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Discussion Starter #1
<p>My dd's 6th birthday is coming up, and I'm thinking of including this in the invitation:</p>
<p>"please do not feel obliged to bring a gift. If you would like to do so, please consider a can of dog or cat food, a dog or cat toy, or a towel for dd to donate to the Animal Shelter."</p>
<p>My daughter is excited about this, and about bringing the gifts to the animals afterwards.  But a part of me just feels like it's rude to tell people what to do...  But I really really don't want tons more STUFF in our house.  We and grandparents will give her a few gifts, and that feels like plenty to me...</p>
<p>Opinions?</p>
 

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<p>The strict etiquette rule is to not even acknowledge in any way that you realize people would consider bringing gifts.</p>
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<p>I think telling people not to bring gifts is much better than telling people what to bring, and suggesting a gift for charity is a nice thing, though again it doesn't meet the strictest etiquette rule.</p>
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The only problem I personally have with this kind of thing is that I show up with the charity gift or whatever, and I always see at least one person bringing a proper gift anyway, and then I feel rotten that I followed the directions and I wish I'd brought a gift.  So I'm afraid that, while it's a nice thought, it will create some level of awkwardness.</p>
 

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<p>Not strictly an answer to your question, but if you specify no gifts and people bring gifts anyway (some always do), I suggest thanking them very much and putting the gift to the side. Then quietly saying "we'll open it later - after the party if you can stay? - I just don't want anyone feeling bad they didn't bring anything."</p>
 

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<p>We've done this exact thing for our last several b-day parties. We do have a few very extra close friends who like to bring a present, but they usually do so very discreetly. Dd2 is very excited about collecting things for the animals. Our friends, by and large, are absolutely fine with this request and I've never had any inkling that anyone considered it rude. In fact most people compliment us on it and the parents are very understanding of not wanting a whole bunch more stuff.</p>
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<p>Last year for dd1's b-day we actually had her party at a Cat Refuge (beautiful farm setting with acres for the cats to roam) and we asked that the guests bring something for the cats. Dd1 said it was the best birthday ever!</p>
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<p>The previous two b-days for both girls were indoor pool parties with the whole classes invited. We certainly did not need 20+ more gifts. I think all the parents understood.</p>
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<p>Certainly not rude in our circles. A few years ago when dd2 was in preschool we were invited to a classmate's b-day and we brought a present and unbeknowst to us it was a no presents party. I think they had never done presents and had never been to a party with presents in their circle.</p>
 

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<p>Personally, I think "no gifts" (worded better than that though!) isn't rude. Ostensibly it's rude because it presumes gifts in the first place, but frankly it IS an unspoken obligation for guests to bring something. Relieving them of that obligation isn't rude, IMHO.</p>
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<p>However, just because I don't think it's rude doesn't mean that nobody does. Some people think it's rude, and that's that. I'd be willing to take that chance.</p>
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<p>Asking for a specific gift is trickier. I know some people who don't want gifts and always specify this. The first year I didn't bring anything but felt really awkward because EVERYONE ELSE brought stuff anyway. I know the parents of the birthday boy would have preferred otherwise, but they opened the presents at the party and it was awkward for me. So honestly, the next year I brought a little something, and everyone else did too. The year after that I didn't bring anything because I was beginning to understand that they really didn't want the gifts. The year after that, they told everyone "no gifts, but if you must, please bring _____." So that was a little weird because now I felt obligated to bring what was specified. Even KNOWING how they felt about stuff, I did not feel right just showing up with no gift, I felt obligated to pick up what they wanted. That kind of obligation, imposed by the host onto the guests, is definitely against good manners (though I don't hold it against them... I know they are not greedy, just trying to keep from getting a flood of crap that don't fit  their values). So the last two years I have obeyed their directions and bought what they wanted. Fortunately they ask for things under $10. It's still awkward, though.</p>
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<p>In your case, it's arguably different because you are asking for gifts for a charitable cause and not yourself. But... some thoughts I have:</p>
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<p>1) And I put this first for a reason - Your daughter is really excited picturing being able to give these gifts to the shelter but I think she is likely to be disappointed. One or two people might bring something but she's all excited thinking of being able to lug a big box of stuff and really help the animals a lot. I think it's going to fall short of that. I'd encourage you to try to set expectations here so she doesn't feel really let down.</p>
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<p>2) Obligating people to donate to a charity is difficult. (And for the reasons I explained above, people will feel the obligation even if they don't follow through). Not everyone agrees with your charity. Some people, for example, really feel that helping animals when so many people need help is immoral. (I don't feel this way, but it's a valid point of view).</p>
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<p>3) No matter your intentions, you will probably ruffle some feathers.</p>
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<p>I think I'd risk ruffling the "no gift" feathers but not ask for any donations. And I think I would separately help your daughter to round up donations for the animals. I think she will be more satisfied with the results, and by not tying it to her birthday it will reduce a lot of awkwardness.</p>
 

