What to Do When Someone Asks For a Gift Back?

What shall you do in such an embarrassing situation? We can give you a few hints!

Written by Camilla Moln. Updated on What to Do When Someone Asks For a Gift Back

When we make gifts, we usually do it with the best and the most sincere feelings toward the person whom we are giving the thing to.

And even if, for some reason, you might think that your gift was not good enough or the receiver might not quite enjoy it, you’d rather buy him or her something else for exchange.

However, we can unfortunately see another situation taking place in human relations.

We are talking about giving a gift and then taking it back after a while. It does look embarrassing and humiliating for the receiver, if a giver suddenly asks for the gift back!

And since quite many of us have experienced such situations in their lives, people tend to ask again and again whether it is allowed and whether it is legal to ask for the gifts back.

So in this article we will do our best in order to find the answer. We will explain what you should do in case someone asks you for the gift this person gave you back.

Also, you will learn whether it is alright to ask for the gifts back after you break up with your partner, or if the gift is requested by someone who presented it to you (for Birthday, etc.).

Finally, we will share some extra information with you on the subject of gift giving that is considered acceptable and is approved by the rules of etiquette.

What Shall You Do If a Person Asks For His Or Her Gift Back?

Asking for gifts back feels very humiliating and rude for those who are supposed to give the gifts back! Imagine that your friend or your partner suddenly comes up to you demanding items that he or she gave you as gifts.

What would you feel in this situation?

Many people would describe their inner state of emotions as devastated, broken, despair, painful, etc. And no wonder at all!

You believed you were close with this person, and you accepted those presents and gifts as a symbol of your tight bonds and warm relations!

So what should be done if you happen to find yourself in such a situation? Well, you further actions will depend on several factors:

  1. Under what circumstances does that person ask for a gift back?
  2. What sort of item he or she is asking for?

Let’s see what we mean by those factors in detail. Let’s start with the circumstances. For example, you and your partner are breaking up or you have already ended your relationship.

And suddenly, he or she shows up asking you to give everything he or she gave you back!

In this case, you have a full right to refuse, and not because of mere stubbornness! See, when a person presents you with something that is considered a gift, that means that he or she gives you this item in your full disposal.

From the moment the act of giving took place, you are the legal and the only owner of the item. And nobody can demand it back from you.

However, there is an exception that we must warn you about! Sometimes, mostly in couples, one of the partners can give his or her loved one an item that has special meaning or value.

What Shall You Do If a Person Asks For His Or Her Gift Back (3)
Credits: DmitryPoch, via Crello.com

For example, it can be a piece of family jewelry – a ring, a brooch, an armband, etc. Since it is an item that has a certain value and meaning for the giver, he or she can ask for it back from you if you, for instance, decide to break up.

However, all other gifts, such as jewelry that is not a family relique, clothes, accessories, etc. must not be asked back from you!

And as you could already guess, we have already touched the second factor.

If a giver gave you something that is valuable for him or her and has a certain significant history behind it, like a personal thing, it is acceptable that a person can ask for it back from you.

But will it work like that for all sorts of gifts? For example, can someone ask you to give back a gift that you received from this person for your Birthday? Let’s try to figure it out!

What Shall You Do If a Person Asks For His Or Her Gift Back (2)
Credits: AllaSerebrina, via Crello.com

Can Someone Legally Take Back a Gift After a Breakup?

Breaking up with your partner is always hard and unpleasant.

Besides, it is a very stressful situation! However, it may become even worse if your partner suddenly decides to take back everything that he or she gave you while you were together.

This is why quite many couples face the same issue when breaking up: if someone gives you something, can they legally take it back later when you break up?

Well, asking for gifts back after breaking up is rude and impolite.

Moreover, you literally gave up your ownership of these things when you handed them over to your partner.

Otherwise you can’t call them gifts, you were just temporarily lending these items to them. Which defeats the purpose of a gift.

This is why in the majority of cases, when breaking up, your ex partner has no right to ask you to give back all the gifts that were given to you.

However, if this is an item that has a special value for this person or for his or her family (for example, a piece of family jewelry, etc.), then it can be demanded back from you.

Can Someone Legally Take Back a Gift After a Breakup
Credits: IgorTishenko, via Crello.com

Related: 10 Great Gifts to Buy Yourself: Present Ideas for the Most Important Person of All

Can You Take Back a Gift That You Presented a Person With?

If you received a present from someone and then this very person asks you to give it back, this is rude and you have a full right to refuse!

No matter whether it was a Birthday gift or a wedding gift, or just a small thing that your friend or your close person gave you as a sign of his or her affection – this must never be requested back from you.

The only possible exception – to a certain point, however – can be considered in case the giver wants the gift back knowing that you didn’t like it much (or you did not like it at all), and so he or she wants to change it for another one.

Any other explanations and reasons are unacceptable!

Giving Your Ex A Gift..... Is It A Good Idea?Giving Your Ex A Gift….. Is It A Good Idea?

Related: How Much to Contribute to a Coworker Gift?

A Bit About Gift Etiquette

Giving gifts may seem to be an extremely simple thing! What could be easier?

You buy an item, pack it nicely, tie a ribbon and attach a card with warm greetings if that’s necessary and is suitable for the occasion. And that’s all. You simply give this present to a person whom it was meant for!

