Say you have a couple of relatives who you are particularly friendly with. You buy each other, and each other's children, gifts on birthdays and Christmas. Have done for years.
You have a birthday within a week of one another. You are all meeting to go out for a meal. You turn up for said meal, with card and gift for birthday person.
They have only a card in return. They say 'we are skint and can't afford gifts this year'.
AIBU to think they should say that to you in advance of the meet up, so you don't spend £40 on their gift when they've decided not to do gifts?
But surely you buy that person a gift because you want to and you know they will appreciate it. Not because you expect to get something on return?
I would have said beforehand that we couldn't afford gifts this year, and I'd be embarrassed to accept a gift under the circumstances you've described.
You don't give to receive. Perhaps some sympathy over their financial problems as opposed to moaning about spending money on them?
If u couldn't afford it y did u spend it.
Well, yeah maybe you buy a gift because they'll want and appreciate it, but also you do it because you know you are meeting up and there will be a gift exchange.
I'd be embarrassed to turn up empty handed, yet still accept gifts?
They might be skint but they are financially a lot better off than us, generally.
How do you know they weren't embarrassed?
YABU. You give gifts for the pleasure of giving not so you get one back in return.
We can't really afford it. But we will, because we love them and care and giving a gift is nice.
I wouldn't have dreamt of just turning up and saying 'no gift, we are skint' when I know they are skint too, but then accept their gift.
well if you can't afford yet spend £40 on a present then more fool you.
So now you know he ins and outs of their finances? Maybe the car swallows up a large sum, the boiler needed replacing the kids had a residential school trip? Do they need to tell you why???
If I spent £40 on a gift that's my stupid fault and whether the other couple are in a financial state to reciprocate is nine of my business
I do have sympathy for their financial issues, but without getting into too much (it's not really relevant), they earn a lot more than us, and their outgoings are lower.
Don't ask me how I know, I know. I'm not explaining how as it's TMI. They are having a rough few months because they just bought a second property to rent out and DSis works freelance and took a month off. So they've had a no pay month.
I understand and sympathise. Sure.
But I think they should have said 'let's not do gifts' rather than allow us (in a much poorer situation - relatively low earners, we don't own any homes and are expecting a baby) to still spend on them?
Perhaps they expected you to have the sense to spend what you could afford??? Rather than £40 you don't have so you can then moan about it.
Sorry - they didn't have a 'no pay month' - Dbil works FT too, they had a low pay month.
But it's not about finances.
Maybe IABU then, and this is a perfectly reasonable way to behave.
DH and I were a bit , is all
I understand and sympathise. Sure.
You obviously don't or you wouldn't be complaining.
Unless someone held a gun to your head and forced you to spend £40 why did you? Sounds like they are much more sensible than you!
I didn't realise that you only gave gifts if you get something in return?
The sense to spend what we could afford?
We could afford £40, because the gift we bought cost £40. It's about what we both normally spend on each other.
It's not about the money. It's about, would you turn up to a shared birthday meal, without buying the other birthday person a gift when that's what you've done for the past 6 years? I wouldn't. I'd say 'let's not do gifts'.
You haven't answered the posters who have pointed out that you shouldn't give to receive.
Presumably, because you do.
Actually, I went out for my birthday a few months ago and it was another guys birthday the day after. He got me a card, I didn't get him one. I felt awful. It's embarrassing.
If it's not about finances then what's it about?
Given that you don't give to receive
Relationships shouldn't be values on how much u spend
And the fact that adults should be able to accept that others can't afford things not posting about someone else's financial situation cos I was stupid enough to over spend.
You are the one who said "we can't really afford it" so stupidly posters assumed that ermm you couldn't really afford it.
You just sound very self centred IMO.
I don't give to receive. But I think it is off to accept gifts on a mutual birthday and not bother getting one for the other birthday person.
They should have text a few days before, let's not do gifts as we all all skint.
YABU - you buy gifts because you WANT to, not because you expect the gesture to be reciprocated.
Okay, wow I have obviously got this total wrong.
Me and DH felt a bit weird about it; we always exchange gifts as they have birthdays a week apart. But okay, I shall accept that this is totally reasonable behaviour.
I'm not self centred, at all, honestly! I just thought this was an odd way to behave but obviously I am wrong.
