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Do you buy Christmas presents for your friends' children?

(22 Posts)
heavenlyghost Sun 26-Dec-04 05:03:46

I was put in an awkward situation the other day and wanted to get the general MN consensus on it ...
I had arranged to have coffee with a girl in my coffee group on Christmas eve morning. I phoned her the day before to change the time and she said, "So, will we exchange presents for the children tomorrow?" ... she then went on to tell me that she had bought DS a SpiderMan plate, bowl and cup set and DD a big Teletubby that talks when you press its hand and a Teletubby video (NOT cheap!!).
I was caught on the hop and found myself going out that night when DH came home to buy her DD a present of similar value to the Teletubby.
I have a big family in the UK and this year spent a small fortune posting presents to Mum and Dad, Sister, BIL, Niece, Brother, SIL, Niece and Nephew, EX SIL and nephew (AND her husband and new baby), Best friend and my God Daughter. As well as that I had MIL, SIL and BIL in NZ and FIL and Step MIL to buy for.
Including my own DH and two children this has made for an expensive Christmas this year.
I love buying presents for people but usually only buy presents for friends' children on their birthdays .... if I bought presents for everyone's kids every year at christmas we would be bankrupt!!!
So, (sorry for long post!!) ... do you as a rule buy for friends kids? This girl I was seeing I only met in March when we were put in the same coffee group ... we get on well but are not busom buddies or anything.
What should I have done?
How do I stop this becoming an annual thing?
Am I being mean and horrible?

Thanks for getting this far ....
Ghosty xx

Pagan Sun 26-Dec-04 06:03:57

Tend not to but have also been caught out. Lots of my pals seem to by for my DD much to my amazement. TBH I would buy for my best friend's kids if she had any but I think you have to draw the line somewhere.

I love them for buying gifts and being so thoughtful but I wish they wouldn't coz it's usually something useless. Gosh, that sounds so ungrateful but it just means I spend my time taking things back to exchange them.

She got 2 dressing gowns for Xmas, both exactly the same and she's already got one!! I think if it has to be done then something quick, small and easy is sufficient e.g. a bag of chocolate buttons or a selection box depending on age. At least it'll get eaten although not all at once

mishiclaus Sun 26-Dec-04 08:39:01

we do buy for friends children but only because for ds 1st xmas last year we were caught out....i got little selection boxes while they bought our ds gifts so we did the same this year to only have them give gifts and selection boxes this typical

WideWebWitch Sun 26-Dec-04 09:34:12

No, I don't buy for friends children unless we're say, invited to a birthday party and then I would. I only buy for family children. I do think you've got to nip this in the bud but I don't know how really! I suppose you could say 'would you mind if we didn't buy christmas presents for each others children, it's just that I don't for any of my other friends because otherwise it gets horrendously expensive for all of us.' She probably just likes you a lot and wants to do the right thing but didn't realise it would make you feel uncomfortable and obliged to return the favour. Maybe she doesn't have lots of other friends with kids and so it's not an expensive thing for her? Let us know what you do. We didn't even get my step sister and her husband presents, we just do presents for their children and we discussed it and agreed we weren't doing adult presents. We do birthday presents for them though as we usually see them on their birthdays.

WigWamBam Sun 26-Dec-04 09:49:48

Yes, we do, but only the friends who we used to buy presents for before we all had children, although we exchange "secret santa" presents in our NCT group, so that each person only buys one present.

I would be more annoyed by the fact this woman chose to buy the presents before you had agreed on whether to exchange presents or not, and the fact that she felt it necessary to tell you (a) that she had bought presents and (b) what she had bought, in order to ensure that you would be buying presents for her child. This is a bit manipulative, in my opinion, and if you don't want to do it in future, then I agree with www that you should nip it in the bud.

Could your entire coffee group do something like a secret santa next year, so you only have to buy one present?

tigermoth Sun 26-Dec-04 09:53:33

I've been caught out like this too when my sons were younger. I think it's one of those inevitable things, once you have friends with children. I agree with www that this friend of yours might be getting carried away as she is new to this sort of thing.

It's perfectly ok, I think, to tell friends you are only buying presents for family, say the hassle of buying stacks of other presents is too much. Talk up the size of your family if you want Still, I always had a stock of emergency gifts just in case - cheap books in bulk from The Book People are great for this.

As children get older it becomes far more difficult to give surprise presents to children anyway. You don't know what toys they are really into and what stuff they already have. There are always mumsnet threads on 'what to buy a 9 year old boy' and so on, aren't there?

