What’s so wrong with the ‘sibling gift’ rule?

One mum takes issue with the anti 'sibling gifters' - it's not really that bad, is it?


“The ‘sibling gift’ trend is turning our kids into spoiled brats,” wrote Mary Sauer for US parenting site She Knows.


Blimey. Goodness knows what she’d think of my family then, ‘cos I’m pretty sure my mum invented ‘sibling gifting’ – you know, giving all the kids in the family a present when there was a birthday party for one of us.

I’m one of 4 and, as the grandkids have come along – varying in age from 16 down to 4 – whenever there’s a birthday get-together, my mum, aka grandma, will make sure all the children in the family get a small gift too.

The operative word here is small – it’s usually a teddy or sticker book in the £5 price range. And I think that’s just lovely. But it’s a lot of presents. And a lot of expectation. 

It probably stems from the days when my brother, sisters and me were young and my parents lived in some very deprived regions around the world, which meant there was barely any money to spend on the birthday girl or boy, let alone the rest of us.

As she’s got older my mum’s got a bit more spare cash and what better way to spend it than on your grandkids? And I’m certainly not going to tell her she can’t.

Plus – my 5-year-old daughter beams when she gets new stuff – not that she’s materialistic or even heading that way – but, come on, who doesn’t like getting a gift, right?


Now, back to Sauer for a sec: she speaks about her baby shower, when, as well as taking a present for the baby-to-be / new mum, one of her friends turned up with a present for her daughter, not quite 2.

Sauer writes: “I didn’t want her to feel left out,” [the] friend explained, adding that she wanted to make sure my daughter felt special, too.

“So, my toddler opened her present, a cute little dress, and flounced around the room in it for the rest of the party.”

Sauer goes on to say she was uncomfortable with the gift and that, in short, she wishes people would stop doing it.

I have to say her words made my jaw drop slightly and made me a wee bit sad. Her little girl’s 2 – TWO!

Can’t she be allowed to enjoy a small gift from a friend and feel special – especially when it’s a baby shower for an impending arrival that will potentially turn her tiny world upside down?

I know a few friends with twins plus one child who say they’ve taken to sibling gifting on their twins’ birthdays so their ‘non-twin’ child doesn’t feel left out – and I totally get that.

But I also know mums who feel that it’s just one step too far – should you be giving gifts to children simply because they’re related to someone whose birthday it is? Or just in the same room at present-opening time. 

OK, I hate the thought of my girl feeling left out of anything. Sauer disagrees: “I don’t care if my kids feel left out when someone else gets a gift.”

Hmmm. I guess that’s the heart of the difference. I do care about that – if they can’t feel included at home (it’s not about the gift btw but the thought behind it and the fact someone was considerate enough to make them feel part the action) where can they?

And one other thing I want to add here: I know adults whose parents weren’t big on gift-giving when they were children – and they’ve not learnt to give to others as they’ve got older – which I think is actually quite a nice thing to show kids.

So if you fancy coming to mine and want to bring my daughter a pressie – we’ll take it with open arms and gladly return the favour. ?

What do you think?

Do you buy gifts for all your kids when one of them has a birthday or do you think that’s totally OTT? Tell us in the comments below or over on Facebook

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