The "No Gifts Please" Birthday Parties - Mothering Forums

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Old 11-28-2006, 06:38 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I see alot of Birthday threads where the Mom is asking how to delicately ask the Guests not to bring gifts to their kids Birthday Party or give alternatives as to what they CAN bring.

Why has this become the norm?

What happened to simple days when your Guests could just bring whatever they wanted to bring?

Some people get a certain joy AND put in alot of time picking out that special gift for their loved one. Why rob people of that?

When DS is invited to someone's Birthday Party, I am genuinely excited for that Child and I spend a great deal of time and effort finding out what he/she would like for their Birthday.

And DS enjoys giving the gift to the Birthday Child.

Sure you may have a house cluttered with plastic toys and nonsensical frous frous but that's the fun of it all.

I just don't think it's fair to put all these "restrictions" on the Guests who want to just celebrate with your child on that special day and in doing so, giving them a gift without restrictions.

Just my .02 cents.
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Old 11-28-2006, 07:41 PM
 
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As the Mama of an almost 15 yo ds and a 16 mo dd, I am amazed at the changes that I have seen since my son was a little one. It used to be you gave kids presents and parents and kids were happy but now...

I understand not wanting junk toys but to be honest someone telling me what I can give or not give does not sit well with me at all.

I know that may not be an appropriate NFL/MDC attitude but that's how I feel.

Shay

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Old 11-28-2006, 07:58 PM
 
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I can think of several reasons to request no gifts at birthday parties. Although some adults may be disappointed at not being able to bring a gift to the party, it's not about them. They can get over it. Or they can bring a gift for the child and discreetly give it to the parent of the birthday child aside from the party environment. It's really not that hard.

Some reasons to request no gifts:
1) perhaps the family is working on decluttering/ simplifying/ learning to appreciate the non-material joys in life and getting a truckload of gifts would not be consistent with that philosophy

2) the trend in many circles these days is for kids to invite everyone and their dog to the birthday party. Children get invited as part of a large classroom of children and may hardly know the birthday child but just get an invitation by virtue of being in their class. Getting personal, lovingly selected gifts from close friends and family members is one thing. Getting 30 gifts from people who share nothing but a classroom space 5 days a week is something else.

3) the ritual of gift giving at birthday parties can actually be pretty hard on the children. It can be humiliating for a child from a low-income family to watch the birthday child unwrap lavish gift after lavish gift and then publicly unwrap their hard-won but hardly upscale trinket.

4) Some parents have come to the conclusion that gift giving has become more about the adults and their satisfaction and pleasure than it is about the kids'. And have chosen to not engage in such things.
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Old 11-28-2006, 08:02 PM
 
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Some people just don't want the guests to think they are required to bring gifts. I am sure there are other reasons BUT this one comes to mind.
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Old 11-28-2006, 08:08 PM
 
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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.
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Old 11-28-2006, 08:54 PM
 
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When I had a no gifts party, I had "BOYBW* *Bring only your best wishes" on the invitations. Sure, some people brought gifts, and that was fine. But most people didn't.
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Old 11-28-2006, 09:41 PM
 
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I also think saying "no gifts at all" or "we only want wooden toys" is going too far. However, I think "gifts are optional" is an OK thing to put on an invitation. It lets the guests know that they are off the hook if money is tight. I did this with DS's last birthday party. Everyone brought a gift, and it was fine.
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Old 11-28-2006, 09:48 PM
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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...
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Old 11-28-2006, 09:52 PM
 
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DD2 and DD3 have birthdays only 2 weeks apart, and DD2 has decided that she wants to share her birthday party with her baby sister, who will be 1. DH and I have, however, decided that we will add a line on the invitations saying, "In lieu of gifts for DD3, we ask that you please make a donation (either toys or monetary) in her honor to the Ronald McDonald House charities, without whom none of this would be possible." Or something to that effect. DD3 was a NICU baby, and had it not been for the RMH, I wouldn't have gotten to see her more than twice a week, as the hospital was 90 miles from home and we were flat broke (i.e. budgeting the gas money to get to the hospital).

