Gifting for Adults

[deleted account] ( 40 moms have responded )

This is a crazy-long post! Sorry!
Do you have a "policy" on gifting for adults? Or for children? For Christmas (or other holidays) or for birthdays?
For some background, my family does not believe in giving gifts to adults for birthdays. Kids get gifts up until their teens, but then the gifting ends. From that point on, we celebrate birthdays by getting together, having cake, eating, etc., but there are no gifts exchanged. Normally, our extended family would get together and celebrate all the July birthdays, then all the June birthdays, etc. There is food, family and festivities, but no gifting.
For Christmas, we follow the same practice, except for the kids, we draw names so that everyone isn't buying a million gifts (and the kids aren’t receiving a million gifts). We don’t exchange gifts for Valentine’s Day, Sweetest Day, or Anniversary’s either.
Generally, the theory behind our family gifting practices is that the purpose of the event is to celebrate and that the expectation of a gift puts the focus on the wrong things (e.g., materialism vs. celebrating the accomplishments of the past year). The focus is just on celebrating the event rather than a gift.
Does this mean I never buy gifts for anyone? No. If I happen to be out and see something I think someone would like, I wouldn’t hesitate to buy it, not because it’s their birthday or Christmas, but because I think they would enjoy it. Would I expect a gift back in return? Never.
I have a group of friends that is very into gifting. We are all in our late 30s now, and all have multiple kids, but the expectation is that we will all go out for every birthday and buy a $30 - 40 gift for each adults' birthday (as well as each child’s birthday). The end result in dozens and dozens of gifts each year. This practice has continued through hard times for many of us. Even when people have been out of work, the group still expects everyone to buy gifts for the person’s birthday whose it is. When I’ve mentioned that so-and-so is having a hard time financially and maybe we shouldn’t do so many gifts, I’ve been shot down. I should also add the some of the recipients have no problem telling you exactly what they want for their birthday (e.g., calling you and saying I saw this at this store last week and this is what I want for my birthday). Or telling you flat out that they didn’t like what you gave them. The whole thing just reeks of greed to me. I also can’t stand the air of expectation – I will only buy you a gift if I get a gift and it better be the right gift. I figure we are all adults, if you want something, go out and buy it yourself. I don't want gifts for my birthday and have repeatedly said so. A simple “happy birthday” is more than enough. After lobbying for a change in my friends' “policy” for several years, and being repeatedly told that "we don't like that about you [that I don't believe in giving gifts for adults' birthdays)", I announced that my husband and I would no longer be participating in the gift exchange. Everyone bought gifts for us anyway at the next birthdays, but we didn’t buy gifts for anyone. Once my friends got the hint, they stopped buying gifts for my husband and I’s birthdays. However, they still engage in the gift exchange with each other, normally in front of my husband and I, which is awkward to say the least. I should also add that, in the past, we’ve had Christmas celebrations (e.g., Open Houses) at the one mom’s house and she thinks nothing of holding the gift exchanges in front of other families who don’t see the group as frequently and weren’t participants of the gift exchange, which I personally think is incredibly rude, particularly when small children are involved. I was mortified a few years ago that gifts were exchanged in front of a very nice family (and their 4 YO daughter). I felt there was no reason to have other kids opening gifts in front of their daughter if she always was not receiving any gifts. Talk about making someone feel excluded. But I digress….
Of course, now that Christmas is right around the corner, I received a call from one of the women in the group, who said that the other moms what to do gifts for adults and wanted to know if we were going to participate. I said no and as usual was treated like the Grinch. I’m actually dreading our Christmas get-together because of the gifts issue. I have no doubt that, given the history, the other moms will be pulling out the gifts and giving them out in front of my kids, who are now at the age where they will understand they are not getting gifts.
Long post, I know, but I guess my question for everyone is how do you handle gifting among friends? Do you give gifts for every adult for every birthday? Do you buy gifts for each of your adult friends and each of their children for Christmas? At the end of the day, the #1 thing that bugs me about this situation with my friends is the air of expectation and the tit-for-tat nature of the gifting. I also can’t stand the greediness of (unsolicited) calling someone and telling them what they need to buy you for your birthday. Plus, I don’t like the fact that they organize a gift exchange and make a production over it in front of people who aren’t participating.