This is another one...
'No, I'm not.'
It just felt really awkward when we had a gift for her and she didn't have one for him.
It felt really weird. It's never happened before, and it was awkward.
But obviously IABU, I guess it's just because it's not happened to me before. In the past people have always said 'let's not do gifts' but maybe this isn't the norm.
Hmmm. I see what people are saying, you don't give to receive, but in my family/friends group we all tell each other if we're skint. 'We can't afford prezzies at the moment, please don't get us one, as it will embarrass us' is perfectly reasonably. Or we also have the '£5 limit rule' that we bring into play- whatever works really.
You don't give to receive, but how many years realistically would you keep buying someone a present that didn't return it? You would stop ultimately, because it implies that they think totally differently about the relationship you have...
Yeah, I'm a bit confused about Christmas now too.
I don't want to ask, because they might think I am annoyed about the birthday situation. In not annoyed, but we were a bit ; I felt it was odd behaviour (which I believe was U by the responses here)
So, do we do the same at Christmas? To be honest, I could really do with not buying them gifts but I'd be mortified if they bought us one and we didn't have them one. Regardless of the fact they just did this to us, I wouldn't be comfortable doing it, personally.
I think YANBU.
They knew you were bringing a gift, but still came with no gift. Who does that? Why couldn't they have said before hand to not do gifts this year because they were skint and you had just had a baby etc. But no, they still wanted their gift.
But one of you can afford one??!!
If not then don't. To me it's that simple. No one owes me any explanation any more than I owe telling them.
My personal choice would be that I let my friends no, however that's me and I don't expect others to think the same. Ultimately I'd care about seeing my friends spending time with them having a laugh. Whether that is accompanied by gifts or not really doesn't matter.
Wannabe - that's what we though? Struck as a bit grabby.
They happily took their gift and just said 'oh, we aren't doing gifts as we are a bit skint'. And we felt a bit as we'd have loved to save the time and expense, but didn't mind doing it as we love them and it's nice to give gifts, iyswim.
But if they'd said a few days earlier, we'd not have had to do it. They could have stretched to a bottle of wine for £6, was DH's reaction, which I kinda agreed with.
But the consensus is that IABU so I shall assume this is normal behaviour here (I'm not from this country).
Alex I'd text or call them and just say that you're a bit strapped for cash too
at the moment and you think that stopping the exchange of gifts is a good idea, so you won't be doing it this Christmas.
I have a friend who has done this now again and it's fine. It just made me realise we don't need to have a gift exchange, and there have been other years when I've given her something small or silly. It's spending happy times together that matters and being there through the tough times, not things.
It was a joint birthday meal. We do it every year. We always both bring a gift for the birthday people (DH and Dsis).
So basically this is over ONE time??
God. Benefit of the doubt perhaps???
Perhaps they felt turning up with a cheapy gift was more insulting than turning up, being honest, and saying - sorry there's no gift, but we're skint at the mo. You are all grown ups. If you could easily afford what you spent on them then - <shrug>? If not then it's time to downscale the prezzies. Just be straight if you're worried about buying them something for xmas and not getting a present back, again.
We were suddenly
more than usually stoney broke at the beginning of the year due to a house move and £1000 worth of car repair bills all in one month. It was one of our nephew's first birthday that month and we just could not afford to send him anything
We did trawl round the shops in the week before - looking for something very cheap (less than a tenner) for him, but nothing seemed right. Buying something for a one year old, to send in the post, who already has lots of clothes and toys is tricky! In the end DH rang his sister and just said look sis, sorry - but we are soooo skint right now, we'll send DN something asap but it will be late. She said fine - and that's what we did.
I agree it's not about money, at all!!
If they'd brought along a £2 gift, I wouldn't have been upset. But they brought nothing and it felt awkward. DH felt awkward giving the gift in the usual 'gift exchange.
It's fine, I assume it's a cultural thing in the uk.
A cultural thing not to expect presents just to enjoy giving them. Yup your probably right.
Yeah, fluffy we've all had times where we have to do that. But you rang to tell them. That's the issue.
It felt weird meeting up to have dinner and exchange gifts, as we do every year, and they hadn't done a gift this year and hadn't said in advance.
