Oh, I didn't know we gave gifts in this friend group
December 23, 2019 3:33 PM   Subscribe

Have a new friend group this year. Didn't think they did gifts. Surprise, they did! Now I feel really bad because I didn't! Now what?

So I made new friends through a hobby this year. This group of people have been hanging around for a few years together, so one night when the rest of them were away, I asked Friend A if this social circle did gifts. She said they did not.

Surprise! I went to a party last night with Friends B, C, and D and Friends B and C surprised gifted me and Friend D (who presumably didn't know this was gonna happen either even though she's been in this longer than me) last night and uh, I felt really bad for not having anything. Especially since one of them in particular uh... gave me a lot.

What do I do now? Give late gifts? Just ignore the situation? I'm not seeing anyone again until January, if that's a factor.
posted by jenfullmoon to Human Relations (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Offer to take them out to dinner, your treat. Just as fun as any gift.
posted by mai at 3:39 PM on December 23, 2019 [8 favorites]


I would ignore for now and perhaps buy them a drink or their meal the next time you see them.

I would not give a late gift. The way I see it with adults and new friends --there should be no expectation of gifts and if there are gifts you should have been notified that there will be an exchange. You can forget about it entirely if you choose. Nobody will care and you didn't know. I am sure you were gracious and kind and they realized you had no idea.
posted by loveandhappiness at 3:45 PM on December 23, 2019 [9 favorites]


I have a group of friends I see several times a year - I've known them for 20 years. At Christmas we do some version of Secret Santa/white elephant gifts. Inevitably 2 or 3 of us will also show up with gifts for everyone, and the other 3 will say "I thought we weren't doing gifts!" The following year the same thing will happen but with different gift-givers. Since you say Friend D did not have gifts, I would say the same thing is happening with your group.

I would not sweat it. Maybe when I saw them again I would buy them a drink to celebrate the new year, if that can happen naturally, but I wouldn't shoehorn anything in. I would keep my eye out throughout the year for some gift that I could buy on the cheap, related to the hobby you all share, and give to all of them next year.

If they're friends worth having, they gave you a gift because it made them happy, not with the expectation that you would give them a gift in return.
posted by lyssabee at 4:20 PM on December 23, 2019 [2 favorites]


Eh, I am in a friend group where some do gifts and some don't and it is no big deal at all. Personally I'd do a late gift, but there is no expectation.
posted by selfmedicating at 4:21 PM on December 23, 2019


Just for a different perspective, I LOVE giving my friends gifts. All of my family lives far away and I really love watching someone open something I got for them, so I give my friends gifts with no expectation that they will reciprocate. I give them gifts because it brings ME joy. Maybe your friends are like that?
posted by Weeping_angel at 5:03 PM on December 23, 2019 [1 favorite]


Send a sincere handwritten thank you note in the mail and consider your obligations met.
posted by juliapangolin at 5:09 PM on December 23, 2019 [1 favorite]


Gift giving is not, to use the overused current phase, a quid pro quo. Mature people give gifts because it gives them pleasure to do so, because they want to acknowledge in a tangible way their appreciation for the receiver. But it's not an exchange of value. Say and write thank you. Feel it in your heart. That's the right response.
posted by tmdonahue at 5:12 PM on December 23, 2019 [9 favorites]


Send a thank you note/ holiday card by postal mail. Right now.
posted by theora55 at 5:53 PM on December 23, 2019 [1 favorite]


I also give gifts with no expectation of a return from friends or family. I give people a head's up so they can get a gift in case they want to do the same - so I don't surprise them. I usually mention that I don't need anything in return.

If you are a gifting person, I think it's fine to get them a gift in January or to treat for dinner or something. Or just do it for the next thing - like a birthday or another celebration. I don't think you did anything wrong, since you were told gifting wasn't a thing. I assume you have given strong thank-you's.
posted by Crystalinne at 10:51 PM on December 23, 2019 [1 favorite]


This is more of a long-term strategy, but let me introduce you to Socialist Santa! I have a big Santa bag that I throw stuff into all year, but especially around the holidays. Little impulse purchases, regifts, dollar store treasures, merch I get from work... Friends in the know throw stuff they don't want in it too. Then in December, I bring Père Marx to every party and let everyone pick gifts from it. Friends, family, coworkers, bartenders, street kids, randos... I'm never empty-handed, but the randomness takes all reciprocity out of the equation. Been doing that for over a decade, and we've had more memorable Soc Santa moments than I can count.
posted by Freyja at 11:31 AM on December 24, 2019 [12 favorites]


Well....I went out and bought stuff to gift today. One person is going to get something made, we'll see how that goes, but since they went all out for me beyond what I would have expected, I'll attempt the same. I had enough folks tell me IRL to get something, plus I just still feel bad and guilty every day that I didn't. But now I am going to angst that they'll hate what I got, especially since the other one is getting something in his field that I am not smart enough to comprehend, but uh...hopefully it's something he's into? God, I suck at gifting. It's not fun when all I do is stress that they're going to hate it and I have a long history of fumbling 50% of whatever I buy anyone.

I like the Socialist Santa Idea....

Thank yous were done in person, I don't actually have mailing addresses to send cards to since I haven't gone to anyone's house so far (we all live in different towns and meet in a central one).
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:13 PM on December 30, 2019


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