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Lacye - posted on 12/06/2011

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In my family, we only buy the kids something. The adults will be ok. It's not about the presents to us. It's about coming together in our faith and celebrating us as a family. It's about Jesus Christ. Presents are nice, but not a must.

Elfrieda - posted on 12/06/2011

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Well, now I want some jewelry, too! :) My son is turning 2 next week... hmm, is that too late?



Although I should be happy with how "let-me-jump-up-and-get-that-for-you" my husband was for several months after I gave birth. Maybe that was my push present.

Krista - posted on 12/04/2011

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We change our policy depending on what's going on in our lives. Right now, my sister and I agreed to not buy each other gifts. Money's tight for both of us, and we'd just wind up buying each other similar items (we have identical tastes), so we decided to just buy for each others' kids this year.

I don't buy gifts for my friends or their kids, and they don't for me and mine -- we just exchange cards instead (and sometimes bring over some cookies or something.)

I always do keep a little stash of emergency gifts, though, in case someone unexpected buys us something.

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Chesnie - posted on 06/24/2012

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Add to my last post.....our kids get tons and tons ofgifts so I thought it would be nice to remember each other at this time...

Chesnie - posted on 06/24/2012

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My best friend and I exchange gifts between our children. The problem is (this sounds bad) but she has 2 kids, I have 1.. She loves mine but I don't care for hers 2 much. The way they act, spoiled and rude to other kids, I just don't know. I told her I want to just exchange with her being she is my best friend not her kids...she was like no, so what happens this past Christmas? She bought for my kid AND me and I only bought for her 2 the way she wanted it..I felt stupid..lol

Lady Heather - posted on 12/06/2011

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I got a push present! New dishwasher! Bosch, stainless interior, quietest thing around...yeah. And I didn't even push this time. Probably should have bought the OB a pull prize instead.

Hope - posted on 12/06/2011

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Push Prize hahahha love it!!!
My "push prize" was a bag of snack food from the supermarket. All health of course. He takes the kids and they all choose something healthy for me, fruit, muesli bars, nuts and there is always a treat like chocolate.
With our second he got himself an early "labor assistance price" hahaha a psp to play through the boring bits of labour. I was induced the first 2 times, they are long and boring when you are induced.

Becky - posted on 12/05/2011

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I think the push present concept came from Oprah. Or she made it popular, at least. I wouldn't mind a push present! :) But an $800.00 one??!! Yikes! I'd be happy with flowers, or maybe a cake. :) The only "present" dh has ever spent that much money on for me was my DSLR camera. And that was really a present for the whole family because it saves us money on professional pictures in the long run. Or that's the idea anyway. I still splurge on the professional pictures once in a while. :)

Michele - posted on 12/05/2011

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I do consumable presents for adults (coffee from a school fundraiser this year). Or things like dead heading my mom's rose bushes for her. I get presents for my kids and other kids usually get a book (love Scholastic book fairs). For birthdays, I get presents for nieces and nephews, but not adults (except my mom and my husband).

For friends, "gifts" are usually getting together for a night out. Even my kids most often give an excursion to a friend when invited to a party (e.g. my daughter is going to take a friend ice skating for her birthday present).

Lady Heather - posted on 12/05/2011

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I give Christmas and birthday gifts to my parents, grandparents, siblings + spouses and my one best friend. That's it. And the birthday presents are often late and sometimes end up being dinner out the next time we get together. For my dad we usually just take him out for dinner since he lives here. Other than that we try to keep gifts small and inexpensive. Sometimes we'll do a grand gesture gift - my mum's birthday present this year was a flight out to see our new baby - because it's fun to surprise people but those are obviously not meant to be reciprocated. I am best off in my family right now and we're pretty open about that so they know there are no expectations when it comes to gifts. Now that we all have kids we obviously prefer to put the focus on the kids.

