Sibling drama-- Gift etiquette

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-13-2014
Sibling drama-- Gift etiquette
Sun, 04-13-2014 - 1:55am

I have two sisters, both younger than myself. One is turning 40 this year and the other is turning 30.  Given these momentous birthdays, I suggested to my mother that we take my two sisters on a getaway trip to celebrate.  This was a big step because we have traveled together in the past and it has always been very rocky, resulting in severed relationships and hurt feelings. Knowing our difficulties, my 40 yo sister suggested we take a cruise so that some of the things which cause friction in our travels would be reduced and perhaps this trip would go better than previous ones. We liked that idea but then learned that a cruise would be cost prohibitive.  I offered to have them come visit me at a vacation rental this summer (as they have done in the past) but they said no thanks.

My mom and I then came up with the idea of a long weekend at a spa that is in state.  We could all arrive on our own, but then take advantage of the amazing services and classes they offer throughout the weekend.  We were very excited about this idea, as it seemed the classes would offer lots of introspection and self learning at these momentous turning points in their lives.  Well, my 40 yo sister is disappointed that we are not taking her on a cruise.  I saw my 30 yo sister today and she said, "I guess it's fine.  I mean, it's not my first choice but I won't sulk or complain while we are there."  When I explained I thought the classes could offer growth opportunities she said she is fine where she is and grows in other ways that don't involve classroom lectures. 

While I recognize that we should get the birthday girls something they want, I don't think I can accommodate their ultimate wishes.  I am beginning to think we are still not meant to travel as a group and I'm wondering if it would be awful if I withdraw the plan of a trip and just get them a nice (much less expensive) gift instead.  Or should my mom and I come up with plan number 4 to suit their wishes? 

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-11-2012
Mon, 04-14-2014 - 8:55am

Personally I think the idea of classes at a birthday celebration absolutely boring and it doesn't sound like either sister is going to appreciate your effort. Why not opt for dinner at a decent restaurant and a gift exchange instead. That way you aren't out a lot of money and you won't spend a couple of days on pins and needles waiting for an argument to break out.

Avatar for elc11
Community Leader
Registered: 06-16-1998
Mon, 04-14-2014 - 6:05pm

The spa classes sound like a potential landmine. Unless the two sisters both have said that they are into personal growth and would love to spend the weekend in introspection with family (with whom they don't get along very well), they could see it as you and Mom trying to say that there is something wrong with them or that they need to change, or some other hidden message.

Since you know that you do not travel well together, something with less togetherness seems better. I agree with the poster who suggested a nice restaurant dinner and a gift for each. 

Did they do something big for you when you turned 30 and 40? I'm asking because there seems to be some expectation of a big gift---like one sister disappointed that she's not getting a cruise. 

There's another board where your post might get more views and responses called Venting About Family and Friends you might want to copy it and repost it over there.