â€˜Not very expensive as a ruleâ€™ â€“ applied to all the gifts. Bilbo was in this as in other ways an exceptional person, and his Party was a riot of generosity even for a wealthy Hobbit. But one of the commonest birthday ceremonies was the giving of a â€˜partyâ€™ â€“ in the evening of the Day. All those invited were given presents by the host, and expected them, as part of the entertainment (if secondary to the fare provided). But they did not bring presents with them. Shire-folk would have thought that very improper. If the guests had not already given a gift (being one of those required to do so by kinship), it was too late. For other guests it was a thing â€˜not doneâ€™ â€“ it looked like paying for the party or matching the party-gift, and was most embarrassing.
Letter 214, The Letters of JRR Tolkien
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