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Having a 1st Bday party. How to request non-plastic commercialized gifts?

1156 Views 16 Replies 15 Participants Last post by  JudiAU
We are throwing a big birthday party for my daughter's 1st birthday.

All of her toys are plastic fisher price toys (all look the same, sound the same, and were purchased from mainstream stores like toysrus, etc)

I am so tired of these kind of toys. I want her to have more wooden toys and other kind of toys that are well made, creative, not necessarily mainstream, perhaps handmade. Or not made in China. Special and not all plasticky.

There are going to be about 80 people at this party and I was wondering if you guys have any suggestions on how I could communicate this in the invitation without sounding rude.

I was even thinking of putting the phrase "Please do not feel obligated to bring a gift" on the invite. But I also was thinking of putting, "please no plastic toys" on the invite. But I am worried about people being offended by my pickiness.

Any advice on how I can communicate this on the invite without offending people?
I'm also worried that the people will not know where to buy toys like this.
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I don't think you can. The best you can do is when and if people ask you what your LO would like, then you can tell them. But you can't put anything on the invitation because then it looks like you expect gifts or you think that they are obligated to get you gifts (not saying that's what you do think, just what some people will conclude if they see that on the invitation).
Well I was invited to a birthday party for a 1 year old and they put "gifts are not necessary but if you would like to bring a gift please no plastic toys" I was not offended. I didn't mention gifts on DS invite and we only got 2 plastic toys both came with gift receipts. I kept one a kaleidoscope and I took the other back (some noisemaking moving along the floor train) and got him a wooden fire truck instead.

Also I know this is not part of your question but 80 people at a 1 year olds party is very very overwhelming for the baby. We only had 5 children (his cousins and one baby friend) and 12 adults and when it came time to eating his cupcake and everyone was starring at him he started to get upset. Overall though it was a good number of people to have. We actually had 2 parties because I didn't want to many people at one party.
I did this for 1st and 2nd birthdays.

1st birthday the invite said:

"Your presence is the only present required, but if you would like to bring something, your favourite children's book would be most welcome"

2nd birthday the invite said:

"no made in China plastic toys"

1st bday - We got tons of lovely kid's books and people enjoyed picking them out

2nd bday - We got no MIC plastic toys
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Thanks for your responses.

I know, I am concerned about the # of people going. Not sure what to do about that now though. It would have been a better idea to break it up into 2 parties.

How about "Presents not neccessary. Please no plastic toys made in China."
Well, we only had family as DS' first birthday party, but I specifically requested no plastic/noise making toys just by putting on the invitation to please bring books or wooden toys as "he has so many already and he just LOVES to read and play with blocks!" Which is sort of the truth, he does love books and he does love to "build," although he likes his other stuff too.

The Toys R Us we have here has a fairly nice selection of wooden things, and even Wal-Mart is starting to carry more and more. So it's not so hard to find them. And if people didn't want to look for those, then books for toddlers are super simple to find.
Personally, I would put in big letters: PLEASE DO NOT BRING PRESENTS! You could even include a note that said something like "we are trying to downsize our child's toy stash, so if you'd really like to remember his birthday, please donate to XYZ charity in his name." (or something similar)

Can you imagine all the crap you will get from EIGHTY people? Wooden, plastic, or any other material. That's insane.

I agree with a pp about overwhelming the baby. We had 15 people here for ds's first birthday and he was a little overwhelmed. He's not bad in crowds, but the spotlight was on HIM and that is a lot to ask a baby to handle.

We included a note on the invites that asked people not to bring presents. I knew, however, that my mom and sister would want to bring something, and I felt completely comfortable giving them a few ideas of what ds would like.

And if people bring plastic? Donate it all to Goodwill.

One other idea - for ds's first birthday we asked people to bring a note or picture in lieu of a gift. We had something on the invite about creating a time capsule, so we got newspaper clippings, magazines, letters, pictures, etc. He will have SO much more fun opening that in 20 years than he will playing with a bunch of toys for 5 minutes.
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It's so tough, I know!

Maybe you could put something like, "Looking for gift ideas? What [child's name] really needs is...(books, clothes, wooden toys, etc)."

Or you could create an online wishlist and put the link in your invitation.

In this day and age, I honestly think it's ok to be upfront about your preferences. Most people will be happy to oblige. Better to be honest and risk looking "tacky" than say nothing and secretly gripe once the plastic junk comes pouring in. It just makes the birthday parties stressful for years to come.

For those who don't oblige, hopefully they've included gift receipts
. If not, send the unwanted toys off to the charity toy drives during the holidays.
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I tried with dd and ds1 (now 20 and 17 years old) and people just took it as an invitation to tease me or "make sure the crazy hippie doesn't deprive those poor children of the fun of Disney and Power Rangers".

With ds2 I just said "No gifts, please. I already bought him everything he needs." and, surprisingly, people have always respected this. It may be only because of my age and experience, of course, and a 20-something first time mama might still get avalanched with plastic crap.

The alternative would be to take the plastic crap down to a consignment store, but you will get such a small percentage of money back compared to what your guests spent and it will take so much of your own time and energy that I personally wouldn't bother.

I love beautiful handmade toys too, but I think part of it is that families who only have wooden and other "natural" toys tend to choose very carefully and, since they are expensive, avoid the kind of clutter you see in "Toys R Us" families.

