WWYD: The Super Generous, Super Platonic Friend

In this installment of “What Would You Do?,” a gift from a generous friend. Here’s Alissa:

For my birthday last year, a guy friend gave me a gift card for a spa. Reasons he gave me a gift may have included: My grandfather had just passed away. My boyfriend and I had just broken up. I host a lot of parties. It was my birthday. (Ulterior motives go here, I don’t know, he is still with the same girl he was dating at the time.)

I didn’t use it for a year because I am a procrastinator. When I finally called the place to use it, the lady gave me the balance: Four. Hundred. Dollars.

!!!???!!!???!!!???

I have never given or received a present that large in my life (and this dude was a student at the time so I’m really not sure how he could afford that). What the hell do you do with that?! I had already acknowledged the card, not knowing its total value, and got him a lavish (for me gifting my friends, i.e. $60) restaurant gift card.

I used some of it and used the rest to treat my mother and grandmother. Still shaking my head at that one. — Alissa

Holy cow, no friend of mine has ever given me that much amount of money as a gift, either! The easy answer to this is to simply ask the guy why in the world he’d give you such a generous amount on a gift card. I’d call him up and say, “Hey! Remember that gift card you gave me? Did you know that there was $400 on it?!”

He may have a good explanation for that: Perhaps some wealthy person he knows gave it to him and he doesn’t go to spas, so he decided to pass it on to a friend who would appreciate it. Perhaps he won the gift card at work. Or perhaps you just have a very generous friend. Hold on to him—he sounds like a good one.

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7 Comments / Post A Comment

All I can say is, accept it as graciously as you can. For my 21st, my closest friends (all guys) banded together and planned a surprise day of shopping and spa treatments for me. I had never been to a spa before but I assume that would have cost a good few hundred bucks all up given that I got facial and full body treatment. I felt so ridiculously overwhelmed and spoiled, I don’t think I managed to really express my gratitude, but it was just about the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me.

Joella (#2,917)

I went waaaay overboard this year for my Secret Santa present. It was really awkward: my friend opened up present after present from me, and then my present was much, much smaller from my secret santa. My excuse was that there was no price limit!!!

josefinastrummer (#1,850)

@Joella Why did you go overboard? Didn’t you think about how that might make everyone else feel?

madrassoup (#929)

I’m of two minds about this. On one hand, if I gave my friend a generous gift only to have said friend ask WHY I was so generous I would demand they return the gift. I mean, haven’t I already done enough? Why make me justify my choices? I think when real friends are really generous (and I’m using “real” intentionally here to step aside issues of ulterior motives), it should go without saying that it’s because they a.) feel comfortable with the level of generosity they’ve chosen, and b.) really want you to enjoy the gift. I don’t think you get anywhere probing things beyond that. Just enjoy the gift and be as gracious (effusive, even) as possible in thanking them.

On the other hand, having read this site for awhile, I could see being concerned if that generous friend felt like he/she “had” to be generous, whether he/she could afford it or not. But I’d still make it about more general issues – “do you feel like you have to go all out for your friends?” – and bring it up in a different context.

Bottom line: use the gift, enjoy it, thank your friend, and try to be as good a friend as the one you have.

jfruh (#161)

Is the spa relatively new, or was it relatively new a year ago when you got the gift card? It’s possible that they were selling gift cards for less than their face value (or even giving them away, to business partners or something) in order to get people to come in and fall in love with the place. Especially if the card was secretly in a gift basket that came to his company or something, he may not even know how much it was worth? (Since it clearly didn’t have the amount written on the front, or else you would’ve known.)

Lily Rowan (#70)

@jfruh Yeah, I’m willing to bet it was a re-gift in some way. Everyone’s off the hook!

Megano! (#124)

Aw, sweet, innocent Mike Dang, totally ignoring the seedier reasons a guy with a girlfriend might give another girl $400 worth of anything.
My general tack with this thing is to assume that the person is a adult in a position to spend that money, and be as gracious as possible. Although I dunno about $400…my own brother just gave me $250 for Christmas and I was like, “YOU SHOULDN’T HAVE GIVEN ME THAT MUCH.”

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