The "No Gifts Please" Birthday Parties - Page 3 - Mothering Forums

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#61 of 146 Old 11-29-2006, 07:43 AM
 
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This summer we went to a 5-yo birthday party. In lieu of gifts, everyone brought a wrapped book and they did a book swap. Sat in a circle, played music, passed the books around, and when the music stopped, everyone got to unwrap and keep the book that they held. It worked great! The mom said that they went to a party like that, and her son decided he wanted to do it too. Didn't care about not having his own gifts to open. And, his mom didn't put together party favor bags filled of items made in China -- instead, everyone left with a nice new book. The mom had some extra wrapped books there, so that, for example, my young daughter participated too (since I had only brought one book).

A few weeks later, my son had his 4-yo birthday party. Gift time was a nightmare. All the kids wanted him to open their present first, my son got overwhelmed, and at the end of the party we had a bunch of crappy plastic toys that he played with for a few minutes. Next year, we'll do the book swap!
This is a good idea but it needs to be tweaked a bit IMO. I would do something "similar" to this but I would make it a "book party" from the get-go and put on the invitations that it's a book party and that way the guests will just buy a book related gift to give to the child. I don't like the idea of a book swap and not focusing primarily on the birthday child. It's that child's birthday not everyone else's at the party. That's the point in having a party! I don't host a party for my child in order to make sure all children invited have equal gifts when they leave. Makes no sense to have a party in the first place. The invitations should just read group party.

UNLESS my child specifically came to me and "chose" to do a party like the book swap mentioned above, I wouldn't push it. I'm thinking that particular mom pushed that idea to make herself look good in front of the other moms (don't we all try to do that ) and to try and control her child's day. I bet it took weeks or atleast days of coercing for that mom to convince her child he/she didn't need real gifts and needed to give to the guests instead of receiving for himself. You didn't see that part, you just saw the end result. I just couldn't do that to my child on their special day. I would rather have NO party than a group party where all the kids get the same exact gift. It seems odd to me, almost silly. Sure it could be PART of the whole party (the book swap) but not the total idea behind it all.

I'm old fashioned and think the birthday child is special and needs to enjoy that day as their special day. I think the book swap idea would be good maybe for older children or for a party held in a classroom at their school. JMHO

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#62 of 146 Old 11-29-2006, 07:52 AM
 
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I think it's inappropriate to bring up gifts AT ALL on an invitation. It is ALWAYS your choice whether you bring a gift or not. If you have a birthday party, you're going to get gifts--and it's your choice what you do with them after the fact.

I have to say, I like "no gifts please" better than "no plastic," which is inexcusably and horrifyingly rude IMO.
ITA. I always think when this comes up why are you having such big birthday parties anyways where you feel you have to put no gifts b/c you don't want to deal with that amount of stuff? But then growing up we only had to invite our friends to our birthday parties, not the whole class. And we didn't actually have birthday parties with more than our immediate family until we were old enough to only have to invite our friends.

And if you are doing this for your child's class, then how is your child going to feel when they go to other birthday blowout parties and see their friends open gifts when they didn't get any for their birthday? While not required, gifts are part of birthday parties. It's how attendees enjoy participating in the celebration and marking the occasion.
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#63 of 146 Old 11-29-2006, 08:44 AM
 
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Ok, this is a great thread! I have a question for all of you ladies. I have a set of twin girls, who will be 5 in Feb. They go to different schools for kindergarten, as they need to have their own space. We would like to have a birthday party for them, but my hubby said that if we invite anyone from their classes, we should invite the whole classroom. Ok, I can see his point, and I have found a place that sports a full kitchen and has (what we call) a "gerbil cage" - a big activity play area that can hold up to 50 kids. Even if all the kids did say they could come, there wouldn't be more than 40 kids total. I don't have a problem with putting on the invites that we would like if two cans of food be donated for a food pantry in lieu of presents. Is this kosher? Also, do we invite the kids to "both" the kids party, or specify which child the classmate is being invited to celebrate with? TIA!

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#64 of 146 Old 11-29-2006, 09:44 AM
 
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*shrug* I always brought presents to birthday parties. they were always books too.

