Requesting No Gifts for b-day party - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 49 Old 05-23-2011, 11:01 AM - Thread Starter
 
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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?

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#2 of 49 Old 05-23-2011, 12:05 PM
 
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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

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#3 of 49 Old 05-23-2011, 12:13 PM
 
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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.


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#4 of 49 Old 05-23-2011, 02:22 PM
 
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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!
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#5 of 49 Old 05-23-2011, 03:53 PM
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"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.


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#6 of 49 Old 05-23-2011, 04:02 PM
 
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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).  

 

 

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#7 of 49 Old 05-23-2011, 04:03 PM
 
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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.

 

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#8 of 49 Old 05-23-2011, 04:17 PM
 
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 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.

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#9 of 49 Old 05-23-2011, 10:15 PM
 
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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.... 

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#10 of 49 Old 05-23-2011, 10:32 PM
 
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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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#11 of 49 Old 05-24-2011, 12:42 AM
 
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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?


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#12 of 49 Old 05-24-2011, 04:18 AM
 
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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!!

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#13 of 49 Old 06-14-2011, 04:47 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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!

 

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#14 of 49 Old 06-14-2011, 04:56 PM
 
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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."   

 


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#15 of 49 Old 06-14-2011, 05:14 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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?

 

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#16 of 49 Old 06-14-2011, 07:03 PM
 
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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.

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#17 of 49 Old 06-14-2011, 09:26 PM
 
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Yeah, sorry, the "no toys" thing is confusing and uncomfortable. 

 

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#18 of 49 Old 06-15-2011, 07:26 AM
 
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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.

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#19 of 49 Old 06-15-2011, 03:23 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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!

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#20 of 49 Old 06-16-2011, 05:24 AM
 
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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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#21 of 49 Old 06-16-2011, 11:00 AM
 
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I wouldn't say anything and just bring the toys to a children's hospital or save them for Toys For Tots or a similar holiday fundraiser.  I would feel incredibly awkward showing up at a bday party without a gift.  Honestly, I probably wouldn't even come.  Social awkwardness is not something I deal well with.


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Quote:
Originally Posted by mamaboss View Post

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!


This sounds like the best option, to me.  Glad you got feedback (and I'm impressed that you are thinking so far ahead).

 


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#23 of 49 Old 06-16-2011, 09:29 PM
 
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I'm also in the camp of not dictating if people should or shouldn't bring a gift.  I love birthdays and I think people should be allowed to honor their friend/family member in a way that they decide.  A gift isn't just something material - its an expression of love.  It's something you think about, take time to pick out, and when I get a gift I will forever think of the person who gave it to me when I use it.  I always think that the No Gifts thing smacks a little of elitism.  We're so evolved that we don't need THINGS.  Well, I love gifts - giving, getting - they are all so special.  And I think something that's not talked about enough is that it's really important to teach our kids how to be gracious receivers and givers of gifts.  If they don't get gifts in a public setting they won't learn.  This is what I do to kind of even the balance:

 

  • invite a small number of kids.  For my son's third birthday he had one friend over.  For his fourth we invited three.  
  • show your gratitude for the gift by providing a nice party favor.  This year I sewed bags, put a small amount of candy and gum balls in them, some packs of homemade play dough, some quarters for playing games, a small rubber ball.  
  • work on polite ways to open gifts, talk about how nice it is that someone thought of you.
  • talk about the gifts later, like when he plays with his water guns I say how night it was that his uncles thought of him and bought him something he likes so much.  

 

I've watched my niece and nephew open gifts in the most ungracious way.  My son was so sweet this year - he was so enthralled with his water guns that he stopped opening and had to go play.  We ended up taking some of the gifts home for later.  Then at the end of the day he declared "I'm SO HAPPY I had a birthday!"

 

And I agree that an influx of new toys is a great chance to go through the old and give then to kids who have less - turn potential materialism into altruism.

 

 

 

 


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#24 of 49 Old 06-18-2011, 03:57 PM
 
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I'm also in the camp of not dictating if people should or shouldn't bring a gift.  I love birthdays and I think people should be allowed to honor their friend/family member in a way that they decide.  A gift isn't just something material - its an expression of love.  It's something you think about, take time to pick out, and when I get a gift I will forever think of the person who gave it to me when I use it.  I always think that the No Gifts thing smacks a little of elitism.  We're so evolved that we don't need THINGS.  Well, I love gifts - giving, getting - they are all so special.  And I think something that's not talked about enough is that it's really important to teach our kids how to be gracious receivers and givers of gifts.  If they don't get gifts in a public setting they won't learn.  This is what I do to kind of even the balance:

 

  • invite a small number of kids.  For my son's third birthday he had one friend over.  For his fourth we invited three.  
  • show your gratitude for the gift by providing a nice party favor.  This year I sewed bags, put a small amount of candy and gum balls in them, some packs of homemade play dough, some quarters for playing games, a small rubber ball.  
  • work on polite ways to open gifts, talk about how nice it is that someone thought of you.
  • talk about the gifts later, like when he plays with his water guns I say how night it was that his uncles thought of him and bought him something he likes so much.  

