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Author Topic: Gifts between singles and couples - how do you do it?  (Read 24385 times)

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Re: Gifts between singles and couples - how do you do it?
« Reply #15 on: November 13, 2012, 12:53:10 AM »
I give individual gifts when I am close to both halves of the couple and joint gifts ("this is for you, and your husband might enjoy it too") if I am only friendly with one half.

My logic is as follows:

I think that if couples give joint gifts, they should be prepared to receive joint gifts.

If there are two names on a card it should ideally mean that 2 people put some thought into the gift.  In cases where the two people are not a social unit (say 2 friends who pool resources to get a third friend a better gift), it is unlikely that someone will allow another person to add their name to the card if they didn't help out somehow. 

With a social unit that is not true,  people are added for just being the SO. The card can signify one of two things:
  • Both halves of the couple put some thought into the gift, I'd think they should receive individual gifts in return because they are just "pooling resources" like the friends that were not a social unit. 
  • One half of the couple doesn't care at all and just gets the name signed at the end.  Ideally the receiver should be able to show the same level of care towards that person (none).  But in a gift exchange not giving a gift to Wife (who signed the card, but really got you nothing) would be rude.  So a couple's present is a good alternative. 
Unfortunately both of these situations look the same on the card.

So I see the standard as "The Does" gave me a gift,  so I'll give "The Does" a gift.  Giving John and Jane their own gifts goes above and beyond.  If John and Jane  gave separate gifts, a couple's gift would not be appropriate.

ETA: sounded like I was trying to say "You are all so wrong" rather than explain my pint of view, so I changed it.
« Last Edit: November 13, 2012, 01:11:15 AM by KayMarie »


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Re: Gifts between singles and couples - how do you do it?
« Reply #16 on: November 13, 2012, 01:12:04 AM »
I would either give a joint gift (if you find something clever they can both enjoy) or give them individual gifts; spend the same amount you usually would for your sister (in other words, divide that amount by two if you're getting individual gifts.)

If you don't know what the brother-in-law would like, ask your sister or him, or send an email asking for suggestions.

I don't like the idea of spending more on the half of the couple you know best. I think this could cause hurt feelings, and your sister might not appreciate your slighting her DH. My kids are both married, and my rule is to treat my son-in-law and daughter-in-law at least as well as I treat my own children. My kids would be greatly offended if I didn't.

When I married into DH's family, his family was just as thoughtful and generous towards me as they were to him. This is part of how you get to know people who marry into the family, and how family bonds are formed. Don't ever treat new people in the family as outsiders.


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Re: Gifts between singles and couples - how do you do it?
« Reply #17 on: November 13, 2012, 08:50:17 AM »
OP, in your situation, I would consider getting one gift for the both of them.  Consider looking at their wedding registry if it is still active and maybe consider getting an nice item from it that was never purchased.

For me, I only have one sister and she has a boyfriend now.  I will be getting them separate gifts this year.  If they should decide to move in, get engaged, and married, I may switch to giving a joint gift, especially if its a nice, higher end kitchen/home gadget that they can both use.


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Re: Gifts between singles and couples - how do you do it?
« Reply #18 on: November 13, 2012, 11:18:33 AM »
I dislike the idea that gifts have to "even out". I give gifts to people either because I want to make them happier or (unfortunately) because of social conventions. I don't keep tabs on how much they spent vs how much I spent, except in effort over a long period (hey, everyone has had busy times when they just can't make the effort but it shouldn't be every time). I would be heartily offended if I knew anyone was keeping this sort of tally. I don't know their budget, salary, debts or spending priorities. They sure don't know my to judge me by it.

Never caring to give a thoughtful gift, however, may indicate other problems in the relationship. Or not- some people just aren't gift givers and they enrich my live in other ways that more than compensates the value of any gift I give (or giving a gift is cheaper than dealing with the fallout - right, Uncle Nasty?).

This is the way I look at it.

And I have different patterns.

With some friendships (I'm thinking my single best friend), she gets a gift from me and a separate one from my DH; and she gives similarly.

