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I suck at accepting gifts

As Girl Ninja and I continue planning our wedding, I’m learning all sorts of crazy things about myself. One of the lessons I have learned thus far: I suck at accepting gifts.

Girl Ninja’s parents have been totally awesome and gave us a very generous wedding budget. I don’t know if Girl Ninja wants me posting up the amount, so I’ll just give ya’ll a ball park…it’s between $10 and $100,000 ;). In all honesty, it is the largest sum of money we have ever been gifted.

I think I might be a terrible human being, because my initial reaction was not necessarily excitement and gratitude. My first thought was “Thank goodness I don’t have to wipe out my life savings for this thing beautiful day.” But then my second reaction was “We can’t accept that, and if we do accept it, we aren’t going to spend it all.”

I’m genetically frugal, it is in my DNA, so I became slightly uncomfortable with the thought of spending so much money on one single day. I found myself trying to convince Girl Ninja to reduce costs, cut corners, and ultimately sacrifice the quality of our wedding, even though everything we want is within our budget.

Girl Ninja said something to me last night that helped put me at ease. She said, “Ninja, You need to understand that this wedding is a party that my parents want to throw for us. It is a gift and we need to be grateful for it.” (No she didn’t actually call me Ninja, but I would be so happy inside if she did).

How many times have we been given a bday or xmas gift, only to respond “I can’t possibly accept this.”? Ya know what? Girl Ninja has a point. Sometimes we need to shut up, and accept generosity. I may be frugal by nature, but I need to be careful not to offend, or at least appear unappreciative of this gift.

Sometimes frugality can be a curse, and this my friends might be one of those situations. Have you found yourself struggling to accept a gift? Why is it so hard to let people do nice things for us? Am I a total douche for having an initial feeling of discomfort instead of excitement?

p.s. the wedding allotment was given to us with no strings attached, except one…the money is for a wedding, and a wedding only. Many of you may be thinking “Cheap out on the wedding and pocket the leftover.” Not an option, and not what Girl Ninja and I would want to do 🙂



  1. There are just two factors I know of that make it difficult to accept gifts. You already negated the first one which is that the gift has no strings attached, however it can always come back to haunt you in an argument with the in-laws. I guess I always think there is some ulterior motive when I receive gifts from family. The second one that I could think of would be that the gift might be a financial hardship on the donor.

  2. wow, StackingCash was pretty insightful for the week hours of the morning (or the last hours of yesterday!). a third factor – you might not feel you're worthy of generosity. Given the overall tone of your blog, I would say that your self-esteem isn't low, so this shouldn't be a deal for you – but others who don't accept gifts well might have this issue.

  3. But also, weddings are for the parents, too – so I definitely would smile, say, Wow, we really appreciate your gift and we'll throw you the party of GirlNinja's dreams!

  4. Mr. has the same issue when accepting monetary gifts. You give me cash as a present and I'll either a) spend it on what you want me to or b) spend it on whatever splurge I want.

    For us, I think it depends on who's giving the present. My parents are well off and enjoy giving stuff to their kids at completely random times. Mr's parents are struggling and while they like giving gifts, it's a burden on them to do so. When we get a gift from my in-laws, it makes us feel guilty because we know that his family could have used the money for something practical.

  5. My parents and in-laws did the same for us when we got married. The interesting part about it is that they said that, if we so chose, we could have pocketed the money. My father-in-law was more in favor of putting the money towards our house down payment or something because he knew that it'd be more long lasting. We did use the money for the wedding, but I found it curious that they money would (if I'm correctly reading between the lines) be pulled back if you had considered this route.

  6. Wow. All I can say is lucky. Accept graciously. Add something to the wedding you know they would appreciate (but don't ask them for input or else they may get too demanding.) As someone who has been saving for a wedding for almost two years, and job loss has wiped out all my savings. You should be very appreciative that nothing can stop you now!

    Since you can't pocket any of it. My advise is to find a reasonable priced planner. Then at least the money is going towards helping you be stressfree,

  7. I agree with finding a Wedding Planner now that you have the cash to do so to help you with planning. Can you use any of this money for a honeymoon?

  8. Since time immemorial, the bride's family has presented to the groom a dowry or trousseau prior to the marriage. So comfort yourself with the thought that GN's family is simply following tradition.

    On the other hand, if the tradition makes you uncomfortable, you can echo the sentiment of the King of France in Shakespeare's King Lear, who accepts Lear's disinherited daughter Cordelia as his wife with the declaration that "she is herself a dowry."

  9. DN this gift is as much for her parents as it is for you. You should be honored that they feel you are worthy of such an investment and their daughter. Smile, plan and enjoy this day that they are giving to you.

  10. Oh Debt Ninja- I think you don’t realize that they intend to invite all of THEIR guests to your wedding 😉 Don’t feel guilty-this is what they live for!
    .-= duddes02´s most recent blog ..Orientation =-.

  11. LOL @ duddes02 — I echo that sentiment! While my in-laws were very generous in giving us a sum of money toward our wedding, I really think part of it was because they knew they wanted to invite many more people from their side than was coming from mine! 😉

    Accepting gifts IS hard. Especially when it's money. It makes you feel an entire flood of emotions. My husband is also terrible at accepting ANY gifts, including those for his birthday (today). It makes him say the most awkward things about the gift, even if he really likes it! Such as "You could have spent that money on something else!" or "That was a lot of money for X." We all have our financial quirks!

  12. I'm with Katrina on this one!! My parents can't affor to pay for our wedding next year, so me and my boyfriend will have to save for it. He's of the belief that we should get married within a year of engagement (I'm with him on this because I haven't the patience for waiting any longer–I'm SO not a girly-girl on weddings!), which means we'll have to stack SO MUCH CASH to pay for it. That's also why he hasn't officially proposed, even though I know where he has the ring–we have to get out of some of this debt in order to even BE engaged. I say, have a heck of a bash, enjoy seeing Girl Ninja at her absolute best, and enjoy life!