Plus, how many toys does a 1 year old really need, you know? She'll probably be more entertained by her sister's wrapping paper and empty boxes.

While I don't want to take away the joy that people get in watching children open gifts, I think most people (at least our family) will find the same amount of joy knowing that they have made a donation that will effect many more families and children than just our DD, if that makes sense. Besides, as much help as we've gotten in the last year, even if people do still bring gifts for DD3, they will be donated to RMH, and putting it on the invitation lets people know that.

DDs1&2 can get all the toys they want though. Anytime they get new toys we always go through the old ones and donate an even number before they play with new ones. They LOVE that tradition, and remind us of it at every gift receiving event.

Sarah - Mama to Vic (1/19/00), Syd (4/06/02) Sam (4/20/06-born at 30wk2d), JackJack (2/14/07) and Charlie (4/30/10)
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Old 11-28-2006, 09:54 PM
 
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When DD was younger we did "no gifts" the main reason was we wanted people to come share her day with her and not feel obliged to bring something. Some people brought gifts (the people who knew her best) and as she got older everyone was bringing her something so we abandoned the "no gift" rule

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Old 11-28-2006, 10:05 PM
 
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We put gifts optional. It's not about getting presents its about spending time with people you like, and you want to be around. They can bring a gift if they feel moved to, but really, we just want them to share in our joy.

It's lonely being the only XX in a house of XYs.
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Old 11-28-2006, 10:07 PM
 
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I think this is kind of awkward both ways. Unless it is mentioned I think you do feel obligated to bring a gift to a child's birthday party. I am always more than happy to follow the invitation's guidelines on this. If the party is a no gift one, my son still gives his handmade card, which he puts a lot of thought and effort into. He is always excited to give it to the birthday child.

If the child truly is a "loved one", then I think it would be OK to discuss this issue with the parents and give a special gift on another day close to the birthday.

Mama to 13, and 10 and 4.
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Old 11-28-2006, 10:10 PM
 
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"Sure you may have a house cluttered with plastic toys and nonsensical frous frous but that's the fun of it all."

Might be fun for you...but dealing with all that crap is spiritually draining for me. How much energy went into making that plastic frous frous, then transporting it here from China? I read today that carbon dioxide levels are rising faster than in the 1990's, so we are likely going to be in the "worst case scenario" in terms of global warming by the time my DD is 50. Is that the world I want to give to her...so that people who come to her parties can enjoy watching her open presents? We had a no gifts party for her 4th B-day, and it was a blast. We rode the bus downtown - the kids loved that - then we had a musical parade to a favorite coffee house. We had some hot cocoa and muffins, and rode the bus home. She never once even noticed that we didn't have presents.

And by the way, I *was* that low income kid that someone mentioned. Going to birthday parties was always stressful for me, as my mom and I went through the store and she had to say "no" to me a hundred times, since our family couldn't afford any of the stuff that I wanted to buy for my classmate's birthday present.

My .02.

~Diane
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Old 11-28-2006, 10:17 PM
 
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Well, I have to admit that I would be uncomfortable writing "No gifts, please," but at the same time I really don't want my children to recieve a deluge of gifts. I'm so hesitant to put it on the invitations that I actually haven't thrown birthday parties with lots of friends for that reason. We've done things like invite a best friend over for an evening of cookie-making, or invite a good friend to go apple picking with us (Ds' birthday is in the Fall). Usually the friend is close enough that s/he knows it's ds' birthday, and so brings a gift, and it's special and we're thankful.
The main reason I don't want us to get a lot of gifts, and therefore haven't thrown parties, is that I am concerned about the effect North Americans' consumerism affects the earth and the rest of the people living on it. There's an upstream cost to everything, always an environmental impact to the production of any toy. Also, I've been to birthday parties, and obseved my own children at Christmas with the extended family, and my impression is that getting a large number of gifts at once is stressful for a young child. Mine can't handle it yet.
I've been to lots of parties where there is a tag line, "Please no presents, just your presence." I think that is a very polite way to say it. And I am relieved to see it because it takes the pressure off. It lets the parents know that there are no expectations. When we've gotten these kinds of invitations, sometimes we've taken a small gift, sometimes we've made something for the child, and sometimes we have brought only our smiles and well wishes. Knowing we weren't expected to bring a gift made us feel totally welcome either way.


