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Worst Gift Archives
August 2002
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Worst gift:  I invited my in-laws to my college graduation as a courtesy, because their son was flying in from out of state to be there, and it was held somewhat close to where they lived.  I thought that they might want to visit him, but might feel inhibited without an invitation.  Anyway, they didn't come, but they sent me a crumpled $5.00 bill.  No gift at all would have been infinitely better.  I was insulted.  The first time that we visited for Christmas, they gave us an electric blanket.  Not a bad gift in itself, except that they said that they were giving it to us because they didn't intend to heat the basement where our guest room was.  It was so cold that we could see our breath.

        Signed - A Crumpled $5.00 Bill

RESPONSE:  A Crumpled $5.00 Bill
Is there a word that means cheaper than cheap?

RESPONSE:  A Crumpled $5.00 Bill
They might have misunderstood your invitation and not realized how sincerely it was offered.  So many missives go out at graduation (some of which seem like they're just trolling for presents!).  I'm sorry they didn't connect with you.  But you know your whole history with them, and your son's history, better than I do.  Did the electric blanket do the job of keeping you warm in the basement, or were you still freezing under it?

RESPONSE:  A Crumpled $5.00 Bill
I feel for you about the graduation bit.  My DH and I were still dating when I graduated from college.  My MIL was furious about my graduation.  I think it was because none of her children graduated college (there is nothing wrong with that, IMHO), and she can't stand anyone who "achieved more" than them.  She tried to tell my DH that I only invited him to "rub it in his face".  He didn't listen to them, and attended, but of course they refused to come.  I didn't even get a "Congratulations" from them when I saw them 2 days later.  By the way, I wouldn't have stayed in that non-heated guest room  I would've gone to a hotel!  How awful.

RESPONSE:  A Crumpled $5.00 Bill
Ugh.  If the ILs are so worried about spending money on heat to make you feel physically comfortable when visiting them, perhaps you should "do them a favor" and not visit them at all.  My FIL always wants us to visit and stay overnight.  His home is a 2 1/2 hour drive away, so it's easy enough to make excuses not to stay overnight.  We drive back home late on holidays and other family occasions.  FIL and his second wife own a house that some would easily call a mansion.  There's plenty of room, but the guest room beds all stink of stale cat urine, and the linens and drapes are musty from years of not being washed.  They have money, but are very "frugal" about investing in help.  Unfortunately, they also don't seem to keep up the house and grounds on their own.  The stench is so profound that you can smell it in the air.  The hardwood floors are covered with fine dust, and animal hair.  And, the valuable oriental area rugs are frayed and pungent with neglect.  In the kitchen, you can feel the soles of your shoes gently sticking to the unclean floor.  DH and I have avoided overnight visits for years now.  The bottom line is that no matter how much my FIL dreams of "sharing" his ample space with his children and grandchildren for occasional weekend visits, I don't want my DD sleeping in cat pi$$.  Last time DH stayed there overnight (fortunately, DD and I had another family function we'd committed to with MY side of the family), he found BED BUGS in the guest bed!  BUGS!  I thought bed bugs went out with indoor toilets and washing machines!  Anyway, I've come to feel that if FIL wants us to stay for overnight visits, he has to do his part in making it comfortable and welcoming, and I don't feel guilty about driving home because he chooses not to offer decent, clean digs for his own family!  I suggest that you look at your situation similarly.  Good luck.

Worst gift:  My worst gift from my monster-in-law was a frying pan with a note to tell me to quit nagging my husband.  I wish I were allowed to use the pan to cause her bodily harm.

        Signed - Frying Pan

RESPONSE:  Frying Pan
I'd have wanted to use it on DH, too, if he had been complaining to MIL.

RESPONSE:  Frying Pan
Short, but hilarious!  Doesn't it feel good to speak your mind??  Thanks for a laugh.

RESPONSE:  Frying Pan
Giving you a snipe-y note and a weapon at the same time?  What is she, a masochist?

RESPONSE:  Frying Pan
I would give her the frying pan back with a note saying, "Stop nagging me!"

RESPONSE:  Frying Pan
Did you show the note to your DH?  I would make him get an explanation from your MIL as to what the note means.  You may already know, but he needs to hear it from his mom.

RESPONSE:  Frying Pan
Yes, that would be tempting!!

Worst gift:  Mine is a reverse bad gift story.  I gave the bad gift to my MIL.  I was getting tired of getting all of this useless, thoughtless, cheap garbage that I didn't ask for, so I thought that I would get a little revenge.  My MIL never throws anything away or returns anything, so I knew that whatever I would give her would live on forever.  I like to paint and make crafts, so I took this round paper mache box and decided to give it an ugly makeover.  I painted the bottom part of the box a very shiny black, and the top a metallic gold.  It actually looked kind of nice, and that wouldn't do.  So I glued large, gaudy, plastic jewels around the lid and around the bottom of the box.  It was so tacky!  I made a sachet out of lace and some really, really strong cinnamon potpourri (I burned my nose because it was so strong), and put it inside.  When the time came on Christmas to open presents, I just kept giggling knowing that I had made this hideous creation that she would have forever.  I thought about the time that she shoved a check in my face and rudely said, "You never told me what you wanted for your birthday," or the time that she complained, when I asked for a bookstore gift certificate, that she never went to that store.  Then, there was the time that she gave me a $2 wallet that I didn't ask for, or the bracelet that looked like it was made for a child (and it would obviously not fit my wrists).  My memories made any guilt disappear.  Then, she picked up the familiar looking box and I almost couldn't contain myself.  She took out the awful looking box, and while she was examining it I blurted out loudly, "I MADE IT!", so that I wouldn't laugh.  She just kept looking at it and gave one of those, "Oh, nice," responses that you give when you really want to say, "What about this hunk of junk could possibly have made you think of me?"  I laughed about my secret revenge for days.  Years later, I went over there and saw it in her 2nd bedroom (a.k.a. - junk depository).  I knew that she'd never throw it away.  I had a really good laugh about it again.

        Signed - Tired of Junk

RESPONSE:  Tired of Junk
I'd try that with my MIL, except that she'd re-gift it AND tell the recipient that I'd made it.

