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Party invitation etiquette?

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

What's a brief, couth way to say, "Bring a gift to my kid's party, or don't, either one is fine.  But if you bring one, it's fine if it's something small."

 

We're inviting all 17 of my son's preschool classmates to his birthday party and there's a good chance they'll all come.  

 

On one hand, I feel like my son (who has 3 older brothers and hand-me-downs) already has an awful lot of nice toys, puzzles, books and dress-up clothes.  The thought of up to 17 new things - PLUS gifts from family and neighborhood friends - seems so excessive, even embarrassing.

 

Plus, nearly half his class have Jan. or Feb. birthdays and I'd hate for anyone not to come because their mom thought, "Sheesh!  Another 20 bucks for a gift?  We just went to a party last week and I'm still paying off Christmas!"

 

However, I feel self-conscious asking that people not bring gifts at all, because just last week another mom in my son's class (a friend) threw a party for her kid that was very similar to the one I'll be throwing - and all 17 classmates showed up with gifts.  I don't want to come across holier-than-thou, by turning around and handing out invitations to all the same people that seem to say, "I'M not greedy.  You don't have to buy a gift for MY kid."  You know?  (To clarify, I know my friend wasn't greedy.  Birthday gifts are perfectly normal.  My feeling that my son doesn't need so many this year is just a personal thing.)

 

I also feel weird saying, "If you want to bring a gift, something little is fine," because it implies that otherwise I'd expect something big.  I DO notice people commonly spending $20 and even $30 on birthday gifts for their kids' friends.  But I don't want to communicate that I think that's expected, unless an invitation says it's OK to spend less!?

 

Obviously, I overthink wording.  So, which of you can express this more succinctly than I can?????

post #2 of 11

I over-think things like this too, so I understand. I'm not sure there's an elegant way to say what you wish to say. It seems like with all of your options, you could *possibly* offend somebody, however it seems more like their problem than yours! I doubt that saying "something little" would be helpful because some parents might not be sure how to interpret that. I know if I saw that on an invitation I would have a hard time picking out something because I wouldn't know exactly what that meant. To some, that could mean a $20 toy, to others, a lollipop, you know? So I would decide whether or not you wish your son to receive presents, and leave it up to the other parents to decide. If no presents are requested, maybe saying something like "with 3 older brothers, we have all the toys we need, please just bring yourselves"....?

post #3 of 11
Don't say anything. There's no easy way to communicate this idea and even if you could most people won't care/understand/accept your wishes.

I think the best way to handle it is just don't open the gifts at/during the party. That way people remember for next time that you're family doesn't prioritize gifts.
post #4 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by marsupial-mom View Post

Don't say anything. There's no easy way to communicate this idea and even if you could most people won't care/understand/accept your wishes.

I think the best way to handle it is just don't open the gifts at/during the party. That way people remember for next time that you're family doesn't prioritize gifts.

yeahthat.gif   This is how we handle it. 

If people ask what the kids want I say that there is no need to give a gift but if they want to it is fine.  I also find a way to mention that we do not open gifts at the party.  (People are more apt to purchase smaller gifts if they are not being opened in front of everyone.)   In case they insist on suggestions, I ask the kids in advance for a few small items as ideas (typically art or craft supplies, or a shared gift (I have twins).  One time my son suggested scrap wood, wood glue or nails.  Someone brought scrap wood - he was thrilled!)  We haven't had a party the past two years but in prior years most people brought gifts.

post #5 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by marsupial-mom View Post

Don't say anything. There's no easy way to communicate this idea and even if you could most people won't care/understand/accept your wishes.

I'm inclined to agree with this... the one time I requested no gifts, people just brought them anyway, so I felt rude/awkward for saying "no gifts" in the first place. Plus at this age DS wants & expects gifts -- it's fun just to open them! You could always donate them (either before or after he's had a chance to play with them) or save them to gift to other kids.

I guess if you really want to say something, maybe you could write, "In lieu of gifts, DS would love handmade cards, small treasures, or simply your presence."
post #6 of 11
We've been invited to parties with "gifts optional" on the invite, and charity birthdays as well ("instead of gifts, xxxx will be collecting donations for xxxx charity"). In both cases there were some gifts but the pressure of big $$ gifts seemed off. We have often brought a homemade gift (kid-made bracelet, knit arm warmers...) and a homemade card in these cases, plus a charity donation if requested.

In the case of the charity b-day there was a jar on the table, so no pressure about $ amount or whether donations were made.
post #7 of 11
We say "your presences is present enough"

We get some gifts, lots of homemade cards, and certainly not gifts from everyone.

We also usually do a brunch party and ask people to bring food to share if they would like, so that gives them something to bring so they aren't showing up empty handed etc.
post #8 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by crunchy_mommy View Post


I'm inclined to agree with this... the one time I requested no gifts, people just brought them anyway, so I felt rude/awkward for saying "no gifts" in the first place. Plus at this age DS wants & expects gifts -- it's fun just to open them! You could always donate them (either before or after he's had a chance to play with them) or save them to gift to other kids.

I guess if you really want to say something, maybe you could write, "In lieu of gifts, DS would love handmade cards, small treasures, or simply your presence."

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by MelW View Post

We've been invited to parties with "gifts optional" on the invite, and charity birthdays as well ("instead of gifts, xxxx will be collecting donations for xxxx charity"). In both cases there were some gifts but the pressure of big $$ gifts seemed off. We have often brought a homemade gift (kid-made bracelet, knit arm warmers...) and a homemade card in these cases, plus a charity donation if requested.

In the case of the charity b-day there was a jar on the table, so no pressure about $ amount or whether donations were made.

I think these are both good options.  I have been guilty of bringing a small gift to a "no gift" birthday party bag.gif because I thought "what if I'm the only person who doesn't bring a gift?".  I have also attended a "charity" birthday, where donations for the local food bank were accepted in lieu of gifts.  You could give people the option of not bringing a gift, or bringing a small item to be donated to the toyroom at a children's hospital or something like that.  I know some fire departments and EMT units accept new stuffed animals to be given out when they respond to calls.

post #9 of 11

You cannot micromanage it. Just say "No gift please. Her treasure chest is full." Dont get into the details of it and don't worry what other people do.

 

Most parties we go to are gift-free because the kids are already pretty overloaded with stuff. If they don't specify it we mail books in advance. I never ever take gifts to parties. If we do receive something it get tucked away until after the party.

post #10 of 11

Have you seen Echoage.com? My Friend has used this two years in a row and it is great. The child picks a charity and a gift and then half the money goes to the charity and half goes towards the gift. Last year my friends daughter chose a camp for kids with cancer and playmobil. This year she chose WWF and Lego. I tried to convince DS to do it this year but he wanted to be surprised by individual gifts. I will do this with DD for her first birthday.

post #11 of 11
I wouldn't say anything. Some people might spend $30, some $5, some in-between. Others may not bring a gift, though I know it's generally am unspoken expectation for a kid birthday party. There's always a chance people will decline the invite due to not being able to bring a gift, and that's too bad, but I still think mentioning gifts or lack of them is bad etiquette and unnecessary.
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