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How to word a "No gifts" request for a birthday party?

post #1 of 37
Thread Starter 
I can't decide so I came to ask you wise mamas.

Ds2's first birthday is coming up and I'm having a small cake-and-snacks celebration for him at our house. Ds2 is too little to care about presents obviously, besides the fact that he already has everything and more. I really don't want any more plastic toys (or any toys! my god, i'm drowning in them!) or books or anything. Instead I've decided that we'd like to donate to our local women and children's shelter.

Now the deal is that the guests will mostly be friends of DS1 from preschool. I'm only on a casual hi-hello type relationships with the moms as we pick/drop our kids. This'll be our first "personal" sort of interaction. Is it okay for me to ask them to being donation items in lieu of a gift? Am I insinuating by this that I'm expecting a gift in the first place? Honestly, they're all welcome to come without bringing anything. I don't care..all we want is a little celebration. So how do I do this?

post #2 of 37
I personally wouldn't put it on the invitation. Instead when people ask if they can bring something (like food usually) when they call to RSVP, casually mention that you're so happy to have them coming and a gift isn't really necessary. Some folks tend to persist, and those people I generally give a task to - please bring a beverage or snack of your choice. If they choose to bake something, I tell them to please bring the recipe so I can share it with other guests if they ask.

post #3 of 37
"Please no presents, just your presence."
post #4 of 37
I've had more success with "no gifts" when I gave the option of donating something, to be honest. And if you don't want gifts, then I don't think it's rude to say so.

For DD's last birthday, she decided that she wanted to have people bring a donation to a local animal shelter if they would like to. People honored our wishes, and the parents told me that the kids were so excited to get stuff off the shelter list. Since your kiddo is younger, your target is the parents, not the kids.

So perhaps you could just not that instead of gifts, you would really like people to bring their smiles and if they would like to a donation for the food bank/children's hospital/whatever you pick, with a link to that org's website and wish list. For a food bank, you could even target kids' items (call them first just to make sure) like baby food, formula, diapers, wipes, vitamins (kids and prenatal), ect.

I think that it's deeply engrained in a lot of people that they really feel weird showing up empty handed. But most people don't mind not buying a "gift". So that's why I think targeted donations or something like giving everyone a page to decorate for a "birthday scrapbook" or a book exchange between kids, ect works so well. The parents tend to be thrilled at not having to worry about what cost of gift to buy and what you might or might not have, but they still get to come with something to offer. I think that the more you can make all sides happy the better!
post #5 of 37
Thread Starter 
Thanks for replying. Thing is I intend to provide the snacks so I don't want anyone to bring food, honestly. Also, I once tried this tactic and those people brought a snack and a gift. It felt weird to me.

Another thing: some ppl might not even call to RSVP as they might yay or nay the invitation as I'm handing out the invites to them at preschool? What do I do then? (Like, if they say yes, they're able to come, I can't go into the whole gifts discussion right then, ykwim?)

ETA: I was writing my response to daschundqueen when all of you responded.

So, yeah, the first invitation i wrote, I did ask for used clothing in place of a gift but in the rest I left that bit out and just asked guests to look up the shelter's website for a list of items they needed. I called in advance to ask if they accepted clothing etc. But I still wonder if I might come across as rude or hoity-toity to those parents that I don't really know?
post #6 of 37
Maybe you could make handmade cards that are titled "You are invited to a gift free celebration of ______'s birthday." If someone is going to take offense then they can, but I think life is too short to worry about that. If you are sure you will get gifts anyways then you might try making it a book exchange party so you only get one book and don't have to do gift bags. My friend did this and only two people didn't listen to the no gifts part. It was really fun for all of the kids.
post #7 of 37
We've thrown many gift free birthday parties. I do write it on the invite simply stating "no gifts please" at the bottom. I field many calls from people really feeling te need to buy our boys a gift. It is during these phone calls that I usually say that if they ould really like to do something our family would love for a donation to be made to charity of their (or something we've selected) choice. People seem okay with it then, but I had had others still bring something.
post #8 of 37
Originally Posted by JessicaRenee View Post
"Please no presents, just your presence."
I've been thinking about doing a 10th anniversary party, and since we're minimalist and dont' want *stuff* I'm thinking I'll put something like that at the bottom of the invitation.

Another common thing i've heard of is to put an alternative (right on the invite). For example, on friend's toddler loved tigers, so they said something about "if you want to give a gift, please make a donation to [save the tigers fund] at [url] in his name." My son, who will be 10 this summer, has indicated that he would like to do a pet shelter donation party--so no presents for him, but everyone (who wants to) brings some dog or cat food, and he'll take it all down to the shelter.
Our culture has taught for years that presents and spending money on people is a good way to show love. A lot of people feel like if they don't spend money they're not really showing love...so I like giving them a good direction for spending the money that theyw ant to spend.
post #9 of 37
I know it isn't "proper" to put anything about gifts on invitations because then it seems like gifts are required....but for a kid's birthday party everyone would be planning on bringing a gift anyway so who cares.