My fifteen month old got a wooden merry-go-round and a playsilk for the winter holidays and just some new kids' music for his birthday. He has a few wooden toys handed down from his siblings, but he really spends more time playing with ordinary household items (think tupperware, cookware, paperback books and cassette tapes) so he really does have all the toys he needs even without financial aid from friends and extended family.
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Just make it a theme party on the invitations! State that you want an all-natural party theme, and have people bring or wear natural items. Use natural place settings and make it light-hearted and fun. Include on the invites that if people want to bring a gift, bring a natural gift.
The invitations are a great way to go to avoid confrontation about it! For my youngest's 1st birthday party, we didn't want people to bring gifts (she has waaaay too many toys and doesn't need anything), so we wrote on the invites "Maya requests your presence, not your presents!" Of course, some people still brought some gifts, but I think most people didn't mind being asked something specific like that about gifts.
I think you are having 80 people at a party for your baby. Obviously all of these 80 people do not know your child super well, spend hours and hours with your family, etc. I think asking them to go out of their way to buy a handmade, non MIC, wooden toy (read expensive, usually) is kind of rude. I for one would never show up to a party with one tiny wooden truck let's say like this one:
But that tiny wooden truck costs $23, more like 30 bucks with shipping. I would be hard pressed to spend more than that on a child's bday gift. So you are sort of putting them in a tough situation.
Also, some of them may end up buying you wooden toys made in china (most wooden toys in any mainstream store are still MIC with the same lead paints and all that fun stuff). I think people who are close to you and come visit your child at your home see that you have plastic toys already and you will still come off as rude and uppity in the invitation.
I would ask for books. Your child will end up with a nice library. Books are easy and convienent to shop for and everyone has their favorites. For close family like grandparents who are going to buy your child more stuff, then you can hint to them about nice wooden toys you really want.
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I think I am just going to put "no gifts, please" or something to that effect. She really doesn't need any presents. If she needs anything, it's clothes, but I don't want to put that in the invitation.

Then some people will still buy gifts, but it won't be overwhelming. Then I don't have to address the issue of what kind of toys we like.

There is some very good insightly posts above. Thank you guys!
I agree, I don't think you can really do that. Do you have a few close friends/relatives who understand what you prefer & can spread the word, if asked? Otherwise, just thankfully accept the gifts (luckily, at 1 your child won't realize if you return them) and return them for something else.
When we were going to have DS' 1st bday party (it ended up getting canceled, due to a frigging snow storm in freaking MARCH!), we just asked for no-gifts please, and if they really felt like they HAD to get something, to contribute money to his college fund.

Previously, I'd made it well known that we had/have a pretty strict "nothing made in China" rule when it comes to toys... and its been remarkably effective. We've only gotten a handful of the typical plastic crap from china and its mostly all gone to the goodwill shortly there after.
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This is an idea that I plan to implement for my son's 2nd birthday party... But be warned, it will involve planned activities at the party.

The theme would be "A Handmade Birthday Party".
Make the invitations using card stock and embellish them with buttons, ribbons, fabric, etc.- you can keep them as simple or make them as extravagant as you want. Have some family help you put them together- that will add a unique personalization to each invitation!
$-saving tip: if card stock is too pricey for your budget, get a big package of construction paper.
For the party, plan a group gift activity for each invitee to contribute to- for example, you could go have a very large print made (at Kinkos or somewhere like that) of a photo of your child and have every guest at the party sign the picture. For years to come your child will enjoy reading all of the personal little notes and birthday wishes written on this picture.
$-saving tip: Instead of printing on poster board, have the picture printed on vinyl or even paper (you can have it laminated) to knock the price down.
Plan an additional individual-ish craft for each guest to create as a gift for your child- this would be your $ splurge. You could do something fun and silly for the kids (and heck, the adults too!) like have supplies set up at tables (pine cones, seashells, felt, buttons, glue, scissors, etc.) and have each person draw out of a hat to see what critter they have to create- this would be a gift handmade by the guests out of materials you have specifically chosen.
$-saving tip: you could keep it cheap and just have crayons and paper for everyone to draw a picture.

Another $-saving tip: instead of spending money buying pizza or what have you for all 80 of your guests, you can reconfigure your party budget a little. Go to your nearest Sam's or bulk superstore and purchase a gigantic tub (or 2, or 3) of cookie dough and simply serve iced tea and cookies to your guests.

A general birthday party note: kids love balloons- if you plan on entertaining several (or more) small children, buy a big bag of ballons and blow them all up for them to play with during the party! Cheap and surprisingly entertaining!
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Originally Posted by mamadelbosque View Post
Previously, I'd made it well known that we had/have a pretty strict "nothing made in China" rule when it comes to toys... and its been remarkably effective.
I'd second this idea. We started telling everyone that we were avoiding plastic toys, among other things, when I was still pregnant and almost everyone has listened. We only have one person who has ever gotten us plastic toys. I think, for the most part, when you make your goals known to others they seem to respect them (in my experience that is-I know it's not true for everyone).
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I don't think you can politely request anything like that. It violates every rule of etiquette and more to the point you are likely to make people feel bad/offended/hurt, etc.

You can register for some things you think she would like at the types of stores you like. People will often ask and you can refer them to the site and say you like those specific toys or toys like those.

Otherwise your option is to regift, sell, or give away things that don't meet your criteria.

And it is fine to talk about your concerns. My sister the "queen of plastic" buys me toys from magic cabin, oompa, and moolka, etsy, etc. because she knows that I really care about toys/country of origin/safety standards, etc. I keep a pretty active universal wishlist at amazon; great because I can choose toys from all over. I buy her kids clothes from her favorite store because I know that is what she wants.

You'll also find that as you transition to those sorts of toys people will figure it out. No one could look at my DS's toys and think plastic is wanted.
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