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I have a collection that happens to match the theme of two recent parties. This collection I’ve been growing and adding to from a young age. While it has some moderate monetary value, its value is mostly sentimental, though it’s not my most precious possession.

For party 1 I volunteered to bring the collection (I was a co-host) for decorative purposes, but in the end we didn’t need it. For Party 2, I was working that day and couldn’t make it. My friend (and co-host from party 1) was organising and this one was family focused - people bringing their kids. My friend asked to borrow my collection for decorative purposes for this Party 2 and I agreed.

I’ve since found out that the kids split and went off with my collection at the party. They thought it was part of the party and meant for them. My friend hadn’t accounted for this happening and said he was too late to stop them when he confessed to me later on.

Meanwhile I’ve had friends kids come up to me to tell me about how great the party was and the stuff they got to take home (i.e. my belongings).

It’s going to be impossible to get my collection back, and I think I have to let it go. I already told my friend that it’s fine and to forget about it.

Moving forward, however, I have some concerns. I think I am more upset that my friend has taken credit for providing the collection at the party. All the other parents are complimenting the time and money he put in. No one has thanked me so clearly they are unaware that I ‘volunteered’ the collection or that it came from me. I host a lot of parties for friends and for my friends families and I invest a lot of money and time myself. I feel like ‘giving’ the kids this reward has made my friend’s party look far superior to mine. It’s not a competition, but it bothers me that he’s taking credit for some of my ‘work/money.’ I would have found it a lot easier to let this go if he’d said “oh and OP contributed that” to everyone after the kids had split it.

Long term I want to keep having parties, I want to keep being generous, and I do not want to be bitter over something that in the grand scheme of things isn’t important. For all my friend knew, this collection could have been deeply meaningful to me and it concerns me, although he owned up that he hadn’t either texted me immediately or tried to make some kind of recompense. How can I manage my future interactions with him bearing in mind that a lot of our mutual friends would get involved if I was to kick up a fuss or refuse to co-host with him again, but also bearing in mind that all my friends now think he’s super generous and that I am less so?

  • Have you already discussed this with your friend? If so, what was his opinion on the matter? – Simon Baars May 12 at 16:36
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    What makes you think it'll be impossible to get your stuff back? I'd think that if you and your friend send a message around stating that the decorations weren't supposed to be taken home, you'd get most of it back. – Erik May 12 at 16:47
  • The only conversation I’ve had with him is him admitting what happened and me going oh, ‘it’s ok, don’t worry about it’ - we were in a public setting and I was headed elsewhere when he caught me to let me know. So we haven’t chatted. – Swirron May 12 at 16:53
  • I think my friend poorly set up the collection as the result of a treasure hunt. So the kids think they’ve won it alongside the sweets they were supposed to just win. I’d find it more embarrassing to ask for it back. Plus I think it doesn’t change the awkward dynamic with my friend and possibly increases the awkwardness with other friends. – Swirron May 12 at 16:55
  • I said I was okay with it because I thought it would create a worse situation if I didn’t. I didn’t want to create a scene, or to be overly sentimental about my belongings. I also thought that If I messed up I’d want to be let off the hook. I’m more concerned about what to do moving forward. I think it was just an oversight but he could have really hurt my feelings, and I’m not confident I can trust him now. Also I think his getting the credit for providing so much for the kids does really irk me, but I’m going to look worse if I go around announcing the collection was mine. – Swirron May 12 at 17:01
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This may not be an answer to your question, but I will address the elephant in the room (I can't decide whether what you describe is a form of embezzlement).

Despite your passive acceptance of the situation, you have to demand compensation from your friend. Either to acquire your collection back, or to procure one of equal value and look.

It is your right to dispose of your collection as you please and when you please, and you should rightly do so at the time and in the manner that convenes to you. In the current situation you were deprived of it without your consent.

Not asking for your collection back, you are trading your friendship for your collection. You are willing to let the collection go in exchange for not trusting this friend. That is a double loss on your side. Asking for a repayment would show that you actually care both about your property, and that you consider your friend mature and responsible enough to honour their obligations towards you.

Some suggestions on how to approach your friend:

The items that you borrowed from me were not meant for distribution and you know that. Get them back, or provide and equal substitute.

If you want to be a bit softer:

I trust that you did not mean to deprive me of my collection just as much as I trust that you will honour returning it to me now.

Note that after your recover your items, you are perfectly free to give them to whoever. And you should clarify that you do so because you want to, and not because "it happened and you had to accept it".


The inspiration for this answer comes from the conversation I had with my back then landlord who asked to borrow my bicycle, and then gave it to his nephew, a student ten years younger than me. The latter, for some reason, believed it to be a present and kept it. After waiting for two weeks to see my vintage single-speed back, I had to knock at my landlord's door and ask him to return it to me. I used the first sentence suggested above. It worked like a charm. (The purpose of this tale is for illustrative purposes only).

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    Hi @ooOOook. It's me again. I've noticed you already had a lot of comments on your answers so far, and all of them ask you to back up your posts with some citations.. and this answer has the same problem. Is this approach something that actually has worked for you in the past? If so, how did it turn out? If it's something that's been recommended to you, or studied and written down, can you link to those sources and include the relevant quotes/excerpts? Thanks! – Tinkeringbell May 13 at 17:56
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I've been in a situation before where I borrowed someone a book, only for him to give it to someone else (he assumed as I already read it I wouldn't need it anymore). I was okay with losing the book, but I did ask my friend to tell the person he gave it to that it used to be mine.

I propose for you to let your friend resolve the issue (he owes you that). You could approach him with something around these lines:

Hey. I would like to have a conversation again about when you borrowed my collection which was unintentionally taken home. I don't mind too much about losing my collection, but I would like the kids to know that the collection came from me. Could you send an email around in which you state that these items were mine, that a "thank you" would be appreciated and that I hope everyone had a good time on the party?

If you really are okay with losing your collection, I wouldn't mention the "unintentional" part with the kids.

By asking for him to ask the kids to thank you, he still seems like a good guy but you seem like the one who was super generous.

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