One of my cousins who got married a few days back came to visit me with his lovely wife. He works for a multinational IT organization. We had the cake and wine ceremony, had lunch and coffee and was chatting about the marriage ceremony and their honeymoon plans.

Then, suddenly my cousin asked me “Alexchetta, what is the mobile phone you are having?” I told him that I don’t have a mobile phone as I don’t require one—mobile phones are for people who are mobile. He seemed disappointed. Then he asked my brother whether he needed a mobile phone. My brother has a Treo 750, which is barely 2-months old, so he too declined the offer. My cousin was really disappointed. I asked him what his problem was. “Have you joined a mobile phone company?” I asked him. “No, no, but I think I will have to open an electronic store!” He replied.

I was amused. He was a funny person with a wonderful sense of humor and I thought it was part of some joke he was going to tell. But he was not joking. He had received about 12 mobile phones as wedding presents. He told me that he got 12 mobile phones, 18 iPods (from iPod Nano, iPod Shuffle to iPod 80 GB), 2 laptops, 4 digital cameras; the list went on and on. He was furious and fuming. “What am I going to do with all these?” He asked me. “If I sell all these gifts, I would have enough money to buy a car,” he mused. He was correct.

This is not an isolated problem; nor is it new. My sister got around 2 dozen pressure cookers, 18 milk cookers (yes, the ones with whistles) and a lot of non-stick vessels of different sizes and shapes as wedding presents. Now mobile phones have replaced the pressure cookers, MP3 players have taken the place of milk cookers (the fact both produces music is sheer coincidence), and other standard gifts of the last decade have been replaced with electronic gadgets and gizmos of all sizes and shapes.

The newly-wed couples are now faced with a new problem—gift disposal. They cannot just give it away as it will be offending the person who gave the gift. They cannot sell them as it would look bad. They cannot gift it to somebody else, as it would be considered unethical.

A gift is supposed to bring joy to the recipient. But if it is causing trouble instead, then it is better not to gift. These days, gifting a mobile phone is waste of money, as everybody has one (if not more). Also different people have different preferences about their mobile phone as it is something that they always carry with them.

Gifting a box of Swiss chocolates to a diabetes patient is not only wrong but also cruel. The poor soul has to use all his/her willpower not to consume those. Giving a carton of cigarettes to a person who had just quit smoking or giving a bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue Label to a person trying to stop drinking is pure torture. So it is safe not to give any gifts, if you are not sure about the person’s likes and dislikes.

Many people know that I love books and I read a lot. But they make a mistake of gifting me books. In 90% of the cases, it will be a book that I already have. So money is wasted and I have to get rid of the extra copy.

A few years back, I read an article in Reader’s Digest. It was about how an ingenious couple solved the problem of unwanted gifts. In their wedding card, they had printed the address of a shop and asked people who want to give gifts to get them from that particular shop. The shop owner was given a list of items they preferred. So people who wanted to buy presents for the wedding could go to the specified shop and the shop owner would show the list. One could choose an item that was within one’s budget. Once an item is purchased, it is removed from the list, so there won’t be any duplicates. This is not an ideal solution, as all cannot go to the specified shop, but it was a start.

Now we are seeing some novel initiatives from on-line stores. For example, has a wish list, wedding registry and baby registry where you can add the list of items you need and your friends and relatives can access the registry, select and send the items listed there. Once an item is bought, it is removed from the list, thus eliminating duplicates. With on-line stores, the physical location of the person ordering and receiving the gifts is not an issue. Gifting has become easier, thanks to the Internet and WWW.

So, next time when you are buying a gift for a friend’s marriage, colleague’s farewell party, nephew’s birthday, or brother’s wedding anniversary, think whether gift is appropriate for the occasion, needed by the person, and will useful. Don’t waste your time and money on something that is of no use to the recipient.

In my opinion, the policy of giving and accepting gifts should be stopped. Instead of the material gifts, give your loved one’s something better—something that money can’t buy:

Give the gift of your time,
Give the gift of your love,
Give the gift of your knowledge,
Give the gift of your wisdom,
Give the gift of your support.

And finally…
Give them the gift of privacy by not intruding, disturbing or overstaying. Let them enjoy their time alone. If you are welcome and can liven up the atmosphere or make people happy, then by all means stay. Otherwise, say what you have to say, do what you have to do, and leave as soon as possible.

P.S. Now coming back to my cousin and his gifts, I was hoping that he would ask me whether I wanted one of the laptops. I would have accepted, as I wanted one. But he only offered me the mobile phones and iPods 🙁 So Martin, if you are reading this, you know where to send the laptop to…


  1. anu said,

    May 1, 2007 at 8:09 am

    hmmm.. very true..

  2. anju said,

    May 1, 2007 at 8:35 am

    LOL!! Hope Martin reads this post!

