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Buying gifts for friends

(49 Posts)
honeyrose Mon 31-Aug-20 09:37:43

I have a friend who I don’t see very often, but lives close by and we buy birthday presents (though not Christmas presents) for each other. I want to stop this present-buying, but don’t know how to voice it without sounding rude or ungrateful. I just find the whole present swapping thing awkward and embarrassing, I don’t know why. I have another friend who I asked last Christmas if we could stop exchanging gifts and she was fine about it - she may have been relieved herself - but I thought I handled it really clumsily as I felt so embarrassed. I find it increasingly difficult to know what to buy and so I feel that other people must do too. I love spending time with friends and that’s enough for me, so shall I just say “I’d like your presence, not your presents”. Paraphrasing there - or is that a good way of saying it anyway?

Septimia Mon 31-Aug-20 09:40:40

This doesn't stop the present thing entirely, but could you say that there isn't really anything you want/need for your birthday but that some flowers would be lovely? Much easier to choose flowers than a present.

JackyB Mon 31-Aug-20 09:45:24

You could suggest that you meet for coffee together on a date somewhere between the two birthdays to celebrate. Time with friends is worth far more than some trinket you don't really want.

Calendargirl Mon 31-Aug-20 09:46:31

I agree so much, the backwards and forwards of present giving, struggling to think of what to get when most of us have more than enough ‘stuff’.

Why not say “How would you feel about stopping giving each other presents? I value your friendship, that’s more than enough for me” or something similar.

So many GN’ers write on threads about unwanted gifts, re-gifting etc.

If Lockdown has shown us anything, it’s that we all can manage without so many ‘extras’.

I have cut present buying down over time, would rather people spent their money on themselves, and so would I, but am sure many will cry selfish or mean.

Chewbacca Mon 31-Aug-20 09:49:16

A couple of my friends and I decided, that with ever growing families and diminishing incomes, that we would exchange only birthday cards and a very small notional gift at birthdays. From what I remember, it came about in a conversation about the increasing expense of buying gifts and the decreasing need for more "stuff." So now a birthday card is given, sometimes with a small gift of a bar of chocolate or something similar, and we're very happy with that. Just have the conversation honeyrose; you'll probably find that your friend is on the same wavelength as you and will be relieved you've suggested it.

PetitFromage Mon 31-Aug-20 09:52:28

Why not just take her out for a meal instead and she can reciprocate on your birthday, much easier. Otherwise, something consumable like flowers, champagne, chocolates are always welcome. I agree that we all have too much 'stuff' and don't need any more. Don't overthink it. A thoughtful card would be more than enough for me.

Illte Mon 31-Aug-20 10:26:15

A few years, a group of fiends I am part of decided we would turn "hobbit" and do presents for others on our birthday. The "presents" are a day out arranged by whoever has the birthday.

A day at a beach hut, the races, an exhibition at the V and A. It's worked really well until this year😕 But we'll catch up later 😁

Illte Mon 31-Aug-20 10:26:44

Oh dear friends not fiends😳

H1954 Mon 31-Aug-20 10:34:27

I've "observed" a situation like this that turned out to be a case of who could buy the best gift. I would be tempted to tell the friend that you don't wish to continue buying birthday giftts for each other and plan a meal out instead, as already suggested by another comment.

Roses Mon 31-Aug-20 10:43:06

I waited until my birthday was coming up and told friends not to buy a gift as we all have so many grandchildren to buy for these days.
I love a card and always try to find a special one for my friends, I think they were just as happy as me not to buy a present

Gwenisgreat1 Mon 31-Aug-20 10:50:33

I have a friend who has asked for souvenirs from anywhere I've been (thin on the ground just now). She does go to more exotic places than I do and usually brings me something - basically presents mean a lot to her (she does live mostly on her own). She does graciously receive whatever I get her and I generally get her something when I see it (Could be today for Xmas or even for her birthday in March). Next trick is remembering where I've put her present!!

TwiceAsNice Tue 01-Sep-20 06:25:25

I do buy presents for two friends I’ve known for 31 years and my very best friend , who is more like a sister to me, who I’ve known for 58 years. I can’t see that stopping and as we know each other so well it’s not a problem.

I used to buy for another two friends but they actually suggested we stop and we now only send cards . I was pleased about that as Id found them harder to buy for . I think if you know someone well enough to buy them regular presents you can have a tactful conversation

NannyJan53 Tue 01-Sep-20 06:53:37

My friend and I treat each other to lunch on our birthdays.