To go off on a little tangent...Ds was invited to a party this past weekend. A lot of his classmates were there. After trying to think of a fun, healthy, open-ended toy that wouldn't have too great an environmental impact, I decided to send a pack of 20 colors of modeling clay. It was inexpensive but I thought it was the perfect thing for a 6 year old. But then, after seeing what other kids gave him, our gift seemed kind of stingy. One kid gave him a huge foam snowboard-type thing! Was a pack of modeling clay a lame gift? Was it thoughtless to give something so inexpensive?
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Old 11-28-2006, 10:17 PM
 
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At DD's first birthday party we asked people to donate to a local organization that provides birthday parties and gifts to needy kids in her name in lieu of a gift for her. We didn't want people to feel like they had to bring a gift, and would rather see other kids get things they need than our daughter get more stuff she doesn't need.

We did say that if you really wanted to give a gift for DD that she's "working on her wooden toy collection". We struggled with that one, b/c while we didn't want people to feel locked into buying something specific, we give away gifts that we don't like (plastic, noisy things, etc.). So, it was a toss-up b/n telling people what to buy and knowing that we'd probably end up giving away what they bought us. Which would you prefer?

I find the practice of opening gifts at parties materialistic. I know it's tradition, and I loved doing it as a kid, but it doesn't really fit the values I want our kids to have. I want them to want their friends to come over to celebrate with them, not to have them come over so they get more stuff. She'll get enough gifts from family members. When she's old enough to care, maybe we'll re-look at things, but at least for the next couple of years we'll ask people to give money to those who need it rather than buy DD a gift.

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Old 11-28-2006, 10:19 PM
 
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Originally Posted by BetsyNY View Post
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.
I agree with this. Anything you don't want to keep, you can donate.

And the last party DD went to, we brought a book as a gift. Books are awesome gifts!!
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Old 11-28-2006, 10:23 PM
 
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Birthdays aren't about material gifts to us, that's the big main reason. Most holidays don't have gifts involved in this house. A nice handmade card is always appreciated though.

Smaller reasons include:
We don't have the room for more toys or books. We move constantly because dh is in the military and we never know what size house/storage we are going to end up with. I hate most character toys that children seem inclined to pick out. I don't like attending large birthday parties and we have no intention of ever throwing one either. We are thankful to all be in one place for significant days (meaning daddy isn't somewhere across an ocean.)
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Old 11-28-2006, 10:23 PM
 
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Originally Posted by BetsyNY View Post
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.
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I agree with this.
me too.

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Old 11-28-2006, 10:45 PM
 
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I am also put off by that request. The most recent one was not to bring an object rather a coupon for an activity. I am not exactly sure why but that bothered me.
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Old 11-28-2006, 10:45 PM
 
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I agree with this. Anything you don't want to keep, you can donate.

And the last party DD went to, we brought a book as a gift. Books are awesome gifts!!

Unless the gifts were given to you, I believe it should be anythign the CHILD doesn't want to keep, S/HE can donate. His gifts, his choice.

That said, I think if there is too much stuff in the house the parent and chlid should work together at a comprimise, and the child should have the final say (even if he wants to keep the singing schoolbus and donate the wooden one), IMO it's an issue of space. We have enough space for X number of toys, but they child should ahve most if not all of the say over which toys he wants to keep and which he wants to donate. I wouldn't force my child to give away his birthday presents, or sneak them away in the middle of the night. It is not my right to take his things and give them away without his permission.

