I love celebrating the birthdays of all the kiddos I know and love in my life. There’s really nothing like watching these children grow up (too dang fast!) into sweet, smart, and adorable little humans. There’s one thing about birthdays that I hate more than anything in the whole entire world, and that’s the whole hoopla surrounding gifts. Now, everyone has their own opinion regarding the giving and receiving of gifts and how to handle even the mere mention of gifts on party invites. Some people feel like it’s tacky to even bring up the subject at all. Like all opinions, you are definitely entitled to yours. As I am. This is my opinion on the matter and certainly your prerogative to take or leave.
It’s The Absolute Worst
It’s not a financial issue or anything. I hate gift-giving mostly because I’m terrible at it. It is 100% not one of my Love Languages. I myself don’t feel loved when I receive gifts, and it’s not how you’re going to know that I care about you. (I’m more a Words of Affirmation type of girl and I try to shower my loved ones with thoughtful words of praise and admiration whenever I can!) I never know what to get or what amount is too much or too little to spend. Agh! It’s maddening for me!
Honestly, I probably put a lot of unnecessary emphasis on the whole gift-giving process, a la Sheldon Cooper. But I think for me it’s a matter of uniformity of expectations. I try to treat all of my friends the same and how I would like to be treated. So I would either expect none of my friends to bring a gift, or I would expect all of them to. And I know not everyone is financially or logistically able to give gifts, so I could just never make anyone feel like my confirmation or security of our friendship depended upon the exchange of things. Thus, I just assume not expect anything from anyone. But I get that that’s totally just me. Regardless, the whole process just really stresses me out and is yet another decision that I am tasked with making.
Extra Stuff Stresses Me Out
There are some out there who are so on top of this game and always have gifts on hand. I stand in complete awe of those magical unicorns! But I detest clutter and “stuff,” and probably could not handle just a pile of things in my closet that I might one day give away.
Also, I’m a total purger and don’t really hang onto things like cards or mementos for sentimental value. If I ain’t used it 6 months, out it goes! So, I would feel guilty giving somebody else something that didn’t significantly add some value into their everyday life. This is especially true for mamas who already battle a billion toys strewn about the house every day. I wouldn’t want to add to that carnage. I may be putting way too much pressure on how great or useful a gift needs to be, but I’m just such a pragmatist that I can’t give somebody something “just because.”
So What’s A Girl To Do?
Because of my lifetime membership to Gifting Failures Anonymous, I’m left with only two options: 1) don’t attend parties and hence don’t give a gift; or 2) figure out a solution to this ever-present conundrum. Since Option #1 isn’t going to happen, I’ve developed a system that may not be perfect or up to other people’s standards but works great for me.
First of all, if your party invite says “No Gifts Please,” I’m taking that as gospel and I. DON’T. BRING. ONE! I loathe the dance we do about whether or not you should bring a small gift anyways because what if everyone else did and you’re the jerk who shows up empty handed? But then there’s also that awkward moment where you’re the only one who did bring one and then you look like the snobby one-upper. It’s all just too much, and I can’t live my life trying to read between the lines. I will only act according to the words that you say to me. #sorrynotsorry #saywhatyoumean #meanwhatyousay
But if there’s no such disclaimer, then I do my own version of the whole “experiences over stuff” deal. I stock up on $10 Chick-Fil-A gift cards and that’s what you get. Sometimes you get it in a birthday card, but usually it comes with “Happy Brithday Suzie!” written in Sharpie on the front. (However, it just dawned on me that maybe I should also stock up on inexpensive cards from the Dollar Store. #winning)
I figure this kills a few birds with one stone: it gives Mom a free, easy meal one day; all kids appreciate some delicious nuggets and waffle fries; and the Play Place is always a winner. Moms can decide whether they want to take little Johnny by himself as a special extended birthday outing, or just use it seamlessly in daily life. Whatever works for you! This seems to fit my need to be practical, but also allows me to give a gift that the child (and mom) will likely enjoy!
What about you? Do you also struggle hard with gift giving or do you have any better ideas for a mom like me who cannot seem to get this issue under control?