I got an awful gift and I don’t know how to handle it. My Mother-in-law is a nice person and means well, but she gave me a handmade sweater as a birthday gift and she has absolutely no talent for knitting. It is itchy and missing stitches. I was hoping for new earbuds and hinted that I’d love some. But when I got this disgusting sweater I knew my disappointment was all over my face. I told her I liked it to spare her feelings, but now she keeps asking why I’m not wearing it. I can’t wait for Spring to come so I don’t have to make excuses. What should I do?
Alison’s Advice: This is a tough one when it comes to gift advice. I believe in honesty, but when it comes to gifts, it’s the thought that counts. I can imagine if this sweater is as messed up as you say it is, that your knitting-challenged mother-in-law knows (at least on some level) that it isn’t very good. But a handmade gift is a gift of effort and affection. So you did the right thing to accept it and not insult it.
As to not wearing it, you have a few choices. Sweaters are usually only worn in the Winter, so you don’t have to wear the gift for long.
Over time you can simply “lose” the sweater (Oh the pity!). You could also tell her you are allergic to wool or itchy fabrics, or that your grandmother used to make these kinds of items for you and they bring back some bad memories (risky, but effective). After all, you don’t want to encourage more hand-knit goodies.
If you don’t feel like doing the above, just suck it up and wear it on a day when you will see your MIL. Drape it over a chair or make it into a pillow. The idea is just to put it somewhere where she can see it.
Consider that a gift made with love is a lot more powerful than some plastic earbuds you can get in the dollar store. That said, when someone gives you a gift, it shows a lack of consideration to insist that you wear it or use it. You don’t have to wait until Spring (or have an “accident” with it or lose it). Just tell her that you are keeping it for special occasions because it’s just too special to wear to work. Chances are she’ll get the idea.
The point is, it’s your body language and how you thank someone for a gift that tells the truth. Valentine’s Day is almost here. Whether it’s a handmade gift or something else, this advice will serve you well for any gift at any time.