Dear Abby…

closePlease note: This post was published over a year ago, so please be aware that its content may not be quite so accurate anymore. Also, the format of the site has changed since it was published, so please excuse any formatting issues.

I have been invited to go to a birthday party this weekend in a couple of weeks by one of my adult friends (yes, I have friends who are twice my age. So?) The invitation says not to bring a gift, but on a recent episode of The Loop (which I think is an overall pretty enjoyable show), Sam found himself in a similar situation. His boss, who is at least twice as old as Sam, invites everyone to a party and insists that no one should get him any gifts. So, of course, everyone goes out and buys him the most expensive and elaborate gifts they could think of. In other words, no gifts meant that you had damn well better have a gift.

So which is it?

Am I supposed to bring a gift, or should I really show up empty-handed? I’ve never really been in this situation before, so I don’t know how people handle these things. I mean, in my mind, if you say no gifts, then I don’t bring you a gift, that’s your own fault and you have nothing to be sore about. But I know how other people (especially women, which is who the birthday is for) tend to think, so I think that saying no gifts really means, “I’m going to be polite and invite you to my party. I’m going to be extra-polite and say no gifts. And if you happen to get me that cute sweater at Macy’s, I won’t be disappointed. No, the red one. Size 6.”

Do you think I should bring a “just-in-case” gift?

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  1. Were you invited to that super secret party that I got an e-mail for as well?

    I’d show up empty handed. I agree that if they don’t say anything about bringing gifts…it’s their fault!

    But you could always leave a just in case bottle of wine or flowers in the car…?

  2. Yeah, it’s the same party. I’m thinking of bringing a bottle of wine. That way, if I need a present then I’m prepared, but if not, then I can just play it off as a, “I’ve never been to your house before” type of thing.

  3. I don’t let people give me gifts on my birthday either. It’s nice to see that practice spreading. ^_^

    For me, no gifts means NO GIFTS. Because, chances are, whatever you thought was a nice gift was actually either:

    1. crap, which I don’t want cluttering up my space, or
    2. cool, and therefore something I already own.

    Let’s face it, nobody knows my interests better than I do. And, I have a job, I can afford to buy my own things. I don’t need to wait for other people and special occasions to collide to get it for me.

    So, instead of subjecting you to the profound look of disappointment on my face when I open your present, NO GIFTS. Better for you, better for me.

    That being said, a bottle of wine is always welcome. It’s not a gift! It’s functional!

  4. You could always just buy a gift card. It’s a gift, but not really. Might be a good compromise.

  5. I agree with Phoenix that most people, while they may be very close friends, have no idea what to get me for gifts. I don’t like useless crap that’s just going to clutter up my desk (I have enough of that as it is); I’d much rather have something I can actually use or eat. Cash or gift cards, as Mike mentioned, are nice because then I can buy what I want when I want it.

  6. I think the bottle of wine is a good idea.

    And when I say no gifts, I mean it. We had a housewarming a few months back and I specified no gifts, and I was actually secretly a bit *irritated* that at least half of the people DID bring gifts. It made me feel bad for the people who took me at my word, and bothered me that the other people didn’t respect my wishes.

    The wine is a good idea though, just like you said.

  7. Bring food. A bottle of wine is perfect. It’s not a gift, but you’re still bringing something. Look online for recommendations of wine in the 15-20 dollar range (that way it’s not like you’re spending a ton, and it’s not like “you got WHAT kind of wine?!”). Once I had a party and I told everyone to bring wine. So we had one bottle per person and then we drank it all…yeah. I like wine.

  8. Ben

    Give your friend a gift! Happy Birthday!

  9. So I’ll second the wine. It’s a…housewarming gift.

    Another idea though is to donate something to a charity that they’d like, and tell them all about it in a card. You know… cards are always thoughtful and you get to show them how giving yet non-materialistic you are. 🙂

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