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Etiquette? - gifts for friends/family without children

(11 Posts)
xmascaroltygirl Wed 22-Dec-04 15:55:49

Just wondered if anyone else has thought of this one, or if I'm just the worrying type.

We have several friends with no children of their own at home. For example, there's my (male) best friend from years ago and his wife, who don't (yet?) have any children. There is also my sister's ex-husband, who is still a good friend of our family, and his new fiance.

Both of the above couples, plus a few others we know, always give our two dds a £10 cheque or a present of similar value on their birthdays and at Christmas. It is really kind of them to remember the girls in this way, but it means that I don't know what to do for them when it comes to Christmas. Should I get them a present, as they are always so generous to our children? Or would that make them feel bad for not getting something for dh and myself, and maybe make them feel obliged to be "on present terms" with dh and myself as well?

It's particularly awkward in the case of my ex-BIL, who has to tread a fine line between staying friendly with our family and going beyond what's "appropriate" now that he is no longer with my sister. For example, as he had given each of my dds a birthday present last year, I called round with a present when it came to his birthday. He was clearly very embarrassed about this and just sent me a card in the post on my birthday - with hindsight, I reckon he was right to do this. If it wasn't for our dds I would stick to cards for all occasions, but I feel very ungrateful for doing so when they have been so kind.

Any MN etiquette experts able to advise me?

WigWamBam Wed 22-Dec-04 16:00:31

I don't know what the correct etiquette in this situation would be, but I send people like this presents "from" my dd and not from me and dh.

hester Wed 22-Dec-04 16:01:19

I give presents to a number of children whose parents I don't exchange presents with. I would rather those parents don't upgrade me because I can't afford to reciprocate and it's all getting too expensive! So far as I'm concerned, I am expressing my relationship with the child, not with the parent (in case I'm sounding like a schoolyard stalker, this are mainly children of friends or not-immediate-relatives). I do expect the parent to acknowledge and say thank you (until the child is old enough to do so) but that's it. I think if these people expected presents from you, they would be giving presents TO you, IYSWIM.

So my advice is to relax and enjoy!

SuzyStockings Wed 22-Dec-04 16:03:25

I'm with WWB. Give to the children from children

MrsFogi Wed 22-Dec-04 16:20:18

I'm with Hester on this.

xmascaroltygirl Wed 22-Dec-04 16:31:27

I think the consensus may be to ring and thank them very warmly, but just to send them a card as otherwise it would get too awkward! Many thanks - I am really bad at things like that and generally end up embarrassing people .

crunchie Wed 22-Dec-04 16:31:40

I have a number of friends who give my kids pressies and I either do a token present (last year was jars of homemade mincemeat and chutney), or something from my kids (handpainted mugs/plates). This seems to cover everybody!!

dollymixture Wed 22-Dec-04 16:41:13

I used to do this with a couple we knew without children who thoroughly spoiled our kids. I raised it in a lighthearted manner one year and said something like 'I feel guilty accepting presents for M & T when we never buy anything for you' and they made it quite clear that that was ok by them and we'd get the chance to make uo for it if/when they had kids.

I also have other friends without kids who we've always exchaned presents with too. And as soon as they have children (one is already pregnant) I intend to be the one to say, now that we both have children, lets just buy for them.


sleepdeprived Wed 22-Dec-04 17:29:52

Interesting. We've only ever exchanged Xmas cards with our next-door neighbour (oldish, with grown-up kids), but this year she's bought a present for our DS's 1st Xmas. Should we be buying her something then??

eidsvold Wed 22-Dec-04 21:01:10

We have a number of friends who do this for our dd1 and now dd2. HAve usually sent a little something from dd's to them... chocs or something like that. One lot of close friends do it cause they want to - do not expect anything in return. Have sent them cards and always always make sure I send a little thank you note decorated by dd1.

hana Thu 23-Dec-04 00:40:52

our friends who don't have children get a present from our dd - they help out with babysitting etc throughout the year and we just put dd's name on it. I've told some friends who give to us AND dd to stop - and just give to dd instead. Usually a bottle of champagne (who doesn't like champagne?) with recent photo of dd as well.

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