How do you stop buying presents for someone (and their child) you don't know very well, when you have to see them and are giving other people presents at the same time, without appearing rude?

The background is, that I can only see my friends & their families once a month for a big get together, so I've always brought their birthday presents along. A new person who I don't have any friendship with was introduced, and it felt rude so I started bringing birthday presents for them too. Then they started bringing their kid and that seemed rude since I do it for my friends children and I started doing that.

Now they are bringing their SO, and another new person has been introduced.

Its costing me more than I can afford, but to give 'smaller' gifts, when the giving is necessarily visible to everyone or no gifts seems terrible. I don't wish to give my friends less to be able to afford gifts for acquaintances.

How can I manage this situation better?

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    And what is your goal here - to politely make clear to those acquaintances, that you won't be buying gifts for them anymore? – Anne Daunted GoFundMonica Nov 5 '17 at 10:08
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    Might be a silly question, but... any chance you can give them their gifts "out of sight" from the other not-related persons? – OldPadawan Nov 5 '17 at 10:09
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    I guess what i'm looking for (unless anyone has a better way of achieving my goal) is a way of saying "Look, I don't really know you and can't afford to keep giving you presents" without being rude or causing upset feelings. – Mr D Nov 5 '17 at 10:18
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    I don't understand. This is a monthly meet-up? You're not going to be bringing gifts for everyone anyway, right? Do they bring gifts for you? – Catija Nov 5 '17 at 12:19
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    Please clarify in the question whether you will be bringing a gift for each of your friends at every get-together or only for a few of them at each event, those whose birthdays came within the last month, I should assume. The difference could be significant while answering your question. – English Student Nov 6 '17 at 12:44

I think you should stop feeling guilty.

People are not entitled to your gifts. Your money is yours alone to spend on your friends. If they are not yet in your inner circle (of gift), they can't force their way in. You don't need to feel must to include them, too.

One way to explain this is to thank them for being such a good friend for x years. That set an expectation for people that they won't receive gifts until they know you for at least x years.

Another way is to mention what they've done to you that earn their way to your inner circle.

Chris, I thank you so much for being there when I was sick and all alone. I don't know what I can do without you.

That way, you can avoid mentioning "you're not close enough", but imply that.

If they feel offended by your not giving gift to them and dare to mention it, I don't think you want to be friend with them. Simply tell them the "requirement" that your close friends have earned, without telling them that they haven't.

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Since I can't comment on your internal conflict (guilt, etc.), one practical step I've seen have great success is to have a written budget. While I suggest everyone write out their budget fully - that is beyond the scope of your question ... in this case, simply having a set (written, if realistic) budget for gifts opens up many useful options:

  1. Apologize (if you like) as your budget does not allow for further process.

  2. Give smaller gifts, as the budget allows.

  3. Simply don't purchase a gift, having the budget as a reasonable backing for your actions. (There is no need for you to justify your actions - unless there are social implications I'm not aware of - so rather than preemptively apologize, simply have an apology ready if required.)

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