RESPONSE:  Tired of Junk
That is funny!  I hope things get better between you.  She sounds like she could actually get to like you, but is gift-giving impaired.  Maybe this will shock her into improvement!

RESPONSE:  Tired of Junk
Good for you!!

RESPONSE:  Tired of Junk
Good for you!  Revenge is sweet, isn't it?

RESPONSE:  Tired of Junk
Good girl.

RESPONSE:  Tired of Junk
I think you are putting your energy in the wrong place.  My ILs give me all sorts of cr@p that I just throw away.  But, why bother going out of my way to give them junk, too?  I choose to spend very little effort and energy on them at all, and spend my energy on my positive relationships.  Well, that's what works for me - maybe you should try it and see what you think.

RESPONSE:  Tired of Junk
Did that stop the junk giving to you?  Fantastic.  I think I should do something like that, although MIL buys me what I ask for.  She only does it to cover the idea that she hates me.  Making something is the perfect cover because they cant say, "What the HE!! is this?  And you can say, "I made it just for you!"

RESPONSE:  Tired of Junk
Loved this story of turning the tables!  Just think, any time MIL pi$$es you off, you can have the last laugh by planning another gift-creation for the junk depository!

RESPONSE:  Tired of Junk
Good one!

Worst gift:  For Christmas one year, while every other daughter, aunt, female cousin, etc., received beautiful pieces of jewelry, I received an automatic bubble blower!

        Signed - Bad Gift from MIL

RESPONSE:  Bad Gift from MIL
I hope you told her that you were grateful she was so modern as to give you a sex toy.

RESPONSE:  Bad Gift from MIL
Noooo!  Did you keep a straight face?  Sometimes, when people are that mean, they make themselves look so ridiculous that it's difficult not to laugh.  Can you imagine what everyone else there was thinking at such a crass gesture?  What an idiotic woman.  I'd use it in her house - bubble mixture can stain bed linen you know, but you were *so* enthusiastic, heh, heh, heh!

RESPONSE:  Bad Gift from MIL
I would've said, "Thank you, MIL!  Now I have something to blow into your ear when you need a brain refill!"

RESPONSE:  Bad Gift from MIL
Wear your bubble blower like a pendant to a family gathering (hehehehe).

RESPONSE:  Bad Gift from MIL
So this year, give her a crane-game stuffed animal.

RESPONSE:  Bad Gift from MIL
Bubbles instead of baubles.

RESPONSE:  Bad Gift from MIL
HUH?????  I thought I had heard it all, but your MIL is a loon!!!  What did everyone else think of this?  What did she offer as an explanation??  I don't see how you CAN explain doing that away, but I would like to know how she tried.  I hope SOMEone, if not one of the other women, at least your DH, called MIL on this slap in the face.  I am still sitting here in shock.  Come on over to the boards and tell us more about this one, please.  It is amazing!

Worst gift:  Last year for Christmas we got a box from my MIL with presents for my husband, my 2 year old daughter, my 1 month old son, and me.  First, we pulled out a doll for my daughter.  The hair was knotted, and it was SO dirty!  Of course she wanted it, but I had to clean it first!  For my son, she put in a package of those window shades for our van.  They had been opened, the suction cups were caked with dirt, and one was missing.  Next came a jewelry box for me from a home catalog cosmetics company (that she sells herself).  Inside was a rhinestone bracelet.  It would have been pretty, except almost all the rhinestones were missing!  That was all that was in the box, and my husband was pretty bummed that he didn't get anything from his own mother.  Lo and behold though, a few minutes later, a HUGE spider came wandering out!  I knew that MUST be his present!  UGH!  This year we're going to tell her not to send us anything!

        Signed - The Garage Sale Leftovers

RESPONSE:  The Garage Sale Leftovers
Is MIL (a) poor, (b) stupid, (c) nuts, or (d) all of the above???

RESPONSE:  The Garage Sale Leftovers
My ILs love to go through their attic and pass off their old junk as a "gift".  I've stopped wasting energy on it - the stuff goes straight to the garbage can.

RESPONSE:  The Garage Sale Leftovers
LOL!!!  Too funny.  You didn't tell us that your MIL had a sense of humor.  LOLOL!!!

RESPONSE:  The Garage Sale Leftovers
Yuck and Double Yuck!!!

RESPONSE:  The Garage Sale Leftovers
Okay, yeah, that one really sucks.  How can she give away garbage to her grandkids, and still feel good about herself?!?!  She's just so wrong!!

RESPONSE:  The Garage Sale Leftovers
Oh, my.  Doesn't she know that it's illegal to send live animals through the mail?  Sorry, bad joke.  Next time, if you're unfortunate enough to receive another booby-prize package from her, don't open it in front of the kids.  Don't even tell them that it has arrived.  Check the contents of the box before you decide whether to give her "gifts" to your kids.  And, with presents like that, had I been in your DH's shoes, I'd be happy to be left out.

Worst gift:  Our engagement gift was simply beautiful - it was a two-piece soapstone carving of a mother rhino and her baby.  I fought off terrible feelings of guilt, because, even though I thought the gift was sweet and lovely, part of me felt annoyed at the symbolism - mother and baby.  I felt like it might be a subtle message of some sort, one to let me know that I will never really be a part of the picture, as far as she's concerned.  Well, that feeling has borne out.  MIL and I might actually have been friends if we had not become in-laws.  As her DIL, though, she has done and said many hurtful things to and about me personally, and has done intrusive, perverse things to sabotage our marriage and our parenting.  Any potential for a constructive, truly loving relationship between us has been long since made impossible by too many offenses and breaches of fundamental, basic trust.  I have little doubt that if MIL could get DH to crawl back into her womb, she would.  Fortunately, hubby doesn't seem to have any interest in being there!

        Signed - Not One of the Rhinos

RESPONSE:  Not One of the Rhinos
She is a horrible MIL, without a doubt.  But it's too much to look for something nasty in the gift.

RESPONSE:  Not One of the Rhinos
At some point, pull out that old present with the mom and baby and thank her again for it.  Say, "Whenever DH and I look at it, it always reminds us of our family and our children."

RESPONSE:  Not One of the Rhinos
Honey, I thought something totally different when I first began to read about that gift - that the mother rhino might symbolize you, and the baby, your future child.  That, of course, would be sweeter if you are hoping to have children!  It might not mean what you think.  Maybe they just hoped you'd think it was cute.  But, as you said, she's already done hurtful things, which puts a different spin on any gift she gives you.

