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The 'Gift Box'
Thank You Gift Insulted My Friends
My husband and I stayed overnight with a new friend and she cooked and really made our stay enjoyable. When we left, we left a thank you card with $20 as a thank you gift. She was insulted. Was I wrong?
Sometime Good Intentions Aren't Enough
Yes, despite your good intentions, you were wrong to leave a tip for your friend as if you had been staying in a hotel. What you are supposed to do is send a thank-you note, bring a host gift, and, most importantly, reciprocate by inviting your friend to visit you.
Always Give a Thank You Gift
I would be insulted too! When I stay overnight, I like to take the family to dinner, and I always take a hostess gift to give them on greeting. A gift basket is nice, something baked or made, and always a nice thank you note is sent. Cash? Never!
Write Another Thank You Note
While nobody could fault the writer's good intentions, giving a friend cold, hard cash after a visit really doesn't feel quite right. In lieu of cash, she might have picked up some groceries or taken her friend out to eat a meal during her stay. Or she could have left her a thank-you card and a small but nice gift her friend would enjoy like flowers, chocolates, a bath goodies basket, a pound of gourmet coffee or some flavored teas, a tin of homemade cookies, etc.
If you really feel the need to give something similar to cash, even a gift card to her favorite store would be a little less impersonal than money.
I would drop your friend a friendly note, thanking her again for her hospitality and stating that you meant no ill will by the cash as a thank you gift, but just wanted to show your gratitude.
Their Reaction Was Offensive
I don't think you were wrong. Sure, maybe what they did to make your stay pleasant was worth a lot more, but there's nothing wrong with giving a little with your Thank You. I would not have expected anything in return. Therefore, to me, the money would have been a nice little surprise. And even if I did think it was inadequate or inappropriate, I would be gracious enough to accept your gift without issue. I think it was very tacky of them to try to embarrass you by mentioning it. What good did that do? From their reaction, it sounds like they may have been upset because they put out a lot more effort than they wanted to put out, but that was their own fault. I think you should show them how someone with class behaves. Calmly apologize and let them know you didn't mean to insult them. Then find ways to graciously decline any future invitations they offer you. They'll get the message.
A Gift Card Would Have Been More Appropriate
If you wrote in the thank you note that the $20 was to cover the electric and water expense while you visited, then it may have taken the sting out of the cash. Otherwise, she could misinterpret the $20 as what you valued her care for you. It would greatly depend on if you were invited completely by your friend or if you mentioned you'd be in her area and she said, "Oh, come stay with us."
I usually leave a gift card instead of cash for some place special to them. Somehow it doesn't seem quite as crass to the receiver and it also says that I know the person well enough to know where they'd like. I put on the note, "Treat yourself to this special place and hope you feel as treasured as we did when you treated us here!"
Debbie in Bells, TX
Hostess Was Wrong
I think it was a lovely gesture that the couple made to the hostess. In this case, it was the hostess who was definitely wrong to voice that she was insulted. The $20 was a thank you gift and one should never comment badly about any gift that is given, ever! The hostess should have said, "Thank you."
Friendship Is About Sharing
A cash tip is appropriate for a hotel maid but not a new friend. ZM's heart was in the right place; the thank you card would have been enough, but if she wanted to leave a thank you gift, a candle or fancy soap would be more personal. If the idea was truly to help with the expense of house guests, there are ways to do that without being insulting, such as:
- arrive with dessert, beverages, or homemade jams, etc.
- bring something from your local farmer's market like fresh fruit, local olive oil or honey, etc.
- take the hostess out for one meal
- offer to make breakfast or lunch while she relaxes and visits
- make plans to reciprocate by hosting the friend at your house next time
Adding a personal touch makes the friendship about sharing, not a cash transaction.
JC in Hanford
Take the Next Step:
- For more ideas on how to be a thoughtful and responsible house guest, please visit The Dollar Stretcher Library .
- For more on giving a thank you gift that won't insult your friends, please visit The Dollar Stretcher Community.
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