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New friend - wwyd

(13 Posts)
Pedestriana Tue 10-Nov-15 12:17:49

I feel silly typing this out, but I'm aware that I could hurt someone's feelings.

I've a fairly new friend, who is mum to a child in DD's class. Her DD and mine started school recently and had met socially outside school, which is how they knew each other.

The mum is really friendly, kind, generous, sunny person. We've had a playdate, and seen each other at various events.

Here's my issue. I had a text recently from the mum asking what my DD would like for Christmas. She was offering to buy a particular item (don't want to say what as it may out me), or give me the money. The item is not expensive as such - somewhere in the £15 bracket, but not something we need or want.
I replied to say it was extremely kind, but far too generous. I said DD would be perfectly happy with a packet of glow sticks, or some chocolate.

Bumped into the Mum last week and she repeated the offer.

My issue is I don't work, I don't have an income at present (recently become an ex-student) and I feel the friendship is too new for gift exchanges.

I appreciate that she is a kind person and doesn't expect a reciprocal gift, but I am not comfortable with the idea.

How can I tell her no in a nice, polite way. I don't want to upset her, she's a good 10 years younger than me, and young in outlook (possibly a little naiive, but not in a bad way). DD and her DD are going to be at school together for the next 5 years minimum.

[FWIW, she has in the past given DD money to spend at a fair. I didn't ask, she just put it in her hand and told her to spend it. At the time I thanked her very kindly, said that there was no need, but that it was a generous gesture.]

ppandj Tue 10-Nov-15 13:17:34

Personally, I think you need to decide which is the actual issue- that you don't feel it's appropriate to exchange gifts as it's a new friendship or that you don't want a gift to the value of £15 as you can't reciprocate that.

If it's the latter then you could get her child something for less than that and I don't think the child will care about the value of the gift. The way you have described the mum sounds like she won't mind either and would just genuinely like your respective DC to receive a nice gift?

If it is the former, can you say "we're having to be a bit lean this Christmas and reign in our spending, so we're getting people small gifts if anything at all, would it be ok if we agree to do no presents but could we arrange a play date for DC near to Christmas instead" (you could go together to see Santa or setting like that?). Hopefully she will understand?

ppandj Tue 10-Nov-15 13:20:02

Btw I can understand your point of view completely, hope my post didn't seem rude in the beginning!

Pedestriana Tue 10-Nov-15 22:57:20

Thanks ppandj. I understood what you meant smile

It's a bit of both - I don't often exchange gifts at Christmas with long-standing friends (last year my friend of 33 years and I exchanged a pair of knitted mittens and a pair of fancy socks), so with newer people, it seems a little odd.

Not meaning to dripfeed, but the person has 2 DCs and I couldn't buy for one without buying for the other. It's awkward because she is so sweet. She always encourages her child(ren) to share everything with mine, even when my DD is being a bit of a diva and I am trying to keep her in check.

I think your suggestion of the 'no presents but playdate' is a great idea. If she brings up the topic again, I'll try that out. She lives reasonably close by so it's an easy solution. Plus we'll be having a party for DD's birthday in the next month or so, and I'm inviting her DC's, so that'll be the time/place for gifts.

PowerPantsRule Tue 10-Nov-15 23:40:25

Oh gosh please stop this before it starts. I let someone do this a few years ago and we are STILL buying each others' children presents despite barely being friends any more as the children are not close. It's like a terrible carousel you cannot get off.

I think ppandj's idea is brilliant and just wish I had done it!

springydaffs Wed 11-Nov-15 00:12:52

I know it's not funny but you made me laugh with the 'carousel' comment, Power grin

I've made a new friend and she is exceptionally generous, bringing bags full of little gifts. Unlike you I enjoy these gifts - she enjoys giving them, I enjoy receiving them! I am aware she may be trying to buy something... but that's not my problem. I've clearly told her i'm not in the same league. Tbh I'm done with covering up i'm a bit strapped at present. I'm waiting for the friendship to settle down.

Sounds like she's a good person and won't be offended if you're honest about not being able to keep up. I get my generous friend little things but I'm absolutely not going to be matching her generosity. She's chosen to do that, unbidden. She can do that if she likes but I'm not going to.

Viewofhedges Wed 11-Nov-15 13:33:14

No presents or if she absolutely insists, set a £ limit.

