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to not get my friend a birthday present?

(30 Posts)
eavesdropping Fri 01-Mar-13 10:32:51

Going out this evening for a friend's birthday meal (not a milestone birthday) and was planning on just giving her a card, but am starting to wonder whether that is BU.

There are about 8 of us in this friendship group and have known them around 5 years. I have never given them birthday presents - just cards. It doesn't seem necessary to me to give presents to adult friends unless it's a special birthday.

But, I've noticed over the years that they do all exchange presents, albeit small ones. It makes me feel a little awkward on nights out when I've just got them a card...but have carried on. This particular friend got me a box of chocolates for my last birthday, so it does make me feel a bit shit not to reciprocate.

Problem is I'm in a totally different financial situation to them. They're all in decently paid jobs and are still child-free - whereas I'm a SAHM, DH only has a modest wage and we always live hand to mouth. This month is already going to be expensive for me what with this night out, DH's and DD's birthdays. Buying even a small present for her would be a stretch.

So, AIBU not to? Even though she got me something and I know they'll all have things for her? I also worry that if I do get her something, will the others wonder why I've never done so for them?

Poppet48 Fri 01-Mar-13 10:36:32

YANBU, You have always given cards so why change that? You're going out for her birthday to celebrate it with her which as a friend should be enough and it shouldn't be about the presents you get.

You do what you can afford to and if they are good friends they will understand and because you have been doing it for so long and no one has said anything I don't understand why you feel awkward about it now?

BegoniaBampot Fri 01-Mar-13 10:38:20

Card is enough, I never expect presents from friends though I sometimes give them or take them for lunch etc.

YouTheCat Fri 01-Mar-13 10:38:27

If you have always just given a card then keep doing that. They must like you and it must not be an issue for them or they wouldn't keep inviting you out. smile

hermioneweasley Fri 01-Mar-13 10:40:29

I have a very long standing friend who I always buy a birthday present for but she doesn't for me. Our finances are completely different and I would be furious with her if she wasted money in a present for me. It makes me happy that I can give a dear and hardworking friend something she woukdn't treat herself to (aware that sounds patronising). She gives us lots of lovely things - cooks great meals, always happy to babysit, is only ever lovely and kind about wild DS....

Point is, I very much doubt she's friends with you for the sake of an annual small present!

YellowDinosaur Fri 01-Mar-13 10:47:31

I agree totally with hermione.

But if you really want to give her something how about making her some fudge / a cheap bunch of flowers like daffodils or a 'voucher' for a night babysitting?

XiCi Fri 01-Mar-13 10:49:36

I think if everyone in that frienship grup exchanges presents except you and also gives you a present for your birthday then yes YABU. I would feel awful not reciprocating in those circumstances. If she gave you chocs why not get her the same. They are unbelievably cheap for a box in places like Home and Bargain. I picked up a big box of Thorntons for 2.99 - or even a small bunch of flowers or some wine. Doesn't have to cost much. I would feel very mean just going with a cardm

emsyj Fri 01-Mar-13 10:56:20

I would be gutted if a friend left herself short of cash to buy me something and felt a sense of obligation to buy me a gift - if she's your friend, she will not be counting the minutes to the birthday dinner waiting to see what lavish gift you've bought. She won't care. Well I wouldn't. A card is fine.

WhataMistakeaToMakea Fri 01-Mar-13 10:58:18

Can you just buy her a drink?

shrimponastick Fri 01-Mar-13 11:00:34


I have friends with whom I exchange birthday gifts. And some who just do cards.

Similarly some of these friends' dcs receive birthday gifts and /or cards, some don't.

If you don't usually then just stick tp a card. If, however, you feel uncomfortable doing this then but her a small token item.

Bue Fri 01-Mar-13 11:06:51

The card is fine. I have a group of four friends who know I don't do Christmas gifts. I just don't have the time. But they always insist on buying me a little something, always prefaced by "Now I know you don't do Xmas gifts BUT..." And then I protest that they shouldn't have bought me anything. However, it's their choice and it's very sweet of them. The point is your friends will know you don't do gifts and likely aren't offended. Just keep doing what you're doing.

SayCoolNowSayWhip Fri 01-Mar-13 11:10:37

YANBU. Friends shouldn't be friends for the sake of gift reciprocity. And it's worse IMO to spend money you don't have on a token that probably isn't needed or wanted just for the sake of it.

eavesdropping Fri 01-Mar-13 11:11:15

Thanks all.
They are a lovely group of people and I know they don't give to receive, plus they are all aware I am in a different set of circumstances financially.
It's just made me feel more and more awkward over the years and I wish that they would follow my lead and not give me anything.

I will stick with the card - the evening out is costing me more than I can afford really.

emsyj Fri 01-Mar-13 11:17:06

"I wish that they would follow my lead and not give me anything. "

But they want to give you something and they can afford to so you shouldn't feel awkward, although I can see why you would. If they are nice people they are not going to all buy stuff for each other but leave you out because you can't reciprocate.

SDTGisAnEvilWolefGenius Fri 01-Mar-13 11:19:10

Have you got an unwanted gift that you could regift, if you are worried about this? That said, if I were your friend, I would rather have your presence at the party or meal, having a good time, and I wouldn't want you to worry about getting me a gift. Good friends are a gift anyway.

I've got friends who have said to me that they can't afford to do presents, and it doesn't bother me at all.

CunfuddledAlways Fri 01-Mar-13 11:46:01

or you could look around the house see if you have anything you could re-gift? we often do this when short on money

CunfuddledAlways Fri 01-Mar-13 11:46:14

x post!

XiCi Fri 01-Mar-13 11:59:49

I'm sorry but I think its mean - with a little bit of effort it is really easy to find a present that a friend would enjoy for well less than a fiver.

I also find the assertion that its unnecessary to buy adult friends a present unless its a landmark birthday really joyless

valiumredhead Fri 01-Mar-13 12:04:02

Tescos or Aldis - big bunch of flowers. I agree with Xici

Fakebook Fri 01-Mar-13 12:12:12

If you feel bad about not reciprocating, the pound shop sell small boxes of chocolates (cadburys I think). Otherwise, just carry on giving a card. I hate receiving presents; I'm more happy giving, so I wouldn't mind if someone just gave me a card. I don't think your friends would mind either, unless they're really materialistic.

eavesdropping Fri 01-Mar-13 12:13:51

Is it really joyless? I am getting her a card and going on an evening I can scarcely afford to celebrate her adults need presents from their friends?

This is down to finances really - although I agree you can find a nice present for a fiver, once I've done that 8 times in a year, plus another 5 times for my other friendship group, plus DH has done it for his own friends - we'd be beginning to suffer financially, dramatic as that may sound.

valiumredhead Fri 01-Mar-13 12:15:38

No one needs to celebrate a birthday at all but it's nice to do so.

MonstrousPippin Fri 01-Mar-13 12:21:40

I don't understand how you can afford the meal out but not £1.89 on a small box of fudge from Thorntons (or whatever).

Have one less drink at the meal or maybe just drink tap water to make up for it?

ChipTheFish Fri 01-Mar-13 12:42:49

Could you bake her something with ingredients you already have in the house? What about some birthday cupcakes? Something like that would be so cheap to make but it would show you have made an effort.

BegoniaBampot Fri 01-Mar-13 19:56:59

But if you think gifts are unnecessary for adults then you shouldn't feel pressurised into giving a gift. i don't think gifts for friends is necessary (sometimes I do buy a gift if I see something small but special) and I would resent if I felt forced into doing something just to conform. If someone decided to up the ante then does everyone else have to keep up.

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