I don't really understand why I would want to gift exchange with all my friends. Who on earth needs to get that many presents? I can usually buy the things I need and the things I want are small in number. I think if I was going to buy presents for my friends, I'd rather just take them out for a good dinner or throw a party with that money. That's the kind of thing I tend to do more with friends. My book club ladies and I do a big potluck party and we exchange all our old books. It's fun, inexpensive and we get something we actually want plus we clean out our own crap.

Stifler's - posted on 12/05/2011

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Although I would like more rings and it's not too late to call it a push prize... rofl

[deleted account]

I have no idea where the evolution of a push prize came from --- it could entirely be a creation of my gift-obsessed friends! All I know is they have convinced their husbands that it is expected and that it should be an expensive piece of jewerly.

Sherri - posted on 12/05/2011

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We do not gift for friends adults or kids for any holidays and only buy gifts for birthdays if there is an actual party that we are invited too adult or child.



Now family is a complete different story. We celebrate every persons birthday adult or kid and they get presents



For Christmas we buy for my parents and all the kids.



For Anniversary's we buy for my parents

[deleted account]

"Push prize" -- how elegant sounding.

-- Oh, those are lovely pearls!
-- Thank you! My husband gave them to me after I PUSHED his baby out of my DILATED VAGINA.

I had a c-section. I guess that's why my husband didn't give me jack.

Elfrieda - posted on 12/05/2011

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Still snickering over "push prize"... is that a thing? I'll bet the jewelry stores thought that one up to capitalize on all the husbands going around with their jaws still dropped, mumbling, "I can't believe my wife just did that... how is it even possible?"

Or is it more of a patriarchal society thing, where the woman produces heirs for the man, but she should get something out of it, maybe at least a necklace or something. Yeah, I'd rather keep the baby, thanks!

Corinne - posted on 12/05/2011

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Wow, how rude? For Christmas I only buy for my own two children, my niece and two nephews, my husband and my best friend. I usually buy birthday presents for my bro and sisters and my mum, but that is it. Mike never even sends cards to his family, but he usually gets his sister something as she's 9 years younger than him. My best friend and I always buy each other a pair of theatre tickets, that way we actually get to go out every now and then.
The air of expectation would really tick me off too.

Bonnie - posted on 12/05/2011

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Within our family, we use to exchange Christmas gifts with everyone we got together with at Christmas time. There was no limit in spending, but we didn't go all out either. Then my husband and I got married and his side of the family decided it was enough and gifts would be for the kids only. Within my side of the family, we exchange Christmas gifts with my brother and sister-inlaw, and my parents, but only if we are exchanging.

No birthday gifts, only for the kids. My husband and I will take eachother out for dinner on our birthdays though.

[deleted account]

Hope, your MIL sounds like one of my friends. She actually made her husband go back out and buy her a new gift for Mother's Day because the one he bought wasn't good enough. She wanted jewelry. Give me a break.
I should add that this same group of friends convinced my husband that he "had" to go out and buy me a $800 pearl necklace as a "push prize" after the birth of the first set of twins. I made him take it back. Aren't the babies I just gave birth to the prize? ;-)

Amie - posted on 12/04/2011

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Holy... rude!!!! is all I could think when I read this. I'm sorry but it is.

I would refuse to go to get togethers if that is how people behaved. Seriously. There is no need for the behavior you've described, especially from adults.

We do get gifts for adults but not because there's an expectation too. It's the lack of expectation and the smile it brings that means more from the adults than anything. Having said that, we've had our lean times and haven't been able to get all the adults gifts but they don't mind. It's not about the gifts. It's nice to give them, if the means to give them are there, but it's not a requirement.

