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  • Tara R.

GROUP GIFT-ING ‘Tis the Season That Never Ends

Hi ladies! It’s (insert name)’s birthday coming up, and we can’t wait to celebrate! We thought it would be nice to get a little group gift.

Ah, the “group gift” —- never before has an email subject line elicited such simultaneous gratitude and dread. The “group gift” — designed to facilitate your life and aggravate you all at once! The “group gift” — grandiose gesture in blatant disregard for the "no gifts" clause on every invitation!

How to navigate such delicate terrain? My top ten pointers:

1. When asked for group gift participation, don't hesitate! Respond enthusiastically! Be one of the first to write back, because no one is reading the 14th 'reply to all' and your forced champagne emojis are falling on deaf ears. (Don’t get me wrong -- I’m thrilled there's "no pressure" and not to have to “do my own thing” but I’m also bewildered that you presume I want to spend the same hundred bucks as you do on a friend you went to grade school with and are godmother to her children, and I had lunch with her once in 2016.) But, like, I’m thrilled to celebrate! It’s so nice to be included!

2. A suggested minimum amount is not actually a suggestion! It's a bare minimum requisite for inclusion, and an insurance policy that your name doesn't "accidentally" get left off the group gift card.

3. Group gift email thank-you notes are perfectly acceptable. There, it's now officially in writing. Something's gone agonizingly awry when you receive one gift, and have to write 50 identical thank-you notes in return.

4. Ix-nay on the group gift for children's birthdays! If you've ever stepped foot in Dylan's, you know kids prefer quantity to quality. Plus, manically ripping apart sparkly ribbons and wrapping paper is a guaranteed outlet to blow off excess sugar and steam from the rainbow cupcakes and bouncy house, and trust me, you'll need it. Party pics of babies in bling are best left to Insta trolls, and there's not much resale value in microscopic fine jewelry... Break out the Hefty and start stuffing -- it's worth it.

5. Should you not heed the advice of Item 4, no thank-you note at all, electronic or hard copy, should be expected. Mom's way too demolished from subduing her children's raging post-party tantrums to give a damn about who gave what.

6. To the group gift organizer: Congratulations, you are now officially nominated for sainthood!! Collecting checks that people may (or may not) send, for someone else’s benefit, is akin to the noblest of charity work! You are actually eligible for martyrdom should you choose to lay out cash in advance for those who say they are ”IN!” (I’d advise against this, but some of you, god bless you, are relentlessly giving!) That said, this honorable gesture is nullified should you decide to skim a little off the top. No one is gonna check your spreadsheets but there's always one pesky neighborhood yenta who's doing a little recon to verify your


7. As well, organizer, if you have taken it upon yourself to be the gifter-in-charge, do NOT poll the group for suggestions. This only leads to a cross-hail of half-assed ideas and unwieldy email threads that rival the time you tried to schedule your daughter's camp reunion sleepover. If you are helming the show, helm strongly! There’s a reason you’re (hopefully not!) earning the big bucks.

8. When you send the first email, it’s okay to cc all! This is an easy way for everyone to learn who's invited, and to whom they should not mouth off. (Extra props to those who take three minutes to alphabetize their list! No one really needs to know the order in which people came to your mind, do they?) Admittedly, problems may arise when you accidentally omit a few invitees. Even if you wrap it up with an amicable “If I forgot anyone, please forward!” — very few will actually follow through, and when this doesn’t happen, the offense taken will always land squarely on your shoulders. That’s the price of Martyr-dom!

9. A note on the group-organized group gift: less is more. If there are more organizers than people you are organizing, it may be time to rethink the plan! This will not end well! 11 organizers for a party of 20 is a surefire recipe for disaster, so do yourself a favor and abort! Lead organizers will feel irritated that credit is being shared for work done by a few, others will feel under-appreciated, and non-organizers such as the 12th best friend of the gift recipient, will simply feel pissed off! No one will end up feeling that celebratory, which is wholly beside the point!!

10. And finally, if you are feeling deflated that you’ve shelled out a cool grand in under a month and have nothing to show for it but a negative venmo balance -- do NOT throw yourself a pity party. Stop sulking, step it up, and throw yourself an actual par-tay! Just not during the crowded summer social season, or anytime close to the over-scheduled holidays, because you’ll shoot yourself in the foot. Aim for mid-April when people’s Seasonal Affective Disorder is lifting. They'lll be thrilled to step out again in cut-out Cushnie and strappy sandals, and have some post-Resort Season shekels saved up to spend without much angst. Vitamin D is good for the soul, and for the birthday girl! Happy happy!!!

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