The One-way Gift

parks and rec balloonsGood morning, Billfolders! Let’s start off this Tuesday with a question: have you ever given or received a “one-way gift?”

If you read yesterday’s Dear Prudence, you probably saw the question about the one-way gift:

My good friend and I both have toddlers. Hers was conceived through IVF, a financial hardship since they do not have money to spare. I am in the position to be able to give my friend $150 to buy something for her child (she has mentioned wanting to get a play kitchen, for example) without missing the money. Should I go ahead and do it (I’d like to), or would such a gift make her feel bad since she cannot reciprocate?

Prudie says go for it, and “tell her this was one of those impulse purchases that gave you great pleasure to make.”

What about the rest of us? I have definitely been the recipient of a few big one-way gifts from various then-boyfriends (some of which I still use, like my Kindle), as well as a few more modest “let me treat you to this” gifts where I wasn’t expected to reciprocate. These have all been surprise gifts, which I feel is an unstated element of the one-way gift; sure, people can give various presents on birthdays or holidays, but these are random “just because” presents.

I have also given people surprise gifts where I don’t expect reciprocity—I mean, I don’t expect reciprocity on any gift I give, let’s get that out of the way first—but these “gifts” have nearly always been of the “food and beverage” variety. I have also contributed to various GoFundMe campaigns, which isn’t the same thing as giving someone a play kitchen but is a one-way gift that helps financially.

But I’m not sure I’ve ever given a friend a “just because” gift that wasn’t, say, “hey, I’m buying you drinks tonight.” Is that something adults do that I’ve completely blanked on?

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