Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Fruitcake gifts....

We've entered the holiday season, and with it comes the well intended, but not quite right gift. The question arises, what to do with it? At Thanksgiving I was given a Starbucks mug with one of their new instant coffees. It was sweet of the giftor to bring the mug; it was a hostess gift for me having prepared the meal. However, the last thing I need is another mug and instant coffee is not something I enjoy. Being who I am, I thought "oh, I'll exchange this for a bag of a dark roast coffee!". Then I went to Starbucks.

Granted, I did not have a receipt, but I was greeted with anything but the holiday spirit. There was no question it was their product -- they had nearly a 100 displayed on the shelf surrounding the register. I explained that it was given as a gift and I wondered if I could exchange it for a bag of coffee. The price was $13.65. The clerk (or are they all a barista?) said -- "no receipt, no exchanges, what do you want to order?" Not said with a smile. Not a sorry, store policy prevents me from exchanging this. Just a blunt "no, now what do you want to buy". I asked again saying I would hate for it to go to waste. To which the response was "well, re-gift it.".

Re-gift it? I didn't want to get into a discussion of how my family avoids the whole gift giving exchange just because the calendar says it is late December and Madison Avenue executives have an agenda. His statement seems to sum up holiday giving in America these days. Buy crap no one wants or needs, and if you are against keeping the crap, pass it along to someone else. I tucked the mug in my bag, headed for the door and asked myself "who do I know who would enjoy this". No one came to mind. It then sat on the chest freezer in the garage for a week.

On my next trip to Target I noticed that they too were swimming in the mugs. Hmmm, would they take it back? It was worth a try. And they did! The clerk looked at my driver's license (not quite sure why) and gave me a store credit. There was nothing special we needed from Target, so I just applied it to our weekly purchases. The mug is now back on a shelf, waiting to be gifted, and if Starbucks has its way, re-gifted.

So -- was I too frugal? Too practical? Am I obligated to keep this type of gift? If you think so, why? This is hot button issue in our extended family. Grudges have been formed from past acts. So much for happy holidays!

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