  13. Just went through the whole wedding planning bit last year (very successfully in fact), and 2 things pop up to me: 1) Get good people to do the work. We spent a bit more than we had planned to, but when it came time to plan all the details out, they were on top of it all.
    2) Make sure you and Girl Ninja at least find out if there is something specific that they want to see in the wedding. Could be having certain people on the guest list, could be a specific location. I wouldn't say you necessarily NEED to take their direction, but at least asking would seem polite to me.

    Congrats again on being engaged, and especially on receiving this wonderful gift.

  14. It's easy to balk at a gift like that, especially thousands of dollars for a wedding. (I'm not believing the lowball $10 at all. ;-)) My mom has said she'll be paying for D and my wedding if we ever tie the knot, but even with her generosity, I wrack my brain to find ways we could save money. Of course, my ideal wedding would be in the courthouse with a nice, intimate (read:small) dinner or party afterward. It's funny that you have a problem spending other people's money when most people (like my younger bro :-p) find it easy to spend another person's money.

    I think you should still look for the least expensive methods of getting things done, but a lot of people believe a wedding is as much a celebration for the family and the couple. If her parents want to throw a lavish affair, let them, just don't take advantage of their generosity to the fullest extent. 😉

  15. I have always had an issue when my boyfriend/now husband's parents wanted to give money for repairs or something similar. I always felt that it was charity and they were trying to control us or would feel that they could ask for other favors down the road. It's been 6 years and I finally realized that this isn't why they offer. They offer because they have lots of money and we don't have as much and when something comes up unexpectedly what would be a big financial burden for us is a drop in the bucket for them. I also realized that they do it because they love us and not to control us. People have cut most of their connections in families and in communities. They have replaced sharing and helping with money. The entire world is now "I don't need to be nice to you or care about you, I can pay someone to do whatever you do, for me. " Also there is the feeling that if you accept something from someone else you owe them something and are in some way connected to that person. When you take something from someone it does connect you with them and you may not owe them the money back, it may be that you spend time with them or do something else nice for them or you may pass it forward and do something for someone else. In the end you have to accept at some point that it's ok to be connected to people and it's ok to accept the gifts that connect you to them. Now if it's someone you want nothing to do with that's a completely different story.

  16. Weddings (and wedding money) have all kinds of strings. And you know what, that's ok. It's not all about you, it's about your families as well.

  17. I have an issue accepting gifts, too! My parents (esp my Mom!) like to send me the occasional gift of $. But I'm also bad at accepting other gifts, like a beautiful necklace & pair of earrings that my best friends got me for my birthday. I've learned to accept, say THANK YOU and be very, very grateful that I have amazing people in my life who like to spoil me 😀

  18. Omg, peeps are so pessimistic. Maybe it isn't a string attached but the fact that they've been waiting their entire lives to do this for their daughter??!! Ninja, please be grateful for the extremely generous gift because it is a rarity especially in our current economic climate. Let this be a vehicle for you to ROCK OUT on a beautiful day and to tap into your non-frugal side.

  19. Ninja,

    The way I saw it for my wedding was…This money is my wife's parents gift to our marriage as they pass over their daughter to me. After the wedding their daughter becomes solely my responsibility. (They would never abandon her if she was homeless) From now on it is my job to take care of their daughter and pay for her living expenses. Obviously my wife does that to, but it is almost like the passing of the torch. Just my thoughts!

  20. I have this problem a lot too. I love giving gifts, but feel bad receiving them. Not sure why, I just don't want people to go out their way for me perhaps? Newbie had a point that I think is great in that they're probably very excited to make this happen for you guys and it isn't a forced gift at all. Either way, I think you'll enjoy it more than a USB donut…

  21. I appreciate the grace and honesty of you and Bride Ninja's response.

    No, you're not a douche. You, just like every other person, respond to things based on the circumstance and your thoughts which are based on your previous experiences.

  22. I am always confounded and tickled that my husband has no problem accepting generous gifts from people. He has this revolutionary idea that if they are willing to give it, we should be willing to accept it. And he's not about to turn down free stuff!

    Okay, that last part is horribly opportunistic, but I think he's on to something otherwise. Clearly, her parents want to help. It's awesome that they can. My mom helped out financially in a few ways. When I had found a dress and was hesitating ($500 for a dress I'll wear once? Eep!) she said she wanted to give me half the cost. And, as a wedding present, she told us to completely forget about the money we owed her. It had been a loan to help us consolidate our credit card debt, so we're not talking about $200 here…

    It's hard to accept this sort of thing, but try anyway. Clearly, it will make them happy to give you the money. And it will make you happy to have the money. So the only hurdle is in receiving the funds. It's a pretty small blip, when you come right down to it.

    Think about it this way: You could always sign something promising to pay them back in case of a divorce! Ok, not really, but how much harder do you think couples would try if that were the case?

  23. I'm terrible at receiving gifts! Especially from people whom I feel guilty receiving gifts from (e.g. if I wasn't "gifting" back in return). Usually I say something like "no no, keep it, I can't accept this". And end up looking like an ungrateful turd. For some reason, I try a few times to say "no, it's okay" and then finally accept it in defeat. Then the defeat turns into gratefulness- and confusion from the other party trying to read my expression to see if I was actually grateful or not, or if I am just acting.

  24. That's great that her parents have been saving up money for the wedding. =)

    I'm sure it is going to be absolutely beautiful.

  25. […] over at Punch Debt in the Face is feeling a little weird about his fiancee’s family offering up a large amount toward the wedding. Personally, I think […]

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