You actually put your thoughts in your post very well, and if you took her to one side and said that it's troubling you and explain I'm sure you can do it kindly. Deciding no presents or a £ limit for kids' gifts would be a good idea and if you've got a party coming up you could tell ALL parents before the party that any gifts generously given should be at pocket money prices would get the message out that it's not just her gifts you're trying to keep a lid on.

In fact telling party invite parents you'd like to keep things small may even make you a hero amongst other parents as they may want to do the same for their kids - let's face it if you had a £3 limit or whatever is appropriate in your circle (you can get some great things in Poundland etc) and there might be a lot of parents who might otherwise be silently dreading the party invitations who would thank you for this. Then it works for all - kids get things to unwrap but parents don't have to overspend.

She sounds like a very sweet person just with lots of spare £ so hopefully this won't become a big issue if you explain it.

lurkingfromhome Wed 11-Nov-15 13:46:48

Powerpants is so so right about the Carousel of Gift-Giving Horror. I don't even have DCs but started buying Christmas gifts for two children of an old friend of mine the year they were born. Fast forward to now - the children are in their teens and I haven't seen them for at least a decade, I see the old friend twice a year for a glass of wine but nothing more than that, and yet I can't seem to find the words to suggest we stop this nonsense. They must also wonder why every Christmas they get a gift from some random woman neither of them can even remember meeting. grin

Epilepsyhelp Wed 11-Nov-15 13:49:53

Can you simply explain to her that you couldn't reciprocate therefore it would make you uncomfortable? I love giving gifts and wouldn't expect reciprocation but if I was told I would make someone else feel awkward then I would totally understand and do what they ask.

LeaLeander Wed 11-Nov-15 13:56:50

I would leave finances out and present it as a philosophical stance.

"Friend, we haven't known one another long so I haven't had a chance to explain our family rule but we try to focus on celebrating the holidays without an emphasis on presents. It's just our way, though we appreciate your generous thoughts toward us. How about if we take the children to see the decorations at XX venue sometime soon?"

"Friend, I need to explain our family rule: We only exchange handmade items/greeting cards/baked goods/whatever with others at this time of year. It's just our way, though it was kind of you to think of buying xx for DD I'm afraid we'll have to decline. Perhaps we could all take in a holiday film together ..."

"Friend, I need to explain our family rule: We tend to focus on experiences, not tangible gifts, at this time of year -- particularly with friends. Rather than exchange items, how about if we take the children to the holiday theater/nature area/bake holiday sweets together/ whatever sometime soon as a way to mark the season together?"

In other words, emphasize the positive/what you WILL do, not the negative/what you do not do. It's a lot harder for someone to argue with "here's how we do things, and we really prefer it that way" than it is for them to dismiss "I can't afford to reciprocate" "It's too expensive" etc. etc.

Pedestriana Wed 11-Nov-15 15:39:44

Viewof you have described her down to a T!

Lea - the experiences angle is a good one. I know that the friend is Christian, not sure if she knows I'm pagan. So, I do tend to focus on experience and/or handcrafted items when it is possible.

Thankfully the class parents 'group' have set a rule for parties already whereby we have a fixed amount to gift/buy up to.

springydaffs Wed 11-Nov-15 19:19:59

Aw I had an aunt who sent birthday cards every year without fail when I was a child. I rarely saw her but it meant so much to me and I was so disappointed when she stopped.

Not quite the same but I also have a friend who sent my kids cards and presents every year, Christmas and birthdays, and I was scrupulous about the kids sending thank you cards. She stopped (when the youngest was about 14) and I was just so disappointed. Esp if she felt she was on a gift-giving carousel. That's just so glum sad

Sorry to bring this into it but I'm currently going through quite a serious health crisis and have been hurt by people not stepping up for very obvious, and easily addressed, need. I grumbled about it to a friend and she said 'yes, people don't have the confidence to realise what a difference they can make'. Wise words. Rather generous of her tbf but there's something in that.

I do rather love extravagant giving, both ways. But it's nigh impossible to squeeze it through without causing tremendous offence or distress. That's a shame.

I doubt she cares you're a pagan op. Coming from the Christian persuasion myself, that is.

RandomMess Wed 11-Nov-15 19:27:53

How about including something along the lines of:

With dds birthday being so close to Christmas I'd rather there were fewer presents! Would be lovely to do a special Christmas play date or trip to something like skating/breakfast/tea or similar?

It may be that the friend realises that you've had to be financially careful and genuinely just wants to give your dd something special that she would be unlikely to receive as a gift otherwise. It's hard whether you're the giver or receiver at times!!!!

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