The point of Birthday gifts

It’s my birthday next week and I’ve gotten the usual messages from friends asking what I’d like as a gift.

Normally I’d have an amazon wishlist, full of books because they’re around £10 and so within an acceptable gift budget. Not because they were the things I most wanted, but because I knew my friends could afford them. This is a bonkers way to look at birthdays.

The things I need (a wax jacket, cashmere jumper) are too much, I’d never ask my friends for something that expensive. I put vouchers on the list so that everyone sort of chips in for one thing without the hassle of organising but everyone wants to give things. I say ‘just buy me a drink when we’re out’ and they say they feel awkward without a gift.

Don’t get me wrong, there are loads of things I want but they’re not ‘gifts’. It’s stuff like a new living room rug, a le crueset casserole dish, decking in the back garden and a new iPad (mine is so old they don’t update the software anymore).

Any ideas? How do you handle birthdays?



10 thoughts on “The point of Birthday gifts”

  1. both giving an receiving gifts are tricky. i usually ask what the other person would like or treat for a dinner or something. gift cards would be nice if everybody agreed that they were the best type of gifts, but it is not happening 🙂


  2. I started giving gifts that I want to get at some point, so I hope what I give will be what I get in return. Last Christmas I donated to a charity for my mother-in-law, and she was so surprised, said it was quite unexpected but nice. I also like buying theater or movie tickets for my friends. (you could also ask for a concert/festival ticket maybe?) Good quality consumables like coffee, tea or chocolate are also great ideas. If you end up getting books you don’t have to hold on to them, though, pass it around, lend permanently etc.
    By the way, you are so lucky to have friends who want to buy you a present! Enjoy it, and sometimes just accept how they want to express their love.


    1. Tickets is a good idea. I’ll look at that. I’m still glued to the baby and really need to start going out more, she’s 15 months! I have lucked out in the friends department, I have a core group of 6 close friends I’ve been with for… 13 years now? We all have other friend group offshoots (mummy friends, hockey friends, zumba mates, etc) but the 6 of us have stayed constant.


  3. I keep a list all year round for my husband, kids, and myself. I jot down new interests or favorite things or gift certificate ideas. For example, I always love getting essential oils so I have a list of my favorites and a list of my favorite online retailers. My husband is a firearm enthusiast, so a box of ammunition or a bottle of bore cleaner will make him happy. I try to think of things we use or enjoy consistently. I also like to give the same sort of gifts because you *know* the receiver actually enjoys them!


    1. I do the same with Amazon but my only ‘hobby’ at the moment is studying and I don’t need anything for that. I don’t need anything at all really, I’m trying to reduce! Consumables is a good idea though, like your oils. x


  4. I was starting to get these questions from people about a month ago, which was when I decided to start my birthday campaign for ZGiRLS Summer Adventure Camp. At almost 30, I live alone with more stuff than I could ever need. As a minimalist, I’m more concerned about keeping stuff out rather than bringing anything in that doesn’t add specific value to my life. Instead of getting excited for all the fun things I might get for my big 3-0, I started becoming a bit nervous. It’s not that I didn’t want people to share their appreciation for me, but I just wanted to be clear on what was going to be the most meaningful thing for me: a donation to the organization that brings me the most value in my life, ZGiRLS. So I preempted the gifts by letting people know early that I didn’t want anything that was going to just get used once or thrown out after sitting in my closet and not being worn. Now, with my birthday just a week away, I am going into it with pure joy, knowing that I’ve already gotten everything I want– the people around me supporting me in the most meaningful way possible.

    I don’t have to return anything. I don’t have to feel guilty about not loving something. I don’t have to keep something in my closet because I got it as a gift. I don’t have to pretend that it was something I’d always wanted.

    Not only that, but my carbon footprint is reduced, there’s no wrapping paper thrown out, and no matter how much someone spent on me, their gift is incredibly meaningful to me because it got me closer to my scholarship goal.

    I don’t know that I’ll do something like this every year for my birthday, but I definitely think it is okay to let people know the things you actually want/need. A fancy jar of jam that you wouldn’t buy for yourself. A bottle of wine. Groceries. An afternoon walk together. Concert tickets. A class at the local gym or community college. Registration for a 5K or an art lesson. Activities also make great birthday gifts, and they don’t clutter up your life– they bring joy and relationships in closer.

    Or maybe set up a paypal/venmo account where people can drop a few bucks in to chip in toward that new rug you want!

    Hope you have a very special day. Send me your address and I’ll send you some delicious Utah honey 🙂


    1. Oh I remember your z girls post, I got an e-mail from them recently 🙂 I added charity donations to my list a few christmases back and no one wanted to do that! I think a big specific fundraiser like you’ve done is a great idea. I have a faint inkling about wanting to do tough mudder next year and it can be done with sponsorship. They usually have a local one a few months after my birthday so the timing is perfect. Thanks Lindsay, you’ve sorted next years list!

      Liked by 1 person

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