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<p>I think   lahoire said everything I would have said more eloquently.  We are a very giving and compassionate family, but I *am* one of those who would NOT be very excited to give a gift to an animal shelter.  It's not that I don't love animals or don't feel it is a worthy cause.  Maybe it's because other charities are close to my heart because of personal/family experience...I don't know.  I would go along with the invitation and give the gift, but I WOULD feel something.  It's not something I would bring up with people.  Sometimes I don't think I want to know how my friends feel about certain things. I just don't know how I would feel about asking people to donate to charity unless I knew every one of them had personally voiced their favorable opinion about it. </p>
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<p>I do love the "no gift" thing though.  I always wonder how to do this myself.  We have never done the big birthday party but both kids are asking for next year.  Probably just a few close friends so it won't be an issue.  We have friends from all over. Some of them don't really have many toys for personal beliefs and are very non-commercial.  Some friends live under barbie mansions and have and look like a toy store.  When they all bring gifts together it is rather awkward.  I always feel like someone is offended in some way.  I have offended at a party by bringing a favorite gift for a dear friends child.  The child asked for this gift and mom likes it too.  Other people were shocked she was allowed to have it, and of course I'm the one who brought it LOL!</p>
 

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Discussion Starter #7
<p>Thanks for the insights!  I liked what you all had to say.  I have done "no gifts" in the past, and it worked all right.  A few people brought little things, which was fine and we opened them afterwards.  I think sometimes people feel awkward bringing Nothing (I know I hate arriving at a b-day party empty handed; it just doesn't feel right!), which was why I thought of the suggestion of the donation.  But I guess I do feel deep down like dictating what people give is just kind of rude.  So maybe I'll do no gifts, and then give her a gift card to Petsmart or something as part of our gift, and let her pick stuff and drop it off...  Keep it a family activity. </p>
 

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<p>I disagree about specifying a specific donation for the animal shelter to be rude. I think that you can offer a couple of different options. We did that this year. We have one no kill shelter and one municipal one which does euthanize animals. If someone is offended by one of the options they can go for the other option or, as you specified, just not bring a gift. One of the options could also be to the homeless shelter or some other non-animal org. We just had a big cardboard box one year and asked that folks put their donations in there. it wasn't like we were opening the donations as if they were gifts. The things on the shelter list were also things like old blankets and towels, so if a family didn't have the money or interest in donating to the shelter they could clean out their closets at least. A lot of the kids do get a kick out of being able to pick out a toy for the animals, though.</p>
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<p>If you word your invite something like, "No gifts are necessary—only your presence is desired. If you really want to bring something Child is collecting donations for the Animal Shelter and would be happy to add yours to her box," (worded better), I don't think that you are obligating anyone. If they feel obligated that's on them.</p>
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<p>I also wouldn't worry about the child being disappointed about taking a few donations to the animal shelter instead of a giant box. First off, you can flesh out the box with some of your own donations and secondly the kids are usually more excited to get to see the animals than they are to actually count the donations they're giving.</p>
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<p>I say go for it!!</p>
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<p>I understand the worry about the forced obligation. My brother and I agreed to donate to charity for each other last Christmas, but then he had to dictate which charity I had to donate to and the amount and that was a little annoying, although the lack of Christmas clutter was refreshing. If he had said, however, "Y'know you really don't need to give me a Christmas present this year. if you wanna do something, I've been really involved with the Sierra Club this year, but it's really not necessary to do anything at all," that would be one thing, but when he says we need to donate $150 each to one of these two charities then I do feel obligated.</p>
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<p>At the same time, I would not like it if someone decided to donate to charity in my name (or my birthday child's name) by donating to a cause I don't care about or actively oppose. I think it's perfectly okay to say, "don't feel like you need to bring a gift, we just wanna celebrate with you, if you feel like you hafta bring something here's a cause we're supporting." That's not an obligation in my book at all.</p>
 