The whole thing would have been fine, if they'd said in advance!
If they had said in advance they couldn't afford to get a present would you still have given one?
You say it's not about the money but I can't see what else it's about. You would rather have a £2 gift than no gift?
What's with all the obsession with gifts.
It's not about expecting presents.
The thing we were about, is that we always give each other gifts. This year they decided not to, fine, but we felt they should have said in advance. We could have still given Dsis hers if we chose. DH wouldn't have minded in the least about not getting a gift. He still doesn't! It's not that.
It was the turning up on the day without knowing that made it awkward.
So now say that you'd rather just meet up as you need to cut back this year?
We could have still given Dsis hers if we chose
And would you have chosen to?
But why do you need to know? What gives you the right to access tht information?
I wouldn't have a problem telling someone but not everyone would be that open.
As an adult I would expect
A) that my family would understand a one off situation
B) that they would spend what they could afford and don't et anything if u can't.
I can understand you being a bit confused as they would have surely known you would bring a gift if that's what you always do.
Gift giving is obviously not such a big deal to them. But I would be a bit upset too as it implies they didn't really think about your feelings - i guess it's that really rather than the lack of actual gift.
sirzy probably not, if they said 'let's not do gifts', I'd have honoured that.
giles what gives me the right to access that information? um, I'm asking them to suggest we all don't do gifts, rather than just one side. I'm not asking for their bank account history... Strange post.
owlina exactly. It's not the lack of gift that's the issue. It's the fact they didn't say in advance 'let's not do gifts'.
So you do only give to get then. How kind of you!
I agree with you OP, it is odd. Shrug it and put it down to experience.
Tell me they have at least gave him a card.
It's not the lack of gift, it's the not letting you know. They're family, hardly 'don't know them enough'.
Perhaps you should ask yourself why they felt unable to tell you???
Because you come across as grabby and all about the gifts. It was not their fault you spent £40 you didn't have. That was very much your own stupidity. You were free at any time to say "sorry we can't this year" or turn up with a card. You had that choice!!
This has been going on every year. They had one blip and all hell breaks loose. About how YOU feel uncomfortable. How YOUR all
How YOU spent £40.
What about them? What about how they may feel.
sirzy, no! that's clearly not what I said.
I said, I wouldn't give the gift, if they said let's not do gifts, I would honour that, as if I didn't I would think that rude, and dismissive of their suggestion. It would also probably make them feel awkward.
I did not say I wouldn't give it because I wasn't getting one back.
I'm confused, how could you not have understood this sentence?
Oh and maybe until last minute they had planned on gift but had a bill come out and couldn't. Would a phone call the night before have made any difference? You would have already bought the gift.
If they had said "we can't afford to do gifts?" Would you have still given one?
Personally if my sister was struggling to the extent she couldn't buy gifts that would make me want to give her a present more!
And it was you who changed the wording of my question to suit what you wanted to say!
Me too sirzy
I'd have brought the gift along anyway as I'd have already bought it and would want them to enjoy it. I eouldvt need anything back but their company.
Wow. Okay giles. Relax!
I don't think they felt unable to tell us. I think they didn't bother. I wondered why.
We aren't grabby about gifts. I have repeated over and over again on this thread that it wasn't about the gift. We aren't stupid - I never suggested we spent money we didn't have. I said, we are pretty skint too, and it would actually have been nice to have saved that money, but we did spend it, because we love her and wanted to buy her a gift. I don't see how that is stupidity? You are being unnecessarily rude, I'm not stupid.
All hell has not broken loose. We had a nice meal and went home. It was a pleasant evening. Hell didn't break loose.
I guess I thought they'd feel uncomfortable, maybe they do, maybe they don't. Going by the reactions here, I'm guessing they don't. I have really never seen this situation before, when people exchange gifts on mutual birthdays, they do just that. If one can't for some reason, I've always been told in advance so everyone can mutually not exchange gifts.
But, I've only been in the uk for a few years so maybe I've not come across this yet. Maybe this is normal, so I am willing to accept AIBU and it is normal.
I'd feel super awkward if someone gave me a gift and I didn't reciprocate, on a mutual birthday. That's all.
Yeah but them we would have known, that's my point.
It just felt a bit odd at the time. I can't imagine just turning up to an event without a gift.