    For my brothers wedding he made it clear in the wedding card that he didnt want any gifts. So we didnt have the trouble of carting gifts home. Well..I may soon start a gift consultancy! At least people think my gifts are useful. For the teens and the younger cousins we give money or a Gift Certificate so that they can purchase what they want. Even for babies we give a gift coupon so that parents can buy what they want or they will be saddled with umpteen Baby Gift Sets. The older people are not used to getting or giving gifts. That saves a lot of trouble. Nice thought provoking post. This is definitely a challenge area nowadays.

    p.s can you enable comment preview so that I can behold my spectacular spelling prowess and correct it? :p

  3. Paresh said,

    May 1, 2007 at 10:50 am

    May you get half a dozen laptops as Birthday Gift & you’ve to distribute 5 of them among your friends (one of them being me). 🙂

  4. Alexis Leon said,

    May 1, 2007 at 11:34 am

    anu: I am glad that you agree.

    anju: That is my hope too 🙂 Gift consultancy, yes by all means. Enabled the comment preview. But it is a very rudimentary one; not as good as the one blogger provides.

    Paresh:Thank you buddy. If I get 6, I will send you one. That’s a promise 😉

  5. Jeffrey said,

    May 1, 2007 at 2:31 pm

    A few years back, I read an article in Reader’s Digest. It was about how an ingenious couple solved the problem of unwanted gifts. In their wedding card, they had printed the address of a shop and asked people who want to give gifts to get them from that particular shop.
    –Alexis , This is a very common practice here in Europe.

  6. chekku said,

    May 1, 2007 at 5:00 pm finding this trouble comin home for a vacation and at loss thinking what to gift for my parents..bro..cousins..etc..this entry should defintely help me out..

    well the best way when you are unaware of what to gift someone is to give gift vouchers..and I have seen here in germany that for any party the hosts have a preferred gift list which will be put up by them..or in a shop which they have tagged..nice way to avoid duplication of gifts..

    remember for our house warming function some 15 yrs back we had atleast 30 clocks was enough to start a shop…

    btw hope martin reads this blog!! ;-P

  7. Alexis Leon said,

    May 1, 2007 at 8:27 pm

    Jeffrey: Thanks Jeffrey. I think it should be made a common practice everywhere.

    chekku: You are the best gift for your parents–your presence and time. Brothers and cousins, you can always ask what they need. I am also hoping, but still no word from Martin 🙁

  8. Nariyal Chutney said,

    May 2, 2007 at 11:32 am

    Hmm , The mobile phone that was offered to you by your cousin . Is it available on a discount 🙂 ?

  9. Jo said,

    May 2, 2007 at 2:46 pm

    Good post Alexis. 🙂 The problem of gift disposal is what everyone faces after the major ‘events’ like marriage, house-warming etc. The most common gift I have seen is dinner set and glass sets. 🙂 Mostly it decorates the kitchen shelves and never be used!

  10. Anita said,

    May 2, 2007 at 3:21 pm

    Reading yourjournal after some time.
    Do you have any other unmarried cousins left ? The gifts are tempting you see 😛

  11. Fobbin said,

    May 2, 2007 at 5:58 pm

    Hello Alexis

    Great Site!!

    I totally agree with your final advice
    the gift of privacy…

  12. thanu said,

    May 2, 2007 at 11:43 pm

    Here there is a concept of registering for gifts.

    Before the wedding you go to the store and pick out things that u wud like to have as gifts.

    When u sent the invitations, u send a card alg with it say the bride and groom are registered at this place.

    So guests can go to the store and ask them so see the bride and groom’s registry by name.

    Then the store prints the list of things the bride and groom requested, the list also denotes if the item has been purchased.

    In spite of all this I still ended up with 3 rice cookers frm the same store.

  13. neermathalam said,

    May 3, 2007 at 8:46 am

    Now I really understand the importance of barter system…

  14. venus said,

    May 3, 2007 at 8:52 pm

    phew, never knew, gifts disposing can be so painful! in western countries, the groom and bride register at couple of stores, mentioning what they would like to have,- wedding registry, and they will give the names of the stores they have registered to the invitees to get anything that fits their budget. I like the tradition, no unnecessary gifts are received then, You get things of your choice this way!

  15. fobbin said,

    May 4, 2007 at 12:05 pm

    gift of privacy…

    That is great piece of advice!

  16. poison said,

    May 4, 2007 at 1:52 pm

    oh boy! rofl!

    whats martins email id? lets improve the chances of him reading this.
    what say guv’nor? 😀

  17. Alexis Leon said,

    May 4, 2007 at 1:56 pm

    NC: LOL…Sorry buddy, I don’t think so…

    Jo: Thanks Jo. Exactly, most of the gifts are not useful and since one cannot throw them away, they are kept in kitchen shelves or cupboards.

    Anita: This was the last one 🙂 Yes, the gifts surely are tempting. One of the (dis)advantages of having rich friends and relatives, I suppose…

    Fobbin : Welcome to my blog. Sorry buddy. Forgot to approve the comment and hence it was in the moderation queue. The gift of privacy is something that is very difficult these days…

    thanu: Nice system you have, yet ended up with three rice cookers! May be they thought you need a few of them to learn the art of cooking 🙂

    neermathalam: Good 🙂

    venus: That is something that we can learn from the West.

  18. kasif said,

    May 4, 2007 at 8:42 pm

    first time browsing this site …well woth it man …gone through most of your posts …would say incredible and touching ….all the best ….

  19. Gourmet Chocolate said,

    June 5, 2007 at 11:14 am

    Yeah I think thats a great gift advice indeed.