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How can i tell my friend i don't want to buy for her children?

(35 Posts)
coldtea Fri 11-Mar-05 10:48:12

Am i being tight?

Two years ago i was trying to reduce my 60+ christmas buying list so i decided to keep it just to family. I rang each of my friends & asked if we could continue to buy for the childrens birthdays but not christmas as it was getting so ridiculous.

All my friends thought this was a great idea exect this one friend. I only see her once or twice a year & only telephone for a specific reason never to chat. I would even question if we're really friends at all , but we have this 'school bond' thing. She has 5 children & was really offended (i'm one of 5 myself & my mum often thinks we missed out as people wouldn't buy for us) so i'm guessing this is why she was offended. Anyway we stopped.

The thing is now i'm resenting sending them a £15 cheque for their birthdays. Her children don't know who i am. At her sisters party i didn't recognise her youngest 2 & as i type this i don't remember seeing her 3rd! We don't get invited to their partys which i don't mind , but perhaps i would resent it less if i was buying the children a present instead of throwing £15 away 5 times/year!

Do i sound really mean? Or can anyone give me any suggestions of how to handle this?

NomDePlume Fri 11-Mar-05 10:49:11

Not mean at all, but I have no suggestions of how to handle it, sorry.

SoupDragon Fri 11-Mar-05 10:51:41

Send a gift instead that looks like you've spent £15 but in fact you bought it half price in a sale.

PuffTheMagicDragon Fri 11-Mar-05 10:52:05

Hmmm. Tricky.

Well, the bond sounds "historical" iyswim.

If it were me, I'd quietly let things dwindle away. It sounds as though when you try to explain, things get difficult any way. I'd just stop sending the money and send cards.

Blackduck Fri 11-Mar-05 10:53:46

Not mean no....
advice? Humm you either just don't send anything in the next birthday card (the message will soon get home...), or you have to phone/write and say that you feel there shouldn't be this birthday pressie thing - something along the lines of 'well I really don't think my children need everythng they get for birthdays, and as you have children yourself why not keep the money you would spend on mine for your own'?....have to say I'm a coward so I don't envy you this one at all....

PuffTheMagicDragon Fri 11-Mar-05 10:54:42

Sorry, meant to add. I've had friends who previously sent the children gifts. Then they've stopped and just sent cards. I wasn't offended in the slightest. I think most people would consider that perfectly reasonable and understand that it's become too expensive.

SleepyJess Fri 11-Mar-05 10:54:58

Coldtea.. just explain that you're sorry... but you simply can't afford it...and you can't give what you don't have. Ok maybe would could find it.. but at the cost of not being able afford something you really need for you and yours, maybe. It doesn't matter if she thinks you can afford it.. nobody knows anybody elses financial circumstances down to the last penny.. and it's not anyone else's business. If you say you can't, then she should accept that. It's really quite a mercenary set up when 'friends' who hardly see each other, and have no time for each other expect financial outlay in the shape of bithday presents. Just say you're sorry but you can't. I have had to do this before.. I don't know if anything has been said behind my back but nobody has ever been openly humpy. I can't give what I don't have..and I am not going to fork out for a present for somebody else's child instead of paying a bill.. or buying some shopping.

SJ x

fisil Fri 11-Mar-05 10:54:58

Not mean at all. We have this agreement with all our friends (and several relatives too). Some ignore it and give gifts anyway, and tough, that's their choice, but they get nothing back from us!

One relative who insists on sending us presents (although we never send any back) knows us so little that we actually binned all three presents she sent us this Xmas - we really really just had no use for them!

Do you have to see this friend regularly? Is she an important friend to you? TBH it doesn't really sound like she is - do you really need this friendship? Sorry, I know that sounds tough, but ...

jampots Fri 11-Mar-05 10:55:40

no you're not being mean. Many of my friends have at least 3 children, some even have 4 and it does get very expensive. ANyway this christmas I bought some presents that would be of use as party presents (you know what i mean) and waited for the present giving to begin (i always do the delivering but decided not to this year). Anyway 1 friend with 4 kids didnt, another friend with 3 kids didnt, and another friend with 2 kids didnt - so thats 9 straight off my xmas list for next year in addition another set of friends with 4 kids have just sent dd a birthday card (no present) so am assuming that they dont wish to carry on the birthday thing (bit of a shame because they are ds's godparents) but thats another 4 presents saved during hte year too.

coldtea Fri 11-Mar-05 10:56:17

I agree the 'bond' does sound funny! I think i've dug myself into a whole as it was me that suggested we continue to buy for birthdays. I'm yet to buy a card for the 4th ones birthday on monday , this is the first one this year. Can i bite the bullet & forget to put the cheque in..............!