*I* Picked out the presents.

I think I'll encourage DD to give her friends books too. Not gaudy loud toys..just a nice book.

Not enough kids read these days...
i love giving the gift of a book on birthdays, i feel like it is a wonderful present and ives the child the gift of another world to explore and the gift of somebodys time to read with them - books are a great present. i love it when people give my children books as presents.
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#65 of 146 Old 11-29-2006, 10:05 AM
 
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Ok, this is a great thread! I have a question for all of you ladies. I have a set of twin girls, who will be 5 in Feb. They go to different schools for kindergarten, as they need to have their own space. We would like to have a birthday party for them, but my hubby said that if we invite anyone from their classes, we should invite the whole classroom. Ok, I can see his point, and I have found a place that sports a full kitchen and has (what we call) a "gerbil cage" - a big activity play area that can hold up to 50 kids. Even if all the kids did say they could come, there wouldn't be more than 40 kids total. I don't have a problem with putting on the invites that we would like if two cans of food be donated for a food pantry in lieu of presents. Is this kosher? Also, do we invite the kids to "both" the kids party, or specify which child the classmate is being invited to celebrate with? TIA!
if you want to invite both classes, invite them both! a lot of kids doesn't equal an out of control party & it can still be very simple....play & cake! i would only invite them to their classmates party but would specify somehow that it's a joint party with her sister just so the parents know it will be quite large. i might also include how many chaperones will be there (assuming it's a "drop off") because i would be hesistant to leave my child at a party with so many people & not feel it was properly "staffed." otherwise, sounds good! bringing a can for a food pantry sounds like a great idea, too, and if it seems odd to some of the parents, well, maybe they'll take note!

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#66 of 146 Old 11-29-2006, 10:11 AM
 
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If we're talking tacky here, I find that comment unbelievably tacky.

Namaste!

LOL Oh please.

That is all.
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#67 of 146 Old 11-29-2006, 10:12 AM
 
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i also want to add (because i'm definitely in favor of giftless parties) that i am not a person who necessarily enjoys bringing a gift to kids' birthday parties. i usually find it quite difficult to pick out something because kids these days have everything. i much more enjoy making the cards with my girls & they love it, too! they prefer getting out the glue & glitter & cotton balls & pipe cleaners over shopping for, buying & wrapping a gift (well...they like to help me wrap). so...if the invitation says "no gifts," this is what we do. if it doesn't, we trudge around looking for something simple & appropriate & have more fun making the card! IMO, a birthday is about celebrating our specialness & there are so many more ways to show someone they are special in your life than buying them something.

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#68 of 146 Old 11-29-2006, 10:38 AM
 
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then how is your child going to feel when they go to other birthday blowout parties and see their friends open gifts when they didn't get any for their birthday?
We talk to our kids about our values and why we have "no gift" parties. We don't really worry about how other families handle their kids' parties and we don't try to keep up with the Joneses.

My younger kids are thrilled that their grandparents and aunt drive in from another state for their birthday. My oldest child had her birthday party at a park with a water feature. Our kids really enjoy their parties and the focus is not on presents.

Of course, they do get gifts from dh and I and family members. We just don't encourage people to bring presents to the party.

Namaste!
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#69 of 146 Old 11-29-2006, 10:40 AM
 
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I am happy to go along with the invitation.....if someone wants "no gifts", that is fine with me. I am not offended or put out or disappointed. If I have a gift I really want to give, I will give it at another time. Also, as pp mentioned, dd always brings *something*, often a homemade card or a necklace she beaded, unwrapped. Dd, like her daddy, is always making things for other people.

As for me, I would love to have a no gift party, but dd doesn't want that . What works best for us is to have fewer, and smaller, parties. Speaking of trends (and maybe this is regional), when I was a child very few people had birthday parties every year (outside of family). In fact, I never had a friend who had a birthday party every year. I had 2 parties in my school-age days.....I can't remember my best friend, living across the street, having more than one. And they were small--just a couple of close friends. My family made birthdays special without a party with friends. I am hoping to do the same for dd.

