General Etiquette > Life...in general

1st birthday party - what's my obligation? update p#18, 32

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Shopaholic:
DH has a group of friends I am not extremely fond of. They're perfectly nice people, but I just don't mesh well with them.
Their conversations tend to revolve around "you won't believe what happened last time I flew first class." and "our latest Club Med vacation." : a constant stream of one-uppmanship revolving around money and lifestyle.
Not exactly my type of crowd, nor my DH's so I sometimes wonder why he really likes these people, and makes significant attempts to impress them.

Friend and Wife had Baby a year ago. Since then I've seen them three times.
Now we are invited to Baby's 1st birthday party It is being held at Wife's parents' house - about a 20-30 minute drive from where we live.

My questions are:
1. Do I need to bring a gift?
2. How long do I need to stay?

Now, the considerations:
The three times I have seen them in the last year:

1. A small "meet the baby" dinner, just friends - we brought baby an outfit from a well-known, pricey shop and a bottle of wine. This group is in the habit of pooling (a lot of) money for major gifts when one has a birthday (i.e.  a wine refrigerator.) However, when I invited them to DH's birthday party they didn't even bring a bottle of wine.

2. A large "welcome baby" party - aka "shell out a large sum in order to have brunch with your friends in a room with our relatives". I hate these things, but DH really wanted to go. We gave a substantial cash gift.

3. Our Independence Day BBQ - althought the original plan was for us to organize everything, and eventually split the cost, for some reason DH decided to tell this group of friends that we were hosting completely. While other members of this group brought dessert/wine to share, Friend and Wife brought nothing at all.

Considering all this, I am really not in the mood for buying Baby another gift. It's not so much about the money, but clearly these people have different gift-giving mentalities. On the other hand, it's not really Baby's fault so I was considering buying something small, like a book.

For the second question -
My best friend just gave birth. She lives an hour away and I rarely have the car, so my only option of seeing her and her new baby is the weekend. DH is willing to come with me, after the birthday party.
He told me to "consider that it will be late afternoon, because we have the party first."
Ummm... the invitation is for 10 AM, how long exactly to you expect to be at a 1st birthday party??

So, I'm asking you - how long do we need to stay? I think that most people probably won't be there before 10:30, but staying until 12:30-13:00 seems long enough to me.
Opinions?

snowdragon:
I would be out by 10:30 - "Hi, really can't stay, but we wanted to wish your precious angel a happy birthday"  coo over the birthday kid and make small talk and leave.

Deetee:
If you go, I think you need to bring a gift, but it can be small. Actually it should be small. FTR all the one year parties that I attend that are for friends are non gift-giving events so I don't like saying you should bring a gift, but it seems socially expected in this case.

The length of the party can be extremely variable. Because the party is for the attendees and not for the child, the parties can be a lot more party-like than later ones. A one year old is not really aware of the party, where a 3 year year old is. So I have found that parties for one year olds can be very sedate 4 person events up to a 60 person hours long party.

I would be inclined to decline overall, but I also think attending for 2 hours is totally fine (as no end time was given) and may be expected.

cicero:
It's a  birthday party, you should bring a gift. Definitely something small/inexpensive - a book, CD, doll that clips onto the stroller etc.

If the party will start around 10.30, i think you could leave around 11.30-12. i would give the hosts a head's up - in case they are planning to serve lunch "wow, can't believe Baby is a year old already. anyway, just wanted to let you know we will be at the party but we have to leave at X"

you know, you say they are "perfectly nice people, but I just don't mesh well with them." I think that they *aren't* so nice - if they know how to demand money from you for group gifts but don't know how to give your husband a gift when it's his turn and when they show up for a BBQ empty handed ( I could maybe give them a partial pass for that one but it seems to be a theme with them), then they aren't very nice.

katycoo:
If you go at all, you must take a gift.  You do not need to spend a lot. And if I couldn't stay at least an hour, I wouldn't go at all.  I'd probably plan to arrive at 10 and leave at 12

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