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A very generous gift

Published: May 17, 2015 | Last Updated: May 17, 2015 By | 12 Replies Continue Reading
A mom-to-be receives a very generous gift and wonders how she can possibly reciprocate.


Hi Irene,

My husband and I are expecting our first child. Very good friends of ours gave us credit for a photographer’s session after the baby is born. I was just sent all the info so I can book it when our bundle of joy arrives.

In her email, my friend called out that we have a $450 credit. When I read that I about fell off my chair. That is a very generous gift, likely more than we would ever spend for the same service.

How would I politely decline their gift without offending them? They are also expecting and I hope they are not expecting anything with that price tag in return, as everyone’s financial situation is different. Any suggestions?

Signed, Mom-to-Be


Hi Mom-to-Be,

Congratulations on your pregnancy and the upcoming birth. It probably would cause ill feelings for you to turn down the gift and, in fact, it may not be returnable. You also don’t know how much your friend actually paid for the $450 certificate.

My suggestion would be to thank your friends for an overly-generous gift and tell them how much you appreciate their kindness.

When people give gifts, they don’t expect the gift to be returned tit-for-tat, especially if your financial circumstances are different than theirs. When their baby is born, give what you can afford and don’t feel that you have to return the gift in-kind. I have previously written, “Buy gifts that align with your own values and budget.”

Hope this helps.

Best, Irene

Some prior posts about gifts and friendship on The Friendship Blog:

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Comments (12)

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  1. lottie says:

    My memory has been been jogged from when my sister married a photographer’s son. At their wedding the in-laws stung me for hundreds of £s. I still don’t know how I could have been hood winked into parting with so much money.Was it the wine??It was a little of you stroke me and we will stroke you. I had something they wanted. So take notice and be warned. I was too busy being happy to take so much notice of their trickery.Anyway that was so last century ,she is divorced now and I have the dam pictures that have been looked at once.
    On dealing with your problem I stand by what I previously said but just be careful about spending too much. Keep to what you feel comfortable with. Best wishes. Lottie

  2. Maddie says:

    Also I expect your friend paid no more than 150 for this certificate or even less. This is a very common sales tactic with photographers who will charge hundreds of dollars for just a few shots and for only another hundred plus the certificate you can buy all the photos! I used to work in a photography office.

  3. bronwyn says:

    Do you know if the value of the gift certificate has to be used all at once? If not, depending on when their baby is due, maybe you could have some pictures of the children taken together, which could then be shared. I think this may have been what Amy was suggesting, but was not sure

  4. Laura says:

    I’ve been on both sides of this situation. As a giver, I would never want someone to try to match me. I gave an extra generous gift because I wanted to. I’ve also been a receiver and I understand the momentary uncomfy feeling, however, the right thing to do is to accept the gift graciously and issue a proper thank you, otherwise you will hurt their feelings. I would call to say thank you and then follow up with a handwritten note by mail.

  5. Lauren says:

    As Irene said, maybe it did not cost them $450. It could well be that they bought a photo package for their baby, and maybe they also bought their wedding photos from that photographer: As a result, the photographer gave them the opportunity to buy a $450 photo pack for a greatly discounted price (as a good customer reward).

    Accept the gift graciously, as you would a compliment. Be glad that you have such thoughtful friends. When their baby arrives, you can maybe look for sales and buy a gift that is high quality, but on sale. That may make you feel better, but don’t think that you have to spend that amount on them. It is not necessary.

    You will have wonderful photographic record of your forthcoming baby. Lucky you. Aslo, you might ask the photographer if it is a time limited gift, and if not you could spread out the photographic portraits over some time.

    Don’t fret about it. Don’t spoil a good friendship.And reciprocate by giving them a gift that is your budget friendly amount, and leave it at that.

    I know that I have given wedding presents, and received ones which were of much lesser value or no gift at all, and it didn’t matter. I believe that their is no point in getting all upset over gifts. Just take it as it comes, with a smile and a gracious thank you. Don’t forget a lovely thank you card.

