21

When I was a child I was really into Star Wars, as many children are. Now as a grown man, with my own interests and hobbies, a fully developed brain, and two decades of bad Star Wars movies I have grown to really hate Star Wars - personal opinion, your love of Star Wars is still totally valid.

My issue is that I still receive multiple Star Wars themed gifts every year from family. Giant pop-up books, Jedi-robe-themed dressing gowns, bulky toys, the list goes on.

I feel very awkward having to unwrap these giant presents every year and I struggle to articulate at the time that I am at least 20 years older than the target audience.

I also feel bad taking them un-opened to a charity shop, but I don't have room for an expensive, bulky, LEGO Death Star set in my small flat!

I want my ask my family to stop wasting their money on Star Wars themed gifts for me in a way that isn't unkind and doesn't cause offence.

I can be overly blunt at times and any conversation I have tried to play out in my head feels like it would cause offence. Gifting is supposed to be fun, so I don't feel like I can say: "I really don't like Star Wars anymore, so this extremely expensive item is wasted on me" or "This item is too large for my flat" without sounding ungrateful.

I have hobbies and interests, my family knows what these are. I maintain a reading list that is openly published, I share it with them every year as a place to buy me an item I actually want. Every year instead it's Yoda pyjamas.

I am British and come from a fairly normal British family for cultural context.

1
  • 1
    Hello network visitors! Please note that IPS is fairly strict about using comments as intended. Comments are only for clarifying and improving the question. Partial answers or general thoughts about the situation may be deleted without notice. If you'd like to write an answer, make sure to check out our posts on How do I write a good answer? and citation expectations first. Thanks! – Ael Dec 22 '20 at 7:18
19

Gifting is supposed to be fun, so I don't feel like I can say: "I really don't like Star Wars anymore, so this extremely expensive item is wasted on me" or "This item is too large for my flat" without sounding ungrateful.

I agree with this, but with one caveat: Gifting is supposed to be fun, but so is getting a gift! Unlike OldPadawan, I would advise against trying to solve this the moment you get the gift, or shortly after. Also, if you joke about it, you're not likely to be taken as serious, and to me it seems you need your family to take you more seriously.

What has worked for me in the past is being blunt, but doing so before the gifts are bought. I've even included an ultimatum like "I won't use those gifts and will have to gift them to others or put them in the trash barely used."

As an example, a quite acceptable small gift you'll get from family and friends for a birthday is those gift packs with shower gel, deodorant, and body lotion. Except: I have a sensitive skin and over the years, it seems to have gotten worse. Some brands that I could use years ago now trigger rashes and itching. So, what used to be acceptable gifts for me are now no longer working, and I resorted to extending the invitations to my birthday, with a very blunt remark about how perfumed or soapy gifts weren't going to be used.

Close family can help spread this message to more extended family, for example my mother used to handle the 'guest list' with extended family members and helped spread the message to them. She also helped to reinforce the message to the people I already spoke to.

I think you can be more blunt than sharing your reading list. You should explicitly mention that your love for Star Wars is over, and put out an ultimatum: any Star Wars themed gifts this year will end up at the charity shop unopened and unused.

If after that they still do gift you Star Wars themed gifts, then it's really their fault their money is wasted. At that point, I wouldn't feel too bad reminding them that you are disappointed as you specifically asked for 'No Star Wars', no matter how rude that may seem... it was kinda rude of them to ignore your wishes too! Again though, don't joke, you want to be taken seriously! A gentle but serious reminder should work, something like "I'm sorry, I thought I mentioned specifically that I no longer needed Star Wars themed gifts". In my case, this worked and the family member that gifted me soap admitted they forgot, and at the same time offered to take the gift back to the shop and get me something more appropriate. *


* In the Netherlands, it's quite okay to take a gift back to the shop. If someone has a wish list with e.g. household items, it's prudent to keep the receipt and if e.g. the color of the item isn't okay, the host of the party can be honest and I will promise to switch the items for a correct color. This also goes for e.g. items that are damaged or that don't work as expected: be prepared for your party-thrower to ask you if you kept the receipt and could help them with returns. This may be a bit more blunt than in the UK, so perhaps you can't expect the same offer... hence the footnote.

4
  • 4
    You make a very good point, the simplest solution is maybe to abandon my British stiff upper lip briefly and say it directly. – ConfusedOfLondon Dec 21 '20 at 17:16
  • 2
    @ConfusedOfLondon I would say that's exactly right, but then again, I'm Dutch (known to be a blunt people). And I saw your comment under Ael's post, and have added a line about how you could perhaps enlist help from your parents to get the message to extended family as well. If they can reinforce the message, or spread it for you to those family members you don't talk a lot with, that might help too :) – Tinkeringbell Dec 21 '20 at 17:18
  • 1
    Re your footnote: I don't know about the UK, but in the US the normal procedure is that the giver supplies a gift receipt, and the recipient then takes the gift back to the shop on their own. The giver is not (normally) informed of this. Asking for a gift receipt would be considered gauche, but it's the giver's job to remember it in the first place. If a receipt is not supplied, the present may be regifted or donated (which, of course, must be kept a complete secret from the giver, to maintain the charade that the gift is appreciated). – Kevin Dec 22 '20 at 5:25
  • @Kevin: Common sense is that a huge Star Wars fan might not be happy with a 4,000 pieces Lego "Death Star" because it means weeks of work. Common sense is that a huge Star Wars + Lego fan might not be happy at all receiving a second 4,000 pieces Lego "Death Star". In the UK, a gift receipt would be absolutely normal and expected except for gifts that are consumables or that were bought with 100% agreement of giver and recipient. And even in the last case, I'll add a gift receipt just in case I got it wrong (like buying the 2007 Death Star instead of the 2015 Death Star). – gnasher729 Jan 8 at 11:01
8

I have the same issue with my family. With my parents, I don't mind just telling them "I don't like that anymore, please stop buying those" but for my extended family I don't "dare" to be so blunt. So, here is what I do instead:

When my birthday or Christmas is coming (so, one or two months in advance), I just send a general "FYI" kind of note about what I want and don't want as a gift. Something like:

For [event X], please stop buying me vests. I already have far too many of these. I don't want hardcover "classic" books either (since I have an e-reader) but I would still enjoy comics in the traditional format. I could also use some home decorations to put on my wall.

