Requesting No Gifts for b-day party - Page 2 - Mothering Forums

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#31 of 49 Old 07-15-2011, 12:34 AM
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Originally Posted by mamaboss View Post

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?


Well, why do you think you would get a bunch of "random junk"? 


Last year DS just had one kid go mini-golfing with him for his birthday, and the boy and his mom bought DS a lovely fairy tale book.  Even better, most of the stories were stories that Disney later changed, which I think was on purpose b/c they know we're Disneyland freaks, and that was just neat.


This year he had more kids at his party, and while I battled with the "no gifts" thing, I ended up NOT doing it, and...his gifts were lovely.  The boy mentioned above gave him an amazing wool crafting book.  He got a volcano kit!  He also got a Bakugan arena thing, which the dad apologized for as he handed over the gift bag, but meh, it wasn't so bad.  He and DH went crazy with it for a few days and then just sort of lost interest.  I'm not even sure where it is right now, but I don't feel that it was random junk.  In THAT case I KNOW that it was something the kids that gave it to him WANTED to give to him.  It was something they enjoy playing at home, and it meant something to them, to give it to him.  Oh, and he got a giftcard from another friend.



Even DS knew that not taking a gift felt wrong.  The giftcard givers had a no-gift party last year, and we complied with it after she told me several times that she REALLY didn't want gifts for him.  But everyone brought them.  Augh.  And DS *hated* walking up to them and saying hi, without a present for him.  I *want* to comply with such wishes, doesn't feel right at all.



Give the guests benefit of the doubt that the gifts they give will mean something to them.  And that they won't necessarily be just random junk.


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#32 of 49 Old 07-15-2011, 08:20 AM
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I've never felt comfortable putting no gift so what I do is we do not open gifts at the party. When we get home from the party I tell dd she can open her gifts later, she goes for quiet time and I peek at the gifts. If there's five gifts I might take 2 away. She's never realized I do this, not sure if this will work this year now that she is older. These are gifts from friends, not family. Things like a barbie, nothing really sentimental.

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#33 of 49 Old 07-20-2011, 10:01 AM
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I am always completely relieved to read "no gifts, please" on an invitation!


Both of my kids are in FT daycare, and the social expectation there is that if you're going to have a party, you invite everyone in the class.

SO YOU CAN IMAGINE HOW MANY INVITATIONS COME FLYING THROUGH MY HOUSE. And how many gifts we are expected to buy if we attend the parties. It's so expensive. At that point, it feels less like a thoughtful gesture and more like the price of admission.


We certainly don't go to every one of the parties-- but when we do, I have DDs make something for the kid if there is a NGP request. It teaches my girls generosity/ thoughtfulness, and it comes across as a host gift, not a rule-breaker. Sometimes we pick flowers, paint rocks, whatever. Something small that's actually from THEM, not from Target.


Sorry, I'm rambling. Because I'm at work :)


BUT, I always put "no gifts please" on the invite. Always will. I had no idea that would make anyone uncomfortable-- thanks for the insight!


I really like the exchange/ donate ideas here, or maybe you could ask each kid to bring the birthday girl a nice hand-drawn picture--  make a birthday book/ binder or something.


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#34 of 49 Old 07-22-2011, 06:27 PM
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Originally Posted by LuckyMommaToo View Post


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.



I like these ideas. I would rather offer some sort of alternative rather than just stating "no gifts" to whatever degree because according to what I've heard etiquette-wise, we are not to "expect" a gift just because we have a party for ourselves or our children. :-)  So telling people not to bring something we shouldn't expect in the first place can come across as rude to some people. But offering something different like a book swap, donating to charity is totally different!

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#35 of 49 Old 07-23-2011, 06:45 PM
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However, people still showed up with gifts and I was FURIOUS.


It seems awfully rude to be furious that people brought gifts. The norm in our culture is to give gifts on special occasions and you're asking people to step outside of that and do something that they feel is rude (show up without a gift) and you're getting mad when they bring a gift (something that they view as a loving thing to do).

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#36 of 49 Old 07-25-2011, 11:22 AM
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Originally Posted by phathui5 View Post



It seems awfully rude to be furious that people brought gifts. The norm in our culture is to give gifts on special occasions and you're asking people to step outside of that and do something that they feel is rude (show up without a gift) and you're getting mad when they bring a gift (something that they view as a loving thing to do).

