How can I do this nicely? Is it possible to do it without hurt feelings? Is it important to you? Lets talk it out!
Birthday invite with “Please no plastic toys”
Are you sending the invite, or are you asking about replying to an invite???
If you are sending, why not say, "No Gifts, Please! Just bring yourselves!" Make the party about sharing a special day with people your child likes. Have a theme and do group games related to it, have a themed cake or dessert. Do crafts. Birthdays don't have to be about presents.
If you are replying to an invite, don't bring any plastic toys.
If I received one, I would consider it fairly poor taste but, as I usually give either books or something I've sewn myself, it probably wouldn't change my plan either.
Suggesting no gifts is hard I think, if your child has been to lots of parties and seen other children receiving them. I think the only really tasteful option is to say nothing, accept what is given graciously and remind yourself that plastic toys are usually broken fairly quickly. Or as PPs said, can be donated if your child doesn't love them.
The only thing worse than setting limits on the type of gifts given, is to return them. Seriously.....so ungrateful, so condescending... (or did you mean return them to the store? Thats one option, if the receipt is provided.)
I think the 'no gifts please', is the best option. I think gifts should be received gracefully, and if you dont feel they are appropriate, then give them to someone who might appreciate them.
Over the years, my kids have had parties where they requested donations for a cause they cared about instead of gifts - pet food for a shelter works well because their friends can pick something out to bring to the party.
We've also had some 'no gift' parties. Some people had an issue with the 'no gift' parties, so I can imagine a 'no plastic gifts' party would not be taken well.
They've sometimes chosen to receive gifts, and they've enjoyed those, too.
I think the point of the party should be to enjoy time with friends, not to receive gifts.
I've given many parties at this point, and honestly, the parties with the fewest number of kids and the fewest minutes spent being directed by adults have been the ones my kids have enjoyed the most! They don't really care about the gifts!
Is your child young enough that you can donate the toys without them becoming upset? Because this is the perfect time of year to donate new toys.
I think you should either say your presence is present enough - or just don't say anything. I think saying no plastic toys is too off-putting.
Or do a bring a book, take a book party.
If I received that invitation, I would be tempted to bring a plastic toy out of spite. I wouldn't actually do it, but I'd be tempted. It will label you as judgemental of all who do own a plastic toy. Gifts are gifts, you are not supposed to dictate what someone gifts to you. Either say no toys, or donate toys you don't want
It's hard and I definitely wouldn't put it on the invitation. One of the things that we've had some success with is mostly inviting people who know our toy preferences. Mind you DD is nearly 3 so I'm sure that doesn't work so well as they get older and make their own friends. At the same time the plastic exposure thing is most important to me when they're little and their little bodies absorb everything.
We've been asked what DD would like as a gift and I usually suggest books or something similar that's pretty hard to do in plastic. And when we get plastic stuff (which inevitably happens) we make a call whether to keep it or not. We have kept a few things (more than I'd like but what can you do). Others we return for store credit or something. Many stores will do store credit if they carry the item even if you don't have a receipt. And if that's not an option then donating is great too.
We got an idea from a friend who did it and it went over well. It went over well here as well. We said, "No gifts, but if you would like to bring something, please bring a toonie for the birthday boy". My son got a bunch of toonies he could use to buy something he wanted and no one seemed to mind bringing one.
Perhaps it might go over better if you included an informational article about the dangers of plastic exposure...i once came to a house where, pinned to the door, was an article about the toxins brought in from footwear, followed by a request to remove shoes in the house. I thought it was really great and informing. I had no trouble removing my shoes after that. Mind you, we remove our shoes in our home anyway...