All my close friends and I have stopped buying each others children christmas presents by common agreement. However, if they held a christmas party and we were invited I would bring the children a general gift.

Dizzylizzy Sun 26-Dec-04 09:53:36


My closest friend and I usually buy for each others children, but during a conversation on Christmas eve we agreed that it was getting increasingly more difficult to buy for them, ie, her 7 is a very very bright boy who is more like a 12 year old and with me having two girls, I find it difficult to buy for.

So, we have decided that next year we are not going to buy them anything, instead we are all going to go to the local brewsters so that the children can all have a play and we can have a couple of glasses of wine, that way we know that the children will enjoy themselves no matter what.


pabla Sun 26-Dec-04 11:45:14

I get presents for the children of two of my closest friends here, their kids used to be very good friends with mine, though they don't see so much of each other now as they are at different schools. My dd also gave a present to her best friend at school (mainly because the friend gave her one first! - they hadn't exchanged presents in previous years.)

I also get presents for the children of two other friends who live where I come from, I also get something small for the mothers. They started giving my dd presents before they had children of their own and it has just carried on. I don't give their kids presents on their birthdays though, and they have never given mine any. It does feel a bit odd though, as I have other equally close friends in this group and I don't give presents to their kids, apart from maybe their firstborn on its first christmas, but this was years ago before I had kids myself.

I agree it is very awkward when someone gives your kids thing out of the blue. Someone did this to me a few years ago - I had only known her for a few months, and really only to chat to in the school playground. I had to rush out at the last minute to get her kids something. I think with her it was because she had only been living in this country for a few months, only knew a few people, and was probably trying to make friends.

cranberryjampot Sun 26-Dec-04 11:54:45

We buy pressies for my best friend's 3 children, my dh's oldest friend's 4 children, my dd's godparents 3 children, my friend whom i met at antenatal with our first, 4 children now, and my old boss's 3 children. However, this year I have decided not to actually deliver the pressies and then see who does turn up with them (godparents/antenatal) and so far no one has. So looks like a refund is coming my way this year. Until this year a girl I used to work with bought for my kids and i for hers (hers are older) but we havent socialised for years and one again have decided against making contact in the year so have removed them from my list this year

fisilhohoho Sun 26-Dec-04 12:29:11

Ds was born just after Xmas, so most of my mummy friends also have children with birthdays around Xmas. So buying b'day & Xmas pressies for them all would just be ridiculous. We all bought new baby pressies the first Xmas, but the 2nd one we all agreed not to exchange pressies at all - then we could spend more on getting toys for our own children! We do now buy them if we are actually invited to a party, but otherwise not.

My aunt always mailed very lavish gifts from the US every Xmas. My mum told her that she would rather stop it now the children were all grown up etc. My aunt carried on and my mum stopped. Her dd (my cousin) also sends lavish gifts, but we receieve but don't reciprocate. We have said that we would rather not exchange gifts - if she wants to carry on sending, then fine!

But it is really important to have actually talked about it. If we hadn't, I would feel guilty about the one sided affair with my aunt and cousin. As it is I don't cos they know our part in the bargain!

Donbean Sun 26-Dec-04 12:56:33

I have about 20 children to buy for with family,close close friends and God children.
I have always bought a bit of something for the parents prior to us all having children. Last year however, i made a concerted decision to speak to them all and explain that it was just too much so we should buy only for the children for both Christmas and birthdays. To my relief they all seemed very relieved and said what a good sensible idea.
Because it is still a large volume of people to cater for, i start in January, buy in the sales through the year and tick them off a huge list in the office.
Its the only way i can do it. I only buy nicks and nacks and completely lack imagination so most kids get a small outfit of some description. Im afraid im a very "practically thinking " person and buy what will be useful and used. I dont spend any more than £5-£7 on each either, i know i know, im a tight arse but i just cant bring myself to be extravagant!

ladymuck Sun 26-Dec-04 13:56:26

We have some good friends with whom we exchanged gifts before children, but once children came along we exchange gifts between children instead. For our antenatal group we also draw names out of a hat, so you draw a number of names equal to the number of children that you have and buy appropriately. Another plug for the NCT - it was these gifts (of £5 or less) that were most popular this season!

