Registering and Gifts

How to politely turn down a gift?

Hi Ladies,

I have awkwardly been instructed by my FMIL to start looking for a hutch, because she and my FGMIL have decided they would like to go in on one together as our wedding gift. It has been made very clear for several years that FGMIL intends to pass on her extensive collection of china, little glass bells, teacups, wall mounted plates to us, none of which I really wanted but would take good care of if she wanted us to have it.

My fiancé and I purchased a home over a year ago, but have not purchased any new furniture because we have been saving for the wedding and wanted to wait until we could invest in quality items rather then buy more Ikea stuff. We have a formal dining room, but it is completely empty. I planned to purchase a glass top table and sideboard/buffet to use as a bar.

How do I handle this situation? I imagine they are expecting me to select a large, flowery oak hutch to display all of these heirlooms. I don't want to have this displayed in my home for years, nor do I like this style of furniture. She didn't give me any sort of budget to go off of. I'm sure they are trying to come up with something we could use and would keep for years, and know about our empty dining room. The intentions are sweet, but I don't want any of this stuff to begin with, much less have to display it. I'm afraid if I just avoid the situation they will pick one out for me. She really put me on the spot in front of an audience of other family members today, and  I sort of froze and just said... "uh, ok, I'll look around..."

What do I do to avoid hurting feelings or seeming ungrateful?

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Re: How to politely turn down a gift?

  • I'd have FI interject since it is his family.  It is tough because I'm sure it is an expensive piece of furniture but if you don't want it, nor all of the stuff they want you to put in it, and you don't want to have to deal with it for years to come.  Maybe there is some compromise to be had? Not sure what that is but he should run interference not you.


    FWIW my FI has a giant hutch filled with china and stuff from his mom/dad (mom died years ago and dad gave it all to him when he moved).  FI bought this hutch and thinks it is great, I think it is giant and not cute and seriously weighs about 800 lbs and is a bitch just to move when we repainted, let alone if you move houses. So my advice is if you don't want it, don't get it, bc it will be a pain to deal with later on.


    it is hard to turn down things from family, especially sentimental stuff, but  don't think someone should be guiled into displaying all of said sentimental items just because the current owner wants them to

    mollyringwald15
  • Fortunately fiancé is on board with me and agrees it's not something we want in our home for our lifetime. I agree it should be on him to talk to his mom, but she has the habit of calling me or asking me these types of questions directly. I guess I will just pass the phone to him from now on. It's just all so awkward!

    I imagined if we were gifted grandmas treasures we could put then away and use them occasionally when certain family is over for dinner.

    Good to know I'm not the only one that sees what a lifetime annoyance this would become!
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  • Start ther discussion with your fiance, he'll be most familiar with her. It seems you need more clarity on the intentions first. They may just want to help you with your dining room. See if they'd accecpt choosing alternate furniture for the dining room. They could purchase something they'd see while dining, like a portion of the dining set (like what you imagined). 

    Sorry you have to discuss furniture for your home, with others. At least they are letting you select it's overall style. Some buffets/sideboards have storage. There's modern furniture that stores items. 

    Like you said, you respect her posessions, and would store them securely, (if they were gifted to you in the future), but do tell her you plan on not displaying them as they are in her home. Especially if that matches your true feelings. If you don't now, this'll continue in the future for any future gifting from her. Tell her that as gently as you can. 

    I was the "youngest grandaughter" when my grandma was moving out of her home to a smaller place. I asked for the corelle and a sentimental nick nack or two. I was then offered a lot of the formal items one-by-one by my aunts, "your dad can store them now" to "keep them in the family". I didn't want the formal dishes, nor wanted to store/watch them for the future. Grandma heard of this and clarified openly we are to only take items to fill an actual want, if no really one wants it, to sell it. So my aunts quit pressuring me. Over the years, I've still had to say no to my aunts about occasional heirlooms, but they respect it, because my feelings on them are true and very similar to grandma's.
    mollyringwald15
  • Your FH should handle ALL talks with his family about this. I wouldn't be touching that one with a 10 foot pole.