Worst gift:  My 22nd birthday was a couple of months ago.  My husband is an only, and very spoiled, child.  MIL finds any excuse to buy him things.  Well, she called me and told me that she was going to get me a printer for my "husband's" computer (that I never use) for "my" birthday.  And, she also brought a small gift bag that contained the corny little things that she keeps in her closet for last minute gifts (she has shown me this several times while giving other people these things), which included an old portable video game, and an old plastic phone that didn't work.  To say the least, I felt a little neglected, once again.

        Signed - A Little Neglected, Once Again

RESPONSE:  A Little Neglected, Once Again
Some people SUCK at gift-giving, so either leave her a wish list, or buy something nice for yourself.  And, she might get better at choosing for you as your married life ripens.

RESPONSE:  A Little Neglected, Once Again
Well the printer was your gift.  Why don't you sell it and buy yourself something with the proceeds?  If your husband wants it, he can buy it from you.

RESPONSE:  A Little Neglected, Once Again
Don't EVER expect the same treatment as DH from MIL, or you'll be sorely disappointed.  If he's a spoiled, only child, the pattern was set a long time ago and isn't apt to change.  I relate to your feelings, as I sometimes feel jealous of the attention/gifts my DH gets from his family.  I lost my brother, father, and mother by the time I was 36, and have only one living relative - a very old aunt.  I always try to remind myself not to be envious of what DH has just because I don't have the family attention that he has.  Instead, I try to be thankful for what I do have - my fond memories, and particularly, the things I've accomplished for myself.  This might help you, too.

RESPONSE:  A Little Neglected, Once Again
The Christmas and birthday gifts I get every year are ones for my DH, too.  My DH loves his computer, and I really don't go on it much.  So, for MY birthday, MIL gave ME a gift certificate to a computer store.  On Christmas, all the gift tags read "To DS and Wife", but they were all personal gifts for him!  Nothing was for the house or for us.  I understand!

RESPONSE:  A Little Neglected, Once Again
I'm sorry to hear that.  One thing that might help you just resolve it in your mind is to stop hoping it will change.  Just write her off as someone who will be thoughtful to you on holidays.  Expect her to give you something shabby, and try not to let it make you feel bad anymore.  I hope you have at least a couple of other people who give you thoughtful gifts.  But, if you don't, get yourself what you wish she'd gotten you!  Be a thoughtful, kind friend to yourself.  These are the tricks I try to use - you'll still feel badly sometimes, but you deserve to be cheered up!

Worst gift:  My fiancé and I are getting married soon.  For the Christmas that was less than a year before our wedding, MIL got me a monogrammed bag with my initials on it.  Those are my maiden name initials!!!

        Signed - Those Are My Maiden Name Initials!!!

RESPONSE:  Those Are My Maiden Name Initials!!!
For some MILs, hope springs eternal, I guess.

RESPONSE:  Those Are My Maiden Name Initials!!!
Passive Aggressive MUCH?

RESPONSE:  Those Are My Maiden Name Initials!!!
Sorry, but your MIL was absolutely correct in how she had the bag monogrammed.  There are worse IL problems in the world than that.

RESPONSE:  Those Are My Maiden Name Initials!!!
Actually, that's the proper traditional etiquette!  Towels, everything monogrammed in a couple's home is traditionally monogrammed in the woman's birth initials.  And, you shouldn't use your married initials before you're married.

RESPONSE:  Those Are My Maiden Name Initials!!!
What an insulting dig!  That's just like my MIL.  Right after taking vows with my husband, my FIL asked me, "So, how does it feel to be MRS.  So-and-So?"  Before I could respond, my MIL said sarcastically, "Well, she's only one of lots of Mrs.  So-and-so's.  It's not like she's the only one."  I just replied that the name was new to me, and I was proud of it.  And, my husband says that I compete with his mother.  HA!  It's the other way around.  In your situation, I just would never use the bag, and find every opportunity to use your new married name around his mother!!!

RESPONSE:  Those Are My Maiden Name Initials!!!
Your MIL may not have been being nasty, just correct.  Traditional etiquette actually dictates that monogrammed gifts given to a bride bear her maiden, not her married initials.  I don't know why that should be the case, I only know - from a childhood of reading Amy Vanderbilt and Emily Post - that it is so.

RESPONSE:  Those Are My Maiden Name Initials!!!
Maybe she thinks you are going to keep your maiden name?  Maybe she had a "brain Burp"?  Maybe she likes those initials?  It could NOT be that she is secretly harboring a hope that the marriage will not happen, is she?

RESPONSE:  Those Are My Maiden Name Initials!!!
As a married women who kept her maiden name (I did not change to my DH's), I don't see a problem with this.  After all, you were not yet married to her son at the time that she gave you the gift, so what is the problem?  I do not think she was intentionally being malicious, unless there are other details that you left out.  I still have monogrammed bags with my maiden initials on them, and whether or not I changed my last name, it would not stop me from using these items.  BTW, I am not a MIL.  My POV may not be popular, but I am just being honest.

RESPONSE:  Those Are My Maiden Name Initials!!!
She may not have known whether or not you were changing your name.  Also, it *was* before the wedding.

RESPONSE:  Those Are My Maiden Name Initials!!!
I don't think that is too bad, actually.  It would be a nice heirloom with your birth name on it, for your children and grandchildren.  Bu,t I hope she does not do it again!

RESPONSE:  Those Are My Maiden Name Initials!!!
Can you get the bag fixed to have your new initials on it?  That would surely dig her when she saw it again!

RESPONSE:  Those Are My Maiden Name Initials!!!
That's not too bad.  You can't go by your married initials until you are married.

Worst gift:  My MIL gave me a farting stuffed dog for Christmas because it reminded her of me.

        Signed - Reminded Her Of Me?

RESPONSE:  Reminded Her Of Me?
OMG, no question, that takes the cake!

RESPONSE:  Reminded Her Of Me?
Thanks for the laugh!  If it were me, she would really be in for it next year - try stores that sell gag gifts.