Kellie - posted on 12/04/2011

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Oh dear, hope your MIL and my MIL sound like twins, my MIL is a self absorbed manipulative attention seeker too.

In my family, well the ones I see which are my Grandpa, Step Grandma, Cousin (who they have custody of) and uncle, aunt and their daughter, we do Kris Cringle for the adults and buy for the kids. My partners immediate family always buy gift cards for each other, $30 at Christmas and $50 on Birthdays.

Hope - posted on 12/04/2011

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Theresa I was that close to having nothing more to do with her this year but decided for my children's sake and my husbands to take the high road.

[deleted account]

Seriously Hope? Your MIL would be OUT of my life between this post and the other one. Sheesh... YOU are a saint, woman!

Elfrieda - posted on 12/04/2011

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Rebecca, that sounds rough. I would have done the same thing (just break the cycle by not giving one when expected to).
I get a present for my parents, my parents-in-law, my sister, and a $25 gift exchange game with my husband's seven siblings and spouses. And for my husband and son, of course. Birthdays... no presents, we're grown-ups! My parents tend to lean heavily toward giving lots and lots of presents, and it's weird not to reciprocate, but that just encourages them to do more next year!
In the situation where people are exchanging gifts in front of you, is it possible to just exclaim over other people's gifts, "oh, that sweater is just your colour!" and include yourself that way, or would that be too weird? Maybe they won't even notice, if they're all watching for the next gift.

For kids, I don't think it would hurt them to say, "Some people will be getting presents at this party, but our family is waiting until Christmas." Or if they're too young to understand, you could wrap up a toy from home so that they can have something to unwrap, too. Or just take them for a little walk while that's happening.

It's a shame if you lose friends over this. It seems really strange, like you say, that presents are so important to this group of people.

Hope - posted on 12/04/2011

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Present giving is a sore subject with me :s
My family we buy everyone something with in a budget but in saying that I know my mum and dad would not be upset if we could do presents. That goes for birthdays, Christmas, mothers and fathers day. If you buy a present bonus, if you can't its no biggy.
My husbands family on the other hand the complete opposite. You must buy a present for every occasion and if you don't watch out.
Mothers day normal ends in a tantrum and tears from my mother in law and when it is someones birthday she makes such a big deal out of it and if you do or say anything that is not to do with that person and it being there birthday you will be in trouble.

Friends we don't do christmas present, maybe a card and thats about it. We do do birthday presents for the kids if there is a party but there are no expectations. My best friend is the only person out side of the family I will buy a christmas and birthday present for but not through obligation, just because I want to.

My personal view is present giving has gone a little crazy. Instead of it being a thoughtful, caring gesture, it has turned into an expectation and it drives me up the wall.

[deleted account]

I forgot to talk about friends. I usually buy my very best friends a small token gift IF I see something that just screams "Buy me for so-and-so!!!" Sometimes I'll save it for Christmas or a birthday, but more often than not, I'll just give it to them when I see them because we are all so busy during Christmas that we don't see much of each other. Birthdays are hit or miss as well. Same for them--I get random gifts throughout the year and I MIGHT get a birthday gift, but it is not expected.

And actually, we don't buy for each other's kids at all--we all have so much crap coming in from our own parents and in-laws and aunts & uncles that we just don't want any more kid gifts! So we don't. We don't open our gifts to each other in front of the kids either, but if we are having a party and adults are exchanging gifts, we all bring a gift for our own kids. That way we know we'll like what they get. I usually bring a gift from my mil to let J open--she tends to give him several.

Amanda - posted on 12/04/2011

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We buy for immediate family, adults and kids, both sides of the family for xmas. It usually consists of both mums, my FIL, step dad, SIL and soon to be BIL, my 2 sisters, BIL, my neice and nephew and our kids and each other.
I normally keep to around $20-$30 each for my side because I have to post them overseas and postage costs a fortune. With the inlaws we can afford abit more, and we spend xmas with them. Cousins and friends we don't worry about, except every other year we might buy his cousins 2 kids a little something if we are spending xmas day with them.