However, things are a bit more complicated. Yes, we don’t live in Japan where gift giving etiquette is extremely complicated and twisted!

However, even in the United States, you need to be aware of several widely used gift giving rules.

Like that, you will not mess up when making gifts to others.

A Bit About Gift Etiquette
Credits: IgorVetushko, via Crello.com

Never Make It About You!

The gift is meant for another person, so remember to not turn it into a way of showing off or standing out of the crowd of other givers! The basic rule of gift giving etiquette is this: don’t make it about you.

It’s about the recipient. Don’t spend so much that it makes some sort of statement about your wealth or generosity.

If your finances are tight, consider a DIY gift or an act of service, and by all means be thrifty when possible, but unless you’re in true financial straits, avoid being concerned primarily with costs.

Another trap is to think that just because you like something, everyone else should like it too.

Try not to win them over to a new style of music or somehow magically generate a love of reading with the book or e-reader that you give.

Chances are, your gift will be glanced at and then stuck on a shelf and forgotten.

Never Make It About You
Credits: VitalikRadko, via Crello.com

Pay Attention To the Recipient’s Needs And Wishes

If you are not quite sure what gift will please the person, try to pay more attention to his or her likes, preferences, tastes. Listen to what the person talks about or gets passionate about.

Pay attention to their likes and dislikes, favorite songs and movies and books, whether they like coffee.

If you study a person, you will always find out something about what they love.

Pay Attention To the Recipient’s Needs And Wishes
Credits: AndrewLozovyi, via Crello.com

Consider Consumable Gifts!

When we think of gifts, we mostly think of different things like clothes, jewelry, devices, and all that stuff.

But – especially when you don’t know the person extremely well – it can be tough to find that perfect gift.

One way to give a memorable gift is to give something that can be used up.

Consider Consumable Gifts!
Credits: AntonMatyukha, via Crello.com

Avoid Self-Improvement Gifts

This is another obvious one, but it needs to be said. Here’s a brief but suggestive list of self-improvement gift ideas to avoid:

  • Weight loss books and videos
  • Excercise equipment
  • Diet recipe books
  • Just about any “How to” manual
  • Edu-tainment games or movies for teens
  • Budgeting tools for those who have trouble with finances
  • A daily planner for someone who runs consistently late
  • Books and documentaries that conflict with their views
Avoid Self Improvement Gifts
Credits: AntonMatyukha, via Crello.com

Buy Only What Is Suggested

This should be common courtesy for everyone, but especially when parents request (or specifically do not request) specific gifts for their young ones.

Whatever the request is, and no matter what the reasons are behind the request, good gift giving etiquette is to respect their wishes.

Buy Only What Is Suggested
Credits: Nomadsoul1, via Crello.com

Avoid Getting Too Personal!

This rule depends on the setting and on your relationship with the recipient. It’s important to keep in mind what is and is not appropriate for different occasions.

For instance, you should never bring personal products as a gift for a coworker. Perfume, cologne, and most clothing items are a little too intimate and should be avoided for office gift exchanges.

The same goes for most birthdays and other gift-giving occasions. Steer well clear of gifts with innuendo, lingerie, or any other items that are related to sex or the bedroom.

Avoid Getting Too Personal!
Credits: HayDmitriy, via Crello.com

Never Apologize For Your Gifts!

When you give a gift, don’t apologize for it. Sometimes, people will feel bad for just giving something small.

Well, you don’t need to feel bad.

If your gift, no matter how small, is thoughtful and focused on the recipient, then they will appreciate it and you do not need to be ashamed of the size or cost of the gift.

Never Apologize For Your Gifts
Credits: HayDmitriy, via Crello.com

Wrap It Nicely

Surprised that we included this reminder? However, in gift giving, presentation counts a lot! Wrap it in lovely wrapping paper, or upcycle old newspaper to reduce your carbon footprint.

Use a nice gift bag and tissue paper, and save the ones you receive so that you can re-gift the gift bags.

You can reuse wrapping paper or ribbons if they are still in a good condition, or you can buy new stationery for each occasion – it’s up to you.

But always take the recipient’s wishes into consideration! For example, if you know that the person wants the gifts to be wrapped in all new, do it.

Wrap It Nicely
Credits: IgorVetushko, via Crello.com

Well, as you can see, it appears that giving gifts is a bit more complex than you might have thought before!

However, with our tips and suggestions, we are sure that your gifts will be all nice and joy-giving, and that you will never have to go through the situation when a gift is requested back from you!

Frequently Asked Questions

⭐ Can a parent take back a gift from a child?

No, it’s unacceptable and can hurt your child's emotions.

⭐ Is it ok to ask someone to give back the gift for changing it if the person didn’t like it?

If the recipient doesn’t mind, then it’s fine.

⭐ What if the gift I chose is too costly? Is it ok to give it?

It might be a bit uneasy for the recipient to take it. But If you know that most of the gifts will also be expensive, then it’s fine.

Written by
Camilla is an experienced Consultant with more than 20 years of preparing professional articles for numerous online resources. She has done a tremendous job and has learned a lot during her career. Camilla will advise you on the latest trends and give amazing tips on how to decorate a house.
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Gift giving & receiving (what it says about your relationship)Gift giving & receiving (what it says about your relationship)