With relatives it's harder.

in my DH's family, we often give couple-to-couple, and kids receive gifts but don't give them. Until they're grown, and then they're sort of expected to give a gift to the family/couple. If they don't seem to do so, then our gifts to them kind of fade out.

I also am completely comfortable buying a specific gift for the cousin with whom I've had more specific interaction, but not buying anything for his brother, with whom I've seldom spoken in the intervening year. Or, he gets a more generic gift.

With my Aunt Betty, kids give presents individually as well as receive them; DH doesn't really give a gift individually although he receives one. But then, the gift that I give to her w/ both our names on it is often splurgier, or there are two or three of them (but only one to me and one to DH).

It's more important to me that there be messages traveling than that the money add up.


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Re: Gifts between singles and couples - how do you do it?
« Reply #19 on: November 13, 2012, 11:21:39 AM »
came back to say:

I would always feel comfortable buying more for my sibling than for my sibling's spouse. I would expect the spouse to recognize that my sibling and I have a relationship that's much closer than ANY other relationship.

And I would be working on building a relationship with my new in-law, so I'd be making a genuine effort to get a thoughtful gift for HIM. It wouldn't be as valuable, and it might be only one compared with my sister's 4.

A couple's gift would be right out.

This is how my best friend and I do it--I buy her 2 or 3 presents; she buys me 2 or 3. She gets DH (which whom she is a good friend now) only 1.


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Re: Gifts between singles and couples - how do you do it?
« Reply #20 on: November 13, 2012, 11:59:53 AM »
I think how you gift depends on your personal relationship with the couple.  In your case, you are talking about a man that is also your BIL.  That implies, that even if you don't know him well today, you probably will in the future.  He is now a part of your family and you should make an effort to gift him like you do any other member of your family.  I don't think that means you have to "even" out the gifts though.  You can choose to get a family gift you think they'd both enjoy, but if you do gift separately, don't feel obligated to match his gift with your sister's.  You have a much different relationship with her and can get her "more" without feeling bad.  But, it would be a kind gesture to get your new BIL something.  To show your acceptance and to start weaving him into your family traditions of gift giving.

Also, I can understand why you may find it awkward to have your friend sign a gift from her husband when you don't know him and don't exchange gifts with him.  In this case, I wouldn't worry about not getting him anything.  I think it's perfectly fine to continue to gift your friend and not her husband.  She probably does just sign his name automatically and if they have a joing account, then the gift is technically from him too.  But I don't think you should feel obligated to get him something specifically.


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Re: Gifts between singles and couples - how do you do it?
« Reply #21 on: November 13, 2012, 02:59:27 PM »
I think you have to shake out what works best for you.  My family does a grab bag, so we don't stress too much about it. 

DHs family gifts to everyone individually, children do no reciprocate.  DH and I thought it was important to teach our kids to give back, so we changed it up and our kids gift to those who gift them.  DH and I also went to couple gifts, instead of individual, our gift list was getting really long and complicated.  Our budget for couples and individuals are exactly the same.  We felt it was hard watching the singles get singled out, so we changed to suit our gifting preferences.  The rest of his family does not do it this way but it's fine to us.  They can choose how they want to gift, we don't have to be on the same page.

There were struggles over the years about gifting preferences, so much so that I pretty much didn't want to participate.  Until the light sprang on that we can do it our way.


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Re: Gifts between singles and couples - how do you do it?
« Reply #22 on: November 13, 2012, 04:20:54 PM »
mj, as a single with all married (with children) I have to say that is really thoughtful and kind.  It isn't that I am trying to keep track or anything and my family really is loving and I think most of them have realized but to some extent if you are the single unloading your car with say 16 gifts for individuals and then get 5 gifts or so from units it isn't like a tally is actually needed.  We did institute a system of drawing names among the sibs/sibILs a few years back.


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Re: Gifts between singles and couples - how do you do it?
« Reply #23 on: November 20, 2012, 10:36:02 PM »
Like most other posters, it depends on my relationship with the couple. If I'm friends with both of them, I will buy them separate gifts or a joint gift, depending on what strikes my fancy. If I'm really only good friends with one half of the couple and don't interact with their significant other, then I buy a present just for my friend. If I interact with both on a regular basis but know one half better or don't like one person, joint present all the way.