RESPONSE:  Reminded Her Of Me?
What a horrible thing to give ANYONE, even somebody you like and who would know it's a joke.  Goodwill or re-gift are about your only options.  Or, try an online auction.

RESPONSE:  Reminded Her Of Me?
I would try to find an either burping or farting stuffed pig, and give it to her.  Tell her it reminds you of her.

RESPONSE:  Reminded Her Of Me?
Well, at least now you can eat baked beans and oat bran when she's around, and not worry.

RESPONSE:  Reminded Her Of Me?
Did you look at her and say, "Oh, how nice!"?  What a mean jerk!!  I am sorry she did that.  I hope your DH got on her case.

Worst gift:  For my wedding, my MIL got me a circa 1960's cookbook.  It was the one given to her from her MIL when she married.  She gave me the same instructions that DH's grandmother gave his mom, "You WILL learn how to cook for MY son!"  I would have thought it a joke if she wasn't glaring at me while I opened it.  The funny thing is that DH has always been the cook in our house.  ;-).

        Signed - Gotten Over Her By Now

RESPONSE:  Gotten Over Her By Now
I hope you get the opportunity to enjoy gloating as you perhaps occasionally dine on DH's sumptuous meals in MIL's presence!  Be sure to let her know how LUCKY you are to have married such a wonderful cook!  DH will appreciate the compliment, and it will make Mil's stomach turn - a two-for-one victory for you!

RESPONSE:  Gotten Over Her By Now
One day, when DH and I were engaged, we were talking about what foods we liked and disliked.  I mentioned that, even though I love my desserts, I've never liked pie.  MIL started glaring at me and said, "Well, MY son loves pie.  So if you're going to marry MY son, you'd better learn how to make it and better start liking it."  I feel your pain!

RESPONSE:  Gotten Over Her By Now
Maybe your DH learned to cook because his mother really can't.  And maybe she was glaring at you because of her own failure.

RESPONSE:  Gotten Over Her By Now
Your story was almost kind of sweet, until she came across so threateningly.  My husband is also a great cook.  Live your life and forget your Mil's outdated ideas!

Worst gift:  My MIL is financially very well off.  In the past, when she did get me a present, it was either something broken or very naff from her own house (e.g., manky, 80's style coasters, or a random item that you can get for free if you send the tokens off).  Nowadays, the item that I receive from her on a fairly regular basis is a framed photo of herself.  The first one was fairly small, in a discreet frame (that I placed on the bookcase).  I didn't particularly want it on display, but I didn't have a valid enough excuse for my husband as to why it shouldn't be.  We then received, over the next year, three more framed photos of her.  We then decided that we should pick "the best one", and put only that one on display.  This year, for my birthday, I received a 4 ft. by 3 ft. portrait of my MIL in "country rambling" mode.  I wonder where I will put it.  My first thought is that an oil painting would burn excellently on a bonfire.  This, however, may be politically incorrect.  Maybe I can hang the picture in the lounge, put a poster over the top, and remove the tasteful poster to reveal the horror only when the dreaded beast herself comes to stay.  Talk about "big mother-in-law is watching you".  Why can't she just go away and leave me alone!!?

        Signed - Big Mother-In-Law Watching Me?

RESPONSE:  Big Mother-In-Law Watching Me?
Creepy!  I think that she should reap what she's sown.  Give her some pictures of yourself.  Give a few with DH, but most without him.  If she gets snippy about it, just use a false-sweet voice and say, "But, I just looooved the pictures of you that you've been giving me for years.  I just thought I'd return the gesture!"

RESPONSE:  Big Mother-In-Law Watching Me?
That is sooooooo weird.  I wonder what her motivations are?  Maybe you are right.  Check for cameras in the picture.

RESPONSE:  Big Mother-In-Law Watching Me?
Check for tiny pinhole cameras in the frame and in the eyes of the painting.  And, definitely cover it.  Or put her/it in a closet or back room where there's nothing to watch.

RESPONSE:  Big Mother-In-Law Watching Me?
Stick it to the underside of the toilet seat!!!!!

RESPONSE:  Big Mother-In-Law Watching Me?
If you are getting the pictures of her, then what is she getting her son?  A little picture may be ok.  But one every year, what is she thinking?  And then she gave you a 3 X 4 ft oil painting of herself besides?  This is extremely strange.  That seems like something you would only give to your spouse.

RESPONSE:  Big Mother-In-Law Watching Me?
You are not obligated to hang that thing anywhere in your home.  Once a gift is given, the giver has no say in the matter.  Don't hang it.  Put it in the attic or in your basement.  Thank MIL.  That's all she needs to know.  If she asks about it, tell her that you don't know what to do with it because it's too big.

RESPONSE:  Big Mother-In-Law Watching Me?
What in the world is she?  Is she so in love with herself that she thinks you and everyone else wants to look at her face in each room of the house?  I wouldn't put them up at all, especially the 4ft one.  What a wierdo!

RESPONSE:  Big Mother-In-Law Watching Me?
Surely your husband doesn't expect you to hang that thing?  How tacky - narcissism at its finest.  I think your idea about the poster might be the best, unless you have the nerve to return it to her and tell her that you don't have room for it.

RESPONSE:  Big Mother-In-Law Watching Me?
Oh my!  I wouldn't hang that thing on my wall for the world.  And, if she asks about it when she comes, tell her that she should consider hanging it in her own home.  Tell her that the portrait doesn't fit the design of your interior.

RESPONSE:  Big Mother-In-Law Watching Me?
LOL!  That almost sounds like a "Seinfeld" episode.  That would be truly distressing to be inundated with such pictures.  Yes, you could hang something over it, except when she comes over.  Why don't you ask your DH where it should be hung, and let him deal with it?  And, you definitely have the right to quietly take all the previous pictures down and put them in a closet somewhere - even my grandmother only used my RECENT picture, not ALL my pictures!  Such confidence she has, to assume that you want a huge picture of her!!  Why doesn't she just keep that one herself?

