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Requesting No Gifts for b-day party

post #1 of 49
Thread Starter 

I still have quite some time as DD's birthday is in October but this has been on my mind lately. DH and I would like to ask that guests to DD's 4th birthday party bring no gifts. Wish I had done this from the start but...

 

Anyway, I feel like the inclusion of "No gifts, please" in invitations is almost universally ignored so I'd like some ideas for alternative wording. We personally feel like a) we'd like to emphasize the importance of relationships and experiences rather than "things" and b) we'd like to avoid the excess of toys in our home, especially but not limited to plastic toys and Made In China stuff.

 

I don't want anyone invited to feel offended but I'd like the request to be firm enough that it is respected. Ideas?

post #2 of 49

We put "Your presence is present enough!" on the invites.

 

If they are mostly family/close friends you can just talk to them about it.  "dd has a lot of stuff and we just want to spend the time celebrating together"

 

Or you could find a charity that your dd would like people to donate to, an animal shelter or something.  Animal shelters will often take toys, food, blankets etc.  This is a way for people to feel like they are "giving" even if it isn't directly to your dd

post #3 of 49

We used something similar to the pp. "The present of your presence is present enough" However, people still showed up with gifts and I was FURIOUS. I thought it was incredibly disrespectul to DH and I and I thought it was rude to the other guests who had honored our request. Some people didn't even bother to discreetly give us the gifts.  I have been to parties where guests are asked to bring books instead of a gift and then they do a book exchange. So everyone gets a new book.

 

I hope your guests are more respectful than ours (unfortunately they are family). Good luck and have fun anyway.

post #4 of 49

I think people (including me) feel uncomfortable coming to a party with nothing. If we go to someone's house for dinner or brunch, say, I'd bring a bottle of wine, or flowers or a candle.

 

Around here it's not uncommon to do the book exchange ("Please bring a wrapped book in lieu of a gift. Each kid will get to bring one home.") I also like the charity idea.

 

Good luck!
-e

post #5 of 49

"In lieu of a gift, please bring a non-perishable food item for XYZ food pantry."  This is what worked for us.  

 

A friend asked each guest to bring a children's book for the young residents at a local homeless shelter.  It only works if you name the specific charity in the invitation.  

 

The "your presence is present enough!" or " no gifts, please" has not worked for anyone I know.  Guests at a party want to bring something.  It's a necessary part of the ritual.

post #6 of 49

We've only been to parties that requested no gifts that also had some charitable organization they were collecting for, so we always just brought something to donate.  

 

 

Depending on the crowd you could ask them to bring a favorite photo of your dd (or send out a photo with the invitation and have everyone make some kind of collage with it for the party).  I don't know whether that would go over better that just a 'no gifts please', but it would be something for guests to contribute to the party (and so replacing the gift).  

 

 

post #7 of 49

About 85% of the children's parties we now attend so "No gifts please" on the invitations. People who cheat usually bring books. Most relatives cheat. Sometimes the wording is tied into a theme, i.e. we did a Pirate-y theme and said "No gifts please. His treasure chest is full." Almost no one at these parties brings gifts, except for family.

 

On the one hand it bothers me to mention gifts at all. On the other hand, the last thing I want is for him to get another 20+ presents on his birthday.I find directing gifts to charities to be much worse, from an etiquette stand point as well as soliciting specific gifts (books, gift cards) etc.

 

 I think simple wording is best. Getting into the hand wringing about junk made in China makes the request worse, because some people will view it is snobbery or will assume you are saying their gifts are too lousy for their kid.

 

post #8 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by NZJMama View Post

 I have been to parties where guests are asked to bring books instead of a gift and then they do a book exchange. So everyone gets a new book.


