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SuperMouse's avatar

How do you feel about giving/receiving birthday gifts (see details)

Asked by SuperMouse (30785points) June 30th, 2010

My boyfriend and I are currently engaged in a debate about birthday presents. One side says that presents are a thoughtful and traditional way to show someone you are glad they are in your life. The other argues that they are a product of rampant materialism foisted upon us by greedy capitalists. Which side do lean toward? Are you somewhere in the middle of these two opinions?

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25 Answers

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

Birthdays should be celebrated! They are a great way to show someone that you care:)

majorrich's avatar

At my age so long as there are no birthday spankin’s!

RedPowerLady's avatar

I prefer to go out together to dinner. We only do presents as gestures of love but rarely are they anything significant and often go without giving them. Much prefer the time together. So I guess that is in the middle?

BTW caught this on FB. Haven’t been to Fluther often lately due to you know my happy new life with baby. :) Just mentioning so more people will post Q’s to their FB

free_fallin's avatar

If I am able to find something meaningful for the person, and I can afford it, I will buy it for them. I am a bigger fan of making things for the person. It’s a definite slippery slope through capitalism. You can discuss this about any holiday, particularly Christmas. I know of kids who become disappointed if “Santa” doesn’t bring them everything they want. Simplicity and moderation are standards I try to live by. We all need a little splurging now and then.

laureth's avatar

I think Hallmark holidays (like “Sweetest Day”) are pretty much about materialism. But Birthdays? That’s just being sweet. of course, I do try especially hard to find something the person especially needs (or very much likes), or I go in for the “experience” gifts (like dinner out, or a play or something). Or something I made! It’s about celebrating your friend or sweetie – the gift, whatever it is, is secondary.

SuperMouse's avatar

Just to add a bit of detail, we have discussed this primarily relating to children’s birthdays, specifically our children’s birthdays.

Jeruba's avatar

Gift-giving long predates rampant materialism and greedy capitalists. It has always been a way to show regard. It can express honor, affection, respect, celebration, and many other things, none of which is the province of capitalism. The world would be poorer if the giving of gifts were to vanish from the world’s cultures. Birthdays, anniversaries, and births and weddings seem to be natural occasions to mark with a gift.

Contrived and manufactured pseudo-events promoted by advertisers for the sake of material gain, now, that’s a different matter. Valentine’s presents. Easter presents. Hallowe’en presents, for heaven’s sake. Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Secretary’s Day, Boss’s Day, all with pressure to buy, buy, buy! I consider it a duty and a privilege to resist and ignore all such faux obligations.

I do treat the traditional year-end gift-giving holiday as an exception, disregarding the commercial aspect as much as possible but preserving the custom because it has always brought me such joy.

All gifts are optional and voluntary with the giver. One does not have a right to a gift. No gift is a duty, nor should it ever be taken for granted. The best gifts come from the heart and need not be material at all.

filmfann's avatar

I don’t like presents for my birthday, or for Christmas. I do give them, but I always remind people that I don’t care to receive.
It isn’t about materialism, or greed, though. It’s about feeling self important. I don’t need to feel like I am the focus of others attention; and in fact I hate it.

Val123's avatar

Well….I’d rather get a present unexpectedly out of the blue, on some random day, than specifically on my birthday. That’s to be expected. It doesn’t necessarily mean they care. It means they are Doing What They Are Supposed To Do. But an unexpected, and thoughtful, “I saw this and thought of you,” means something.

Put it this way…my husband forgets my birthday every year! I just lurk all day, waiting for one of the kids or someone to clue him in, then laugh at his shock! (It’s a little mean, but he is SO BAD about remembering ANYTHING. It can be very annoying sometimes, so that day is a little bit of HA HA!! for me : ) But I really don’t care if he remembers or not. I really don’t.

marinelife's avatar

I can see both sides of this debate. You can cut down on the consumerism side by giving something personal: a love letter, a coupon book good for acts, a homemade album or scrapbook of your time together or you could give an experience to have together: tickets to a play, a trip to a museum.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

I believe I have one mortal finite life and I don’t believe in an afterlife so every birthday I have feels like a gift and I like to celebrate and be celebrated. I’m a gift person, giving and receiving. I’m not doing it for status, to kill boredom, to make me feel secure or to gain any edge with a receiver other than JOY.

Seek's avatar

Who doesn’t love presents?