Dorsetcupcake61 Tue 01-Sep-20 07:40:31

I think there I several ways of looking at this issue.
I remember one Christmas standing in a department store surrounded by gifts and being hit by the silliness of people probably exchanging the same type of generic gift based on the expectation to swap gifts rather than it being a genuine item someone might want.
Of course it depends on the individual. Some people have large friendship/family groups and it can all get a bit out of hand. Most of us have to much "stuff". I'm terrible to buy for . I prefer to buy own toiletries and dont really need anything specific! For the past two Christmases my eldest daughter has bought me a subscription to my favourite magazine which is an ongoing delight.
There is nothing more delightful than a present the recipient will love. I think for a wider group of friends if you are finding present buying repetitive etc its brilliant to find alternatives such as a meal or a coffee and cake. Even within family we set a limit financially. If you are good at crafts/ baking something home made can be more individual and meaningful.
Some people however like lots of presents and cards and would be upset at thought of not receiving any. I suppose the only way you can approach it is a conversation along the lines of " I dont know about you,but i would rather celebrate by being given a card and spending time together ". Depending on the other persons response take it from there.

Susan56 Tue 01-Sep-20 08:15:54

My friend and I decided a couple of years ago that instead of a gift we would meet for lunch or afternoon tea for our birthdays.It doesn’t have to be expensive,there are plenty of really good deals around.

I used to buy for another friend and her four children and realised we were just meeting up twice a year to swap presents.I did find the conversation awkward,it took me a couple of years to bring the subject up but wish I had said something earlier.

My husband has a very large family.We were expected to buy for everybody but have now said once the children reach 18 we stop.Not a popular move🙄We would like to stop buying for his siblings and just buy for the younger children in the family but can’t see it happening anytime soon🙄

Moggycuddler Tue 01-Sep-20 10:19:03

It can get very silly, the gift buying thing. Spending loads of money on things that it's quite likely the other person doesn't like/need. And having to pretend to like things we've been given and then sneaking them off to a charity shop. And nobody wants to be the one to say "Let's stop doing this" because it seems mean. I have a friend who spends about £40-50 on me every time, giving me books, dvds and cds that I very rarely like - or sometimes already have! And I pretty much do the same back. Just silly. I've been toying with the idea of suggesting that we just exchange cards and maybe a box of chocs or biscuits. We could both save money.

Pippa22 Tue 01-Sep-20 10:22:52

Just before Covid my small group of close friends decided that we would stop buying presents for each other and instead have a day out near each persons birthday, National Trust visit, afternoon tea, a walk with a lunch at the end. Unfortunately we haven’t been able to try it out yet but we will ....

RosesAreRed21 Tue 01-Sep-20 10:26:46

Why don’t you suggest that the two of you treat yourself to a lovely day out / afternoon tea / pamper day instead of buying presents. Say trying to choose the right present is getting harder and harder

jaylucy Tue 01-Sep-20 10:29:34

Just say that instead of buying presents, you think it is a good idea that you treat each other to lunch or afternoon tea , that you don't know about her, but you are running out of inspiration - either that or say that you don't want her to spend money on you as you would be quite happy with a bunch of flowers from a market or the supermarket. You could always make a comment about how nice supermarket flowers are now!

Froglady Tue 01-Sep-20 10:29:35

I used to have a friend who would never post presents to me, she had to call in with them; so one year I ended up with 2 Christmas presents and one birthday present as she had struggled to find time to call round. We eventually agreed to stop the Christmas presents but she wanted to keep on with the birthday presents, although I would have been happier with stopping both as it still left the problem of her not posting them. I suggested gift vouchers as a way round this but no it had to be an actual present.
I'm not quite sure how we don't give birthday presents now, but somehow it waned off and I am so relieved.

Aepgirl Tue 01-Sep-20 10:31:40

A good excuse now is ‘Since Covid I don’t feel comfortable going to the shops, so I regret there will be no present this year’.

Froglady Tue 01-Sep-20 10:32:28

Further to my other post, I would prefer people to post presents, as I do with theirs, rather than always having to come round, as that means I have to put myself out trying to make sure I'm in and even when I've asked them not to come round, this one particular friend will still come round to deliver said presents and that puts my day out. I know that I'm ungrateful but just wish people would post things!

Cabbie21 Tue 01-Sep-20 10:41:32

I am hoping Covid is the excuse I can give for not buying presents any more. I am not going shopping except for essentials. Yes I know I can buy things online, but that means deciding on something specific, which is the hard part.

I am not even sure I can suggest the alternative of going out for a meal, as I do not yet feel comfortable with that.

inishowen Tue 01-Sep-20 11:09:33

My friend and I no longer buy gifts but take each other out for breakfast. We have a good chat. This year I missed out due to the fact that she's shielding.

Hawera1 Tue 01-Sep-20 11:21:07

I stopped buying for my friend. It was like I love to.get lots of presents but I stood my ground. She always gave me such rubbish and it either broke or ended in the bin. I was getting no.joy. You do reach the stage and age in life where you need absolutely no more tat. I'd rather get a phone call.