Help me to be a thoughtful person!
January 31, 2008 2:32 PM   Subscribe

I'm meeting my boyfriend's friends for the first time this Saturday - at a birthday dinner (at a restaurant) for one of them. I would like to bring some sort of token of thoughtfulness or something to the birthday girl... nothing expensive as I don't want to seem like I'm showing off or anything (and I'm a poor college student anyway)... thoughts?

I don't really know much about the girl except that she's married to another of my boyfriend's friends. The bf and I have been dating for about a month now for what it's worth.
posted by pontouf to Human Relations (39 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Scented candles were made for this occasion. In fact, I've gotten them at birthday dinners from newish girlfriends of my guy friends.
posted by vytae at 2:33 PM on January 31, 2008

This seems like a good occasion for a gift card - Target, Starbucks, etc.
posted by entropic at 2:42 PM on January 31, 2008

For you personally to give a birthday gift to someone you've never met is a little much. Any gift you give should be from you and your boyfriend.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:43 PM on January 31, 2008 [2 favorites]

You're a couple, so a gift + a card signed by the two of you I think would be appropriate.

Who pays for and/or chooses the gift is down to you two.
posted by selton at 2:43 PM on January 31, 2008 [1 favorite]

Yes. Borders gift card.
posted by bokane at 2:43 PM on January 31, 2008

I greatly dislike giving giftcards... to me it is the equivalent of gifting drink mugs, though I appreciate the thoughts!
posted by pontouf at 2:44 PM on January 31, 2008

Scentsy!. And I whole-heartedly agree that it be from both you and the bf. (But when she sees what it is she'll know it's really from you and you'll be the most awesome)
posted by Sassyfras at 2:53 PM on January 31, 2008 [1 favorite]

A little bouquet? Girls love flowers. It's a low-commitment gift that makes a good impression.
posted by missmobtown at 3:00 PM on January 31, 2008 [1 favorite]

i don' t think you actually need to bring anything-- but i'd want to in your position, too. how about some kind of fun candy? maybe something a little interactive- like a candy necklace/watch set that she can wear and be cute and funny, or something big enough to share, like a mini gumball machine (the specialty candy store near me has these for like $5), or a bag of jelly bellies. or something retro, like a bunch of 80s candy? big chew shreddy gum, nerds, pop rocks? put it all in a little plastic bag and tie some ribbon on it, the candy store probably has a bag & ribbon you can use right there. i don't think you should spend over $8 or it's like you're trying too hard.
posted by twistofrhyme at 3:30 PM on January 31, 2008

I'd encourage you to not give anything scented. You'd be amazed at how many people have bad reactions to scented products. If you're a couple, you should certainly have the present come from both of you.

If you want to give something just from you, how about a book that you liked (include gift receipt)? If you've got a good used magazine store in your city, how about a replica newspaper or Life magazine that was published around her birthdate/year?
posted by jasper411 at 3:37 PM on January 31, 2008

I think it's a really nice idea to bring a gift. It shows the birthday girl (and the boyfriend's friends) that you think more of yourself than just the new girlfriend that is getting dragged along to this event where she won't know anyone and instead is an awesome woman that is hoping to start a bunch of new friendships and is thoughtful enough to acknowledge the event that she is attending.

A candle or a small potted plant (a bouquet seems a little Miss America or Tony awards to me...) or a giftcard sounds fine and the candy bag is cute too (assuming that the girlfriend isn't diabetic or something). In this case, I think it truly is the thought that counts as the gesture will be remembered more than the actual gift.
posted by stefnet at 3:42 PM on January 31, 2008 [1 favorite]

Ask your boyfriend, but I think it would be weird if you brought a gift for someone you don't know.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 3:45 PM on January 31, 2008

A birthday card (handmade or store-bought) is about the level you want to go for, at most.

If it was at her house, you could get a hostess gift, but at a restaurant I assume everyone is paying their own way. In this case, giving a gift to someone you've never met before when you are there as the guest of someone you've only been dating for a month can come off as trying to hard. Just be attentive and warm, and that will mean more to this girl, his friends, and your guy than any present you might bring.

If you do really want to bringing something, you really need to clear it with your date first.
posted by tk at 3:49 PM on January 31, 2008

It's so hard to give a gift to someone you don't know.

