Birthday Gift For Child’s GF/BF

I think it’s best when your child says it’s ok to start and not before. That was what D advised and she knows our S better than any of us. I’m happy to be friendly but won’t push S or the GF.


Did she send one to you for your birthday? If not, then she might think that you are taking the relationship further than she has.

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  1. I did say clear it with the SO.
  2. It’s a $2 card from the grocery store!

Again, no obligation to do it - but if the thought crosses your mind MAYBE that’s because you met enough to care to say happy birthday!

Traditions don’t rule me. Reading people, relationships and emotions do.

BTW, I’m not someone who EXPECTS thank you notes either for an in person gift - it’s nice, but if I gifted I did so because I wanted to - and I don’t need a second thanks.


This isn’t the only situation, gifting often can be tricky because giving varies a lot from person to person, family to family, budget to budget, culture to culture and can be interpreted differently by recipient or their family.

They may think you are trying to pull or push by not doing enough or doing too much, while you are doing neither.

But we aren’t talking about multiple situations - we are responding to your initial post - involving your young adult and their SO.

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I didn’t give either of my kids’ SO’s anything for the first year. Mostly, because I had no idea that was a thing until a friend told me I was misinformed. I’m old, but back in my day, until there was a marriage, there was nothing, lol.

My kids have been with their SO’s for five and four years. I Venmo them for bdays, and give an actual gift at Xmas. I send their families a Christmas card and give a box of chocolates or similar from Trader Joe’s.

If my kids stay with their SO’s for years to come, I expect I will up the level of gifts.

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My DIL made a comment to me that gift giving is part of my love language. So, yes, I’ve given 2 prior GFs gifts. I’ve also sent Xmas gifts to their families. When I spent Xmas with one family, I brought small gifts for everyone.

On the other hand, a few years ago I stopped giving gifts to my cousin’s 7 grandchildren. Not appreciated.

For occasions like a GF graduating law school/grad school, I send $ which my son could use for a nice dinner or experience.

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It depends. If the SO has been around for more than a year, sure, send a card. I could see doing it sooner if you’d met and had a good relationship. Imagine your kid and the SO were both in your town and you saw them frequently then of course I’d do something small. For the live ins and long term SOs yes, I mail some low key gift: a coffee mug, a cute mask (in the early days of Covid), running shorts for a new runner. I like the advice above about starting off on the right foot.
I will admit that some of these SOs did send me a gift first. Am I the intimidating MIL being courted? LOL!


I didn’t even know when my son’s girlfriend’s birthday was until after they got married and I asked. I think we just sent her a kindle book last year, I’ll likely do something similar this year. She spent a number of Christmases with us before they got married and of course I gave her gifts and a stocking. She gave us all presents too. She’s very good at it.


Our S’s GF doesn’t know our bdays (our kids only know because i put it in their calendars. We don’t know her Bday as our S hasn’t shared info. Due to 5000 miles between us, we only see her when we are in DC, which was about annual but not at all since covid. She doesn’t send us gifts and S isn’t much into giving nor receiving gifts (never has been). He and she know we like her.

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If gift giving is a love language, I need remedial classes!

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I don’t mind giving gifts (though I am probably not the best at it), but my issue is that I don’t want to receive gifts that are, “stuff.” If and when ds ever has a SO, I hope I can convey this in the right manner if gifts are her love language.


I try to communicate. After 2 years, I kindly told (now) DIL I wasn’t big on flower arrangements. I do buy flowers at the market and for parties. She shared she likes candles and scents and face creams & masks, facials &manicures. We both like kitchen gadgets. I asked for a paring knife for my BD, which son researched. She and I spoke about my son’s BD, and he sent me “a hint”.

On CC, I’ve gotten many suggestions for the surprise gifts.

I think it is much more common for the gift to the parent to come as a joint gift (for a birthday or holiday), so if your child knows you don’t like flowers, the SO should ‘know’ that too.

True, but my son never sent flowers. His gifts were more on the tech side - a kindle, a secondary battery, cover case.
When son was in grad school, I’d send cupcakes/Bundt cakes, but mostly $.

I’ve decided not to send anything as we’ve only met once. If we got to know each other more this year than I’ll gift something for next birthday.


I always do thank you notes, because that’s how I was raised. I don’t really expect them, but I when I receive them, I do think it’s nice. I also think it’s nice to acknowledge that you received the gift, especially if someone mails you something. They’d probably like to know it got there. If I’m sending something to someone, I often let them know. That way they can look out for it. I can’t tell you how many people I know never check their mail. And our neighborhood had a rash of packages being stolen from people’s front porches.

I did mention that I don’t look for thank you notes if the gift was given in the presence of the giver. So if I’m at a bday party with a few friends and someone opens my gift to them up while I’m there, saying thank you then (or whatever positive comment they might say when they open) is enough for me. That’s what I was trying to convey.

I also support sending thank you notes or a text or something for a gift so someone knows you receive it. BUT I’ve also known/seen/read of many people act like their child is perfect or they raised their child perfect because they do this task. LOL. Good habit, but not a big pedestal holder to me!

True I feel the same way.
My kids do and did write thank you notes because I made them do it. And I have heard people compliment them on sending one and sometimes they’ve even complimented me. But I certainly don’t think it means they’re perfect or that I did anything better then other parents. I think it’s just something we do as a habit in our family. And I can think of many times, where I’ve forgotten to send a note…you know, life gets in the way. We have a lot of family who lives far away and we like to send notes so they know we got their gift.

I raised my kids to send thank you notes, but I’m not convinced they do.