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Old 11-28-2006, 11:24 PM
 
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Well, I have to admit that I would be uncomfortable writing "No gifts, please," but at the same time I really don't want my children to recieve a deluge of gifts. I'm so hesitant to put it on the invitations that I actually haven't thrown birthday parties with lots of friends for that reason. We've done things like invite a best friend over for an evening of cookie-making, or invite a good friend to go apple picking with us (Ds' birthday is in the Fall). Usually the friend is close enough that s/he knows it's ds' birthday, and so brings a gift, and it's special and we're thankful.
The main reason I don't want us to get a lot of gifts, and therefore haven't thrown parties, is that I am concerned about the effect North Americans' consumerism affects the earth and the rest of the people living on it. There's an upstream cost to everything, always an environmental impact to the production of any toy. Also, I've been to birthday parties, and obseved my own children at Christmas with the extended family, and my impression is that getting a large number of gifts at once is stressful for a young child. Mine can't handle it yet.
I've been to lots of parties where there is a tag line, "Please no presents, just your presence." I think that is a very polite way to say it. And I am relieved to see it because it takes the pressure off. It lets the parents know that there are no expectations. When we've gotten these kinds of invitations, sometimes we've taken a small gift, sometimes we've made something for the child, and sometimes we have brought only our smiles and well wishes. Knowing we weren't expected to bring a gift made us feel totally welcome either way.


To go off on a little tangent...Ds was invited to a party this past weekend. A lot of his classmates were there. After trying to think of a fun, healthy, open-ended toy that wouldn't have too great an environmental impact, I decided to send a pack of 20 colors of modeling clay. It was inexpensive but I thought it was the perfect thing for a 6 year old. But then, after seeing what other kids gave him, our gift seemed kind of stingy. One kid gave him a huge foam snowboard-type thing! Was a pack of modeling clay a lame gift? Was it thoughtless to give something so inexpensive?



Not thoughtless at all!!! Children's birthday parties are so stressful nowadays. For our two we just invite close friends and family and since I've got two voracious readers, books and creative gifts such as your modeling clay are always welcome as is just the presence of dear ones, sans gifts. I've got a real artsy crafty friend whose influenced my dd quite a bit and we now have a crafts closet! (She sure didn't get it from me).

I wouldn't worry about what you gave. I agree with pp's that there is way too much consumerism and greed in this country and if your gift did go unappreciated, it's not your problem, it's theirs.
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Old 11-28-2006, 11:36 PM
 
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I am that low income parent and was that low income friend. I barely went to parties growing up because if you didnt bring a present you were rude, and we couldnt afford it, so i was always left out.

I like that no gifts idea. It helps families that cant afford stuff, to not feel obligated to buy things they cant afford.
Also, if we did get that $1 gift, it would be shunned aside for that big present anyway, so it would be a waste of $$$ IMO. Even if it is just a dollar or two. That adds up when you dont have it. I always put no gifts please so that there is no pressure. And if someone wants to put some money for ds' in their cards, then so be it.

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Old 11-28-2006, 11:53 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by newmommy View Post
Sure you may have a house cluttered with plastic toys and nonsensical frous frous but that's the fun of it all.
For a lot of people, that's not fun.

Quote:
Some people get a certain joy AND put in alot of time picking out that special gift for their loved one. Why rob people of that?
Because it's not about you. It's about the child having the birthday.

Quote:
I just don't think it's fair to put all these "restrictions" on the Guests who want to just celebrate with your child on that special day and in doing so, giving them a gift without restrictions.
When we invite people to celebrate our kids' birthdays with us, we are inviting them because we want to spend time with them. We are having a party to be with our friends and loved ones, not to get stuff. For those of us encouraging our kids to be less material and less consumeristic, getting a lot of "stuff" is not in keeping with our values.

Believe it or not, birthdays can be great fun even without "stuff"!

