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(87 Posts)
AlexaChelsea Sun 03-Nov-13 10:08:57

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?

SugarHut Sun 03-Nov-13 14:18:29

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.

invisible84 Sun 03-Nov-13 14:05:34

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.

SwishAndFlick Sun 03-Nov-13 12:58:34

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.

MrsOsbourne Sun 03-Nov-13 12:38:36

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.

BatPenguin Sun 03-Nov-13 12:35:49

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.

AaDB Sun 03-Nov-13 12:35:03

Yanbu. They were grabby.

Tanfastic Sun 03-Nov-13 12:31:24

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.

ENormaSnob Sun 03-Nov-13 12:25:04


BlueStones Sun 03-Nov-13 12:22:23

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!

shewhowines Sun 03-Nov-13 12:14:13

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...

DIYapprentice Sun 03-Nov-13 12:10:39

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!!!

Heartbrokenmum73 Sun 03-Nov-13 12:10:15

This is amazing.


MN: Yes

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!

shewhowines Sun 03-Nov-13 12:10:01

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.

AlexaChelsea Sun 03-Nov-13 12:08:05


They have 2 DC's, we have one and are expecting another next year.

Thanks everyone who has reaffirmed my belief in decency.

Preciousbane Sun 03-Nov-13 12:04:43

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

YesterdayI Sun 03-Nov-13 12:01:17

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.


cakebar Sun 03-Nov-13 11:53:03

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? confused

WhoNickedMyName Sun 03-Nov-13 11:49:34

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.

BatPenguin Sun 03-Nov-13 11:49:24

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.'

Viviennemary Sun 03-Nov-13 11:47:06

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.

AlexaChelsea Sun 03-Nov-13 11:45:40

Thank you!

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.

Floggingmolly Sun 03-Nov-13 11:43:34

Yes, I'd have been mortified accepting the gift if I hadn't one to reciprocate with.

shewhowines Sun 03-Nov-13 11:42:17

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.

AlexaChelsea Sun 03-Nov-13 11:40:49

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!

BatPenguin Sun 03-Nov-13 11:40:42

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.

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