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Social Etiquette and Good Manners/Dividing cost of parental gift w/ married sibling & their spouse


There is a gift my father really wants for Christmas this year. However, it is beyond my personal budget. I asked my sister & her husband to go in on with me, so we can split it 3 ways to lower the cost. They refused to split it 3 ways, even though they are both employed. They want to split it 50/50. I find it hard to assume half of the cost on my single income (lower than both of theirs individually) & they get to split the other half.

Am I in the wrong here?

Dear Sandra:
When you split a cost for something with a couple, you treat the couple as one entity - not two.  Therefore, the cost for the gift is split between you and your sister/husband - in half.  It doesn't matter if they have more money than you do.  While people have different incomes, they also have different allocations for their income for which you may not be aware and which are really none of anyone else's business.

If you cannot afford your half of the cost of the gift, then it's a gift you cannot afford to give to your Father.  Choose something else this time and maybe save it for the next gift-giving occasion.  Or... maybe your sister and her husband might give it to him on their own at some point. Don't suggest that they do as that would be bad etiquette.  

You can only give what you can afford to give.  Don't bully others to make up the difference.  Gifts are personal choices and not obligations.

Social Etiquette and Good Manners

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Cynthia W. Lett


Proper manners with friends,family,colleagues,neighbors and everyone else you know.


I have been an etiquette expert teaching and consulting on the subject worldwide since 1983. I started and serve as the Executive Director of the International Society of Protocol & Etiquette Professionals and am considered a leader in the field of etiquette and protocol training and execution. I edited "Etiquette for Dummies" and have recently written "Lett's Talk - Everyday Etiquette Dilemmas and What to Do about Them". My book, "That's So Annoying:An Etiquette Expert on the World's Most Irritating Habits And What To Do About Them" was published in 2009 and is available wherever books are sold. I taught the Business Protocol class to Master's level students at the George Washington University, Washington, DC for seven years I served as Chief of Protocol for MCI Telecommunications for three years.

International Society of Protocol & Etiquette Professionals, ASTD, PCMA, National Speakers Association

I have been quoted over 700 times in the past 5 years worldwide. Publications include Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Washington Times, NY Times, Washington Business Journal, USA Today, Associated Press, London Times, Newsweek Japan edition, Newsweek US edition and many many more.

I am a Certified Etiquette Professional (CEP) and Certified Protocol Professional (CPP) earned by examination through ISPEP. I have a Master's degree in hospitality law and undergrad degrees in Restaurant & Hotel Management and Public Relations/Interpersonal Communications from Purdue University.

Awards and Honors
Who's Who Worldwide,Who's Who of American Women, Distinguished Darden Professor (Purdue University).

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