The Worst Birthday Present Mistake I’ve Made and Lessons Learned

PROBLEM #29: I Need to buy a Present for My Spouse’s Birthday, but I don’t want to Make a Birthday Present Mistake.

The older I get, the faster time seems to go. Sometimes it seems that Christmas is right around the corner . . . again. Have you ever had a difficult time deciding what to buy for your spouse for a birthday or Christmas present? If you’re anything like me this can be a PROBLEM.

My wife’s birthday is coming up, and I’ve had trouble picking out the perfect gift that lets her know exactly how much I love her. I’ve made a few mistakes, and I’m going to let you know the worst birthday present mistake that I have made. And what you can learn from it.

present wrapped in gold paper

Before we get to the worst mistake I’ve made in birthday presents, I’ll tell you about another mistake I made – a different year.

Birthday Present Mistake #1

Yes, I forgot my wife’s birthday one year. Well, it wasn’t as much as I forgot as I forgot to plan. It was early in our marriage, and we had just purchased a house. To go along with our new house, we also purchased a dishwasher. This was one of those added costs to home-ownership that we weren’t ready for. Also, we weren’t as financially savvy as we are now – with life comes experience.

But I was enough of a cheap skate that I was determined to install the dishwasher myself. As with many home projects, this one took much longer than I had anticipated. The main issue I had was that I could not solder the connection to the new hot water valve with water continually dripping out the pipe I had already cut. The valve I had turned off was leaking – I ended up turning off the house water main. Which kept us from using any water – all day. I also had the wrong fittings for the job which required multiple trips to the store.

It was in the midst of this frustration – the work stretched into the night – that I realized that I had forgotten my wife’s birthday present. It was then that I made the first birthday present mistake. I said, “Honey, you know, the installation of this dishwasher is your birthday present.” Needless to say, that went over like a lead balloon.

The installation of this dishwasher can be your birthday present. Click To Tweet

Birthday Present Mistake #2

It was another year, but I had still not learned my lesson. I should also tell you that my wife’s birthday always falls on or around Mother’s Day. Which is a blessing and a curse.

bouquet of flowers


So this year I planned ahead and purchased a candle and flowers. I know, I know, I’m cheap. Anyway, it was then that I made another birthday present mistake.

I said, “Honey, here are your presents – the candle and flowers. One is for your birthday, and the other is for Mother’s Day. You can choose which present is for which holiday.”

She didn’t appreciate the choice with which I had presented her. This was the worst mistake that I made when it came to my wife’s birthday. It took a while to make up for this one.

Conclusionscandle in a jar

Trust me, I’ve since learned my lesson. I tell you these stories, so that you can learn from me and my mistakes. When it comes to your spouse, put some effort into the gifts you give, and the things you do for each other. Don’t assume that just because you’re married, that you don’t need to do much for birthdays or Christmas. A healthy relationship requires giving from both parties involved. Get to know each other, and spend time together. Don’t look at gift giving as a chore. It should be an opportunity to show love – not an obligation.

It’s a good way to save money also. By spending a little time and money upfront, it can save loads in the future (Check out this post over on Get Rich Quickish). If you invest in your family relationships, the rewards are much more than monetary. Happiness, satisfaction, and support can all be a result of a healthy relationship.

I only wish I had learned this lesson sooner.

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  1. You forgot to mention that you offered the candle and flowers as gifts the day BEFORE my birthday. I went through the weekend thinking you still had something up your sleeve. Surely you wouldn’t leave it at that. Talk about a let down…
    Thankful that we have both learned a few things through the years.Thinking back, I could have been more gracious at the time. I love you!

  2. My partner and I focus more on shared experiences than physical gifts. In some ways it’s just easier-baseball tickets, dinner to a fancy restaurant that we normally wouldn’t go to, a comedy show. Sometimes we invite our friends over for a dinner party, or out for a picnic and a hike. It’s also easier to stave off disappointment from both the giver and receiver.

    I still like to give birthday cards to tell my partner how much I value having him around for another year. His birthday is on Valentine’s Day so it’s a similar situation to your and your wife.

    • It just seems I always have trouble. But over the years we’ve started keeping “wish lists”. I know if I buy something off of there – I’m safe. But I think shared experiences would be well received too. Thanks for the thoughts and for commenting.

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