I don't think it is the norm to shower a child with gifts when he simply graduated from preschool. It was preschool, not his PhD or something. I wanted to have a simple little get together with our close family and have some ice cream, that's it. I felt that it would be rude to ask people to bring gifts to his preschool graduation so I wanted to be clear that we did not expect gifts.  About half of the guests showed up with gifts and the other half did not. Most who brought gifts brought cards with a bit of money so I was able to discretely thank them and put them aside. A few came waltzing in with colorful packages and gave them directly to my son who, of course, wanted to open them immediately. Obviously, this made those who did not bring gifts uncomfortable and I thought it was blatantly disrespectful to my DH and I as the hosts of the party. I don't see it as a loving gesture when it flies in the face of our request. It gave our little party an uncomfortable feeling and folks ended up leaving early. So yes, I was furious and I will not be hosting a preschool graduation party for my other children. I will find another way to quietly celebrate that milestone.

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#37 of 49 Old 07-25-2011, 12:17 PM
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Seriously, if you are going to host an event that is celebrating something important like a birthday or graduation, you have to be okay with people bringing cards, gifts, or cash.  It's really unfair to get upset about the guests who do bring something to acknowledge the person being celebrated, whether or not you stated "no gifts, please" or not.  This is why it's not proper etiquette to either request gifts or mention them at all.  You are messing with social expectations and your guests comfort level - whether they are one who was taught that it was rude to show up empty handed or if they were one who followed your "picky" gift rules and brought nothing. 


We were at a party the other day (5th birthday) where the mom said "gifts not necessary" on the invite.  That could be interpreted as a nice way to say she really did not want anyone bringing gifts for her kid, or, it could be interpreted that she didn't want anyone to feel like they had to rush out and spend money on something in order to attend (it was a last minute get-together).  As it was, I'd say more people than not did bring gifts, and some did not.  No one felt weird, the gifts were put to the side, pretty much out of sight, and were taken home with them vs. opened in front of everyone - the party was at a park.  I cannot imagine the mom being pissed off at those of us who showed up with a gift. 


In my opinion, if you do not want gifts and you cannot speak individually to each guest to make sure they are okay with that ( remember here, gift giving is half about the giver and half about the receiver), then you really should not invite anyone to a party that involves celebrating a child - where gifts are the social norm. 


You know, it's really not a big hassle to get rid of things you don't want to keep in your home that were given to you.  If that's what it takes to keep your friends and family comfortable, then plan accordingly to make a trip to goodwill or pass the items on some other way.  To me, being snobby about not wanting gifts is worse than sending out cards with registry info for a 1st birthday party.

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#38 of 49 Old 07-26-2011, 02:57 PM
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The first - and last - no gift birthday party my kids (and I) attended was awkward. My kids couldn't understand it, no matter what kind of 'happy-earth-friendly-spin' I tried to put on it they had already written off the kid's parents as "so mean" . The birthday boy wasn't buying it either and spent the last half hour of the party crying. He didn't want to open the cards that his friends had brought, and he certainly didn't seem to care at all about the food bank donations that were collected in lieu of gifts. I can't say I blame him, I mean, he's 6. He's a kid, he wants presents.shrug.gif


I understand the issue of too many toys, too much plastic, etc, but a lot of people like, no LOVE buying and giving gifts, I know I do, my kids do, it's fun, especially when the kids come home and are all like "OMG, he LOVED the helicopter/kite/book/etc!!! OMG times a thousand!!!"

And it makes me sad to think about my Mom & Dad, or IL's going through a birthday without bringing a gift, they (the folks) get so excited about it and they plan it for weeks. Seriously I could not take that from them. And Dh and I, and my childless brothers, it's just plain old fun, buying gifts for little kids!

Why not just weed through what you already have ( I don't nesessarily mean you, YOU OP, I'm talking in general : ) donate the stuff that isn't played with, or that's outgrown and make room for some new things. Repeat process next year. (We take yearly trips to our local women & children's shelter, so any unplayed with or 'unwanted' presents always get a second life.)


I find that most people will ask what your child is into, or what they need anyway, and it's easy to just say art supplies, books, music or outside stuff (jump ropes, chalk etc) So that helps.


Although next year I WILL be requesting no BB guns, fireworks or stinkbombs please.

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#39 of 49 Old 07-26-2011, 03:15 PM
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My DD turned seven last week and it was the first time we've ever had a birthday party.  We invited a ridiculous number of kid, and a huge amount showed up (about 25).  I considered asking for no gifts, but didn't feel like I could, since it was DD's first party.  The gifts were lovely--craft kits, art supplies, books, outdoor toys, and games.  Our guests were all of DD's first-grade classmates.  I don't know where the assumption comes in that people in general buy junk for birthdays.  All of the gifts that came to us were thoughtful and obviously chosen by the kids, who were very excited to have DD open them.