    It works both ways, it’s not the gift that counts, it’s the thought behind it.
    Best to you, Lauren

  6. Dionne says:

    Ah, gifts can get tricky. I think all of the suggestions given so far would be good ways to handle it.

    I think I’d go with the suggestion of saying it was way more than I could ever use and sharing the credit with the gift giver. It seems to me a very nice way to let her know it’s too much while showing that you want to have a special event with her.

    Personally, I wouldn’t like this. To me, a peer is an equal and money does involve power and often does come with some kind of expectation, which we will only find out (or not) as time goes on. I don’t want to feel indebted to a friend who wants to give me expensive gifts and I don’t want to reciprocate on that level, either. It would make me feel very uncomfortable.

    It reminds me of way back when, if a guy you didn’t know all that well offered you a very expensive gift. It would seem not nice to accept it because either it would be taking advantage of him or he would be trying to take advantage of you!

  7. Maddie says:

    Accept the gift graciously in the lovely spirit it was intended. Hand write a thank you note telling your friend how lovely it will be to document in photographs your baby’s newborn days.

    Your friend does not expect an expensive gift in return.

    Do something personal and heartfelt, such as a beautiful quilt or blanket along with a gift card for dinner for the new parents and your offer to babysit when they want their night out.

  8. lottie says:

    Accept the gift showing how thrilled you are,and then write a thank you letter on some very beautiful stationery inviting the friends to your home for a special peep at your new born. Open a rather tasteful bottle of wine or bottle of champagne especially bought to share with them to celebrate the birth. Do not tell them that it is special bottle. Congratulations on the forth coming birth. You lucky lady.Lottie

  9. Amy F says:

    Keep the gift, but tell her you couldn’t possibly spend it all by yourself, so you and your friend and your babies will have a mom/kid picture day. You insist. Gifts aren’t about tit for tat. My wealthier friends sometimes spend more than me on gifts, I spend more than others. It’s all about the thought and meaning. When her baby comes, get something special and meaningful or make a gorgeous, personalized scrap book, something that will matter.

  10. Sandra says:

    I agree with Jared and Irene. Accept the gift gratefully and gracefully — and by all means, write a heartfelt ‘thank you’ note as soon as possible. Like Jared, I am often irked and baffled when people don’t bother to write a thank-you note for gifts or after being hosted for a dinner or a weekend at a cottage. Writing a note is such a simple thing to do — but it can mean so much to the person who put thought, effort, and money into giving you a gift!

    It is a touchy situation when friends are coming from different financial circumstances. This can get uncomfortable during gift-giving occasions.

    It is important to reciprocate, too, but give what you can afford — from the heart.

  11. Lovey says:

    Irene is right that you don’t know how much they really paid for the gift certificate, so it might well have been an amount that you would not feel uncomfortable accepting.

    I had an experience years ago when I purchased some crystal wine glasses on a gift registry for a wedding. They were on sale for 80% off, so I bought a whole set since the price was now under budget for me. The bride was so upset when she thought I had spent too much. It took me a while to convince her that I had found them at a really good price, and it was quite weird discussing the price of the gift with her.

    I hope you accept the lovely gift and enjoy your photo session. Perhaps you can pick out a special print for your friend as a thank you.

  12. Jared says:

    What an interesting post!

    Let me just state, DO NOT decline the gift. That is rude under any circumstance. Instead, thank your friend. Tell her that it was too generous, but that you are grateful. You might offer to share the gift by spending some of the amount on her as well when her baby is born.

    I also recommend a handwritten thank you note where you specifically mention that it was too much and that you value her friendship. Whatever you say, be sure to emphasis her generosity and not anything negative.

    I have to be honest. In my experience, I’ve learned NOT to be generous with friends because they often don’t show appreciation, which irks me.

    I once vacationed in another state with a married friend who let me stay at his home with his family. The vacation was super cheap as I stayed in his spacious guest room rather than a hotel. To express my appreciation afterwards, I mailed him a pricy gift that was almost the equivalent of one night’s stay in a hotel. Weeks went by and I never heard from him. When we finally spoke again, he nonchalantly mentioned the gift and changed the subject. It made me wish I had saved my money!

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