Nothing scented (candles, flowers): she might have a bad reaction
No sweets: she might be diabetic or really trying to watch her weight
No plants: again, she may be allergic
No books: she may be illiterate, hate to read, has already read it, or it's not her kind of book
No gift cards: seems impersonal
No jewelry: you don't know her style

You get the point . . . it gets ridiculous and you can come up with a bunch of reasons not to give a gift. But it remains, that you are indeed a thoughtful person that wants to reach out to this new bunch of potential friends.

So . . . go with your heart, I guess. You don't have to try to figure out what she would like, but perhaps give her something that you like. I did something similar for Christmas. I wrapped some small gifts up in brown paper wrap and tied them up with string. The card read, "brown paper packages tied up with string . . . here are a few of my favorite things." Included in the box were some of my favorite things (that I thought other people might find useful/fun as well. Plus it gave them a little insight into some of my favorite things!). Some of the things I included were a bottle of Chamomile linen spray from Bed Bath and Beyond, some peppermints from See's candy, a favorite book. It was a hit.
posted by Sassyfras at 3:52 PM on January 31, 2008 [1 favorite]

I seem to remember an NPR story about a survey of "worst gifts to receive" or something like that, and scented candles were definitely the number 1 or 2 thing on the list. (This was a survey of people asking them to rank the things that they really disliked receiving.)
posted by chr1sb0y at 3:58 PM on January 31, 2008

Stop at a florist and get a few gerbera daisies in bright colors and have them tie them up with raffia or ribbon. Easy and festive! Will be about $10 or less. Some supermarkets may even carry them.
posted by mochapickle at 4:04 PM on January 31, 2008 [1 favorite]

Flowers. Don't cost much and what's not to like? Despite comment above, you can give them to someone you don't know. Doesn't have to be a fancy bouquet.
posted by londongeezer at 4:04 PM on January 31, 2008

A high-end card (maybe an intricate, hand-made one) might be appropriate. Something small and consumable (2 oz ofnice chocolates for example) could be okay but not necessary.
posted by MiffyCLB at 4:22 PM on January 31, 2008

There's a boutique toy store near where I live that sells small polished rocks for very little money. They come with a little card that describes the rock (agate, tiny geode, etc.). I think this might make a good gift -- I gave some recently and they were surprisingly popular.

If you're not wholly averse to the idea of giving sweets, a single chocolate truffle might be nice.
posted by amtho at 4:23 PM on January 31, 2008

Ask the boyfriend for suggestions as to a small gift that would fit her personality and interests and give the gift from both of you. If you wrap it nicely, that's pretty much speaking the universal language of "This Gift Was Actually The Girlfriend's Idea, And She's The One That Did All The Work To Get It". You'll get the bonus points without the weird factor.
posted by Gianna at 4:24 PM on January 31, 2008

I agree with the posters who said it's strange to give a gift to someone you don't know, especially since you've never met any of your boyfriend's friends before. I would consider someone who did that to be trying too hard. Just show up and be friendly. Another option, like thepinksuperhero said, is giving something from both you and your boyfriend, but again, I think after a month joint gifts is a bit much.
posted by alicetiara at 4:24 PM on January 31, 2008

Make her a card. Even if you aren't artistically inclined, it will be fun and thoughtful without being cumbersome to carry to and from a restaurant. It will let her know that you're genuinely interested in her friendship without being showy or costly.
posted by louche mustachio at 4:30 PM on January 31, 2008

I LIKE scented candles! No one ever gives them to me!

(Why not a fancy gift scented soap? Target has some really nice ones. Stick it in a nice gift bag.
And no, it isn't weird, No one ever hates getting prezzies.
posted by konolia at 4:31 PM on January 31, 2008

Buy a bottle of wine at the restaurant for your table to share, make sure the birthday girl gets some.
posted by hermitosis at 4:32 PM on January 31, 2008 [1 favorite]

How about a single-use ("disposable") camera?
posted by bonobo at 4:40 PM on January 31, 2008

Another idea: Ok, I truly have the best gift ever: Scharffen Berger chocolates. I don't know where you are located or if you can buy some locally, but seriously, a great gift. I got a box of "tasting squares" for Christmas. They are so delicious. The box comes with milk chocolate, bittersweet, and semi-sweet small squares of chocolate.
posted by Sassyfras at 6:01 PM on January 31, 2008

seconding a bottle of wine. everyone loves booze!
posted by kidsleepy at 6:40 PM on January 31, 2008