RESPONSE:  Big Mother-In-Law Watching Me?
Oh my, is this woman FULL of herself, or WHAT???  Who in their right mind thinks ANYONE wants a near-life-sized portrait of them in their home??  Does she give gifts like this to others, or are you and DH the "privileged" ones?  I don't know WHAT to tell you as to where to put this monstrosity.  She is SURE to miss it if she visits, and it's not on display.  But there is NO WAY to haul that up and down from the attic every time she stops by without breaking your back!  I keep thinking of "The Portrait of Dorian Gray."  Keep an eye on that picture, and see if it gets uglier with age!  I think it's time to convince DH to have a talk with MIL to let her know that anything framed that's larger than 8" in either direction (unless it's a Picasso or something) is TOO BIG!

Worst gift:  I have been happily married to my husband for 3 1/2 years, but I cannot get along with the ILs.  It seems that since I married DH, my MIL tries to compete with me.  I have to let you know what I have received as a Christmas gift every year since we were married.  We received a roll of garbage bags, a box of generic crackers, generic ear swabs (I only use name brand ), about 5 boxes of gelatin (which isn't Sugar-Free, and I am a diabetic), generic chocolate chip cookies, 3 rolls of paper towels, 1 package of toilet paper, a box of popcorn, and foam plates.  I feel like MIL thinks I cannot take care of my DH.  Also, I thought you would like to know that she buys all the gifts at discounted scratch and dent stores where the products are damaged.  Would any one have a good idea what I can buy MIL as a gift?  I would love to do the same as she does for me, but I don't know how she would handle that.  HELP! 

        Signed - Unusual Christmas Gifts!!

RESPONSE:  Unusual Christmas Gifts!!
Buy her some diet pills!

RESPONSE:  Unusual Christmas Gifts!!
Wrap those gifts right back up and give them to HER on the next gift-giving occasion!  Tell her that you know she'll appreciate the fact that since you already had (or couldn't make use of) the gifts that she gave you, you didn't want them to go to waste!

RESPONSE:  Unusual Christmas Gifts!!
Get her the same thing she gets you, only make it brand name!!

RESPONSE:  Unusual Christmas Gifts!!
Get a gift certificate for a better discount store.  When she exclaims her joy and surprise, tell her that from the gifts you'd received in previous years, it just seemed like she needed a little help.

RESPONSE:  Unusual Christmas Gifts!!
Maybe you should try getting her something that you would like her to get you.  If you return "unusual gifts" for "unusual gifts", she will not get the point.  Her "gifts" do seem quite tacky!

RESPONSE:  Unusual Christmas Gifts!!
First of all, try to not let her get to you.  Just put all that junk into a grocery bag and take it to a charity.  They will be glad to have it.  In fact, you could donate it in your MIL's name.  Let them send a note to her.  Don't lower yourself to her level by giving "her kind of gift".  Give a nice, but not really expensive gift.  And, make sure that it's wrapped nicely.  I can't help but to wonder if maybe there is a money problem, and that's the best that they can do.

RESPONSE:  Unusual Christmas Gifts!!
I know, it is hard to believe that people actually do this, but I know a MIL who unabashedly gets dent 'n' bent gifts for her DILs and everyone else.  Once, for Christmas, she gave a bent-up damaged container of hair dye.  How insulting is that?  "Please change your hair to ANY color other than the one you have, DIL."  But, I digress.  Don't worry about getting her similar gifts - that would be a waste of your energy, and would just ratchet up the hostility.  My advice is:  Work out a deal with your DH where he always picks out the presents for his family, and you pick them out for your family.  And, sign the cards (in both cases) from both of you.  Let him deal with his own family!  I used to get my ILs presents, but I think they like the ones my DH gets better anyway.

RESPONSE:  Unusual Christmas Gifts!!
Get your monster-in-law a simple nightgown from a lingerie store.  But make sure it's about 2 sizes too small.  This will make the gift nice and thoughtful, but at the same time it will be completely useless.  If she says that this is not something she will use, just respond by telling her that everyone sleeps, and you always thought she was classy.  Take the high road, and let her make a fool of herself.  The size can be just a "miscalculation", and she probably won't admit to being a bigger size.  Otherwise, I suggest meat products.

RESPONSE:  Unusual Christmas Gifts!!
I would not reciprocate in kind.  You do not have to spend much money to get a gift for her that looks better than what she gives you.  I would get her, year after year after year, the same gift of a body wash/soap gift set, and I would over-decorate it with ribbons and such.  You can pick them up inexpensively at discount department stores.  You will look better, but your lack of care will be communicated with the repetition of gifts.  Good luck.

Worst gift:  I recently received my (late) birthday gift from FMIL.  She got me "Cooking for Rookies".  What a joke, considering that my father is a chef!!!  The cookbook has recipes on how to make a salad.  She needs that book, not me.  I should wrap it up and give it to her for Christmas.  Also, another worst gift was from my FGMIL, who gave me ONE towel for my shower.  I guess they have not realized that there are two of us.  All I could do was laugh.

        Signed - Sweetpea

RESPONSE:  Sweetpea
You can wrap it up and give it to her.  When she opens it say, "I liked the copy you gave me so much, I thought I would get you a copy too."

RESPONSE:  Sweetpea
I think you should get the fanciest recipe you can from your dad, and fix it for your MIL.  Tell her you got the recipe from your dad, who is not a rookie.  As for the granny, rip the towel in half and place your initials on one and DH's initials on the other.  Then, place both towels in view in your bathroom.  Then, invite both of the instigators over for a feast!!!

RESPONSE:  Sweetpea
She sounds like she doesn't know you at all.  Maybe she just didn't put two and two together ("um, my DIL is from a CHEF'S family, so, she can probably COOK!").  You can quietly give the book to charity (or sell it on the net).

RESPONSE:  Sweetpea
There's a book written for people just starting out on their own called "Where's Mom When I Need Her?"  Maybe you should get that one for your MIL.  Or, get a case of hamburger dinner mix and salads in a bag.  Apparently they haven't invested any time in getting to know you.

RESPONSE:  Sweetpea
You'd think people would be embarrassed to be so rude and petty, wouldn't you?  Your MIL and GMIL didn't even have the sense to realize that they only made themselves look stupid!

RESPONSE:  Sweetpea
She gave you a cook book, and your dad is a chef?  Dang!!  What the he!! is her problem?  She is a very, very bitter woman.  Get a really, really ultra hard and fancy cookbook, and make something wonderful.  Feed it to her, and tell her that you got the recipe from a cookbook.  She'll assume that it came from her dinky little thing.  Then you can say, NO!, and, pull out that fancy, fancy one!!  And say that the other one is too easy!!!!!!!!!!!

