How To Kill The Joy Of Giving

I think of myself as a kind and generous person, always willing to help out, but there are some instances that make me want to keep my time and money to myself.

Gift Giving

  • Receiving no thanks or appreciation when I’ve spent a lot of time trying to find the perfect gift for someone.
  • Going to a bridal shower with a gift and then expected to bring my chequebook to purchase items from a home party demonstration.
  • Bringing a snack or treat to work or an event only to be criticized really throws cold water on my desire to do something nice next time.
  • Cooking an extra special meal that takes several hours (for family, friends or some function) and someone says “It would have been better if you had made —.”  I personally think ANY meal I don’t have to cook myself is a great meal.
  • Giving someone a gift and they say, “Oh, you shouldn’t have” makes me think I’ve done something wrong.
  • I dislike being expected to shell out money at work for a Christmas gift for the boss, purchase items being hawked by staff member’s kids and chipping in for a wedding or retirement gift for someone I don’t even know.  If I want to contribute, I will.


  • Automatic gratuities of up to 20% to service people who do no more than what is expected of them.  People should be allowed to tip what they feel is deserved (an appreciation of great service) so when it is made mandatory it totally loses the spirit of “gratuity.”  When was the last time you received exceptional service?
  • Tipping in general.  Pay employees more money per hour – what they are worth – and completely stop the giving of tips.  There are many employees who serve customers or clients during their workday who don’t expect or receive tips.


  • Giving money to a charity and finding out the volunteers had an “after fundraiser” party with expensive gifts as door prizes.
  • People in need expecting brand new, expensive items rather than being satisfied with gently used items.
  • A pet peeve of mine is when I donate to an organization and they start calling me or mailing requests for more money.  If I wanted to give more, I would have done so when I sent the cheque the first time.  I wish they would stop calling me month after month and wasting postage asking for more.
  • I like to give to a cause, but NOT to the pushy person on the phone or at the door who interrupts my dinner.
  • Why is it that once I give to a charity ALL the fire/police/animal/disabled, etc associations somehow get my address and phone number?  I don’t like having my name passed from one charity to another.

I think that losing the joy of giving has come about because we as a culture have lost the joy of receiving.  We don’t know how to gratefully and gracefully receive a gift especially if it’s not what we wanted or expected and sometimes we expect too much.

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  1. Witty Artist on May 19, 2011 at 4:04 am

    I couldn’t agree more with you about people nowadays not knowing to receive gifts. If we expect too much and we might receive quite a nice and/or useful gift, we become grumpy and cannot even appreciate the symbolic meaning of giving – that of thinking about the other.

    • Boomer on May 19, 2011 at 4:10 pm

      @Witty Artist: Even if a gift is not really to your taste, you should at least acknowledge it and thank the giver. Most of the time they won’t even know if you exchange it.

  2. Elizabeth on May 19, 2011 at 5:36 am

    I hate giving to someone who has a sense of entitlement. I was in a wedding years ago where the bride constantly expected people to buy her gifts and contribute money to the wedding. It really harmed her relationships with friends and family, but none of us wanted to speak up because we didn’t want to ruin anything about her wedding.

    I wish I could say this was limited to weddings but I’ve seen this attitude elsewhere. Sometimes people feel that after years of giving gifts for all their friends’ and family’s big occasions, that it’s “their turn” and people should reciprocate. Something about that attitude rubs me the wrong way.

    • Boomer on May 19, 2011 at 4:17 pm

      @Elizabeth: While gifts have come to be expected for certain occasions you still have the feeling of hope that the receiver will really like your gift.

      I don’t like the comparison game. I spent this much on your gift so I expect at least the same amount to be spent on mine.

  3. Mike Holman on May 19, 2011 at 6:51 am

    Couldn’t agree more.

    Another thing is compliments. If someone gives you a compliment, the appropriate thing to say is “thanks”.