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<p>Really, I do think that in answer to your post title it is rude to dictate what presents people bring, but that's not what you're proposing. What you're suggesting is more along the "in lieu of flowers, the family asks for donations to XYZ charity" line you see in obituaries. You're not obligating people to donate to XYZ charity, but you're making a suggestion that if they would like to do something the family/birthday girl would appreciate a donation to XYZ charity.</p>
 

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<p>Technically, yes. However, since birthday gifts <em>are</em> the norm, I think framing it as a chance for kids to donate to the animal shelter is fine. We had a neighbor do something similar when her oldest turned 10 or 12 (sorry can't remember). The girl wanted a party, but didn't really want 'stuff' (she was too old for toys, too young for other stuff) and so they asked everyone to donate school supplies for a local organization that collects school supplies for kids who can't afford them. I thought it was a neat idea.</p>
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<p>Some may be offended.  If they offer their own gifts, they should be appreciated, but IMO, that's their own issue if they are not, for not being willing to acknowledge your dd's request for animal shelter gifts.  She could be grateful for the gifts but also return or exchange them in certain stores for animal products (target, walmart, kmart, etc  come to mind)</p>
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<p> If donations of animal shelter toys is what your kid requests, then gift-givers should be happy to know what your daughter wants most this year, what will make her happy.  If they go against that, she'll be fine but it is also going against what she requested, so a control issue could be around.</p>
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<p>I think it's SO great and beautiful that your dd is this in-tuned with what is happening in our world.  I would send a notice of this along with your dd's invites. (if i were you)  I can't imagine anyone objecting her sweet hearted requests, it's so kind, what she wants to accomplish.  </p>
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<p>And, Kudos to you too for raising such a sweet and caring kid.  Best wishes for a great bday for her!</p>
 