Obviously, it's just me, and this is totally acceptable. I get it.
Bit if you found out the night before why difference would it have made? Seriously?
What point would knowing have then, if not for you to just not bring your gift? Because that's the only reason tht late in , that there would be any point in telling you.
I guess, if they'd said 'let's not do gifts', I would respect that, and not give her her gift.
If they'd said 'we can't afford to do gifts', we'd probably have given her her gift, but said 'we understand you can't and that's fine, but we wanted to give you this anyway' kind of thing.
I don't know, there was just this weird awkwardness when we gave her gift.
Although to be honest, if I were in this situation, I don't think I'd wait until the night before to say we weren't able to do a gift. Who buys a gift the night before?
Digressing, but still.
So basically whether or not they got the gift depended on a turn of phrase used to explain the situation, with no thought from you as to why they might have said it?
Who buys the gift the night before?
Someone who had been busy, ill, broke, sorting out family, helping friends out, etc
Alexa I don't think yabu or 'grabby' at all. If you always exchange gifts at this event then I think it's odd that they turned up with nothing to give knowing you had a gift for them. This Christmas I won't be able to afford to buy presents for family (other than DH and my parents) so when other family members ask what we'd like (as they usually do) I am going to say please don't buy us anything this year as we are expecting our first baby in Feb and can't afford to reciprocate. If these people decide to still buy us a gift that's up to them but at least it won't be awkward when we can't give them anything.
I don't think it would have been unreasonable for them to send a text saying sorry we can't afford to do the usual gifts but we look forward to seeing you and celebrating.
I totally don't get where you are coming from giles, sorry.
I think yeah? Because, one is a suggestion that we mutually don't do gifts, the other is an explanation that they won't be. Leaves the ball in our court. I guess?
I just can't imagine turning up to an event without a gift, especially if I knew I would be receiving one. And if I couldn't, I'd say in advance.
I have concluded that I am unusual though!
I think the op has been given an unreasonable hard time here. Whether or not she would have given a gift or not , if she had known about it in advance, is irrelevant. That is her choice to make.
What is unreasonable, is that dsis was rude. How could someone rock up with no present, knowing that they will get one. Unspeakably rude. Especially given that their financial situation is the same, if not better, than the other person. They should have let the op know in advance. That is what the op is unhappy about. And justifiably so. Then she would have had the choice to break the expensive pattern if she so wished, or she may have decided to give anyway.
YANBU to think dsis was rude and should have let you know.
Yes, I'd have been mortified accepting the gift if I hadn't one to reciprocate with.
I knew I wasn't totally crazy. DH is from the uk and he agreed with me. I thought for a moment there that we were both weird.
I think it is cheeky of them if it was a tradition to give presents. If it was a one off and you decided to buy them a present that's different.
Floggingmolly me too, but then I wouldn't have had the balls to turn up empty handed, accept a gift and then say 'oh we're not doing gifts this year we're skint.'
I'd give up Alexa if I were you. I don't think you come across as greedy or grabby or self centred or whatever else you've been called.
I can't believe that anyone who traditionally does a mutual exchange of gifts, every year, would do what your relations have done and not be literally cringing whilst taking a gift off you. I'd be mortified if I were them.
And I've never been so skint that I could afford to go out for a meal, yet couldn't cough up 5 quid for a token box of chocolates or a packet of socks from Primark or something.
I don't understand some views on here, op you are not being unusual. This was an awkward situation that could easily have been avoided. They were out of order not to tell you in advance. I would send a text now saying that to avoid any embarrassment can we agree what is happening at Christmas time, you are happy with whatever they decide.
As an aside, you said you were pregnant, do they already have kids? Could there be an upcoming issue with them not wanting to buy your baby gifts?
I haven't read every post..
I don't understand the hard time the OP is getting. I think it is off for the other person to say they are not doing gifts at the same time as accepting one off the OP. It's rude and grabby of them.
I also think they could have bought a little present. If they could afford to go out for a meal then I would usually expect them to be able to afford a little something.
Not turning up without a gift gives the impression that they don't care.
I would wait awhile and ask about other birthdays and Christmases, maybe everyone would be happier not getting presents for the adults and just getting presents for the kids.