    Pottery Barn has some hutches that are actually pretty cool looking if you decide to cave and get a hutch. Then you could get a matching table/chair set with wedding money if you choose. You could compromise and tell them you'd love a buffet to keep grandma's treasures, but not the hutch that goes on top.
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    plainjane0415mollyringwald15mrssurselyAprilH81
  • plainjane0415plainjane0415 The hills of Tennessee
    500 Love Its 1000 Comments First Anniversary Name Dropper
    member
    Your FH should handle ALL talks with his family about this. I wouldn't be touching that one with a 10 foot pole. Pottery Barn has some hutches that are actually pretty cool looking if you decide to cave and get a hutch. Then you could get a matching table/chair set with wedding money if you choose. You could compromise and tell them you'd love a buffet to keep grandma's treasures, but not the hutch that goes on top.

    This is exactly what I would do.  I would try to compromist and get a nice buffet that you really like, and store her china in that. 

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    mollyringwald15
  • flantasticflantastic The Midwest
    1000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 5 Answers
    member
    edited February 2015

    I think this is pretty simple - if your FI wants the stuff, a compromise needs to be arrived at.

    If neither you nor your FI has any desire for a) the piece of furniture and/or b) the stuff you imagine they will then offer, your FI talks with his parents about it.

    "Thanks, Mom, for your generous offer, but I really don't think a hutch is a piece of furniture we'll use." She may then offer something else, which you can accept or decline similarly ("I'll have to talk to Molly to see if that's something we could use in our house"), or she may explain "But you'll need someplace to keep grandma's china." If she brings up the china, FI says "It's great that you're thinking of us, but I really don't think we'll have a use for that either, so we won't need a hutch for it." Repeat cycle if necessary with any other offers.

    If she brings it up to you afterwards, just say "As FI said, we're very grateful for the offer, but don't have a need for this." And then change the subject if possible.

    ETA I had read a day or two ago, but just now re-noticed that your FI is on board. Wording still works, hopefully. :)

    Anniversary

    mollyringwald15
  • edited March 2015

    Thanks ladies. My FI has agreed to tackle it but I have a feeling it won't be one conversation and will drag on regardless of how honest we are.

    Just for clarity, my FI is the only grandchild on this side of his family. She has tried multiple times to pass the items on to us, and my response has always been "We really don't have anywhere to keep them safe right now, you should continue to enjoy them!"  Kicking myself for using that phrasing now...

    We are going to do some dinning room furniture shopping this weekend. Hopefully we can find something else to suggest to them.

    I think no matter what we do, some feelings are going to be hurt, but we need to stand firm. Thank you all for helping me think a little more clearly... I can be a people pleaser to a fault and I really don't want to start off our marriage disappointing his family in any way.

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    kvruns
  • Are there any other family members like cousins in his family where you can go "While we love grandmother's collection of items, it's too large for us and we think it would be nice to let the cousins and a few others close to grandma to pick pieces out from the collection so we can all share the memory of things that were important to her."
  • adk19adk19
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its Third Anniversary 5 Answers
    member
    Erikan73 said:

    Are there any other family members like cousins in his family where you can go "While we love grandmother's collection of items, it's too large for us and we think it would be nice to let the cousins and a few others close to grandma to pick pieces out from the collection so we can all share the memory of things that were important to her."

    Crap.  This is one of the few times I'm happy to be one of 5 granddaughters, all four of which are more 'girly' than me.  Because I REALLY don't want want gramma's china.  I even have male cousins who have the style more to have gramma's pink flowered china in their home rather than me.  Sorry about being happy it's not me in this situation.
  • Gently let them know that you appreciate the thought and maybe ask if you could pick an item or two that you feel comfortable displaying in your home, otherwise you will end up storing them and digging them out when family visits.  I have a few items from my mother and grandmother that have sentimental value to me, but I don't expect my daughters to feel the same.  When my mother passed, we all picked one or two items that meant something to us the rest we gave away to people who would appreciate these things. I've already told my children that they should feel free to donate/sell anything of mine that they don't want when the time comes.
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