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<br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>beanma</strong> <a href="/community/forum/thread/1280524/is-it-rude-to-dictate-what-presents-people-bring#post_16060335"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a><br><br><p>Really, I do think that in answer to your post title it is rude to dictate what presents people bring, but that's not what you're proposing. What you're suggesting is more along the "in lieu of flowers, the family asks for donations to XYZ charity" line you see in obituaries. You're not obligating people to donate to XYZ charity, but you're making a suggestion that if they would like to do something the family/birthday girl would appreciate a donation to XYZ charity.</p>
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<p>Precisely!  We are doing something similar for DD's 5th birthday.   On her invitation is a picture I took of her at the animal shelter petting a cat, after all of the basic party info I worded as, "(Name) would like to invite you to help her kitty cat friends!  Instead of presents, would you please consider bringing an item from the (Name of Shelter's) wishlist?  (Items named)."  Maybe this is a regional thing, but around here I would never dream of showing up at a child's birthday party without a gift.  My daughter has received many compliments about her generosity after handing out her invites.  I assume that you are inviting her friends and family, so can't imagine anyone would have ruffled feathers over an antiquated idea that you must pretend that getting a gift wold be a total surprise!  It is an excellent way to teach children about generosity, both for the birthday child and for the guests that are invited.  I am so proud of my DD for wanting to do this.  <br>
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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>2Peaches</strong> <a href="/community/forum/thread/1280524/is-it-rude-to-dictate-what-presents-people-bring#post_16062393"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border-right:0px solid;border-top:0px solid;border-left:0px solid;border-bottom:0px solid;"></a><br><br><br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>beanma</strong> <a href="/community/forum/thread/1280524/is-it-rude-to-dictate-what-presents-people-bring#post_16060335"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border-right:0px solid;border-top:0px solid;border-left:0px solid;border-bottom:0px solid;"></a><br><br><p>Really, I do think that in answer to your post title it is rude to dictate what presents people bring, but that's not what you're proposing. What you're suggesting is more along the "in lieu of flowers, the family asks for donations to XYZ charity" line you see in obituaries. You're not obligating people to donate to XYZ charity, but you're making a suggestion that if they would like to do something the family/birthday girl would appreciate a donation to XYZ charity.</p>
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<p>Precisely!  We are doing something similar for DD's 5th birthday.   On her invitation is a picture I took of her at the animal shelter petting a cat, after all of the basic party info I worded as, "(Name) would like to invite you to help her kitty cat friends!  Instead of presents, would you please consider bringing an item from the (Name of Shelter's) wishlist?  (Items named)."  Maybe this is a regional thing, but around here I would never dream of showing up at a child's birthday party without a gift.  My daughter has received many compliments about her generosity after handing out her invites.  I assume that you are inviting her friends and family, so can't imagine anyone would have ruffled feathers over an antiquated idea that you must pretend that getting a gift wold be a total surprise!  It is an excellent way to teach children about generosity, both for the birthday child and for the guests that are invited.  I am so proud of my DD for wanting to do this.  <br>
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I agree completely with both of these!! I really like how 2Peaches worded it, too. It doesn't sound at all like you are telling people what to bring, but rather making them aware that its the child's idea and what the child really does want to do. I think that's really what people are trying to accomplish by giving presents, anyway-giving the kid something they want.</p>
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<p>I do know that some people include gift wish lists in party invites and I would think that that is ruder and feels more obligatory than being asked to donate to a charity in leiu of gifts.<br>
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<br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>425lisamarie</strong> <a href="/community/forum/thread/1280524/is-it-rude-to-dictate-what-presents-people-bring#post_16059132"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border-bottom:0px solid;border-left:0px solid;border-top:0px solid;border-right:0px solid;"></a><br><br><p>I think   lahoire said everything I would have said more eloquently.  We are a very giving and compassionate family, but I *am* one of those who would NOT be very excited to give a gift to an animal shelter.  It's not that I don't love animals or don't feel it is a worthy cause.  Maybe it's because other charities are close to my heart because of personal/family experience...I don't know.  I would go along with the invitation and give the gift, but I WOULD feel something.  It's not something I would bring up with people.  Sometimes I don't think I want to know how my friends feel about certain things. I just don't know how I would feel about asking people to donate to charity unless I knew every one of them had personally voiced their favorable opinion about it. </p>
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<p><strong>I do love the "no gift" thing though.  I always wonder how to do this myself</strong>.  We have never done the big birthday party but both kids are asking for next year.  Probably just a few close friends so it won't be an issue.  We have friends from all over. Some of them don't really have many toys for personal beliefs and are very non-commercial.  Some friends live under barbie mansions and have and look like a toy store.  When they all bring gifts together it is rather awkward.  I always feel like someone is offended in some way.  I have offended at a party by bringing a favorite gift for a dear friends child.  The child asked for this gift and mom likes it too.  Other people were shocked she was allowed to have it, and of course I'm the one who brought it LOL!</p>
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I like</p>
<p>"Please, no gifts. Your presence is presents enough"</p>
 

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<p>I'm not a huge manners person, so take this as you will. I would totally not be offended by the wording in the OP. It doesn't sound like you are telling people what to bring. It sounds like you are perfectly fine with nothing, but if people want to bring something then you are offering charity as a suggestion.</p>
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<p>Wish lists are rude, but somehow charity seems better. And you aren't insisting that people donate for the charity, it's only if they want to.</p>
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<p>I'm sure you would, but please graciously accept any non-charity gifts that people bring :) Some people just like to give stuff to kids.</p>
 

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Discussion Starter #16
<p>Thanks guys!  I was going to switch to no gifts, but when I told her she was upset and really likes the animal idea.  so here's my final wording:  "In lieu of gifts, dd would like to gather supplies for the Animal Shelter.  Please do not feel obliged to bring anything, but if you would like to do so, dd is hoping to donate dog and cat food, dog and cat toys, and towels.  Thank you"</p>
<p>OK, reading it over it's a bit wordy, but I gotta mail these things out.  T hank you so much for your support on this. </p>
 

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<br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>G-love</strong> <a href="/community/forum/thread/1280524/is-it-rude-to-dictate-what-presents-people-bring#post_16063795"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a><br><br><p>Thanks guys!  I was going to switch to no gifts, but when I told her she was upset and really likes the animal idea.  so here's my final wording:  "In lieu of gifts, dd would like to gather supplies for the Animal Shelter.  Please do not feel obliged to bring anything, but if you would like to do so, dd is hoping to donate dog and cat food, dog and cat toys, and towels.  Thank you"</p>
<p>OK, reading it over it's a bit wordy, but I gotta mail these things out.  T hank you so much for your support on this. </p>
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<p>Sounds like a great compromise to me!<br>
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