Namaste!
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Old 11-29-2006, 12:11 AM
 
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i just sent out invites for our 2 dc b-days and i did put a note in there stating gifts are optional. we put in that we love children's artwork, so please draw us a picture, we want to avoid plastics, in particular vinly/PVC, we LOVE to read and provided an amazon list with gifts of $20 and under.

i read some of the comments, so i hope i did not offend any of my guests! but its probably bound to happen.

my ds is ASD and SID, so we need toys more for occupational therapy, etc. as SN child can be quite expensive, i wanted to take the opportunity to make the most out of the gifts if people chose to give one. also all his classmates are SN too, i don't expect a gift from his classmates, i really just want them to come and have a ton of fun! also perhaps those families are strapped for cash too. we won't be opening his gifts at the party, as he wont be able to handle it anyway, hell probably have a meltdown or 2 regardless.

the vinly plastic is pretty toxic and is used to make many baby toys, and we want a better earth for us and our family, so the no plastic thing is a lifestyle choice we want to teach our children. my ds does not know how to play with flashing lights, loud sounds, etc. he will learn best (now anyways) with toys that spark imaginative and creative play, which is represented best by companies that have wooden and natural toys. its ok if someone brings a plastic toy, we just don't want to repeat what happened the year before and limit it a bit.

FWIW - the modeling clay gift would be a perfect perfect gift for our dc, the foam board thing? what would we do with that.

Honestly i am really sick of all the plastic crap.
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Old 11-29-2006, 12:26 AM
 
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Yeah. I was the BROKE one too.
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Old 11-29-2006, 12:44 AM
 
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the vinly plastic is pretty toxic and is used to make many baby toys, and we want a better earth for us and our family, so the no plastic thing is a lifestyle choice we want to teach our children. my ds does not know how to play with flashing lights, loud sounds, etc. he will learn best (now anyways) with toys that spark imaginative and creative play, which is represented best by companies that have wooden and natural toys. its ok if someone brings a plastic toy, we just don't want to repeat what happened the year before and limit it a bit.
I'm not a fan of plastic either--but I believe that common courtesy trumps social responsibility every time. I would never put ANYTHING on a printed invitation that indicated whether or not we expected gifts, or an Amazon wishlist/registry. We're not only teaching our kids how to be good citizens of the Earth, we also have to teach them to be good citizens with each other.
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Old 11-29-2006, 12:46 AM
 
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wow! this is a touchy subject. i just posted a thread asking for advice on this particular issue so maybe it all started with me!?

my question is, why is it so hard to raise our children the way we want & have our family & friends respect that? i try & respect everyone's crazy parenting ways....we all have them...so why is there so much offense taken when i ask people not to bring gifts or to just bring a book? i've had friends tell me it was unacceptable to put "no gifts, please" and it kinda hurt my feelings. and then it made me irritated! why is it more acceptable to assume people will bring a gift than ask them not to? seriously....i can't figure this out?

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Old 11-29-2006, 12:50 AM
 
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I hate, hate, hate trying to pick out a toy that some kid I don't know is going to play with for two seconds and throw away. I seriously dislike the mass consumerism in this country. I once read a statistic that said the average child gets $800 of toys from their parents in a year. JUST their parents. Not the twenty kids that get invited to their birthday party. I realize that part of the fun of a birthday is getting toys and opening them. Don't you think that these kids are getting presents from their families? WHy do they need 20 more presents?

I am never offended by the "please no presents" thing. I think it's great.

SAHM to four beautiful babes :
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Old 11-29-2006, 12:50 AM
 
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Originally Posted by doulalove View Post
i've had friends tell me it was unacceptable to put "no gifts, please" and it kinda hurt my feelings. and then it made me irritated! why is it more acceptable to assume people will bring a gift than ask them not to? seriously....i can't figure this out?
I figure the only friends worth inviting are the ones who will understand our request of no gifts.

We're "weird" about birthdays, at least that's what we've been told. It doesn't bother me because I am comfortable with the way we do things.
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Old 11-29-2006, 12:51 AM
 
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we have gifts optional..

But having a house full of plastic clutter is not my thing. So when they do get the gift that is plastic or just something we don't allow here... it goes away that very night.

My older boys know this is the rule and they often save these toys for certain kids they know will love them.

Loving Dh, Mama x 4, Surrogate mother to 5. A born 2003, M and R girl/girl twins 2006, S and C boy/girl twins born 2010. Processing/healing.
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