It's defintely not nice to be ambushed though. I'd have risked being rude and waited for the birthday to "make up".

whowantstobeamillionare Sun 26-Dec-04 14:03:35

yes this year I bought a present for ds and dd's best friends they were £5 and £6 each. They were bought because it's nice for children to receive things. But I would limit it always to a £5 or the equivalent as things become more expensive and would never feel funny if our children didn't get any. The messgae is about thinking of others. Your friend sounds like she expected to have them me that's not the point of giving...if it were me I would have a word in here ear saying as we haven't agreed to do this I haven't got your children anything, it's very kind of you to get presents for my children and leave it at that...for if she were a real friend she would understand that giving is what matters (it's a little presumptious imho). Merry Christmasxxx

leglepartridge Sun 26-Dec-04 14:05:47

I had a really similar thing last year but with even more annoying consequences .... I have a friend who is a bit flaky with regard to xmas cards, and presents, some years she remembers and some she doesn't. last year I had decided not to buy her or her children any presents as we hadn't had any from her for years. then about a week before xmas I got an email saying "I'll post yours and the kids presents tomorrow" .... I then had to run around the shops buying for her 2 and for her and I then went to her parents and dropped them off with them as I knew they were seeing her at xmas (she doesn't live by me). Yes you guessed it, after all that effort, no presents ever turned up. I didn't get anything for xmas and nothing in the new year. She never said thank you for her gifts, or told me if the kids liked them etc. I was really genuinely annoyed and still am thinking about it. They didn't get lost by the way, she has since told me she just didn't get round to it as she's 'so busy'. Yes love, so am I.

whowantstobeamillionare Sun 26-Dec-04 14:10:33

ikwym leglepartridge this year I bought presents for my nephew and niece and posted them well before Christmas...I didn't give them expecting anything back however the only annoying thing is not the giving back but the fact that my sister said she hasn't the time or money (£14 a year on presents including p&p)..and did it the year before for her and yet she spends £50+ a month on her hair, mine is like an overgrown sheep but children come first!!)..have 2 children too so have as much time

TwasTheNightBeforeCatbert Sun 26-Dec-04 19:42:50

With my parentcraft group, we do a joint birthday present from the whole group to each child on their birthday, each person only putting in a fiver, and therefore said child getting a much better present. For Christmas, we decided as the mums would do a secret santa every year instead, as the children would be getting quite enough thanks very much!

Maybe you could suggest a mums secret santa for your own group?

heavenlyghost Mon 27-Dec-04 01:44:48

Thanks for the input ...
I love the secret santa idea ... a much better plan than buying for each child individually.
I felt so guilty about it as she (the mother) is really sweet and sent me a lovely xmas card telling me how nice it was that we were friends. I do like her and everything but kind of felt that buying pressies for eachother's children was a bit OTT. Her DD is her only one at the moment so I guess as time goes on she will see that it will get harder and harder to buy for everyone.
Thanks for the advice

colditzcolditzcold Mon 27-Dec-04 11:19:20

I ended up buying 4 presents for my friends kids, but I made it clear in october that I don't spend more than 5 pounds on any child that isn't mine. Selection boxes are good, as are things like recorders, bath crayons, sets of dolly clothes, slipper socks and small cars.

Donbean Mon 27-Dec-04 11:38:30

I may be hyjaking here, but what do people advise in the general sense?
I have a lovely lovely friend who is forever buying me and DS stuff. For example, she spilt a bit of tea in the living room and brought me a bunch of flowers and a box of thorntons. DS cut his finger at her house so she bought him an expensive toy. I would never want to upset or offend her because she is a lovely person and frind but it makes me uncomfortable because i feel pressured into a pattern that i really dont want to get into.
What would you do?

colditzcolditzcold Mon 27-Dec-04 11:42:54

Donbean, does your friend have children? If not, you could say that she is not to buy your child any more dear presents because he is getting spoilt. If she does have children, maybe a toned down version of the same?

Donbean Mon 27-Dec-04 11:50:39

She does have 2 children and her house is just jammed packed with toys and books etc so i think that it is what she does, buys things.
So far, i have done what you suggested funnily enough. When i know she is having a tough time i have taken her fowers,not a huge bunch just something simple. Mostly i just ring and/or text her. I make sure that i do this because this is what is important to me to know that someone is listening and taking on board any problems.
You know how people listen for a short time, then dont contact you again for months (for whatever reason)
She seems to appreciate this.
Ive also sent her nice little cards through the post to say im thinking of her. Rather than buying gifts, im aiming for the more subtle approach, what do you think?

hopefulmover Sat 01-Jan-05 06:04:54

two of our childless friends (both male) buy presents for dd. She doesn't have any godparents but if she'd been christened they might well have been godfathers. Until recently we had to buy presents for some children because dd's friends give her presents. This year she was told she had to pay for them from her pocket money. The presents they exchange are only small - decorated soaps, sweets, tiny beanies, fancy notebooks but as they know what they each like are better than large presents less carefully chosen.

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