If you really want to split hairs, yes it would be rude to state no presents or direct any presents to donations as this simple act implies you are expecting presents. That being said, most people don't view it that way so I wouldn't worry too much about offending someone by requesting they not spend money.
We did a "no presents please" party when DS was 4yo and everyone honored our request. I have since come to learn that this was a freak occurance.
I think the age of your LO might work to your advantage. You could word the invitation in way that says something like "your presence is the best present for LO. If you would like to mark the occasion, consider a contribution to XYZ, an organization close to our heart..."
Not to complicate matters but who is footing the bill for the restaurant gathering? You or do the guests pay for their own food/drinks? I would make sure that is clearly outlined in the invitation.
I.. personally would probably just let people bring presents if they like. I figure if we don't want the kids to have something/have duplicates/isn't "their" thing.. we can either return it for store credit or donate it.
If you're really adamant on no gifts maybe something like "In lieu of gifts, please consider donating to x, y, z." With some people expect presents for DD AND them telling you they made a donation.. I know my MIL would NEVER let the kids not have presents at a birthday lol.
Wife to DH (12.10.2009), Anchorage based doula , Proud mama to Autumn (09.03.2008), Sylas (04.25.2010), (06.11.2012), Calliope(04.23.2013) .
In the past, I 've put something like this on the invite:
"Please feel no obligation to bring a gift, we are so blessed to have your presence as our gift :)"
Some people got the hint and honored that, some brought a gift anyway to which I accepted gracefully and gratefully because they thought enough of my child to spend their time and money choosing something they felt my kid(s) would like -- and that is sweet to me. If my kids have duplicates or it's something that didn't fit our family's beliefs we simply donated it later (quietly lol).
The one thing I don't do is open gifts in front of everyone. I just explain to people it's overwhelming for my kids (it is) and I don't want other children to feel left out or whatever. People accept this with no issue.
I think gently and lovingly expressing to people that you value their attendance more than a gift can be received well if done right, but outright saying NO PRESENTS or something similar is rude (imo).
Grace-based wife & mama to 2 unschoolers! One & . We live simply & mindfully. Expecting another blessing Feb 2015 Praying for another
I've started doing this for my kids (started at age 8 for one and 7 for the other).
I state no presents necessary on the invitation. There are several reasons...One, the house isn't getting any bigger. Two, with the state of most people and jobs...I want them to come celebrate, not feel obligated to bring a present.
Sometimes people ask if it's ok to bring something and I tell them that we'd prefer something that is consumable (like paper), educational,handmade, or used. Those things don't bother me as much.
Mostly, I just just want my daughters to have people to celebrate with. Mine are older so we've started moving towards fun events out with one friend like skating or tonight my seven year old is celebrating with dinner with two friends and their families. When it's small, it's easy to ask that people not bring presents. We just want their company.
Here is what we did for one of DD's birthday parties, and it worked: we stated in the invitation that instead of traditional new gifts, we were having a secondhand book swap. That is, each child brings a secondhand book (either from their own collection, or thrifted) wrapped if they like, and each child receives a secondhand book.
That takes care of avoiding landfill-bound icky plastic "favors", and sweatshop-labor toys, in one fell swoop. Every kid gives something, and every kid gets something, and parents on both ends are happy.
If a kid gets a book they already have or don't care for, often they can find someone to swap with, or we can swap out something else for them.
To be more special, making pretty cloth Furoshiki wraps for the books, that the kids get to keep and use as gift wraps, themselves, to someone else, is nice.
A popular party around us is a "toonie party" ($2 for the nonCanadians!). Instead of a present, each child brings 2 toonies to give to the birthday child. The birthday child keeps one of the toonies, and then gets to buy themselves a present afterwards; the other toonie is donated to a charity/cause of the birthday child's choice. Every parent I know is happy to receive one of these invitations for their child! The guests often put a lot of effort into making the wrapping for the coins - lots of homemade artwork. And then the kids also get to choose a cause to donate to.