You may notice that I try to explain my reasons for not wanting something. I do believe people will remember my instructions better if I do this. Also, it will help them makes me better gifts.

I also try to not be overly specific with what I want (unless I am specifically asked) because I want people to still have the freedom to choose what they will offer me.

Also, it's important to tell people what you want in addition to what you don't want. Otherwise, people will have a hard time finding you a gift and there are more chances that you will dislike it. (One of my sisters does that, only telling us what she doesn't want and, as a result, it's a nightmare to find her anything that she will enjoy.)

You may find propose phrasing a little "blunt", so here is a softer one that should work as well:

Hello family, [event X] is approaching and if you don't know what you could gift me, here are some ideas (but you are free to gift me something outside this list, it's just to give you some ideas).

For this year, I would really enjoy some home decoration since I just moved in and my flat look rather empty. I would also enjoy some paperback comics but please avoid "regular" books since I have an e-reader now.

As a side note, I don't need vests this year since I already have way too many of them.

In this version, you will notice that I make a point of saying "no obligation" so no one feels pressured. I also say "if you don't have any ideas" (and send that as a group text) which should avoid making you look "self-important".

You would also notice that I start by saying what I want, so the message is more positive overall (but people might feel that the "don't buy X" is less important and thus choose to ignore it).


I maintain a reading list that is openly published, I share it with them every year as a place to buy me an item I actually want.

Maintaining and sharing a reading list is good. However, people do tend to note click links. So in addition to sending the list, you should also copy-paste a short summary of what is in it.

2
  • I appreciate your answer, the problem isn't my parents who know to just buy me scotch and books, but extended family like you are addressing. I guess I would have a concern that if I directly said "don't buy me X buy Y" it might come across as a little self important, and I would personally rather try a more indirect way to address it. – ConfusedOfLondon Dec 21 '20 at 17:00
  • @ConfusedOfLondon I edited my answer to provide a "softer" phrasing that should help with your concernes – Ael Dec 21 '20 at 17:22
4

I've faced the same (with another theme/hobby). In order to not be unkind, I would still warmly greet the gift·er and say:

Thanks a lot, this will help me extand and enrich the collection, as it'll end soon.

[ note the "as it'll end soon" ] If (and they) would ask, I'd go with:

well, now that I've almost eveything single item/goodie on this particular theme and feel like I'm done with it, I'm on [ new theme ] now. (With a wink ->) if next year you still want a themed-gift, I'd really be happy with [ new theme ].

The key is not saying 'no' to something, it's saying 'yes' to something else.

This way, you don't show any rudeness, and just deflect to your new area of interest. I never noticed people being affected by my remark, as you never said last item was a wrong doing, but rather just express new desire for next time.

4
  • I think you have the grain of something that might work there. If I can prompt them to ask about it with something like: "It's funny to get a death star now". When they ask why I can follow up with "I have actually given all my Star Wars items away to charity, because they took up so much space; but I always have room for X" or similar – ConfusedOfLondon Dec 21 '20 at 16:53
  • 1
    The key is not saying 'no' to something, it's saying 'yes' to something else :) so just throw a curve ball to the new area of interest – OldPadawan Dec 21 '20 at 17:04
  • 2
    I'm not sure this would work. Since your main argument is "my collection is complete", that might encourage gift givers to spend a lot of effort (and money) on finding the really obscure Star Wars related items because they assume you'd appreciate it. I think you'd have to be more direct than that. – Llewellyn Dec 22 '20 at 15:30
  • "as it'll end soon" is opaque enough: it doesn't mean "complete", it can also mean "no more interested" (or fed up with it like OP) and you can explain this to the ones involved. If they ask why it'll end, then tell them the truth, but you can change the intensity of what you say according to who you're talking to. – OldPadawan Dec 22 '20 at 16:28
1

There's a middle ground that, if it works for you and for them, could work.

Sometimes, it's not just "oh, Confused likes Star Wars, this will be great for him", but also "heh, what Star Wars silliness can we get Confused this year". But as a game, a 300 quid Lego Millenium Falcon is a bit much, even from "the entire family", especially if that's the only gift.

But a Hot Wheels Millenium Falcon, for the price of an orange drink voucher, attached to a real present, say a 60 quid Scotch, gets the joy of "playing the game" on both sides, without putting you in Tinkeringbell's "no joy of getting the gift".

Our family has this with frogs. It started with a pair of very nice brass frogs that sit on the fireplace mantle. It's gone more wide afield since then. Nobody "wants" to be frogged, but if it doesn't happen at least once a year (especially if it's a particularly ugly, or unusual, or well-travelled, frog), everyone is disappointed. But the trick is that it's not their actual gift, it's just "playing the game" alongside.

This game could be not acceptable to you; you could be "so far done with Star Wars that it's not funny anymore", or you could be "Disney Must Pay" this year. It could be not acceptable to the other family members, who like the extravagance and can't go down to "ignorable" (or the need to find two presents might be too much). But if both sides are game for it, it could be the best family thing in forever.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.