General Etiquette > Family and Children

Birthday Gift Question

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I've recently been told that my SIL is planning a surprise birthday party for DH's brother.  It will be a simple family gathering at their home.  My husband and I disagree over whether we need to buy a gift.  I had all the in-laws over for DH's birthday in 2012, and this particular couple did not bring either a card or gift.  I told DH that I would offer to bring a food dish of some kind, but did not feel that we needed to buy a gift.  Thoughts?

That's tough.  Following their lead I would say you don't have to give a gift.  OTOH, since this is DH's brother, I would let him take the lead and if her wants to give a gift I would not try to talk him out of it.

I would not offer a food dish unless asked.  Buy a card and take that.

I agree with Sharnita that you do not *have* to buy a gift.

However, it is not polite to keep score and only give gifts to people who have given you gifts. It's one thing if you've established a "no-gift" rule with someone else. It's quite another if your gift-giving has strings attached. The traditional rule of gift-giving is that you are only entitled to a thank-you.

If the reason that you don't want to give a gift is that the occasion is very casual and you don't feel a gift would be appropriate, or you are financially strained, then maybe get a nice card. However, if the primary reason that you don't want to get BIL a gift is that he and his wife didn't get one for your DH at his last birthday, it seems a bit spiteful.

If your hubby wants to get something for his brother, then let him get something. Remember, gift-giving benefits both the giver and the recipient. If doing something nice for his brother will give your husband joy, I think that's reason enough to let him.

POD to following your DH's lead on this.  Unless they've established a "no gifts" policy your DH can get BIL a gift if he chooses.


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