We did donations to an animal shelter for my son's birthday party with friends this year. I wrote something like "In lieu of gifts please bring a pet item (cat or dog food) to be donated to the Humane Society." The parents and the kids all liked the idea and were happy to participate.
post #10 of 37
I'd just do the "gift of your presence" thing and that's it.

The thing is, a few people are still going to bring presents. You have to 1) accept that and 2) plan what you're going to do.

I recommend accepting the gift gracefully and saying something like "Oh, how lovely, thank you - we'll just put this over here and open it after the party" and if you can, maybe whisper in the mom's ear "I just don't want anyone to feel bad if they didn't bring a gift" by way of explanation.

I have been to no gift parties (by people who I know for an absolute fact did NOT want gifts) but they didn't really think that through. So when some gifts were brought, they did open them at the party, making some people probably feel awkward ("oh, I KNEW I should have brought one.").
post #11 of 37
"your presence is present enough"

that's what we do
post #12 of 37
I did something and it worked really well.

I asked each person to bring their favourite kids book and then we gave each kid a number and when their numbers were called they could pick any book they wanted. That way everyone went home with a new book, including my daughter....but only one new book!
post #13 of 37
Originally Posted by tbone_kneegrabber View Post
"your presence is present enough"

that's what we do
That's what we do too. Keep in mind that some people will not bring gifts and other will do whatever they want to do. We want people to come and have fun, especially in this crappy economy, and not stay away bc of not being able to afford a gift.
post #14 of 37
Originally Posted by fiorio View Post
I know it isn't "proper" to put anything about gifts on invitations because then it seems like gifts are required....but for a kid's birthday party everyone would be planning on bringing a gift anyway so who cares.
I struggle with this, too, because I know it's rude to even mention a gift but I did write "best wishes only" on DS's first birthday party invite.
post #15 of 37
DD's friend had a party recently and the invites said, "In leiu of a gift, we are asking for outgrown pajamas to donate to XX" or something similar - I'll have to go find the invitation, b/c the way it was worded didn't seem odd or tacky to me, personally.

So, guests still felt like they were bringing something, and the house didn't get filled with stuff they didn't need (and of course the charity got donations). The mom actually went through a bunch of their clothing and donated them at the same time - so it helped motivate her to declutter.

We gave the birthday girl a nice card - and while I wanted to buy her something while we were the store, I reminded myself that she truly didn't need (or really want) anything, as they are well off and can buy whatever they like.

ETA: I love the book exchange idea as well. Then people aren't coming empty handed (and hey, they can even pick one of their own books to bring), and everyone leaves with something new to them. That would be really fun, I think!
post #16 of 37
I agree that it's not 'correct' to mention gifts on an invitation, however i specify "No gifts, please" on DD's first brithday. The reason is that we had been to a few other first birthdays right before then and they all specified this, so I would have felt funny not saying it! People brought gifts (apologetically!) anyway, so I won't bother next time.
post #17 of 37
"We have been blessed beyond measure this year and want to spread the blessing around. In liue of gifts we would love it if you picked out something to donate to the <insert charity here> in honor od DS birthday!" that way they have a mission, they still have the joy of buying a gift but that buying will be focused somewhere besides your ds. everyone wins. and it is never tacky to ask people to donate to charity IMHO.
post #18 of 37
I'm a bit confused. It sounds like you're inviting families you don't really know to a party for a kid they don't really know.

We've done the "No gifts please" on invites. I've seen it work much better when people are clear rather than making up some cute thing. I think the most successful line I've seen was "Jane has a loving family who spoil her rotten. No gifts please". And when the mom sent out the invite (on Facebook) she included that she was going to make a memory album with cards from the party, so if people wanted to bring a card that would be awesome.
post #19 of 37
I wouldn't put anything on the invitations about gifts. It's different if you are inviting your friends, but you don't really know these people well enough to ask them to donate to your charity.

There's no reason you can't donate whatever they bring to a shelter. Or if they include gift receipts you can return the gift and get something more practical for the shelter.
post #20 of 37
For my son's 5th birthday party I specified "no gifts please" because, of course, he has plenty of toys and his birthday is 3 days after Christmas, so he'd just gotten a whole new load. Plus we were having a pretty big party and he was just excited about the party and barely cared about presents.

But I learned a lesson. Every single kid brought a present. No one listened. I actually thought it was kind of funny -- literally, everyone blew me off. So I learned a valuable lesson that it's out of my control and people like to give presents at parties. (Several moms emailed me after getting the invite saying basically that, "I just love giving presents and I like to teach my child that giving is important. So I hope you don't mind that we're bringing a present.")

So...I need to loosen up...learned that. Just let it be. I thought I was saving these parents trouble for something my son would barely care about (and he didn't care about the presents...except one Chewbacca shirt he got that he loved)...but they taught me something.
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