In the past, when our kids were much littler and we were thinking of having parties (but never did), we considered asking for donations to our local children's hospital.  DD has had surgery there, and I think there is a list online of the things it would be helpful for them to have in their children's playroom.  We thought this would give kids the opportunity to choose fun playthings for a kid their own age; it just wouldn't go to DD in the end.  We never ended up doing that, though.


In the end, we decided it would be less polite to try to dictate what guests could and could not bring, and unfair to DD not to let her receive the things that her friends were eager to give her, especially since she's taken such joy in choosing gifts to give to her friends on their birthdays.

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#40 of 49 Old 07-28-2011, 01:14 PM
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I just had a no presents required party for my 2 and 5-year-old sons.  I had no idea that it would even remotely be thought of as being rude.  I wanted to invite family and a couple friends, some of them had to travel 2 hours for the party and don't have much extra money and even a cheap gift would have been a big deal.  I simply wanted an excuse to have a family gathering without the pressure of a gift on them.  Grandparents and aunts/uncles who were at the party had already given their gifts to the boys, so it was mostly the cousins and friends who I didn't want to make buy a gift.  For the most part the request was honored.  We were given a small gift card by one cousin, but she gave it to me as she was leaving and didn't make a big deal out of it.  These are relatives that I enjoy seeing, but who don't know the boys very well and I know it's tough to buy gifts for their kids when I only see them a couple times a year. 


I wasn't meaning to be rude, as I'm certain others who send out these invitations aren't trying to be rude.  Some of us are trying to have a nice gathering without extra hassle on the guests.  I always honor a no gift invite.

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#41 of 49 Old 07-29-2011, 07:22 AM
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I wish I could help with this.  My family thinks I'm nuts because I request that if they're going to send a gift for one they have to send a gift for the non birthday girl too.  Since my family is cheap they just send a card.  My reason for this is that it was done for me and my brother by our great grandmother and my brother started it with my girls again.  We both agree that it's a special family thing and both of us loved having our matching cups or chairs.  Whatever our crazy granny dug up for us. 


I realize that what I'm asking my family is rude.  And so I allow them an out.  They don't need to spend their money on trivial things.  And this works for us.  My girls don't have a sense of ownership over stuff.  They have no clue what belongs to them or the other. 


You just have to figure out what will work for you guys.  We only have family parties too. 

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#42 of 49 Old 07-29-2011, 07:47 AM
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I'm dealing with this right now for my sons invitations to his second in a couple weeks. I included a small slip of paper, separate from the main invitation, encouraging people to bring canned goods instead of gifts so we can make a donation to our local food bank. Of course we graciously accept any gift he gets and I don't think we are dictating what people should do.





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#43 of 49 Old 07-29-2011, 02:25 PM
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I think the best thing to do here is to not have a birthday party. When my youngest had her last birthday, we invited everyone over for a pool party barbecue get together, and didn't mention birthday. No one came with any gifts, we did have cake and ice cream, but it was just a chance for everyone to hang out and let the kids play. It was very informal (the invitations were sent out via text message), everyone had a wonderful time, and we didn't have to deal with gifts. And, most importantly, none of our guests felt insulted about the present thing. After dinner we just said "today happens to be dd's birthday, so we have some cake and ice cream." And that was that.

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#44 of 49 Old 08-01-2011, 09:50 PM
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Almost all of the parties we attend say "no gifts please" and almost everyone complies. I think we got maybe 2-3 non-family gifts at my son's fourth birthday and there were 20 kids. All books.


If someone asks you, just repeat, really he has enough and they persist, go to art supplies or books.


I know it is not correct etiquette but I've decided I am okay with it. The alternative is not to have a party and disappoint my kid, or to not everyone at his preschool which would be bad


I am not okay with him getting 30 presents on his birthday and I am not okay getting gifts and giving them to the Salvation the Next Day (which I would) and I am not okay with directing people to a charity.

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#45 of 49 Old 08-02-2011, 10:13 AM
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YES! This exactly. Most of our friends do the "no gifts please", as do we (and I usually add "Your presence is present enough!"). But EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. we are one of only a few people who actually respect the request. Then there's the fol de rol of the child opening presents excitedly, and DS and I are kind of hanging back like OOPS. Should've brought a gift I guess.