I prefer to give (and receive) a personal gift, such as a handmade craft, or a box of homemade cookies, a quirky or interesting eBay find, or an antique book that I saw and it reminded me of them. I’ll often find something and wait months before finally finding a good occasion to give it to them.

As far as my son goes, sure I buy him a few things, but I like to make the party the center of the birthday/holiday fun. He gets involved in making decorations, helping me mix cake batter… it’s a ton of fun.

casheroo's avatar

Presents for a child’s birthday? Of course!

I know plenty of people think children should only get presents for their birthday or christmas. I’ve never heard of no gifts for a birthday.
We have a closet full of gifts for my sons third birthday, so um, yeah. lol

DominicX's avatar

Giving/getting presents is fun. No one should feel like they have to do it if they don’t want to, of course. And I don’t like the whole thing about feeling obligated to get a gift, so you don’t end up putting much effort into it. It should mean something. You should give someone a gift because you want to, not just because you feel like you have to. For the most part, it’s just something fun to do and I like getting gifts for my birthday and giving gifts to other people for their birthdays (and that includes my boyfriend, siblings, friends, etc.)

Coloma's avatar

I take the middle path.

I love giving gifts but am not attached to receiving them.

Nice but not necessary.

A ‘gift’ should be just that..something that someone WANTS to give, not born of obligation or tradition.

People are waaay too hung up on the holiday and birthday scene…I’d rather be with those that I enjoy because we all WANT to, rather than toss some token thing out of a sense of ‘tradition.’

Birthdays and holidays are over rated and produce a lot of unnecessary stress for the vast majority IMO.

Cruiser's avatar

Gifts should be given and received from the heart and not done for the sake of providing a token expected gift.

perspicacious's avatar

I don’t care so much about gifts, but it’s nice when someone remembers your birthday.

YARNLADY's avatar

While we were dating, my husband told me he isn’t into present giving. I am, and I do, but I generally buy my own presents on special days, if I want them. He buys me presents every once in awhile when he see something he wants to get me, but not connected to so-called special days.

Coloma's avatar



It always amuses me how people hang such importance on anniversaries, birthdays etc. , when…. a lot of the time these so called ‘relationships are devoid of any real caring the other 364 days of the year.

I’d rather celebrate ( and I do ) every day and forego the ostentatious displays of ‘caring’ on the ‘designated’ days of the year.

It really is a rediculous facade 90% of the time.

OpryLeigh's avatar

I don’t mind giving or recieving presents (on any occassion!) but I can honestly say that, when my boyfriend asks me what I want for my birthday the only thing I relly want is for him and I to escape somewhere for the day. So, rather than presents we tend to plan a fun day out to a destination of the birthday girl or boys choice. The point is, I’d rather have someones time than a gift, now, if I can have both…that’s a whole other story!!!

RedPowerLady's avatar

Children’s birthdays I think follow the same basic premise. Go out and do something fun with them for their birthday vs. buying gifts that will likely get broken or outdated quickly anyhow.

SuperMouse's avatar

At my man’s urging (he is the “no extravagant gifts” side of this discussion), we spent the day at the zoo yesterday to celebrate my youngest son’s birthday. He had a blast and when it comes right down to it I think it turned out to be a better gift than a car or some legos that will just end up in a box somewhere. That doesn’t mean I am not itching to go out and spend some money on the kid!

RedPowerLady's avatar

@SuperMouse How wonderful!!!!
BTW I’m turning out to be quite the hypocrite b/c although I totally believe what I said and for holidays/birthdays that is what we do and will continue to do. But in the middle time I’ve become baby toy obsessed and baby book obsessed :(

SuperMouse's avatar

@RedPowerLady nurture that baby book obsession! Buy them all, every single one of them! It is impossible to own too many children’s books.

NaturallyMe's avatar

The only reason i do b’day gifts is because it’s fun for me to give people presents or make them something cute myself. :D I have no problem buying my husband 10 gifts and wrapping them all up differently – i probably enjoy gift giving more than he does receiving, hehe. Plus it’s fun to unwrap gifts and see the surprise that you get – i love surprises.
It may very well be some money making scheme that started goodness knows when, but that’s not going to stop me from celebrating b’day by giving gifts. Also, the same goes for Chistmas gifts. I’m not even religious but i love christmas because of the gifts that our family always give each other, it’s just fun. Oh, and the food is the other good part about christmas, but that’s going off topic here.

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