I don't understand how the gift givers on both sides are supposed to love and adore each other etc but can't be honest about their financial situation at all.
I don't mean they need to go in to great detail but just say with honesty sorry we can't afford to give gifts. I personally don't get all this adult gift giving anyway.
They have 2 DC's, we have one and are expecting another next year.
Thanks everyone who has reaffirmed my belief in decency.
I'd love to be in a financial position that I can just give gifts with no regard to cost or reciprocity.
Most of us enjoy giving, but we all do a little metaphorical dance, to ensure everybody feels comfortable with the situation.
The posters above who said the op is bu are being delusional. It's the thought that counts and I agree you shouldn't give to get back, however everyone should feel comfortable with the situation and if someone changes the metaphorical rules, then that needs to be communicated in advance.
This is amazing.
OP: No, I'm not
MN: Yes, you are
OP: OK, I am
More of MN: no, you're not
OP: <bit fat U turn> I knew I wasn't!
This thread started off weird!
OP YANBU at all! It's a very odd thing to do.
Friendships and relationships are about giving AND taking (or receiving). It's a two way street. Many times you do things out of obligation because of the type of relationship you have. Like it or not, that's how the world works, and it makes friendships work too.
If they couldn't afford it, then they should have let you know in advance, that's what FRIENDS DO! That's what people who are close to you DO!!!
Ah that's it then. We gave presents for years for relatives children. When ours came along, it was mooted that we stopped doing the gifts. Great in that it saved us money, but ironic that we had been spending for years and all of a sudden, they thought it was a good idea to stop when it became expensive for them.
me bitter? Oh no...
Can't believe some replies here! Of course you tell your friend in advance if you don't want to do gifts. To say nothing, and let your friend feel awkward, is bloody rude. OP I'm with you here!
I don't think yanu op. I would have been embarrassed turning up without a gift if it had been the done thing for years. I'd have mentioned weeks in advance that I couldn't afford it and could we either just do token gifts or not at all. But that's me.
With regard to people's finances sometimes people think I'm lying when I say we are skint but we have huge debts that we ran up before we were married and both single that we are desperately trying to pay off. Not even my best friend knows this. I get a bit annoyed when people do a quick calculation of our incomes and then assume we are rich.
That annoys me too Tanfastic, we have debt that only my parents know about. If a friend wants to go somewhere and I say I'm skint they don't believe me as they just see us as 2 full time earners. It's amazing how quickly our money disapears each month.
There are some odd people here - would you really carry on giving gifts to someone who doesn't reciprocate?--for whatever reason--
I would cheerfully cross them off my
ever dwindling list buy a nice card and enjoy the meal.
yanbu. I would feel very uncomfortable too and if it was me I would have said before hand that I was skint or stretched for a nice cheap bottle of wine or some chocolates at least.
I think they should have mentioned it which would give you the choice of whether to spend money on them. If it were me, I would still have bought something small as its nice to do things for people when they are suffering hard times.
A few years ago, the office I was in did a collection for birthdays, but stipulated a minimum amount. My partner had just left me and I was footing all of the bills alone, leaving me £50 a month to live on. My boss said I didn't have to contribute as I was skint - one month had 3 birthdays which was £30 and it was all or nothing with regards to the collections so I wasn't allowed to just put what I could afford in. Birthdays were a big thing with banners, cake, presents etc. It then came to my birthday and not even the already purchased banners went up. I was so upset as I was having an awful time and I kind of expected a bit of fuss - because that is what I would have done if it had been the other way around.
OP, you are sooooooooo NBU. Can't believe some of the ridiculous stick you've been getting!!
I know amongst my friends and family, say for Christmas, we always agree beforehand where to draw the line, ie we buy for each other, unless we have DCs then we buy for the DCs, but now some of the DCs have had DCs....and we are deciding that yes we will buy for everyone again. It saves very awkward moments where I might be handed a present and I hadn't bought one for them. I'd feel embarrassed and awful. It's nothing to do with give to receive, which is clearly not what you do either. I know this is the sort of reverse of your situation, but you are totally right....if you're not doing presents, you notify the other parties to avoid awkward situations, and you notify in advance so one party doesn't spend a lot of time and care looking for a present that they then feel awkward about giving.
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