[deleted account]

Maybe I'm lucky in the fact that all of my friends (all 3 of them) are broke. lol One does own a house, but he's also one of the pastors at my church, so.... yeah, he KNOWS Christmas isn't about stuff. lol

[deleted account]

"Christmases and birthdays aren't about the stuff..."

Amen, Teresa. I'm glad I'm not the only one that feels that way.

I would say this group of friends is rapidly on the way to no longer being our friends over this issue and other issues. It's a shame -- we've been friends for over 20 years, but I feel that there has been a real shift towards greed and selfishness as everyone's gotten older. There's a lot of keeping up with the Jones's going on...I can't stand it.

[deleted account]

Those people would not be my friends. For Christmas... the ONLY people I regularly buy for are my kids. I will occasionally get my nephews or my niece something, but not every year. I do buy birthday presents for them... and for my friend's kids (who are also MY kids best friends).



As for adults.... you get a Christmas card (my mom and dad also get a big picture of the kids). That's it. Occasionally my friends will buy my kids something for Christmas, but not every year and it's not expected. Occasionally I will get a gift (like a box of chocolate mint candy) for a friend for a birthday and vise versa (is that right?), but not every year and it's not expected. On the rare occasion that I have money to spare around Christmas time... I will anoynomously send a Walmart gift card to my best friends. They usually figure out that it was me, but I don't want the credit for it. Christmases and birthdays aren't about the stuff... they're about families, friends, celebrations, and love.

Stifler's - posted on 12/04/2011

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actually i buy the person a gift for their birthday if they're having a party. i got tamara a 30th sign or usually alcohol they like or a glass with their age on it to drink out of.

Stifler's - posted on 12/04/2011

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We don't do adult gifts at xmas just kids and each other. On birthdays I don't get anyone anything other than 20 bucks or a scratchie in a card. I'm not made of money sorry. My mother in law always expects something big for her birthday or christmas. i'm an asshole and get her something small every year. LOL at her. she requested a nintendo wii this year.

Becky - posted on 12/04/2011

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Within our family, we now only give gifts to the kids and to my parents at Christmas. My siblings are all stretched financially (and we're far from rich too!) and it gets really difficult to afford gifts for everyone, so after trying a few different scenarios - drawing names, etc, we decided to just stop giving each other gifts. My parents still get us gifts and we get them gifts. Sometimes we'll do something homemade, like a bottle of wine or some other type of food. For birthdays, it's the same. We only do gifts for our kids and parents. My sister and I's birthdays are 4 days apart, so we try to get together and do something to celebrate.
Within our circle of friends, we're not really big gifters either. If we're invited to a child's birthday party, of course we will bring them a gift. For adult birthday parties - which we generally only have for milestone birthdays - we'd probably bring a bottle of wine or buy them a drink or something. If we do any kind of gift exchange at Christmas, it's a white elephant. We got a lovely (very sarcastic!) bird cage last Christmas!
With dh's family, we don't even exchange gifts. His parents send us a cheque to get Christmas and bday presents for the boys, but with his siblings and nieces and nephews, we don't do any gifts. I thought that was weird, but that's the way his family has it set up, so I'm not going to try to change it. Saves money if we only have to buy gifts for kids on one side of the family!

Aniesha - posted on 12/04/2011

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In my family, we do buy for the adults as well as the kids, but we've had to put a budget on it, as we have quite a large immediate family. I'll spend more on my partner & kid, but everyone else has to stick to the budget. It's not really about the monetary value in our family, just the thought, although we will splash out & get my parents something extra special as they just help us out so much, and we like to show our appreciation in some way. I don't really buy for friends. I have one best friend that I buy for, for Christmas or her birthday, but no one else really. I buy for my friend's kids if we're invited to a birthday party, but other than that, no one really has huge expectations. One of my friends is really cool about gift giving, she'll knit finger puppets or something for my son, which I think is awesome coz it's so personal:). I do like the whole gift giving thing, but I agree with you, it can't be expected or it's just greedy!!

