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WIBU to say 'please don't get me anything for my birthday'?

(21 Posts)
tindel Thu 30-Apr-15 13:35:44

I am perfectly prepared to be told I am an ungrateful brat, but I was interested in hearing what people think.

MIL has decided that she is now getting me a birthday present every year, now that I'm officially 'part of the family' - we got married last year.

For context, I would rather someone spent £5 on something they thought I'd like and £10 on something I specifically asked for. I have a wide range of interests, which I'm told makes me fairly easy to buy for. I occasionally get things I wouldn't choose, but I'm always touched when someone has put thought into what they think I would like and I like to think I accept all gifts gracefully.

MIL prefers to be told EXACTLY what to buy. Which is fine, except half the time, she ignores it. For DH's birthday this year, I had no ideas for actual gifts and suggested vouchers (which she's fine with) for a specific High Street retailer that she could easily get to with the idea that DH could get himself a treat. She decided instead to get vouchers from an internet retailer that DH boycotts due to their policy on paying tax. He already has other vouchers from them that he got at Xmas that he has no idea what to spend them on.

My birthday is a few months away and when we saw her at the weekend, she asked me what I wanted. At the moment, I have no idea what to suggest. I'm feeling quite pressured with work and being 18 weeks pregnant and I don't really want to sit and think about an exact thing I want, send her the exact details, only for her to get something that I don't want. It's happened before - I asked for a piece of kitchen equipment, she bought me something else she got cheap during her supermarket shop, I asked for cookery books, she bought me a dieting one hmm When I've suggested asking for the receipt to exchange it, DH gets really twitchy and thinks she would be offended, so that's not really an option.

I could ask for vouchers, but she tends to prefer buying clothes vouchers and at the moment, I really don't feel like shopping for clothes. I've bought some maternity stuff which should cover me and there's no point me shopping for regular clothes for the foreseeable future.

So, WIBU to say to her not to get me anything for my birthday, just a card is fine? That's all she ever got me before.

however Thu 30-Apr-15 13:43:18

Good plan. I don't like people beyond immediate family buying me presents. Too much stress.

redexpat Thu 30-Apr-15 13:47:01

She'll get you something anyway. I know. I have this with my ILs too!

slithytove Thu 30-Apr-15 13:53:30

A cheque?
Or vouchers for a department store so you can use them for baby stuff and pocket the cash?

DinosaursRoar Thu 30-Apr-15 13:58:05

If she'll get you clothing vouchers, there's not normally a short deadline to spend them, if you are pregnant now, you might need some new clothes for the inbetween stage when you are out of maternity wear but not back into your old wardrobe. This stage normally hits round about the point you are getting used to having less income on maternity pay!

In that case, gift vouchers for a big high street shop or department store would be best.

(This is assuming she'll get you something anyway)

OnIlkleyMoorBahTwat Thu 30-Apr-15 14:03:32

Providing that you can afford your own treats, I don't see the point of presents for adults really. It's not a present if you have to do all the thinking to come up with 'buy me X' whether or not they go and buy Y instead as you could have just bought it yourself anyway.

It just ends up as wasted money and effort and pointless consumerism - 'I will buy you something you don't want, and then you will feel obliged to buy me something I might not want'.

I also have a pathological hatred of anything of the 'Boots Gift Set' genre.

If anyone asks me, I ask for fizz, gin or anything from Hotel Chocolat, so then there is some thinking effort on their part, the element of surprise for me, I get something I know I will like and they can set the budget from about a fiver upwards.

OK, the gin or fizz wouldn't help you currently, but YANBU to not want a present.

nequidnimis Thu 30-Apr-15 14:07:16

I think it's nice that she wants to buy you something, as it is clearly symbolic to her.

She is obviously crap at buying presents, but I would argue that this is well-meaning uselessness rather than her being malicious. She has probably picked up on this over the years, which is why she asks for specifics.

So how hard, honestly, can it be to think of something for this woman to buy you? And if she gets it wrong, so what?

Think of a book, a DVD or a range of toiletries you'd quite like or specify vouchers. If she prefers buying vouchers for clothing shops, as you say, choose a shop you can buy a scarf or bag from (or clothing after you've had the baby). This person loves you, loves your DH, and will love your baby. If it gives her pleasure to get you a little treat, let her.

BartholomewCrouch Thu 30-Apr-15 14:13:34


You know it will upset her and she won't be able to do it.