 

I've watched my niece and nephew open gifts in the most ungracious way.  My son was so sweet this year - he was so enthralled with his water guns that he stopped opening and had to go play.  We ended up taking some of the gifts home for later.  Then at the end of the day he declared "I'm SO HAPPY I had a birthday!"

 

And I agree that an influx of new toys is a great chance to go through the old and give then to kids who have less - turn potential materialism into altruism.

 

 

 

 

 

 




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#25 of 49 Old 06-18-2011, 04:19 PM
 
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It is rude because it implies that you were expecting gifts to start with and people are invited to the party to have good time, not to bring gifts. It jsut most of the time people bring gifts. Brinign gifts is joyful expreince for many guest and a getting a right gift is learning oppotunity for a child. Where I live, parents call and ask what sort of the gift a child wants. I usually sayd "You do not need to bring anything but yourself , but if you insist, my kids loves x,y,z"

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#26 of 49 Old 06-19-2011, 12:29 PM
 
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I think presents are just fun to give and receive.  Someday, the kids who don't get presents or learn how to give good gifts in a thoughtful and meaningful manner are going to be talking to their friends about how weird their parents were.  "Oh my gosh, I was deprived of BIRTHDAY PRESENTS!"  LOL, I'm sorry, but why on earth would you not want to participate in gift exchanging.  (this is a rhetorical question, no need for snarky answers).....it's silly.

Even if you don't want the stuff, just take it, nod, smile, and give it to charity.

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#27 of 49 Old 07-01-2011, 07:18 PM
 
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Yes, mentioning gifts in any way is rude. 

 

I agree with the PP who said to limit the number of guests.  This helps a lot.

 

You could also do a theme party-- like everyone dress up as their favorite book character.  That may hint to people that books are cool to give.

 

I would quietly donate what you want.  Heck, I do that for the toys I'VE given to them which have been a bust-- and yes, even the nice German wooden ones are still a bust sometimes!


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#28 of 49 Old 07-01-2011, 08:19 PM
 
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I think that nowadays it's not at all rude to address the obvious; that times are a' changin' when it comes to presents, expectations of said presents, complicated feelings about presents, and the general shift happening for many people away from a consumer-driven, gift-centered experience and towards something different, whatever that may be.  In my opinion, it's not very different than the fact that we talk more about religion, politics, sexuality and money these days too.  To say it's rude is to take us all back to the days when we were all supposed to smile and look pretty and pretend that everything was always and permanently hunky dory.  To the OP, I hear you loud and clear. 

We've addressed the elephant in the room several times now.  On our wedding invites we put 'no gifts please' and for our dd's shower, we put 'no gifts please' and for her first and second birthdays we put 'instead of gifts, we're collecting donations for the children's program at the food bank.' 

Works for us. 


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#29 of 49 Old 07-04-2011, 02:47 PM
 
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Ok ... here is what we did for my dd's 2nd birthday, not sure if it will work well for a 4 year old but I am thinking of doing it again for her 3rd ... so on the invitation we asked that everyone bring a toy or something that their children don't play with anymore for a toy exchange.  This was a great way for everyone, including my dd to get something new to take home.  You could do this with books or other things too.  This solved the not feeling comfortable coming empty handed problem as well as excessive gifts and party favors all in one.  This also teaches kids about sharing and re-using things.  We didn't have any problems with kids parting with their things or fights over toys; it worked really well.  Just an idea:)  Good luck! 


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#30 of 49 Old 07-04-2011, 08:50 PM
 
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For her past two birthdays (she's 4), I've put "presents are not required" on DD's invites.  Yes, some people still brought stuff, but the gifts were very much tamed down compared to other kid's birthday parties I've attended.  She got some homemade artwork, a homemade dress, other clothes and trips to the zoo and a play (it is still mostly family and close friends that were attending and they all know my stance on "stuff"). 

I don't know, I just dislike presents and will take up anyone that even hints that I don't need to bring one to a party or gathering.  Maybe it's because I have really specific taste, but I hardly ever enjoy receiving things from other people.  I donate most gifts that people give me.  So, yeah, like most mommies of the world, my issues are dictating the course of my kid's childhood experiences....hehe.

The toy/book exchange is a good idea.

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