We did something like this but people (EVERYONE) brought gifts anyway so then I just felt bad for saying "no gifts" in the first place. In fact, most people have brought gifts to every single 'no gifts' party we've attended, no matter how the request is worded.
post #9 of 49

No matter how nice or firm you word, it is ingrained into some cultures that the polite thing you do at a birthday party is bring a gift. To respect you by bringing nothing, some people feel they have do disrespect themselves, or the birthday person, or culture at large, or all of the above. So wording is not going to do it. I think it might work better if you have a valid alternate to gift giving. Some pp's have made wonderful suggestions - a book swap, food or goods for a specific charity, a gift in the the name of to a specific cause.... 

post #10 of 49

it sounds great in theory, but in practicality, it lost me the first time i went to a "no gifts" party, and we pretty much respected it, though i did bring some coloring books and markers, which i gave discretely to the mom at the door upon arriving. it lost me because other people did bring gifts, and it was very embarrassing to me when they then made a big deal of opening them. like, everyone sat around and noted who gave what. it was like being set up for embarrassment. so i think i would probably try to avoid going to another "no gifts" party. besides, 4 year olds WANT to give their friends a gift. 

post #11 of 49

I'm guessing some part of the lack of desire for gifts has to do with separating a feeling of happiness ect...from the receiving of a material Thing?

 

We have a similar desire in this family, and for the past two years, we've just plain avoided making much of a to-do about birthdays. No gifts or parties...just a acknowledgement of happy birthday and a special meal. 

 

If I were to host a birthday party for my child, then I would probably just ignore the whole gift thing. It's just not going to change anything dramatically to request that there be no gifts and, inevitably, you'll have some who show up with a gift...just because. It's the way society is...and it's how society celebrates birthdays. To host a birthday party sort of speaks to that tradition, you know? I would probably just accept the gifts for what they are...a material demonstration of a relationship and not put too much emphasis on them beyond what my child thought of them. 

 

And, idk, I guess I would sort of ask my kid what she wanted...before requesting that the party be giftless...after all, it will be a party for her?

post #12 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by ElliesMomma View Post

it sounds great in theory, but in practicality, it lost me the first time i went to a "no gifts" party, and we pretty much respected it, though i did bring some coloring books and markers, which i gave discretely to the mom at the door upon arriving. it lost me because other people did bring gifts, and it was very embarrassing to me when they then made a big deal of opening them. like, everyone sat around and noted who gave what. it was like being set up for embarrassment.


Very good point. I went to 2 parties recently & would have loved to bring a special gift but I brought something small & consumable instead, and everyone else COMPLETELY ignored the 'no gifts' request and brought big fancy gifts. Fortunately they at least waited 'til after the party to open them, but it was still embarrassing, and I was glad I at least brought SOMETHING but these were close friends and I would've preferred to get something better if they hadn't requested 'no gifts'... I think there is a lot of anxiety about the no gifts thing, sometimes depending on the wording you're not sure if they're serious or just trying to make sure people still feel welcome even if they can't afford a gift. And then you're wondering whether you'll be the only one to bring -- or worse, not bring! -- a gift, and what's appropriate, and will the parents be annoyed if you do show up with something, and will the child be devastated if you don't.... It's incredibly stressful being on the other end of this and I wish I'd realized/acknowledged that before throwing our own 'no gifts' party!!
post #13 of 49
Thread Starter 


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by JudiAU View Post

About 85% of the children's parties we now attend so "No gifts please" on the invitations. People who cheat usually bring books. Most relatives cheat. Sometimes the wording is tied into a theme, i.e. we did a Pirate-y theme and said "No gifts please. His treasure chest is full." Almost no one at these parties brings gifts, except for family.

 

On the one hand it bothers me to mention gifts at all. On the other hand, the last thing I want is for him to get another 20+ presents on his birthday.I find directing gifts to charities to be much worse, from an etiquette stand point as well as soliciting specific gifts (books, gift cards) etc.

 

 I think simple wording is best. Getting into the hand wringing about junk made in China makes the request worse, because some people will view it is snobbery or will assume you are saying their gifts are too lousy for their kid.

 


Just want to clarify, I didn't mean I was going to put that in the invite--I agree, that would come off as extremely snobby. (bolding mine)

 

Anyway, for anyone who cares, my SIL had a good idea to just request, "No toys, please" rather than "No gifts". I think we're going to go with that. But thank you ALL for your input!