Be nice, suggest something, book vouchers maybe? she'll buy whatever she thinks of, you smile and say thank you. Job done, no need to angst.

She's trying to be kind, you're trying to be kind win-win for happy families.

Don't make unnecessary things a battle.

Sothisishowitfeels Thu 30-Apr-15 14:15:48

My mil always buys something the same as yours I think it's symbolic and I think it's lovely!. You have a while until your birthday you must be able to think of something!

Maybe I am the only 30 odd year old who loves presents grin

BartholomewCrouch Thu 30-Apr-15 14:21:37

My MIL got it into her head that I liked pink.

So every year I got something difrent but always in pink. It always made she smile that she got it wrong but love her for trying.

I just said thank you it's lovely.

fredfredgeorgejnr Thu 30-Apr-15 14:27:54

Of course YANBU to say that, and anyone who then got you something would be BVU.

If she gets something after you asked her not to, say "thank you, but please do not get me anything again, I don't want a present". If it's "about her", then why is it happening on your birthday.

OnIlkleyMoorBahTwat Thu 30-Apr-15 14:33:10

It's not necessarily going to upset the MIL to not buy the OP a present, she might be relieved.

She clearly doesn't know what to buy, hence the request for an exact suggestion.

Maybe she feels obliged to welcome the OP into the family and include her in present giving, but would rather not bother at all with presents in general.

Not everyone has the time and energy to go out choosing presents all the time. It's often something that people go along with because they feel obliged to but secretly wish that someone would be brave enough to say something and put a stop to it.

AuntyMag10 Thu 30-Apr-15 14:33:15

I think yabu really. Just accept it graciously and move on. She's going to get you something anyway so not worth wasting time worrying over.

BartholomewCrouch Thu 30-Apr-15 14:39:53

Well I guess you could suggest it and see if she's up for it.

But if she seems hurt or just carries on, just go with it.

This is something that should be let go as it's misguided kindness whihc you can respond to with kindness.

You could go with Fredfred's view of it's 'my birthday therefore you must do what I say even though it upsets you because it's not about you', but imo it's really not worth causing hurt about.

tindel Thu 30-Apr-15 14:56:13

Sothisishowitfeels I still like getting presents and I'm 33! I just feel that a present should be a surprise to the recipient and something they wouldn't buy for themselves. Having just spent the last few weeks getting texts for DH's birthday, I just find it a little exhausting having to think about it all over again for me - I love thinking of what to get other people, but not me!

Vouchers with a long expiry date would be useful although I do have a habit of misplacing vouchers unless I spend them straightaway - DH has offered to give her some ideas, but I might get him to suggest vouchers / book tokens.

I know it sort of comes from a kind place (although I think it's more a sense of duty than any actual affection for me) I'm just getting a bit stressed out with everything at the moment and not thinking straight.

slithytove Thu 30-Apr-15 15:59:35

And regarding your DH's vouchers for the online retailer, could you sell them? If I'm thinking of the right one, they don't have a long expiry.

HereIAm20 Thu 30-Apr-15 16:39:08

Think yourself lucky that your MIL wants to include you as part of her family and just accept any present with good grace.

My MIL doesn't even bother with me or our son (mine and her son's child) but buys for the other dils and grandchildren! Have never got to the bottom of why that is. She just says she doesn't remember but happens to remember theirs!

Wish I had a MIL who wanted to include me.

Seriouslyffs Thu 30-Apr-15 16:41:42

Let her enjoy buying you something then regift it.
Donate the Amazon vouchers.

sparkysparkysparky Thu 30-Apr-15 17:02:44

It's a funny one. My mil buys me clothes at Christmas (I'm nearly 50 and my own dm knows not to buy me clothes ). But it's kindly meant. And I'm an ungrateful cow, I know.
I've steered her towards vouchers for my birthday but I'd be happy with a card.

FadedRed123 Thu 30-Apr-15 18:09:14

Considering how many posters get nothing but angst from their MIL's, it would seem a little churlish to say 'Nothing for me please, because you can't get it right."
How about: Flowers, Houseplant, Garden plant or bulbs, Wine (for when you can drink it again), DVD, Cinema voucher, chocolate -all could cost £5-10.
Like Sparky says - it's kindly meant.

42andGaffaTape Thu 30-Apr-15 19:35:46

I have asked my family to no longer buy gifts for my birthday and to instead put the money towards a meal we can all enjoy together.

Could that work?

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