Milestone birthday gift

How to explain ERE, arranging family matters
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UK-with-kids
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Location: Oxbridge, UK

Milestone birthday gift

Post by UK-with-kids »

Hi everyone

One of my close relatives has a milestone birthday coming up, and I'm kind of stumped for what to do about a gift. We try to live frugally but they are the polar opposite and ultra consumer spenders. So for one thing that means they have literally every type of household item imaginable. All their stuff is pretty high end too. The pointless consumerism of birthdays and Christmas already winds me up, and when it's a big birthday like this one I feel so much pressure for weeks in advance that I get really stressed about it. I want to get them something thoughtful and which they'll appreciate, and I don't even mind spending a bit of money if I have to, just to keep things civil in the family and not appear cheap about it. I guess part of the problem is that our lifestyles are so different that we have very little in common. It's hard to choose a gift when you can't put yourself in the other person's shoes and imagine what they like.

Has anybody had experience of this situation and come up with some good ideas of how to approach it?

saving-10-years
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Location: Warwickshire, UK

Re: Milestone birthday gift

Post by saving-10-years »

Would it help to commission some art item? My husband was recently asked to create a framed lino cut print for someone who had an anniversary coming up. Unique, one-off and pushes some money towards a craftsperson so there are two people benefitting from the gift. Artists and craftspeople who may have been relying on selling stuff during Arts Weeks and festivals will have found post-COVID income sources really drying up so you are also supporting your local arts scene. Virtue-signalling too. Oxfordshire open art weeks artists have an online directory of the makers here https://www.artweeks.org/ - should give you some ideas.

Thoughtful, tasteful and could be in their colours or follow a theme they are interested in. Often costing far less than anyone would know (but basically they can't estimate the price easily so you should't look cheap if you spend a decent amount). Aim for something that brings then joy rather than something that they like only for the price tag. A vase, a throw, an item of garden art are things that could be accommodated in most homes as long as its not a complete clash of taste.

Miss Lonelyhearts
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Re: Milestone birthday gift

Post by Miss Lonelyhearts »

People will suggest things to their preference and style; you may get lucky and find something that works for you. Your root issue goes beyond birthday presents, though. One (both?) of the parties in your relationship isn’t able to acknowledge the validity of the other one’s preferences.

The things people in your relationship are “entitled” to—
- your relative is entitled to want expensive presents for their birthday
- you’re entitled not to give them
- you’re both entitled to change the nature of your relationship (closer/distancing/maturing)
- you’re entitled not to feel weeks of dread over either a. compromising your values or b. getting shamed by your family

Imo, the last one is most important. The way out is by communicating what’s most important to you to those who will listen. This can be incredibly difficult because families often spend decades subtly designing systems to prevent exactly this type of communication. These are hard conversations, but family is forever, so they’re usually worth it.

If your relatives aren’t able to “hear” you, you’ve learned something valuable and you know where you stand. If they are, party on and enjoy being one of the lucky ones. If they fall somewhere in between, you’ve likely opened up a new channel of communication and can begin broadcasting your message. Over time, it will sink in. Good luck!

ertyu
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Re: Milestone birthday gift

Post by ertyu »

I would ask this person's spouse (or similar) for advice. The advice you need can be best given by someone who knows the gift recipient well. We can then probably help with ways to fulfil the idea in cheaper or more creative ways.

ThriftyRob
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Re: Milestone birthday gift

Post by ThriftyRob »

Asking someone close to your relative should give you some possibilities. Then, I'd think laterally: antique/retro, vintage, artisan-made, old photographs, unusual materials, a collage.... I would avoid shopping at the mainstream retailers. Some high-end brands can be affordable if they are from the era between 'brand new' and 'collectable'. Do you make/craft objects that might be a suitable gift? When I'm really stuck for a gift, my fallback position is 'it's the thought that counts'. Beyond that, when you have spent time on choosing something and you're happy with it, I wouldn't waste any more emotional energy on whether they like it or what they think. We all receive gifts we wouldn't choose ourselves and either regift them or donate them to charity, so regardless, it will be fine!

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Dream of Freedom
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Re: Milestone birthday gift

Post by Dream of Freedom »

Anything personalized is good for instance I got my mom one of these
https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B07 ... UTF8&psc=1 with her name and something sappy written on it. They also sell mugs and t-shirts that have any picture you want. You can even get things that are monogrammed with their initials. Like these https://www.amazon.com/s?k=monogram&lin ... mozilla-20

It might help to know which gender they identify with and any interests or hobbies they have.
Last edited by Dream of Freedom on Wed Jul 22, 2020 9:20 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Alphaville
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Re: Milestone birthday gift

Post by Alphaville »

UK-with-kids wrote:
Wed Jul 22, 2020 1:22 am
they are the polar opposite and ultra consumer spenders
then accept that nothing you can buy will be enough for this blessed “milestone”.

therefore, since “it’s the thought that counts,” give them a nice... thought :D

jacob
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Re: Milestone birthday gift

Post by jacob »

Alphaville wrote:
Wed Jul 22, 2020 8:17 am
then accept that nothing you can buy will be enough for this blessed “milestone”.
So it should not be a gift that is bought. One should not be competing with high-level consumers on their home turf which is buying things. What I usually do in these cases is to make something out of wood. Well, home made things out of wood constitute all my gifts, but for an anniversary, I'd make something particularly elaborate.

Alternatively, just default to wine or flowers. If there's enough upfront time, it could be homemade wine. If you have a 6-12 months lead, you could make a good country wine that they would otherwise be unable to buy. Tea- or potato wines always seem to go over well. Mead too, but that's not as sure-fire.

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Alphaville
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Re: Milestone birthday gift

Post by Alphaville »

jacob wrote:
Wed Jul 22, 2020 8:34 am
yes. or anything that says “thinking of you” more than “i spent money.”

Jason

Re: Milestone birthday gift

Post by Jason »

UK-with-kids wrote:
Wed Jul 22, 2020 1:22 am
Has anybody had experience of this situation and come up with some good ideas of how to approach it?
Brexgift

ZAFCorrection
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Re: Milestone birthday gift

Post by ZAFCorrection »

Put some wishes/greetings/commemoration on a custom vinyl record. They obviously have a record player sitting around.

chicago81
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Re: Milestone birthday gift

Post by chicago81 »

If they have a lot of high-end items/gadgets already, then you probably won't score any points trying to compete in that arena.

Consider some consumable item that they'd likely appreciate.

An easy one I use is, if someone drinks alcohol, I get them a bottle of (the "fancy/expensive" brand, within reason) of their preferred spirit.
That's just an example though... since you know them better, choose some item you think they would consume.

Depending on the relationship-dynamic, a gift card can work too. When I go the gift-card-route, I generally try to target a specific/specialty retailer that I know they like -- so that it seems more thoughtful than a generic card (such as Amazon, big-box-store, etc.)

UK-with-kids
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Location: Oxbridge, UK

Re: Milestone birthday gift

Post by UK-with-kids »

Thanks everyone for the suggestions. I didn't have enough time for some of them, but the input and ideas were really useful. I would say that there needs to be a gradual switchover in my mindset for this area, with a lot more planning ahead. For example, if I was a well practised amateur carpenter then I can see how a handmade piece would be really appreciated. But I'm not - not yet, anyway. In the end we went for a mixture of consumer and more personal presents, so it was a case of a few nice things as a package rather than one massive gesture with the risk it could be loved or hated. We were also fortunate enough (in the current Covid world) to be able to meet up, which helped make it more special.

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