Now, I know the parents are the ones who want NO GIFTS. And I get it and respect it, because I feel the same way, for the most part. But I've decided that from here on out, we're going to bring a handmade card, a bunch of flowers, or a handmade item of some kind, like a photo of the two kids (mine and the b-day kid) together, put into a decorated frame or something. Because I'm tired of following the rules only to be sidelined at present time. It ALWAYS happens.

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. 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. 


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#46 of 49 Old 08-03-2011, 01:45 PM
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First off, I understand that what works for my family may very well not work for your family.  But no-gifts party works just dandy for my family.


For the first birthday party that I threw for my dd, she turned six.  I sat her down, and brutally told her that if I was paying for the party with my hard earned money, then it would happen according to my rules.  Instead of one child receiving many presents, it would be every child receives only one present. Yes, I told my dd, I understand that the birthday girl got lots of presents at every single birthday party that my dd had attended so far.  That's perfectly fine, and  lots of fun, but our family is going to do it differently, just because.  For our family, either every single child receives only one present, or no party at all.  Take it, or leave it. After an hour of many "Why?"s, my dd was fine with it.


We did a book exchange. I invited every single kid in my dd's class, just because that happens to be a quirky priority for me.


In the invitation, I laid it on the line.  "Please, please, please, do NOT bring the birthday girl a present. Instead, please bring a wrapped new (less than $7) or used (in good condition) book that a kindergartener would enjoy. The children will do a book exchange."  That's it.  No reason why.  Just an up front plea.


At the party, I made a big production over it.  I had children draw numbers to randomly allocate the books.  Then, only when each child had a wrapped package in his/her hands, I had all the children rip open the wrapping all at the same time.  The kids had a fantastic time. 


Here is the feedback I got.  All of the parents told me how much they loved the idea.  I started a trend because several parents copied this or did something similar when their children had their birthday parties several months later, and they told me that the inspiration came from my dd's party. With one or two minor exceptions, everyone followed my wishes to the letter.  The one or two kids who also brought a gift, did so very discreetly, so that none of the other families were the wiser. We just told the child that the present would be unwrapped at home, and followed it up with a thank you note. Best of all, none of the kids noticed that I didn't do goody bags to take home.  The children were perfectly happy taking home a mylar balloon and their newly unwrapped book home. My daughter got tons of birthday gifts from relatives, so she had plenty of gifts to unwrap later. No tears at all.  In fact, we had lots of happy laughter.


We did the same thing again six months ago for the seventh birthday, and will almost certainly do the same thing for the eighth birthday.

Originally Posted by childsplay View Post

The first - and last - no gift birthday party my kids (and I) attended was awkward. My kids couldn't understand it, no matter what kind of 'happy-earth-friendly-spin' I tried to put on it they had already written off the kid's parents as "so mean" . The birthday boy wasn't buying it either and spent the last half hour of the party crying. He didn't want to open the cards that his friends had brought, and he certainly didn't seem to care at all about the food bank donations that were collected in lieu of gifts. I can't say I blame him, I mean, he's 6. He's a kid, he wants presents.shrug.gif

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#47 of 49 Old 08-03-2011, 05:49 PM
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Just wanted to add that none of the children's parties we've gone to have included gift openings so that although a few people cheat and/or family gives gifts, and there is a pile of gifts, no one feels ackward about it. I've noticed a few people bring handmade cards or drawings to every party which is also nice. Finally, when we do go to gifts please parties I usually mail them directly to the child so we aren't really in the habit of bringing them.

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#48 of 49 Old 08-16-2011, 10:00 PM
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I really like the book exchange idea.  I may as well throw in what we have done, which has also started a trend.  In the invitation we have said "DD would really love something made by her friends!" or something to that effect (I don't remember my wording.)  We received quite a range of lovely cards, one song, and  a truly touching "book" from her best friend about what a wonderful friend DD is.  As long as people know that there is no pressure that it is anything in particular, it's fabulous!  DD and DS are collaborating to make a picture of Star Wars characters playing soccer for DS bf now. :-)

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#49 of 49 Old 08-17-2011, 08:06 AM
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I went to and obeyed the directions for one of these parties last weekend.  We were the ONLY ones who did what we were told, and there was a gift-opening extravaganza at the end.  DD told me on the way to the car  - Mom, you were wrong.  We should have given a present....  I thought i wouldn't care if that happened since I'd be following what the parents wanted, but it didn't even really seem like the parents wanted it with how the gift opening was and our handmade card and change for his piggy bank (as requested) just looked lazy and cheap.



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