    • Boomer on May 19, 2011 at 4:20 pm

      Hi Mike: I really get irritated when I compliment a haircut, clothing item, etc. or even some action and I get a big explanation on how something is wrong with it. That makes me sound like an idiot for mentioning it.

  4. Keith on May 19, 2011 at 9:29 am

    If you are “giving” to receive some type of recognition or praise then you are not giving you are buying praise.

    Give from your heart without expectations and this list becomes irrelevant.

  5. Ian Brennan on May 19, 2011 at 9:32 am

    Personally, I think the way in which we react to these situations says more about us, than it does about others. Grace is also a gift. Just my opinion.

  6. Support Spy on May 19, 2011 at 10:58 am

    Sense of entitlement is a big issue today.

    A friend of my sister had recently been married and became pregnant shortly after. Her husband was not working and she was just out of school at 22 years old. My sister asked if we had anything that we could give her.

    Since our youngest is 7 months and we won’t be having anymore, my wife and I came up with a list of things that he had outgrown, rumble chair, swing, clothes etc. (all in impeccable condition).

    My sister reported back that her friend doesn’t want anything used. All I can say is good luck.

    • Boomer on May 19, 2011 at 4:27 pm

      @Support spy: I completely agree. I welcome any item that I can use and is in decent shape. I don’t expect someone to be grateful for some worn out piece of junk! I’ve also found this attitude with charity groups that assist people with setting up a household – they only want brand new.

  7. Doable Finance on May 19, 2011 at 8:25 pm

    When you go out of the way and look so hard to buy a gift for someone and receive no thanks, it creates a problem and the problem is the same guy buys gifts for the same person next year.

  8. Bill Birnbaum on May 20, 2011 at 9:56 am

    This is a very interesting topic which stimulates some thought. Quite often, I’ll hold the door open for someone entering a public building, like a restaurant or the post office. I do so to be helpful, not for the “thank you” which I might or might not receive. In fact, most folks will say “thank you.” But when someone doesn’t offer thanks, I feel badly toward them. I have to remind myself that I didn’t do the favor for the thanks, but rather to be helpful. See my conflict? Bill

  9. youngandthrifty on May 21, 2011 at 11:59 am

    I often have difficulty accepting compliments, thats something I need to work on myself.

    I do hate it when I spend so much time cooking and prepping and I get a “this could be better if…”. It really kills the joy out of cooking for others for me (namely my boyfriend!).

    Great list, so true.

  10. Tim on June 16, 2011 at 2:08 pm

    Isn’t giving something done out of the fullness of one’s heart with no expectation of reciprocity?
    The motivation to give would then seem to be internally driven, and the reward for such would be in the giving.
    So expecting something in return for a gift changes it from a gift to an exchange of items of equivalent value.
    One’s expectation of reciprocity to a “gift” could be said to be self inflicted punishment.

  11. Boomer on June 16, 2011 at 3:46 pm

    Gift giving should be done without expectation of receiving something in return. The joy in giving is in doing something nice or thoughtful for someone else and seeing their surprise or happiness. If expecting a simple thank you is wanting to be rewarded – then I guess I’m guilty.

  12. Every Man for Himself on June 19, 2011 at 9:09 am

    Another pieve is when you give money in good faith to a charity one year and the next year you are asked again, BUT the contribution boxes you are to check are all for larger amounts than you gave the last year! This is the work of some sick professional fundraiser who is always trying to raise the bar. My response, if any, is to give LESS than the previousl year, and explaining that the tactic they used in their mailing is why I am giving less, if at all.

    • Boomer on June 21, 2011 at 2:25 pm

      @Every Man For Himself: I agree. I know that expenses increase from year to year but sometimes I wonder if the money is going towards a big fat pay increase for the director.

  13. Cat on November 3, 2011 at 6:58 am

    Great article. What I hate is the lack of acknowledgement, especially for wedding gifts. I wrote cards for each shower people were kind enough to throw for me, and for each wedding gift. It burns me when people can’t spend a few minutes just to say thanks.

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