Themed parties--one of my ideas is to have a "garden party". The hosting family can prepare a patch of dirt for the birthday child, guests can bring something for the garden (a plant, a cutting, a tool, some seeds, an ornament, a book about gardening....etc). Kids can get digging! And maybe decorate some wide-brimmed garden hats for a party favor (hot glue and silk flowers, or fabric paint).
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#70 of 146 Old 11-29-2006, 10:51 AM
 
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I also think thats its horrible that people dictate WHAT gift guests should bring on an invitation. I totally agree with this

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I think it's inappropriate to bring up gifts AT ALL on an invitation. It is ALWAYS your choice whether you bring a gift or not. If you have a birthday party, you're going to get gifts--and it's your choice what you do with them after the fact.
Seriously... I know theres moms who would rather get a certain kind of gifts but its not up to the guest to satisfy the mom's wishes. The parents can buy what they wish for their kids. If the child gets something the parents wish they didn't. Just make it "disappear", donate it, simple.

For moms who are against bringing gifts to a party, just don't bring one.
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#71 of 146 Old 11-29-2006, 10:58 AM
 
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I don't get why people think you have to invite a kid's entire classroom? Why not just let them invite two or three of their closest friends? At my twelvth birthday I had two parties. One was only with family (our usual party) and the other my parents let me have my friends over. I got to pick who came, no one tried to force me to have people I hardly knew over just because I saw them in class. No one gave any speeches about how I had to invite Mary and Ted if I invited Daisy and George because no one wants their feelings hurt. Most kids (at least when I was in school) don't associate with every single other kid, which means that inviting every kid is just...strange. If (general) your kid never speaks to Ted, doesn't hang out, Ted doesn't talk to him, then why does it matter if Ted is there at your kid's special celebration or not?

Sorry to hit rant mode, but I just don't get it.

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#72 of 146 Old 11-29-2006, 11:12 AM
 
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I don't think etiquette is esoteric. We don't get to make demands of others just because we're "right." From the last handful of kids' birthday parties I've been to, it seems that opening the gift at the party is no longer the norm and as has been discussed, what's the matter with giving a card or a painting? It's not that we can't survive the "horror" of honesty, it's that good manners dictate you don't demand what gifts can and can't be given.

And one man's "crap" plastic toy is another man's felted wool ball. There are plenty of people out there who would be overjoyed to have a piece of plastic "crap" for their kids to play with...if the choice is plastic toys or no toys at all, would you care? If the choice was a non-organic food or no food at all, would you let yourself starve? Of course not.


That's so true about one deems crap. My kids adore those tiny Pokemon figures. They frolic in the Waldrof barn with the Breyer horses. I have no idea why. lol

It's easier to be extreme on MDC rather than just enjoying life as best we can in a mixed up world. I just feel so sorry about all the negative energy of "We don't want your crappy plastic toy gift, so don't bring us anything". It's like all the spoiled kids grew up to be even more demanding.

I just don't get that. The people one invites to a child's party should be friends, and we should not be mean or rude to our friends. Or anyone. Especially not to those who can't afford a felt dragon as a gift, but is giving your child a little Fisher Price something they can afford.

It seems so snobby. And believe me, we love Waldorf-y wooden toys. However, one's preferences doesn't make it right to turn your nose up at any gift. Again, a gift a mother deems too crappy for her own child is another child's dream gift.

I think it's perfectly fine to spread the word verbally among friends that gifts are not necessary, or that you love books, or that your child is adding to his collection of little horses if one askes. But demands have no place on an invitation. if the party has so many strangers coming, then imo, one needs to rethink why you are having people you don't know come to the party.

I think we need to spend less time snubbing people and more time embracing others. Even the MIL who buys a My Pretty Pony Castle. Horrors, I know. : (And those are not tomatoes, they are felt gnomes. )
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#73 of 146 Old 11-29-2006, 11:22 AM
 
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The people one invites to a child's party should be friends,
I completely agree. Which is why we feel comfortable discussing our values with our friends. Why have them as friends if we can't act upon our values around them? I'm not forcing my values on anyone. If someone doesn't like the fact that we are having a "no gift" party, they don't have to come.