Hulababy Fri 11-Mar-05 10:57:39

Can you accidently forget the next birthday. Couple of days later - e-mail or text with your "sincerest" apologies. Then let it just dwinle after that. After the first accidental ones, I am sure it would feel easier to let the others drift off.

Or reduce the amount you send. I think £15 is very generous to send to a child you don't really know. I only spend about £5 for gifts for DD's friend's parties and £10 fior the children we know particularly well.

Cod Fri 11-Mar-05 10:58:14

Message withdrawn

coldtea Fri 11-Mar-05 11:01:33

fisil-not tough it's true! I need to be brave & say something.

Sleepyjess-i would love to say that , but (at the expense of sounding flash) my friend knows we're not skint , nice house , car etc. that sounds terrible! I don't want to not buy from a money point , it's a principle thing.

TracyK Fri 11-Mar-05 11:01:45

I would send card with no money. She'd have to have some brass neck to 'complain/mention' that the money wasn't in it!

psychomum5 Fri 11-Mar-05 11:02:18

Speaking as a mum of five, I myself would welcome it if friends suggested this, as I find it hard enough buying for mine at times, without having to feel obliged to buy back.

I would say, that if you really aren't that close, just let it dwindle. Especially if you don't have a clue as to what the kiddies look like.

If she does take huge offence, would it worry you? It's not as tho she is in your close circle of friends, so if you lost her totally as a friend..........???

If all else fails, just explain to her that you are sure she would have understood. After all, it will free her to spend more on her kiddies as she won't have to worry about returning the gesture for your kiddies!

coldtea Fri 11-Mar-05 11:05:10

I forgot to mention , i can't get away from the situation as it's her sister i'm most friendly with!

purpleturtle Fri 11-Mar-05 11:06:47

Jampots - just wanted to say that I buy presents for my godson, but not his brother. My extended family alone is expected to expand by 4 babies this year; have just been asked to be godmother again, and it's not practical to go on buying presents for friends' children ad infinitum

SoupDragon Fri 11-Mar-05 11:08:26

Oh don't put a cheque in, put a small token gift in and leave it at that. Phone later, and "apologise" that you have to cut down and can only exchange token gifts in future.

How old are the children?

purpleturtle Fri 11-Mar-05 11:09:17

Oh, and I agree on the buy a present rather than send money thing. I just sent a babygro to my cousin for her new baby which had been marked down from £8 to £3. I did stand in the shop wondering if I should spend more, but managed to restrain myself in the end. I am sure my cousin will accept the gift for what it is without wondering whether I got it in the sale.

And so much of the stuff we buy for kids is junk anyway, that who cares if you only spent a couple of quid?

SoupDragon Fri 11-Mar-05 11:10:39

I bulk buy presents when I see them on offer anywhere. The child still gets a present worth £x but it hasnt cost me that much.

TheVillageIdiot Fri 11-Mar-05 11:13:38

I would put in a £5 book token and say nothing of it.

Dalesgirl Fri 11-Mar-05 11:17:59

My Goodness...60+ on your present list! I'd be trying hard to get that down a bit!! Personally, I only buy for my friends children's birthdays..we all agreed not to do Christmas because we aren't made of money. I wouldn't buy for a child who wasn't friends with my ds and who didn't get invited to the birthday party. Some people are just acquaintances and that is OK. Friend overload is not a good thing! I think you are being realistic and true to yourself and that will reflect in the friendship you have with people....Your protesting 'friend' doesn't sound very friendly at all.

pabla Fri 11-Mar-05 11:18:19

I would only buy birthday presents for children of my friends if they were friends with my children ( though would obviously make exceptions for god-children if I had any). At Christmas, I do buy for a couple of friends children, who my kids rarely see, mainly because I used to exchange gifts with these friends and it felt mean to give them a gift and not their children.

I would agree with the opthers that if you feel you must continue, you send a small token gift rather than money.

coldtea Fri 11-Mar-05 11:19:24

Soupdragon , the children are 6,5,3,2,& 18 months! I hope she isn't reading!

purpleturtle Fri 11-Mar-05 11:22:43

I can't imagine she's got time for MN with that lot on her hands!

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