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Re: Gifts between singles and couples - how do you do it?
« Reply #24 on: November 21, 2012, 06:47:49 AM »
My preference is to do individual gifts for everyone.  Personally I don't like couple gifts because it usually ends up being more for one person than for both people.  At least, that's been my experience.  In any case, I love buying gifts for people, and giving them things, so I like to give individual gifts. 


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Re: Gifts between singles and couples - how do you do it?
« Reply #25 on: November 21, 2012, 08:25:49 AM »
It depends on the couple and my relationship with them.

If I only know one half of the couple I will get something for that person and not get a gift for their spouse.

If I know them both but one if a close friend and the other is someone I know because they are 'soandso's partner' then I will either buy something for my friend, and a small joint gift, or else a gift to them as a couple. Either way, I would probably spend a similar amount as  would if buying just for the one I'm closest too, or a little more.

If I know both of them very well (for instance, my sister and BiL, friend's partner who has become a friend in his own right) then I will buy gifts for both,or a joint gift. I don't tend to have a set budget so what I spend isn't particularly about whether they are a couple or not.

I have no problem at all with giving gifts to a couple (or even to a family) rather than to each individual member of that family, if that is the pattern which they set (ie they give one gift from multiple people) but whether I do it that way depends on the individuals, I don't have a set policy. (and sometimes, in both directions, it's really more of a gift from or two one person with happens to have both names on the label)


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Re: Gifts between singles and couples - how do you do it?
« Reply #26 on: November 21, 2012, 12:09:21 PM »
Our extended family also draws names, but just among the adults. Everyone buys for the kids, and then the adults draw names among each other. It's all individual, so there's no need to worry about couples.

This is how we do it too. It got a little silly when the couples were just starting out and had little money, and I'm the only one who is single with no kids, so we were scrambling to make it work. We now buy for our immediate family and the kids, and we exchange names with the extended family. Works out pretty well.
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Re: Gifts between singles and couples - how do you do it?
« Reply #27 on: November 21, 2012, 05:08:12 PM »
Frankly I feel like all of this is up to your personal choice and I don't see a 'right' answer.

If I co-sign a gift with Boyfriend it's because it genuine IS a co-gift. Either something we both paid money for or both put personal effort into creating together. I've never co-signed for something with him that I did not contribute to in one way or another.

If someone knows both of us individually and feels like Boyfriend would like X but feels like I would much more enjoy B and chooses to gift accordingly it is greatly appreciated. If someone does not know me well and delivers a gift to Boyfriend that is indented to be a joint gift to the both of us it will be just as equally appreciated. I cannot possibly expect every single person in Boyfriends family to know every single thing about me and what I do or do not enjoy, and if they chose to get me something that is their prerogative but not at all an expectation of mine.

It's my personal opinion that perhaps we put a little too much worry into gift-giving and should simply make our own best choices based on personal relationships.


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Re: Gifts between singles and couples - how do you do it?
« Reply #28 on: November 24, 2012, 05:49:42 PM »
I buy for a couple and it is usually a book they will both enjoy.  They have common interests such as wood and woodworking and local history. 
I've never knitted anything I could recognize when it was finished.  Actually, I've never finished anything, much to my family's relief.


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Re: Gifts between singles and couples - how do you do it?
« Reply #29 on: November 25, 2012, 05:57:16 PM »
In my family it is expected that the singles buy for both members of the couple - yet get one gift from the couple.  It does cause resentment, especially if one member of the couple is really hard to buy for, or if the couple does stuff like putting no effort into gifts or such.  I've suggested couples gifts or family gifts and have been told that I am being selfish, that the couple is two people and each deserves to receive their own gift. If I had to do it over again I would start with the couples gifts as soon as older brother got married, after a year or two it would likely be accepted, rather than letting things go and now several singles are feeling frustrated about it. 

This sounds like you're being punished for being single, also known as the Single Surcharge.

Have you considered getting all the singles together to spearhead the change?  I think you should consider this before you all end up buying not just for two halves of a couple but for individual children.