I don't feel like a spoiled child who grew up to be a demanding adult. I feel like a child who was raised with a good set of values who grew up to have concern for the earth and its inhabitants and realizes that conspicuous consumption and materialism are not going to get us anywhere good.

If you want people to bring gifts for your kid's party, great! Knock yourself out! I have no problem with that. Not everyone feels that way, though, and I honestly don't understand the hostility toward those who would rather have your kids come play with their kids instead of spending money on them.

Namaste!
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#74 of 146 Old 11-29-2006, 11:24 AM
 
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I completely agree. Which is why we feel comfortable discussing our values with our friends. Why have them as friends if we can't act upon our values around them? I'm not forcing my values on anyone. If someone doesn't like the fact that we are having a "no gift" party, they don't have to come.

I don't feel like a spoiled child who grew up to be a demanding adult. I feel like a child who was raised with a good set of values who grew up to have concern for the earth and its inhabitants and realizes that conspicuous consumption and materialism are not going to get us anywhere good.

If you want people to bring gifts for your kid's party, great! Knock yourself out! I have no problem with that. Not everyone feels that way, though, and I honestly don't understand the hostility toward those who would rather have your kids come play with their kids instead of spending money on them.

Namaste!
You're personalizing this and being rude. I find you very intense and difficult to talk with.
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#75 of 146 Old 11-29-2006, 11:27 AM
 
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dharmamama wrote: If you want people to bring gifts for your kid's party, great! Knock yourself out! I have no problem with that. Not everyone feels that way, though, and I honestly don't understand the hostility toward those who would rather have your kids come play with their kids instead of spending money on them.
Hear, hear! I agree with everything you've said on this thread.
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#76 of 146 Old 11-29-2006, 11:34 AM
 
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You're personalizing this and being rude. I find you very intense and difficult to talk with.
I'm sorry that you feel that way. I am not trying to be rude. I'm just trying to explain where I am coming from. I'm sorry you find me rude.

Namaste!
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#77 of 146 Old 11-29-2006, 12:07 PM
 
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I'm agreeing whole-heartedly with dharmamama on this one.

I too had no idea how many people feel that emphasizing that you and your child want only the pleasure of his or her friends' company for a special day is rude. We've been to a couple of no gift parties or variants along those lines, and always thought it was very thoughtful. Incidentally, they were also among the most fun birthday parties dd has been too, because a lot of thought had gone into the joy of the day for the kids involved, rather than the logistics of acquiring, admiring and quickly moving on from one gift to another.

The whole gift frenzy at birthday parties is a learned behavior for kids, and it seems very unfair to me for adults to force it on children, who otherwise tend to get a lot of joy out of the celebration itself.
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#78 of 146 Old 11-29-2006, 12:11 PM
 
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I completely agree. Which is why we feel comfortable discussing our values with our friends. Why have them as friends if we can't act upon our values around them? I'm not forcing my values on anyone. If someone doesn't like the fact that we are having a "no gift" party, they don't have to come.

I don't feel like a spoiled child who grew up to be a demanding adult. I feel like a child who was raised with a good set of values who grew up to have concern for the earth and its inhabitants and realizes that conspicuous consumption and materialism are not going to get us anywhere good.

If you want people to bring gifts for your kid's party, great! Knock yourself out! I have no problem with that. Not everyone feels that way, though, and I honestly don't understand the hostility toward those who would rather have your kids come play with their kids instead of spending money on them.

Namaste!

You finally put into words what I've been thinking as I've read this thread. It isn't rude to tell your true friends what your child wants for his b-day, or that your family has strong anti-plastic values, becasue they are your FRIENDS which means they want to know this kind of stuff, because they care about your family and your child. And if they get offended, they aren't your friends at all, really. Because why would a freind be offended by the way you raise your own child, why would they judge your choices? A real friend wouldn't.

