I have a birthday twin!
June 5, 2012 10:59 AM   Subscribe

Birthday etiquette question involving siblings, one of whom shares my birthday.

I just found out that my friend's daughter (who will be 13 soon) shares my birthday. I've never known anyone in person who shared my birthday before!

I'd like to get her a small gift. But she has a 17-year-old sister. If I buy my birthday twin a gift, does that obligate me to buy a birthday gift for her older sister too, when her birthday rolls around? Not that I wouldn't love to buy a gift for the older daughter, but due to tight finances, if the answer is yes I will probably stick to cards only.
posted by IndigoRain to Grab Bag (17 answers total)
I think if you keep the gift small and emphasize the fun "Birthday Twins!" aspect of it, you'll be fine. A 17-year-old can handle minor gifting disparities.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 11:06 AM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

I live in a family where the vast majority of people share a birthday with someone else in the family. There are 5 sharing my birthday, for example, and 3 sharing my father's birthday. 3 share my mother's birthday, actually.

I guess this situation so normal for me, it isn't worth remarking on, but if you really feel like commemorating it, and if you're already going the route of sending a card, why not splash out on a nicer one, or a silly one with googly eyes and blinking lights, or something?
posted by LN at 11:07 AM on June 5, 2012

I grew up with a younger sister who shares my birthday and was always resentful of it (two way street: she'd always blow out my candles). Not sure if it's even worth going into the coincidence of it with your friend's daughter due to that steal-the-limelight effect, but if you do get her something you're certainly not obligated to do so for the 17 year old, in the same way that we stop hosting at a certain age the kind of birthday parties where everyone's expected to bring a gift
posted by MangyCarface at 11:12 AM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

A 17-year-old can handle minor gifting disparities.

Well, I'm 31 years old and I don't understand why only the 13-year-old would get a gift. I wouldn't be surprised if the 17-year-old found it unfair. By the way, it's extremely common for people to share birthdays — the chances of two people sharing a birthday are 50% in a group of just 23 people.
posted by John Cohen at 11:29 AM on June 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

When I was little, a woman who worked in my father's office would send me cards as her birthday twin. I don't recall gifts, just cards, but I found it very sweet and special. She did not send my brothers cards, as I recall, and I don't think they cared - it was just a nice thing to acknowledge the coincidence.
posted by judith at 12:01 PM on June 5, 2012

... why only the 13-year-old would get a gift.

Because only the 13yo shares the OP's birthday?
posted by Bruce H. at 12:32 PM on June 5, 2012

I understand the thought behind it, but gifting one and not the other is a bit iffy. How about this: bring over a small cake, cupcakes or candy that could be something like "hey it's my birthday too and since it's yours, how about we share some cake?" That seems less like a GIFT-gift and seems more obvious why you'd only do that with her.
posted by Eicats at 12:53 PM on June 5, 2012 [6 favorites]

I think 13 and 17 is too old for this to be an issue. If they were 3 and 7, then yes. But the 17 year old won't care. Get something little and fun for the 13-year old and don't worry about her older sister with whom you have no connection at all.
posted by chickenmagazine at 1:02 PM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

Fun! I think it is absolutely fine to get a gift for one child and not the other - a 17-year-old should be plenty old enough not to care about the gift disparity (if she even notices it - I think most high schoolers are probably focused on other things besides their little sister getting a small gift). It would be one thing if you were purchasing a major gift like a laptop, but I'm assuming from your post that's out of the question.
posted by rainbowbrite at 1:21 PM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

Going with the "no gift". We say a 17 year old SHOULD be able to not get jealous, but a 17 year old is still technically a child (minor). It's still an awkward time, and slights in favor of the younger sister might be taken poorly.

The only time I received a birthday present/card from one family friend/relative and my sister didn't (or vise versa) was with godparents - where it was pretty well known that the non-gift receiving sibling would be getting an equivalent gift later down the line.

...overall I think it would just be weird to celebrate a 13-year-old girl's birthday if you've just met her...go with the cupcakes, I think.
posted by Lt. Bunny Wigglesworth at 1:49 PM on June 5, 2012

I think that if you keep the gift small it shouldn't be an issue. A 17 year old can (hopefully) handle it.
posted by pintapicasso at 2:05 PM on June 5, 2012

"the chances of two people sharing a birthday are 50% in a group of just 23 people."

This doesn't make sense to me. Let's say my birthday is January 1. If there is a random person, then their odds of having the same birthday as me is 1 in 365. A second random person's odds of having the same birthday as either of us is 2 in 365. And so on.

So how could it be a 50% chance with such a small sample?

Am I confused?
posted by tacodave at 2:17 PM on June 5, 2012

tacodave : I've seen it mentioned here before, here's the wikipedia page that explains it : Birthday problem.
posted by domi_p at 2:32 PM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

How well do you know the 13 year old? Do you know the 17 year old at all? If you're a family friend/know the older one well, I'd say gift them both. If you only know the one kid at all, it makes sense to not gift someone you don't know.

If you don't know the 13 year old OR the 17 year old at all, it seems odd to me to send anyone gifts, even if she has the same birthday, though. Maybe just a card?
posted by jenfullmoon at 3:21 PM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

They're both daughters of your friend, right? To me, it seems weird to give one a gift and not the other -- why risk hurting the other kid's feelings, you know? However, bringing cupcakes (for everyone) for your shared birthday is festive, recognizes the occasion, and EVERYONE enjoys it, because cupcakes for all!
posted by Countess Sandwich at 5:08 PM on June 5, 2012

The girls are old enough that you don't need to be strictly even-steven to the letter of the law. It depends on their temperaments, but y'know, comparisons are odious. Getting them each a present for their birthdays kind of waters down the "birthday twin" thing, and, if the older sister is inclined to be jealous, it makes her birthday present intrinsically less special.

Take this as an opportunity to let them both be snowflakes. It's a revelation as a teenager to have adults in your life who treat you as individual human beings rather than "the kids," "the girls," "the sisters."

There's undoubtedly something that you have in common with the older daughter which can be developed into your "thing" with her, and it doesn't need to be something that obligates you to be spending a lot of money. Like a shared love of a particular food that you bring just for her, or just-between-you-two geeking out over a particular genre of music or books.
posted by desuetude at 7:58 PM on June 5, 2012

Okay, cards (and maybe cupcakes) for everyone!
posted by IndigoRain at 5:51 PM on June 6, 2012

« Older 100LB Pound of Bentonite DFW   |   Park-n-Ride Chicago along I-88 Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.