DEAR MISS MANNERS: My sister, who calls herself “the best gift-giver,” is notoriously difficult to shop for. Also, she chastises others for being “the worst gift-givers.” She says that if people just listen, they can find the perfect gift.
For a milestone birthday, she bought herself a designer purse, a matching wallet and some brand-name apparel. My mom and I bought her diamond studs, which quite blew our budget, but we wanted to recognize her milestone birthday.
When we presented them to her, she scoffed and said that no one ever listens to her, that she already has diamond studs, and to just return them. We were less hurt than just perplexed at her dissatisfaction. What do we do for next year?
GENTLE READER: Whatever your sister’s talents as a gift-giver, her skills as a gift-receiver are appalling. In addition to being rude, she is short-sighted: Gift-givers who are insulted, rather than thanked, soon move on.
Miss Manners realizes this is seldom an option with someone as close as a sister, but for next year, you might ask what (within reason) she would like. If she objects to the direct inquiry, responses can range from the frank (“Dear, we haven’t had much luck choosing things for you, and we want to get something you will enjoy”) to the patronizing (“Dear, we haven’t had much luck choosing things for you, and we want to get something you will enjoy”).