RESPONSE:  Sweetpea
You could say (in a joking manner) that you two had a lot of fun taking a shower together, and then wrapping up together in the one towel.  That should "cover" it well, and you should never have that particular problem come up (arise )again.  HA.  And, since she isn't a good cook, but your FIL is, get a cook book for your MIL for the next gift giving occasion.  And, get one that is maybe a little (or a lot) over her head.  She was putting you down with the beginner cook book.  She probably won't ever use it, so try to find a cook book at a discount book store.  If she's thin, get her a dessert cook book.  If she's overweight, you could get a cook book with low fat recipes.  Let her know that you and she share an appreciation of good books.  Just don't take it too far.  To keep from wasting money on a cook book that may not ever be used, observe the FIL to see what he may like.  Good luck.

Worst gift:  I am not complaining about this, because I have no right to after reading everyone else's dollar store horror stories.  But, I AM confused and need someone else's perspective.  I loved my engagement ring - it was a beautiful solitaire with a white gold band.  However, during our engagement, the white gold started to turn yellow.  When we started looking at wedding rings, I felt like every band I tried on detracted from the beauty of the solitaire.  Together with my DH (then fiancé), I decided that rather than add a wedding band, I would have my engagement ring redone in platinum, and add some side diamonds.  I designed it myself, and I'm proud of it.  My husband thinks it looks great.  I'm not a big jewelry wearer, so I like only having the one ring.  My MIL knows all of this.  Recently, she gave me her mother's wedding ring.  I was very honored that she wanted me to have it.  However, when she gave it to me, she said, "There, now you don't have to be running around without a wedding ring."  I ignored the comment and started to put it on my RIGHT hand.  She said, "No dear, it's meant to go with your engagement ring on your LEFT hand."  I went along with it because we were having a nice moment (rare!), but it didn't match my ring at all.  I thought they looked odd together, and it was way too much ring for one hand.  She said, "Oh it's perfect!", and then told me how happy her mom would be that I was wearing her ring.  I can't tell if she gave it to me because she really wanted me to have this nice family heirloom, or if she just really thinks I should be wearing a wedding ring!  I'm also supposed to hide it from my SIL so that her feelings won't be hurt that she wasn't given the ring.  Yikes!  This gift has so many conditions.  Is it truly a gift???

        Signed - Is It Truly A Gift???

RESPONSE:  Is It Truly A Gift???
What a sticky situation!  I suggest that you wear the ring however you want - on your right hand.  If that doesn't suit her, return it to her and tell her that you and DH designed your wedding ring exactly the way you two want it.  Sheesh- nowadays people are wearing so many beautiful styles, why does she care that your ring is unique?

RESPONSE:  Is It Truly A Gift???
It's a very nice gesture on your MIL's part.  She probably has trouble with your "nontraditional" (but perfectly acceptable) idea of one ring instead of the clunky and cumbersome two that many of us live with.  But, since your SIL isn't supposed to know that it's an heirloom, go ahead and wear it where you want to.  It's now your ring, and it's definitely your hand.  It doesn't match your wedding ring, no matter how beautiful the sentiment behind it.

RESPONSE:  Is It Truly A Gift???
It's obvious that you can't wear that ring, so tell MIL that it breaks your heart to keep the ring that SIL so dearly wants.  And, it would be selfish of you to keep two rings, while she had none.  Say that you won't take no for an answer.  Hug her, and then leave.

RESPONSE:  Is It Truly A Gift???
I'm not sure if it was just meant as a thoughtful girt or not.  Only your past experiences with your MIL can tell you that.  I personally don't think she meant anything by it, other than to be kind.  Or, maybe she's overly critical of her son, and was pointing out some perceived error.  It depends on how you look at it.

RESPONSE:  Is It Truly A Gift???
No, it's not a gift, it is a control mechanism.  Obviously, your MIL is bothered by your "unconventional" wedding ring.  I would develop a terrible rash from her ring, and offer to give it to your SIL.  Good luck.

RESPONSE:  Is It Truly A Gift???
I would tell MIL right away that you deeply appreciate her touching gesture, but that you are just not comfortable with the idea of having such a precious, sentimental item that has to be kept as a secret from another family member.  Ask her if she might prefer to give it to SIL.  Better yet, have DH tell her, and let HIM handle it.

RESPONSE:  Is It Truly A Gift???
Give it to SIL.

RESPONSE:  Is It Truly A Gift???
Thank your MIL in a nice way.  Then, tell her that, although you appreciate the thought, you and your husband like the ring the way that you had it designed, and that's the way that you will wear it.  If she wants to take the ring back, that's alright.  Maybe she has someone else who she could give it to.  She's trying to control what you wear in the way of a ring.  As a joke, you could tell her that you will just wear it in your nose.  I am a MIL myself, and I told my DIL that she was going to benefit a lot from the things that I had to deal with from my MIL, not to mention from my SILs.  My DIL and I get along just fine, and we are good friends.  If you let your MIL get away with the ring thing, it could be just the beginning for you.  You need to nip it in the bud now, and let her know that you will not be manipulated by her.  Just be sure that you word it carefully so that it will not cause a rift between the two of you.  It could bring you closer together, once she realizes that you are an adult and capable of making your own decisions.  It's not easy to "let our kids go", but we must do that once they are all grown up (and, especially once they're married).  Good luck to you.

RESPONSE:  Is It Truly A Gift???
Boy, that's a tough one.  First of all, if you and your husband are perfectly happy with your wedding ring, don't let anyone else be involved in changing that.  Your MIL butted in where she didn't belong on that issue.  However, the fact that she gave you her mother's band must have some significant meaning.  She must really think a lot of you to give you something as sentimental as her mother's wedding band.  If I were you, I would have a nice talk with your MIL and explain to her that you really appreciate her giving you the ring, but you are more than happy with your own.  Tell her that, as it stands, your ring holds great sentimental value to you and your husband, and that it will not be changed.  Let her know how much you appreciate the other band by telling her that you will keep it in a safe place, and will take care of it.