[deleted account]

For us, it depends on the group.
My side of the family has always had one person bring a generic gift to Christmas Dinner, then we put them all under the tree and play Christmas Bingo. The winner picks a gift. There is a $10 limit on the gifts and most of them are things like a box of cookies, Hickory Farms stuff, maybe a gift book--things that anyone of any age would enjoy because no one knows who their gift is going to.

John's side of the family changes the policy every year based on a compromise that fits everyone. Last year, two of his brothers didn't have jobs and gifts would have been hard on their families so we skipped it all together. It would have been VERY rude for other families to exchange gifts in front of them knowing they couldn't do it.
On the other hand, if everyone except for one family wanted to exchange gifts and there was no hardship involved, we would not change the whole policy for the one family. They could participate if they wanted, but it would be rude to expect everyone to change their tradition for one person. You know?

Basically, we decide in advance if gifts will be given at a gathering, and behave accordingly--if the host wants a gift exchange, we buy gifts or we don't attend, if the host does not want a gift exchange, we don't buy gifts.

Like you, I do buy gifts for people throughout the year that I see and think that they would love. I give those gifts in private so that I do not make anyone else uncomfortable. I have never actually had anyone recommend that I buy them a certain thing--that would be incredibly rude and I would probably buy them something completely off the wall just to teach them a lesson. It is one thing to give suggestion if the gift giver calls and asks for them, but to actually call and hint around is just beyond me. That seems greedy.

[deleted account]

I enjoy buying children gifts and receiving gifts for my son, but I've reached the age where I can honestly say that I wouldn't care if I ever received a birthday or Christmas gift again.



I wish we had a policy like Rebecca's family, but it isn't going to happen. We tried one Christmas to encourage charitable giving instead of presents, but that didn't go over well. We just keep trying to scale things down gradually, so maybe people won't notice so much.



As for my adult friends, everything is really casual. A small token gift (like a fancy soap, some nice tea, or a wished-for book) here and there. It can be for a birthday or just because. Or if a birthday gift is omitted one year, that's OK too.



I try to remember kids' birthdays, but otherwise gift-giving bores me to death.

Medic - posted on 12/04/2011

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My friends and I get eachother gifts or do nice things for eachother when we can. No one expects it, we do drop hints but its usually for stupid stuff....like funny socks or pjs, which is what we all ususally get eachother. Sometimes wine or liquor. We get gifts for eachothers kids from our kids but we tend to do one gift from each family but there are only three of us with kids and no one is obligated to do it. Especially if money is tight. Everyone comes together to make sure our kids have a good day and we don't stress.

√v^√v^√♥ - posted on 12/04/2011

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If you have lots of friends, it can be an issue! Just with our family, I hate keeping up on birthdays and holidays. It gets overwhelming and can be extremely expensive too!!\

Last year for Christmas Eve we went to my MIL's house. It was supposed to be open PJ's (their traditional gift for their kids, which of course I was given and included in. That was nice :) but then she gave me crafting books and me and my boyfriend 100$ dollar gift cards to stores. I didn't know what to say because it was supposed to be a play party in your PJ's Christmas. I'd gotten her a bath supply basket just for a thank you and something to open in return for PJ's. Not hundreds of dollars in STUFF. I felt really bizarre.

If I were you, I'd bring my kids a toy each they can open so they don't feel left out. Maybe even something like a big can of cookies they can share with the other kids. Kids LOVE food, right? Well, all the kids will be coming to your kids for the cookies. Maybe that would make them feel better and feel like they got something better that everyone could enjoy? Or not, just a gift so they don't feel left out. I'd also try to get some cheaper gifts for the small kids if there are really going to be OTHER kids around not getting gifts too. I'd be pissed. That is soooooooooooo rude.

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