DEAR MISS MANNERS: At a recent bridal shower, I was dismayed when the bride received a duplicate of the gift that I had selected from her registry. As it turns out, she had intentionally registered for some of the exact same items from multiple stores, hoping that it would result in duplicate gifts.
Her goal is to be able to return the duplicates for store credit, which she can amass and apply to even more expensive items (presumably that she thought she might as well not bother including in her registry). Sadly, this was her mother’s idea!
I had thought that the purpose of a registry was to help gift-givers ensure that their gifts were, in fact, things that the bride wanted and to prevent duplications.
As a gift-giver, I like to think that I am giving something that will be used and perhaps even remembered as having come from me. Now, I’m left feeling that I might as well have given cash. What do you think of this manipulation of the registry system?
GENTLE READER: Oh, a new scheme for bilking friends and relations! No doubt this family is congratulating itself on how subtly it launders the money.
As you say, you might as well hand over the cash, as many such people blatantly demand.
You point out that it is a perverted use of the gift registry, but Miss Manners maintains that the gift registry itself perverts the custom of giving presents, which are supposed to be chosen, and voluntarily given, as a symbol of thoughtfulness and good wishes.
Even without the duplication scheme, this bride would have been unlikely to associate you with your present. You didn’t choose it; she did. Your only choice was which item on her shopping list to buy.