Sassyfras, I was just going to jump in to suggest a little bit of exotic chocolate too (Scharffen Berger is a major favorite of mine) but I was going to suggest Vosges Exotic candy bars. The unusual flavors make them more of a treat/gift-type item than a run-of-the-mill chocolate bar in the same way as Scharffen Berger's excellence does. Many Whole Foods stores carry them and they run around $7-8. My favorite is the Red Fire - ancho chilies, cinnamon and dark chocolate. I gave my aunt one of the box sets of mini-bars for the holidays and she absolutely refused to share!
posted by jocelmeow at 6:59 PM on January 31, 2008

Don't give anything, you don't know this person. I understand the temptation, but there is more possibility that giving a gift will be misunderstood than not giving a gift will be. Think of it this way: It's fairly hard to imagine anyone criticizing a stranger for not bringing a gift, while it's relatively easy to imagine comments about how strange it was that a stranger showed up with a gift. If you doubt that, witness the several comments in this thread to that effect.

I don't doubt your sincerity, but you would certainly open yourself up to judgments about trying too hard.
posted by OmieWise at 7:36 PM on January 31, 2008

Honestly, if you want to bring a little gift then you should bring one. Is your boyfriend pals with people who'd snark about someone acknowledging a birthday with a tiny gift? If so, you need to ditch your boyfriend.

I love gerbera daisies, but fresh flowers are a hassle in a restaurant - you need a vase, water, etc. If she's not adverse to sweets, then you can ask the restaurant to package a slice of a special dessert for her to take home for the next day. It'll be a bonus sweet to remind her of celebrating her birthday with friends.
posted by 26.2 at 10:36 PM on January 31, 2008

Geez, all the snarkage. A small gift doesn't hurt. When I was about to meet my boyfriend's mum for the first time, it was on her birthday, so I got her a book about different ways of helping the world (my boyfriend told me she was into social work) and it went over well. My boyfriend ended up forgetting to get his mum a present so I was a lifesaver for him! (Now his mum adores me. Not just for the gift, but I'm sure I made a great first impression.)

Ask your boyfriend about her, then work from there.
posted by divabat at 2:35 AM on February 1, 2008

Suggesting that you not bring a gift is not snarking, it's answering the question. You may or may not find it to be good advice, but consider it as advice, not as the bitter missives of cynical people.
posted by OmieWise at 4:39 AM on February 1, 2008

For these kind of birthdays, I always bring a Toblerone bar and a Lip Smacker lip gloss tied with a ribbon. Cute and fun and girls love it. Plus, it doesn't look like you tried too hard and she can fit it in her purse.
posted by jrichards at 7:06 AM on February 1, 2008

OmieWise - I didn't say the people answering the questions were snarky. However, if her boyfriend's pals found bringing a little gift to be something to criticize? Yeah, that's snark to me.
posted by 26.2 at 7:50 AM on February 1, 2008

I know, I was responding to divabat's "Geez, all the snarkage" line, which seems to attempt to dismiss my (and other people's) advice based on a faulty premise.
posted by OmieWise at 8:23 AM on February 1, 2008

I can't believe all the suggestions that bringing a gift would somehow look bad on your part! My thought is, it couldn't hurt. Flowers, a candle, chocolate - whatever. Since you don't know her, don't spend too much time trying to figure out if she would like it. In this case, it's the gesture that counts, and I would imagine she would be appreciative that you thought to bring something regardless of what it is.
posted by Ruby Doomsday at 8:57 AM on February 1, 2008

Flower or candy bar + scratch-off lottery ticket. Fun, easy, thoughtful, not too much, provides a moment of fun activity, plus she might win.
posted by agent99 at 10:11 AM on February 1, 2008

Yeah, but if she did win, how hard would you be kicking yourself?

I'd go for a bottle of wine. Even if she doesn't drink, she can re-gift it.
posted by happyturtle at 10:43 AM on February 1, 2008

If you can find one that looks cool, some sort of crafty fake flower - like one made from tissue paper or some such - would convey the "here is a pretty special thing for you" without invoking the conundrum of what to do with the flowers at the restaurant.
posted by yarrow at 12:34 PM on February 1, 2008

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