 

post #14 of 49


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mamaboss View Post


 


Just want to clarify, I didn't mean I was going to put that in the invite--I agree, that would come off as extremely snobby. (bolding mine)

 

Anyway, for anyone who cares, my SIL had a good idea to just request, "No toys, please" rather than "No gifts". I think we're going to go with that. But thank you ALL for your input!

 


I dunno, maybe it's just me but "no toys, please" seems worse than "no gifts, please."   

 

post #15 of 49
Thread Starter 

Really? Would you mind elaborating? I thought it sounded ok but what is your perspective? I really do appreciate your input! I don't want to offend anyone but I also don't want to be stuck with a bunch of random junk when unfortunately, we already have a bunch of random junk, kwim?

 

post #16 of 49

I agree with Drummer's Wife. "No toys, please" would confound me, and maybe lead me to think unkind thoughts. Because it comes across as, not only are you requesting gifts, but gifts of a particular nature. I select gifts extremely carefully. But in this case, Would a puzzle be okay? How about a stomp rocket? It just sounds....picky, and would annoy me.

 

I really think collecting for charity ("Please bring a dog or cat toy for the local shelter in lieu of a birthday gift.") or doing a book exchange is your best option. For the record, I totally understand where you're coming from.

 

Hope you find a solution that works for you.

-e

post #17 of 49

Yeah, sorry, the "no toys" thing is confusing and uncomfortable. 

 

Tjej

post #18 of 49

Honestly, it's so rude to me to mention gifts period on an invite.  If someone asked what my kid wanted and I had some specific issue with a certain toy or group of toys, I'd suggest a good alternative.  I'd hate to show up at a kid's party with no gift at all.  I guess I'm old fashioned.

post #19 of 49
Thread Starter 

I am so glad I asked this. I guess I didn't really consider how rude/picky it could come across but you ladies have helped me see the light! I appreciate it. I know some families who go through their own toys and choose some to donate to charity to offset the incoming gifts, which in the end may be the route we take after getting your perspectives. Thanks again!

post #20 of 49

I sort of agree it comes across a bit rude, and sets people up to feel uncomfortable.  If the invitation says "no gifts," and you bring a gift anyway, you look like you're not respecting the parents' wishes.  If the invitation says "no gifts," and you don't bring a gift, there's the risk that most people *will* bring a gift, and you'll look like the jerk that didn't bring a gift.  


Also--doesn't it seem sort of rude/weird to tell people they can't give your child a gift?  As far as specific types of gifts, I think you just have to let that go as well--this has gotten easier for me as my kids have gotten older.  We were invited to a birthday party for one of my preschooler's classmates this year, and the invitation said, "Please no violent toys, or toys that require batteries" as well as including the kid's shoe and clothing size (!!).  I was so put off, despite the fact that their values are probably pretty similar to ours (I also hate battery-operated toys and avoid violent ones).  Still, my kids have one birthday a year, and I tend to "weed out" toys pretty frequently (for garage sales or charity) as it is, in order to avoid overwhelming clutter (I'm expecting #4 in September, so there are several opportunities for stuff-accumulation throughout the year).  

 

The one "no gift" party I've thrown was for my youngest's 1st birthday, and I said something like (and, this being a first birthday, the guests were all of *our* good friends, so I wasn't quite so worried about etiquette) "Please don't worry about bringing a gift--she won't notice.  If you're feeling generous, though, we'd like to put together a little time-capsule for Fiona to open on her 12th birthday, so feel free to bring a card, note, or whatever to add to that."

It was actually a big hit--no one brought traditional gifts, but people were really creative with the things they put in her box--some burnt CDs for her of popular music from now, or of songs they like, many included pictures, most brought cards, someone brought the newspaper from her birthday that year, some sort of "Teen Bop" magazine, and a pack of "silly bandz."  It was really fun, everyone seemed to enjoy it, and I think it'll be a really great gift when she's 12.


Anyway, if you really want to avoid traditional gifts, I would give people an alternative, like others mentioned (a charity to donate to, or whatever), but I would really encourage you to just let people do what they will.  I, for one, enjoy choosing a gift for a birthday party--especially for a child--and I always sort of cringe when I get a "no gifts" invitation.

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