RESPONSE:  Is It Truly A Gift???
No, it is not.  A true gift is given unconditionally - kind of like true love, ya' know?  You could give it back, you could keep it and not wear it, or you could wear it on your right hand - whatever you want.  I, too, chose to have only one ring.  DH (my fiance at the time) bought an emerald for my ring because I have green eyes.  He later purchased two diamonds, and I designed the ring that was made especially for me.  DH expected to give me an additional wedding ring, but before our wedding, I gave him my engagement ring back with the instructions, "Please have our wedding date engraved on the inside of the band.  Please don't let me see this ring again until our wedding, when you put it on my finger."  It is now my wedding ring.  I love it, and we have been married 9 years!!!

RESPONSE:  Is It Truly A Gift???
Wear it on your right hand anyway.  Simply explain, if MIL asks, that it fits better on your right hand, and it is more comfortable there.  I think her efforts are genuine, and I am sure you don't want to end up battling like others of us on this site.  I got an ice-scraper for Christmas one year, LOL.  As for your SIL, I would look at that as a "don't ask, don't tell" situation.  If she doesn't ask, I wouldn't tell.  But, if she recognizes it and DOES ask, do NOT lie to her.  Let MIL take the heat for it, and don't lie to SIL (because blood is thicker than water).  So, I am always cautious when it comes to that mother/daughter relationship (MIL/SIL).

RESPONSE:  Is It Truly A Gift???
If it was meant to hint that you should wear a wedding ring, you wouldn't have it.  She would nag and nag and nag about wedding bands until you were blue in the face.  This was meant to be an heirloom, and she probably thought she was doing you a favor.  Perhaps she thinks that the two of you needed to repair your engagement ring, and didn't have the $ to buy a band.  If you don't want to wear it, don't.  Or wear it on your right hand.  If she asks why, say it needs to be sized, and it is too precious to risk losing it.  Then, say that the jeweler didn't recommend sizing it because there is not a lot of metal there, and it might break.

RESPONSE:  Is It Truly A Gift???
One idea:  When you get your ring back, you could wear it and put the other ring in your jewelry box (or in a safe place).  You can talk privately to your MIL, casually, about how you are trying to be sensitive to her wishes that your SIL's feelings not get hurt, but you value her ring greatly - you treasure it - and are keeping it safe.  It sounds like her wish that you hide it from your SIL will give you the perfect excuse to wear your original ring, instead of that one.

RESPONSE:  Is It Truly A Gift???
Unless MIL disliked her own mother, I can't think of a higher honor a DIL can receive than to be given a piece of jewelry by her MIL that belonged to HER mother.  However, she shouldn't put conditions on the gift, like telling you which finger to wear it on.  If I were you, I'd just make a point to wear it when you see her (yes, on the left hand).  Any other time, wear it only how, when, and if you want to.  As for SIL, if MIL didn't tell you it was a secret, I wouldn't worry too much about it.  If SIL becomes jealous, that's between her and MIL, and is not your problem.  If necessary, you can gently tell her so.

RESPONSE:  Is It Truly A Gift???
Since it has that "string" attached, and it doesn't go with your ring, I would wear it on a chain around your neck when around MIL, and not at all other times.  If she surprises you and you don't have it with you, you could say that you value the antique too much to wear it while doing (whatever).  If she asks where it is, and you have it inside your shirt on a chain, I would tell her that she said not to let SIL see it, and so you felt that was better accomplished by hiding it that way.  However, if it had stones set in it, I think what I would do is wait till MIL doesn't see the ring, and asks why.  Then tell her that you think one of the stones is loose, and you didn't want to chance wearing it and losing the stone.  She will probably want the ring back to have it checked, and you may never see it again.

Worst gift:  I had my first child a couple of days before my own birthday.  Now, my MIL never really acknowledges my birthday (maybe once or twice over the last decade with a nice card or small gift).  But, this time she called and made a big deal about coming over to give me a present.  She likes to put on a "show" for other people, and my parents were staying with us to help me out with the new baby.  So she arrived with a huge box containing an XXL black sweat-suit and a children's character slippers.  She said that she thought I needed some "comfortable clothes".  I couldn't make eye contact with my mom when I opened it because I thought we'd both burst into hysterical laughter.  Then, there was my first Christmas with DH's family where she said that she wanted to buy me something "really nice and personal".  So, she consulted a personal shopper.  Yeah, now that's putting some real thought into a personal gift - get some overpaid stranger to pick something out!  The gift was a hideous blue velour pants outfit (I could never figure out if it was pajamas or evening wear).  And, she left the tags on so that I could see that she spent $$$.  But, my worst gift ever had to be the MATERNITY UNDERWEAR for Christmas.  She apparently thought this was a great gift, because she did the same thing for my BIL's wife when she was pregnant!

        Signed - Stylishly Outfitted DIL

RESPONSE:  Stylishly Outfitted DIL
Maybe the personal shopper could have helped her pick out a CLUE.

RESPONSE:  Stylishly Outfitted DIL
Do you feel that she wishes you well and wants to have a good relationship with you, and is trying (even though she's clearly not very good at it) to please you?  Or do you feel it is not really this way?  It's hard for me to tell from your post.  Some good people are astonishingly lousy at gift-giving.  But, you know whether she means well towards you or not?  You know the WHOLE story!

Worst gift:  My MIL is well known for her gift giving.  Last Christmas, I received a banana hanger.  Great, that was just what I needed.  Then, when I said, "I wonder if they have ones for grapes?"  She said, "Oh, I will see if I can find one."  Last week, for my birthday, I got a skirt and a jumper.  Fine, until my husband told me that they used to belong to his dead grandmothers!!!!  For our wedding present, we received a lovely set of Australian animals place-mats.  I can't wait till this Christmas, hmmm.

        Signed - Banana Hanger

RESPONSE:  Banana Hanger
Is she really mean, or just really bad at gift giving?  My now dead GM was the smartest person in my life, and loved me dearly.  But, for some reason, a woman with a Ph.D. was an awful gift giver.  There was no ill will in her gifts, only love.  But, I had to return, give away, or throw away a lot of her gifts.

RESPONSE:  Banana Hanger
I guess you have other reasons for condemning your MIL's "gifts", but I think a banana hanger is quite a nice present, actually.  It would be a 100% improvement on anything my MIL has given me over the years.  To each their own.

