And I’ve made a unilateral decision that with the exception of maybe two very Bridal showers
Just say ‘no’ to requests for giftsclose friends I’m not attending showers any more. When the invitation comes, I RSVP immediately with a brief reply. “I’m sorry, but I’m unable to attend.” No explanations. No excuses. Just plain old no, thank you.
It may seem unsporting and stingy, but it’s had a terrific side effect. Because now when a friends tells me she’s getting married, I can look her in the eye and honestly say, “I’m so glad.” (Copyright 1999 Newspaper Enterprise Assn. Send comments to the author at her e-mail at saraeum.com.)