I don't mean to single you out since many of the others are expressing the same sentiment, but I have a question about the statement above. Why? Why should "no mention of gifts be made"? To me, it's disengenuous. It is a stupid circular game that just frustrates me. We all know that gifts are "expected" at certain types of parties. Why do we, as a society, all go around pretending its not true?
This is what invitations say to me: I am inviting you to a birthday party. (I know through cultural experience you will probably bring a gift but I am not allowed by social convention to mention it. Even if you don't want to bring a gift and I don't want to receive a gift, we can't talk about it.
When our cousin sent us her wedding invitation, it had her registry info in it. My sister was aghast at the tackiness. I told her I thought it was refreshingly bullsh*t-free. My sister then realized that she actually was judging them for not following etiquette. It didn't matter to her that they were expecting a gift. It just bothered her that they were ignorant of the rule. (Which they weren't actually. They just didn't care about the rule.)
I am not having a birthday party for my son this year because I feel it is impossibly for me to have the party I want. I want his friends to come over and sing happy birthday and have cake. I don't want a bunch of crappy dollar store gifts. I don't want to give out stupid grab bags. And since I am not allowed by etiquette to explain that in a party invite, I am just not having a party. I thought about just having a summer party and surprising everyone with his birthday cake. However, I think his preschool classmates (and their parent/s) wouldn't come to a Labor Day party when they would otherwise come to a birthday party.
The other problem I have is the fact that I am not "allowed" to say "no gifts please" on invitations. My relatives read too much into an invitation. I live far away from them but I would like to send them invites because it is possible that a few of them could travel for a party. However, some of my siblings would get the invite and say, "She knows I can't travel that far and she is just sending me an invite because she is fishing for a gift." Sigh. I have to call them, ask each of them if there is any possibility they can come and then send an invite. I feel like I need permission to send them an invitation.
Why can't we just all be honest with eachother?!
I'm not a fan of the "bullcrap"....but I do love tradition. It is why, when entertaining (SO rare) I always press the proper linens and construct my place settings, etc as they "should" be. It is why I hoard stationary and become giddy at the mere opportunity to write out a "thank you" note....which I always do, email be damned! And....it is why....I would eat marshmallow fluff off the floor of Grand Central Station before I ever, EVER, wrote the instructions for accessing my childs wish list on the inside of a party invitation...it would give me an anxiety induced vomitting fit, I'm sure.
BUT THAT'S ME! You and anyone else, are allowed to do and say whatever you choose...and I'm sure, that there are a thousand creative and cute ways to go about writing these sorts of things so as to come across to people as helpful and genuine, rather than rude. At a certain point, you have to know that some people are just LOOKING for a reason to be disappointed in someone else..and just let it go.
FTR, I feel similarly about parties...I wanted for my DD a low key celebration of her first year on this planet...not a "party party party" - and you know what? We got it. We made it SMALL and I had a conversation with a couple of the "key players" (my MIL, basically) before hand just saying "Look, I want this to be a really stress free, fun time for everyone...since some people are on fixed/low/non-existent incomes...I want to keep gifts small, second hand if possible and inexpensive..." and it actually REALLY relaxed people to come, give a small something that ment something to them...and just celebrate. We did REALLY low key food and just hung out and watched this baby play around while we shared our favorite memories from her first year! It as really nice that we didn't have a situation where some people brought really big, crazy gifts and other people (like great grandmother, etc) who have much much less money, were embarassed at bringing a good, but second hand, sweater...or something like that. Instead, we had a situation, where people had a lot of fun going out together, looking around for low cost, high creativity gifts. Like, on thing she recieved, was this super cool push-and-ride thingie...it had been totally sunbleached and so, was really cheap...and had a really awesome look to it. A cheap little (CUTE!) swim suit...a little animal set...a milk jug that goes "moooo" when tipped...just cute things that the givers really loved giving. It was a blast. So...don't give up. Identify a couple people who are usually a big part of "setting the tone" for such events and tell them "Really low key, really relaxed" and see what happens. You will probably be happily surprised...I was.