Money Moral Dilemma: Should I buy my family gifts when I go on holiday as they do for me?

MSE_Kelvin MSE Staff Posts: 308
Sixth Anniversary 10 Posts Photogenic Name Dropper
MSE Staff
This week's MoneySaver who wants advice asks...

When my parents or my sister go on holiday, they usually bring me back a small gift, though I always tell them they shouldn't, as it's often something I don't need. I'm going away soon for the first time in a while and I'm wondering if I should buy them gifts - I feel that whatever I buy will be a waste of money, but I know I'll feel guilty if I don't bring something back like they always do for me.

Unfortunately the MSE team can't answer Money Moral Dilemma questions as contributions are emailed in or suggested in person. They are intended to be a point of debate and discussed at face value. Remember that behind each dilemma there is a real person so, as the forum rules say, please keep it kind and keep it clean.

B) If you haven’t already, join the forum to reply.
:/ Got a Money Moral Dilemma of your own? Suggest an MMD.


  • Brie
    Brie Forumite Posts: 7,446
    Part of the Furniture 1,000 Posts Photogenic Name Dropper
    Send them a postcard instead and say "this is instead of a present you don't need and I couldn't carry back for you". 
    "Never retract, never explain, never apologise; get things done and let them howl.”

    2023 £1 a day  £553.26/365
  • JosephK
    JosephK Forumite Posts: 214
    Seventh Anniversary 100 Posts Name Dropper
    We always bought my mum a small gift. When we were clearing her house after she died we found most of them unused in a cupboard. I think the oldest went back over thirty years. 

    Now, it's just spoil the granddaughter unless we see something special for a birthday/Christmas present for others
  • k_k_k_katy
    k_k_k_katy Forumite Posts: 35
    Third Anniversary 10 Posts
    It's our culture to reciprocate, and good manners.  Your family give that time, effort, thought and expense for you, why would you risk hurting them by not doing it for them?  Why would you not want to do that kind thing?  It doesn't have to be expensive, perhaps something edible appropriate to the place?  Like sending postcards, it shows thought, and it's the thought that counts.
  • Saetana
    Saetana Forumite Posts: 1,525
    Part of the Furniture 1,000 Posts Name Dropper Photogenic
    Of course you should - its only small gifts after all.  Stay away from tacky souvenirs and go for something to eat or drink that you think they will like, more appreciated than cheap tat.
    2020 Wins:
  • pffrizelle
    pffrizelle Forumite Posts: 5
    Seventh Anniversary First Post Combo Breaker
    If it matters to them (which it appears to) then I would suggest getting a small token gift for them each.
    Think of it not as wasting money on an unused item but as investment in the relationships you have with them.
  • bikaga
    bikaga Forumite Posts: 132
    Part of the Furniture 100 Posts
    I get not wanting to receive stuff you don't need, so it's a non-straightforward answer from me.

    As for "is it going to be a waste of money" - only if you get them stuff they don't need or want, and the knowledge that you care about them and the happiness that comes from that isn't worth a few quid to you. I can't answer that for you, but the best way round that is to get them something that they'll like, unless you can't afford it.

    For some people, giving gifts is their love language, so it might be nice of you to indulge them, but likewise they might know that yours is different and not expect it.

    Long story short - if it bothers you just talk to them, it's not a major thing and "would you like a little souvenir?" might make them happier than you think. And you could ask that if they bring you something it should be local chocolate / beer / baked goods / whatever floats your boat that you can actually use, consume and not have clogging up your shelves, it might even make life easier for them not racking their brains about what you might enjoy.
  • tracyc17225
    tracyc17225 Forumite Posts: 5
    First Anniversary First Post
    They say it is the thought that counts,  how would you feel if they came back from holiday without being you a little something? 
  • Mum1957
    Mum1957 Forumite Posts: 5
    First Post
    I would bring them something edible, maybe specific from that region.  People don't need souveniers of your holiday.
Meet your Ambassadors


  • All Categories
  • 338.9K Banking & Borrowing
  • 248.6K Reduce Debt & Boost Income
  • 447.6K Spending & Discounts
  • 230.8K Work, Benefits & Business
  • 600.9K Mortgages, Homes & Bills
  • 171.1K Life & Family
  • 244K Travel & Transport
  • 1.5M Hobbies & Leisure
  • 15.9K Discuss & Feedback
  • 15.1K Coronavirus Support Boards