Can you return it without offending the giver?
Gift Return Etiquette When You Can't Afford to Keep a Gift
by Dollar Stretcher Contributors
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The Etiquette of Exchanging Purchases
Gift Return Etiquette When You Can't Afford to Keep a Gift
I need some frugal etiquette advice. My four-year-old son received a Polaroid camera for Christmas from a relative. Yes, the kind that requires film. When I priced the film, I found it is not cheap. I would like to hear from others on a tight budget if they have ever received a gift they cannot afford to keep. My son loves the camera and wants to keep it, and we certainly do not want to hurt the feelings of the family member who gave it to him. But, it has been hard getting my son to understand he needs to be very careful how he uses his film since I cannot afford to replace the film very often. My choice would be to sell the Polaroid and get my son a cheap digital camera, but I am afraid the gift-giver might take offense. Any suggestions would be much appreciated!
Use Gift as a Life Lesson
I would let my son keep his gift and take pictures when he wants. Tell him the number of pictures in the roll and then explain it is then used up. Compare it to the last cookie in the box when there are no more to eat. Then say that he can put film on his Christmas wish list, so he can take more photos in the future. You can thank the gift giver and say that he will be listing more film on his Christmas wish list for next year. It is his gift, so let him enjoy it while it lasts.
Save for Special Occasions
Can't this be used for special occasions and not every day use? Explain to your son or even show him the cost of the film. Then if he really likes taking lots of pictures of random things that end up being deleted or not printed because of quality, get him a cheap digital camera. If money is an issue, let him borrow your phone when you are out. I have seen digital cameras for under $20.
Have an Honest Talk About Returning the Gift
You could have an honest talk with the gift giver about your concerns and bring up the subject of exchanging it for a digital camera. If you think they might be offended or hurt, you might instead smile and hint that now they always know something they can give the child for birthdays and Christmas, namely film. Also, take the opportunity to use this issue as a financial lesson for your child. If they really enjoy the Polaroid camera, sit down with them and show them the cost of the film and then talk about various ways to fit it into their budget like using it sparingly for special pictures, earning extra money or using allowance, looking for sales and coupons, requesting film as part of their birthday or Christmas gifts, etc.
Etiquette Doesn't Prevent Encouraging A Budding Artist
I think it is very reasonable to replace a Polaroid camera with a digital camera. Most of the fun in photos is sharing them, which is so much easier if you don't have to scan them first. And, it's much cheaper.
I recommend you sell the original gift and replace it. If the gift giver notices, say something like, "Your gift inspired (name of son's) love ofphotography. We wanted him to take as many photos as he liked without the cost of film. That's why he has a digital camera. Your thoughtfulness in choosing a camera gift is so appreciated. He's becoming an artist."
Once a Gift Is Given...
Once a gift is given, it is the recipients. Go ahead and exchange it for a digital.If it ever comes up, just be honest and explain why you had to change it. The child will still be getting a camera, and you shouldn't feel guilty if you are honest about it.
Seek Gift Giver's Advice
I would have a talk with the gift giver and ask for their advice. Explain to them how much your son loves the camera, but at his age, he does not understand the cost of film. Ask her/him what they recommend as a way for your son to be able to continue to use the camera since purchasing film is not an option due to the cost. The giver may make the recommendation to sell it and purchase a digital, saving you the worry.
Etiquette Says Talk to the Giver
Honesty is the best policy in this situation. Tell the gift giver that your son loves the camera and you appreciate the gift. Explain that the film is unfortunately expensive these days, so you are going to sell it and replace with a digital camera with the money. You are acknowledging the fact that it was a good gift (your son loves it) and your son will still see the new camera as an extension of the original gift (especially if you remind him). More than likely, the gift giver did not realize the film was expensive or remember that four year olds are never judicious in their use of anything they enjoy.
Don't Return Gift, Save It for Special Occasion Fun
Your son is very young, so it may be difficult to explain the cost of the film. I would keep the camera and explain that he can use it for special occasions. Then give him film to use on those occasions. A good example is to use the camera at his next birthday party. One local mom took Polaroid pictures and the kids decorated cheap frames for a craft and took their pictures home. In the meantime, let him use the camera on your phone (if you have one) or buy him an inexpensive digital camera when he is a little older.
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Take the Next Step:
- Visit the TDS library for things to do with unwanted gifts.
- Here are 8 things your kids need to know about money.
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