Sorry, Gift Grabbers: No One Is Required To Buy Your Kid A Birthday Present

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stack-of-colorful-presentsBirthdays are merry occasions where you eat sweets and get surprised by how genuinely your friends and loved ones care for you. They send you cards, they join in the festivities, and some even spend time and money picking out special gifts just for you. It’s a humbling and heartwarming experience, really. Or, at least it should be if you’re not a greedy butthead.

A woman wrote in to the Chicago Tribune‘s Ask Amy column this week with a question regarding what’s “fair” when it comes to birthday gifts. See, this woman has an only child and she feels like her poor only child gets “ripped off” on the birthday circuit when a pair of siblings attend her party and only bring one gift.

For example, I typically spend around $30 per gift for a child, and $30 more for the sibling’s birthday when that rolls around, but the gift their family provides to our one child is a $30 value and comes addressed from both kids.

We normally have our daughter’s party at an external place such as the zoo and have to pay per party guest, so we are also paying admission for each of the family’s two children. Is it unreasonable to expect a gift from each attendee — or a gift with a higher value if they combine?

Aren’t they double dipping?

Is it unreasonable to expect a gift from each attendee, she asks? Well, no. I’d say it’s unreasonable to expect a gift at all.

Sure, gifts are kind of an unstated part of the whole birthday thing, but you have to admit the blatant expectation of gifts is pretty gross. I generally know my kid is going to get presents when I plan her birthday party, but not once have I sat down and calculated how much I spent on party supplies, what I bought for other children on past occasions, and whether or not I feel the party attendees have done enough to break even in my book. I would never hold it against someone if they spent less than me, or even if they didn’t bring a gift at all.

Birthday parties don’t have an admission fee. Your decision to throw a party at the most expensive venue in town doesn’t mean your kid’s friends owe you something in return, and no parent is required to spend double your personal limit just because they happen to have two kids. You should just be grateful they brought something and set aside time to attend your celebration. If you feel strongly that you’re overspending, then scale it back. A gift is a polite gesture, not a unit by which you should measure friends in your awkward birthday party bookkeeping.

(Photo:  / Shutterstock)