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I have a birthday gift for my friend who lives in another country. I know what his address is, but I want to make sure he can receive packages or see if he moved or something. I also don't want to just take a chance and send the package because it's very expensive and some items are not retrievable. I've never mailed a gift before and I'm scared something will happen to it or he won't receive it.

The problem is that I was going to ask:

Hey, is your address the same?

But I think this might sound weird... I don't want him to make him suspicious that I'm sending something because I want it to be a surprise.

How can I ask for his address without raising suspicion?

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Be candid with them: you're sending them a gift. They need to know that to give you the information you need about how you should send them that gift.

You want to give them a nice surprise, but an out-of-the-blue present is for the times when you already understand how to handle sending them stuff. This isn't one of those times, so I don't think you should go for that. If you beat around the bush you might be left without important details you need to know if you're sending them a package.

I've been in that situation a few times in my life: I'm close friends with someone, they live somewhere else in the world entirely, and I want to get them a gift. So I've been up front with them like this:

Hey, it's your birthday in like a week or two. I've got a gift I'd like to send you, it's about this big. How can I send you that? Where should I send it to? Do I need to do anything with delivery times or signing or something to get it to you?

They'll still get a nice surprise: You telling them this at all! They'll almost certainly be surprised and appreciative to hear you're sending them something, and that's pretty great too! They can be pleasantly surprised again later by what it is, if that's still a secret, or happy to get it if the gift is known.

What this means is you get all the necessary information off them that your delivery can actually arrive safely at the right location with the right details so they can receive it properly. Sometimes they'll need you to send it to a relative or PO box depending on their mail situation at home, or there will be a specific spot it should be left to not get stolen, or an apartment complex access code the delivery company should use, etc. That's the kind of stuff you won't be told if you're not direct with them about what you're doing.

The times I've done this, I've even sent my friend a screenshot of the online delivery form (or photo if it's paper) to make sure everything looks right before I submit them to the delivery company.

They'll still be appreciative of your present (I hope). If & when you'd next like to send them an unannounced surprise present, you can do so then.

(Even when I bought a friend some notebooks, and even discussed with them the notebook they'd like, they were still delighted by the chocolate slab they didn't expect to be included in the package.)

  • Thanks for your answer. However I'm scared if he knows I'm going to send a gift he will say "no it's okay" because he is very shy about gifts and acknowledging these things, that's why I wanted a way of not exactly bringing it up – user130306 Apr 30 '18 at 21:35
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    @user130306 I can understand that, though you might also need to ask about how to navigate through that (separately). All I can recommend is that you really do need to bring it up so as to get the information you need. You can't really be sure you've got all the information needed to be sure a present to arrive safely without telling them, well, you need the information for a present to arrive safely. – doppelgreener Apr 30 '18 at 21:38
  • thank you. your suggestion seems reasonable so I think I'll do that but would you first mind clarifying what other information I would need besides an address to send a package? I have actually visited his apartment before so I know what it looks like but I'm unsure how he receives packages, etc – user130306 Apr 30 '18 at 21:41
  • sorry! just realized you edited your answer, I will read it now – user130306 Apr 30 '18 at 21:41
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    @doppelgreener Hey I just wanted to say that I took your advice and I can't thank you enough for telling me because turns out I need to send to his work address because he cannot receive packages at his home – user130306 May 2 '18 at 1:59
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Maybe you could say something like this:

I'm reorganizing my address book and I'm double checking the addresses of all of my contacts. Is your address still XXX?

That way, it seems like something trivial that doesn't put the focus on them. This might also be an opportunity to actually do that and also contact other people that you're not sure of.

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In the past I have been vague-but-obvious. Something like

Hey, is your address still 123 Fake Street? I need to know for "reasons".

With added emphasis on "reasons" (if I'm asking via text I leave the double quotes in). It makes it obvious that I'm planning something, but whether that's sending a card, a gift, or looking into planning a trip over there is still a surprise.

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