08 Apr
It’s My Birthday, Give Me Better Gifts!

Dear Mouthy Housewives,

I recently had a birthday and a few of my friends and I went out to celebrate.  They treated me to dinner and we had a nice time, but I was a little insulted because the gifts they gave me were all “jokey” gag gifts (like penis-shaped pasta.) I like to laugh as much as anyone, but I also would have a preferred a gift certificate for a manicure. Should I say something?


I Could Really Use a Manicure


Dear Manicureless,

Well, you know the old saying, you shouldn’t look a gift penis pasta in the mouth. It’s there for a reason. (I think it’s because only dentists are allowed to look in mouths since no one has the stomach for it.)  But another reason maybe is that people do not want to appear ungrateful, even if they feel ungrateful because they got a lousy gift instead of that something shiny they had their eye on.  (Is it me, or does it seem like I’m trying to cover a lot of body parts in this post?)

In my experience, there are two types of gifts. The ones you want to get and the ones people want to give. Occasionally, there is a cosmic confluence and the two types become one. Whether it’s because the gift giver knows the recipient so well or because the recipient-in-waiting has launched a small to medium emailing campaign about her preference, there have been times in history when someone opens a present and says, with all sincerity, “this is perfect. How did you know? Thank you!”

The rest of the time, we have to close our eyes and think of England, in gift-terms. We have to thank the person who gave us the gift for remembering our  birthday, for thinking of us, for the gesture.

If the gift does not come with a gift receipt  and you feel like your friends got you a gift that they really want you to enjoy and appreciate, it is not inappropriate to let them know that while  you love the gesture you would  like to exchange it for something more useful to you. Most gift givers have been on the receiving end of this scenario themselves and are happy to facilitate an exchange. However, if, as in your case, the gift was a gag gift, stop at the “thank you.”

Your friends treated you to dinner and you had a nice evening together celebrating your birthday. The penis pasta was just gravy. (Eww.)

But that doesn’t mean that you can’t start a new birthday tradition.  Every year, get yourself a gift for your birthday, something that you really want and that others aren’t likely to get you. I’m thinking less “Maserati” and more “manicure” here.

And here’s to many more birthdays with your friends!

Marinka, TMH


6 Responses to “It’s My Birthday, Give Me Better Gifts!”


Comment by suburbancorrespondent.

I do agree that you can’t dictate what you get. And it does seem fair to regard the dinner as your gift. But I’m wondering about your choice of peer group here. Do you normally enjoy those types of gag gifts?

Personally, I’d be weirded out that my friends would think I’d find penis-shaped pasta funny. So the question is, is that something that you normally find funny and you are just raising the bar for your birthday? Or do your friends not really know you very well?


Comment by Cary.

I think if you say anything besides a gracious thankyou you won’t have to worry about what gift they get you next year. Geez.


Comment by Kathy.

I’m going to assume the person asking for this advice is an adult who should be able to get her own manicure.

This is exactly the kind of adult I don’t want my kids to grow up to be and why we don’t do presents on birthdays. My husband and I don’t even do gifts between each other for any occasion (this includes our anniversary and valentine’s day!) The last thing I want is for my friends to feel obligated to purchase items just because the calendar moves along.


Comment by Acetera.

I’m with Kathy here. I get very nervous when my friends’ birthdays come up because I worry that whatever gift I give them will not be what they want, or they will think I suck at life or whatever. Then I remember that my friends kickass and would be thrilled to the gills to get to have a nice dinner together. Don’t be ungrateful for even the smallest gestures. Sometimes that’s all we can afford.


Comment by It's My Party and No One Is Coming! | The Mouthy Housewives.

[…] have to remember that you moved away and yes, I’m sure a couple close friends will come out to see you and your new house. I know you are disappointed but you really have to try […]


Comment by Nora.

Wow!! ….are you serious! I’m imagining a teenager stomping their feet saying “but mom i really wanted a manicure!”
The dinner was the gift and the the penis pasta was so you could laugh with your friends on your special day and be able to look back at fun memories. There’s always the option to stay home alone on your next birthday because you told your friends “but I didn’t want this i really wanted a manicure”
I’m assuming you’re not a teenager you’re a grown woman…. Go get a manicure.

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