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#79 of 146 Old 11-29-2006, 12:11 PM
 
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I completely agree. Which is why we feel comfortable discussing our values with our friends. Why have them as friends if we can't act upon our values around them? I'm not forcing my values on anyone. If someone doesn't like the fact that we are having a "no gift" party, they don't have to come.
It's one thing when someone asks you what gift should we bring to say, "well really just bring yourself there's nothing dd needs except to celebrate her birthday with friends." It's another to put "no gifts" on invitations. One is being honest and gracious the other is assuming that people feel your child's birthday is a gift trolling event. Also judging from some of the comments some people might feel that you would only give their child plastic crap so don't bother.

If your friends share your values then you don't need to put "no gifts" on an invite. They will understand the spirit of the party you are throwing. I don't know birthday parties seems like a good opportunity to teach children how to be gracious hosts or hostesses.
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#80 of 146 Old 11-29-2006, 12:22 PM
 
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If you want people to bring gifts for your kid's party, great! Knock yourself out! I have no problem with that. Not everyone feels that way, though, and I honestly don't understand the hostility toward those who would rather have your kids come play with their kids instead of spending money on them.

Namaste!

I'm not sure you're reading my posts, or if you simply don't understand. So I'll go ahead and quote myself :

"I think it's perfectly fine to spread the word verbally among friends that gifts are not necessary, or that you love books, or that your child is adding to his collection of little horses if one askes. But demands have no place on an invitation".
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#81 of 146 Old 11-29-2006, 12:23 PM
 
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It's one thing when someone asks you what gift should we bring to say, "well really just bring yourself there's nothing dd needs except to celebrate her birthday with friends." It's another to put "no gifts" on invitations. One is being honest and gracious the other is assuming that people feel your child's birthday is a gift trolling event. Also judging from some of the comments some people might feel that you would only give their child plastic crap so don't bother.

If your friends share your values then you don't need to put "no gifts" on an invite. They will understand the spirit of the party you are throwing. I don't know birthday parties seems like a good opportunity to teach children how to be gracious hosts or hostesses.
Exactly.
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#82 of 146 Old 11-29-2006, 12:31 PM
 
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Just want to add . . .I may start doing the gift-opening after the party, when the guests are gone. It eliminates all sorts of problems, IMO.

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#83 of 146 Old 11-29-2006, 12:35 PM
 
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We have had a no-gifts party for all of dd's birthdays. I do not really care if it is rude or not. Offended? Don't come. It is not about disapproving of toys or not getting the kinds we want. It is about living a simple life. Dd has WAY more toys than she needs and I see no reason to contribute to this society's consumeristic attitude and environmental problems just to make a check mark in my ettiquette book. Not to mention many of our friends are broke and I do not want them to have to worry about spending money to come to our little cookout. Dd has always had giftless parties and has never been to a party that had gifts so she is not aware that she is missing out on a glut of presents. When that day comes, we will discuss it and then decide how to proceed with her consent. At this point she is just happy to have the attention of all of her friends (chlidren and adults), eat cake, and play until the wee hours of the night.
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#84 of 146 Old 11-29-2006, 12:36 PM
 
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I completely agree. Which is why we feel comfortable discussing our values with our friends. Why have them as friends if we can't act upon our values around them? I'm not forcing my values on anyone. If someone doesn't like the fact that we are having a "no gift" party, they don't have to come.

I don't feel like a spoiled child who grew up to be a demanding adult. I feel like a child who was raised with a good set of values who grew up to have concern for the earth and its inhabitants and realizes that conspicuous consumption and materialism are not going to get us anywhere good.

If you want people to bring gifts for your kid's party, great! Knock yourself out! I have no problem with that. Not everyone feels that way, though, and I honestly don't understand the hostility toward those who would rather have your kids come play with their kids instead of spending money on them.