Worst gift:  Don't think this will "top" the best stories here, but the following is my experience:  My BIL and his (now ex-) wife married one month after we did.  For Christmas, MIL gave us both manicure sets - I believe my former SIL did actually ask for one.  I was shocked to hear MIL repeatedly talk about what a coincidence it was that we both asked for the same thing!!!  I never asked for anything.  I could not care less about manicure sets.  As an artist and an art teacher, I clip my nails regularly, because I work with my hands so much.

        Signed - Some Manicure Tools Do, However, Make Interesting Art Tools

Worst gift:  Let's see, one year I received a framed greeting card in a picture frame that was broken.  I took it apart to find that it was addressed to "X from Y" - neither name was that of a family member or a friend.  The matting was two tone-faded, and just over all nasty.  Another gift was a bunch of clearance clothes that were multiple sizes too big - like 4x sizes (obviously, she's hopeful that I will grow into them).  For my birthday this past year I received two identical bathroom trash cans - still with the $.99 sticker on them.  She has, by no means, struggled to get by as an RN.  But, I can expect to receive something broken, "on clearance", or "used" for any occasion.  I can't even donate half the items to the charity.  It's just embarrassing.  I'm surprised that she doesn't give me the clothes from ER patients who had to have their clothes cut off them, "Ya know, you could sew these and they'd be good as new."

        Signed - 500 Miles Isn't Nearly Enough Distance

RESPONSE:  500 Miles Isn't Nearly Enough Distance
I have a GREAT idea - why not rewrap these useless pieces of junk and give them back to MIL on the next gift-giving occasion!

Worst gift:  When my husband and I celebrated our 15th anniversary, my in-laws sent my husband a card that read:  "Happy Anniversary, Son".  On the inside they wrote, "If you divorce your wife, we will put you and the children back in our will."  We are celebrating our 35th anniversary this year, and my husband and our children (their only grandchildren) are not in their will.  They had my husband, an attorney, write their will, so there could be no doubt about it.

        Signed - I Can Match You Story for Story

RESPONSE:  I Can Match You Story for Story
Disgusting!  You don't need their money - you have their SON!

RESPONSE:  I Can Match You Story for Story
What a bunch of @ssholes!

RESPONSE:  I Can Match You Story for Story
Oh - My - God.  I have never heard of such unnatural hatred.  After 15 years they sent that card?  Unbelievable.  There is a special place in he!! for them.

RESPONSE:  I Can Match You Story for Story
I would smirk at them.  Thirty five years of happiness is worth way more than $$$.

RESPONSE:  I Can Match You Story for Story
The next time she mentions that your DH and children are not in the will, say, "We don't care about your money."

Worst gift:  My MIL lavishly presented me with a cheapie dress one year while she was on her yearly "4 week stay" with us.  As she handed it to me, she said that if the large didn't fit, then she could give it to my SIL.  P.S.  My SIL probably weighs about 50 pounds more than I do.

        Signed - Cheapie Dress

RESPONSE:  Cheapie Dress
I would've said, "It doesn't fit.  It's too big, so SIL should fit into it perfectly!"

RESPONSE:  Cheapie Dress
If you don't like your SIL, encourage her to do it! (evil grin).

RESPONSE:  Cheapie Dress
Maybe she meant that the dress might be too big for you.  And, if so, it might fit your SIL.  I gather that your MIL does plenty of other obnoxious things.  This would be mildly annoying.  But if that's the only "transgression", you're doing ok with your MIL, I'd say!

Worst gift:  My MIL has never sent me a present for my birthday or Christmas, and I have been married for 5 years.  This is my husband's second marriage.  After his divorce, his mother told him that she didn't want to get to know any of his future wives, and she meant it.  She still sends cards and gifts to him, but she acts as though I don't even exist.  I wonder what will happen when we start having children.

        Signed - The Wife Who Wasn't There

RESPONSE:  The Wife Who Wasn't There
Consider yourself lucky!  Sometimes being ignored by a MIL is better than all the negative attention, intrusion, insults and other interference many other wives get from their MILs!  It's true, though, that when there are kids in the picture, it could take a turn for the better OR worse.  I would tell DH that he should be prepared to make sure MIL treats you with respect in front of any children you have together.

RESPONSE:  The Wife Who Wasn't There
I think you should thank your lucky stars that she's not bugging the he!! out of you.  She sounds like a real whacko, but it could always be worse if she was poking her nose into your lives.

RESPONSE:  The Wife Who Wasn't There
I understand that your MIL is trying to stay away, but why?  What does your DH think?  If your MIL is a decent person, then your DH should do everything possible to have his mom accept you in her life.  Maybe she needs counseling to deal with the loss of her first DIL.

RESPONSE:  The Wife Who Wasn't There
You cannot help this situation, but your husband can.  He can refuse gifts, cards, invitations, etc., until you are included.  Some people would not go where their dogs are not welcome, and you are his wife!

RESPONSE:  The Wife Who Wasn't There
It seems that she is taking out her disappointment with the other wife on you.  I have heard people talk like that after their son's longtime girlfriend broke up with him.  And, afterwards, when he found a new girlfriend, they said, "Well, he's been fooled before, so we will see about this one."  Like, the new girlfriend could help what the old girlfriend had done?  The problem does not really lie with you, since you haven't met her (or was she present at the wedding?).  And, thus, you could not have done anything to upset her.  She is just a sad person, and she is the big loser in this game.

RESPONSE:  The Wife Who Wasn't There
At least it's not personally directed towards you.  You know she'd treat anyone else in your place the same way.  It's not ideal, I know.  But, if you wish you could see a bright side, just think - at least she isn't in your hair, giving you all kinds of aggressive, unwanted advice.  At least she's not mean to you!  At least she's not always watching you like a hawk, and judging you.  If only you knew all the outrageous, anger-inspiring behavior you're lucking out on missing!  Just peacefully write her off, if you can.  And, treat her with quiet kindness when you see her (if you ever do).  But don't put pressure on her to acknowledge you.  Enjoy the peace!!!!  What happens when you have kids is a total wild card.  But, even if she totally ignores them, that might be better than what some of the DILs on this web site have to put up with from their MILs when they have kids!  Best wishes.

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