Namaste!
And here's the heart of the matter. You don't *really* think that my way and your way are both equally fine--you think that your way is right and my way is wrong. The way you set this up makes it sound like if you're WILLING to accept toys in the spirit in which they are given, it's a poor statement on the party-thrower and her family. Good values, in your words, means agreeing with you and doing things your way. And frankly, *that's* what my "hostility" (I'll say "contention") is directed at. I

Yes, *some* of my friends have similar values...but others don't! I have a whole spectrum of friends, some of whom are very ecologically conscious and "green," and others who thought nothing of bringing the biggest, fattest battery-operated hunk of plastic with so much packaging it made my head spin. : But they're all our friends, and everyone gave according to their own values.
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#85 of 146 Old 11-29-2006, 12:46 PM
 
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Yooper wrote: Dd has WAY more toys than she needs and I see no reason to contribute to this society's consumeristic attitude and environmental problems just to make a check mark in my ettiquette book.
I feel a spin-off thread comin' on.
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#86 of 146 Old 11-29-2006, 12:49 PM
 
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I personally don't mind no gift parties...easier for me...however the host should not ASK guests to bring a specific thing. For example don't ask people to bring wooden Thomas train. If any of the guests comes forward and ask you what your child is into...of course you can answer them and say oh my child has shown a great interest in trains. If they don't ask its rude to to state on an invitation.
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#87 of 146 Old 11-29-2006, 12:58 PM
 
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I kind of feel like there is some sort of contradiction in putting "no gifts" on invites for a birthday party b/c you don't want to pass one consumer culture but you invite tons of people. What kind of parties are you having where there isn't consumer culture inherent in them as well besides the gift thing?

I think I'm just at a loss about this b/c if we wanted no gifts for dd and we generally do, we just follow the simple rule of only inviting her age plus 1 to her birthday. Frankly anymore than that for her at this age becomes less a party to celebrate her birthday and more a party to show her off.
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#88 of 146 Old 11-29-2006, 01:03 PM
 
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We have had a no-gifts party for all of dd's birthdays. I do not really care if it is rude or not. Offended? Don't come. It is not about disapproving of toys or not getting the kinds we want. It is about living a simple life. Dd has WAY more toys than she needs and I see no reason to contribute to this society's consumeristic attitude and environmental problems just to make a check mark in my ettiquette book. Not to mention many of our friends are broke and I do not want them to have to worry about spending money to come to our little cookout. Dd has always had giftless parties and has never been to a party that had gifts so she is not aware that she is missing out on a glut of presents. When that day comes, we will discuss it and then decide how to proceed with her consent. At this point she is just happy to have the attention of all of her friends (chlidren and adults), eat cake, and play until the wee hours of the night.
I agree that too much is too much, and I agree there are some terrible production and pollution problems, but not embracing the thoughtfulness of others doesn't help that. There's no reason we can't kindly share out thoughts with friends, rather than putting odd commentary on invitations.

I've seen, esp at MDC over the years, gchildren kept from gparents, or huge arguments that cause gigantic family rifts over things like whether a child should recieve a plastic toy or eat a sugar cookie at gma's. I do think it's frustrating when gparents or friends don't see things exactly as we do, but kindness and understanding go a long way to helping each other see things differently.

Loving friends and parents should transcend whether someone gives a child a Barbie or a My Little Pony, or a gift when someone said "No gifts". If you expect others not to be offended at your invitations commentary, I don't see why they should not be offended in return if you get angry that they wanted to give a child they cared about a gift.

There is so much anger here...and anger isn't the way to heal the world. The most lofty ideals don't do much if it means thinking it's ok to be unkind to others who are trying to be kind.
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#89 of 146 Old 11-29-2006, 01:03 PM
 
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I'm not a fan of plastic either--but I believe that common courtesy trumps social responsibility every time.
Really?
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#90 of 146 Old 11-29-2006, 01:11 PM
 
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And here's the heart of the matter. You don't *really* think that my way and your way are both equally fine--you think that your way is right and my way is wrong
I was unaware that you could look straight into my heart and know my true thoughts and feelings.

My way is right for MY FAMILY. Your way is right for YOUR FAMILY. Honestly, I really don't care what you do for your kid's birthday party. It's YOUR KID. My kids are MY KIDS, and we will celebrate according to our family's values. It actually is completely fine with me if you have different values for your kid's party. I like to discuss this stuff, but I truly don't get very invested in what other people on message boards do.



Namaste!
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