Is It Rude To Ask For No Gifts?

Third birthday parties can be overwhelming for all involved. We’re all still recovering here from the fun and frenzy of Henry’s birthday weekend.

Unlike the last two years we celebrated this milestone with what is for us a large party. Almost 40 of our friends and their children helped us mark the day with a class of singing and games, including all of us joining in on the hokie pokie, and finished it off with lunch and cupcakes. I chopped a lot of vegetables and fruit the day before and Henry helped me make train cookies as treats for his friends to take home. Yep, I didn’t succumb to loot bag pressure.

While it required more time, energy and dollars than our previous birthday celebrations, I’m very happy that we did a big birthday party.

Why? It was fun! Our son really enjoyed it. So did we. So did our friends (I think).

Simple and small and slow is great but there is also a time and place to go big. All things in moderation – even minimalism.

Many of you had great comments and suggestions when I confessed that I had requested on the invitations that people not bring gifts. Some of you even warned me that people would bring gifts anyways. You were right. A handful of our friends brought sweet and thoughtful gifts for our boy. A few people said they felt weird not bringing a gift. I reassured everyone that whatever their response was it was appreciated.

Is it rude to ask people not to give you gifts?

I’ve had a few emails recently from people already feeling anxious over holiday gift giving and how to manage both their children’s expectations and the generosity of friends and relatives.

First, Kristen had a great post up last week about ways to lower children’s Christmas present expectations. Lots of practical suggestions and tips in her post and the comments section. I’ll have more posts next months on how we are managing holiday giving this year.

Second, I don’t think it’s rude to ask people not to give you gifts. As long as you word it gently I think it is reasonable to ask people not bring gifts on an occasion where it is normal to do so.

It is, however, rude to make people feel awkward or bad about a gift they do or do not give you.

There should be only one response upon receiving a gift: thank you. It’s the same for commenting on a pregnant woman’s appearance. The only appropriate thing to say to a pregnant woman is you look fantastic. Not huge or too small or way bigger than last time.

At the end of the day friends and family are far more important to me than our efforts to have fewer things in the home. Gifts that we don’t need can be easily re-gifted or donated or returned. Hurt feelings aren’t nearly as simple or easy to deal with.

Do you think it is rude to ask for no gifts on an occasion where gifts are usually given? 

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  • I think it’s perfectly acceptable to ask no gifts (or other specifics ie no gifts that require batteries, etc.), but at the end of the day you really have no control and, like you said, just need to be thankful. This is the stance I’m taking about holiday presents.

    My husband and I decided on a three present rule for all of our gift giving to ourselves and our children for Christmas and Birthdays- within that we have certain ideas of what those gifts will be. However, I find it’s easier to let grandparents, aunts and uncles just do what they want and deal with it later – I drop hints about things we’d rather receive than gifts (like passes to a children’s museum, a contribution to a college fund, etc.), but at the end of the day whatever the choose to bring is not an attempt to undermine my parenting ideas, but just a way they show their love and I won’t fight that.

    If my kids grow up knowing that certain things won’t come from mom and dad, but might come from grandma then that’s quite possible a special memory they will have of their relative and I don’t want to get in the way of that. I don’t know how long their grandparents will be in their lives, and maybe that Thomas the Train shirt or big plastic toy that I cringe at today will be a cherished possession in the future as a memory of a dearly loved relative and in the end I can’t say no to that!

    • Very well said. Everything is a balance, I just had a revelation that I could deal with the stuff later without the guilt to pass it along if it’s not something we’ll use. At the end of the day the giver is more important to me than the gift. I hope my children will learn this attitude.

  • I don’t think it is at all rude to ask for no gifts so long as, as you say as well, you are gracious if you still happen to receive a couple.
    On the other hand, I have had one person actually become very angry at me for saying (politely I must add:) that I would prefer less in the way of gifts. I was yelled at and called selfish for this and when this person persisted in giving me gifts anyway they did it very ungraciously, almost throwing the gift at me saying “I know you won’t appreciate this but I did it anyway!” very defiantly. It was very strange for me because I honestly have always simply said thank you and been a gracious receiver. I truly would rather receive nothing than be given a gift in so ungracious and hateful a way. It made me feel terrible. :) Anyway, a little off track but no, I think it is far ruder to give a gift in such a manner than to politely ask for less.

    Glad your son’s party was so fun!:)

    • Colleen – sadly I have someone in my life who I love very much, but behaves much in the same way you described above. I have come to understand that it is her own deep insecurity and pain-filled need to feel worth, value, and love that causes her to behave so selfishly herself. It does bother me, but not enough to say anything to her at the time. During the year, when the timing is right, I discuss our desires to have ‘less’ and to ‘do’ more with those we love….she is slowly starting to see the joy and the peace in those moments. She’ll come around, maybe. Nothing I can do about it if she never respects my wishes…short of causing a confrontation that would never be worth the consequences in the end. So I just re-gift to others who would appreciate her generosity :-)

  • We asked that no one bring gifts to our daughter’s second birthday. Everyone willingly complied. What I found fun was how people gave differently. She got a few hair clips attached to a birthday card, a special dollar coin as a “seal” on an envelope, and some stickers tucked inside a card. My 92 year old grandmother commented that it was so nice to just come and not worry about getting to the store to purchase anything.

    For the holidays, we came up with a list of five gifts that our entire family can use. There isn’t a gift that only applies to one person, they can be used/appreciated by everyone. Within our immediate family we also practice the three gift limit per person. It keeps things simple and allows us as parents to focus on what will really have lasting use.

  • I think it’s great. It’s very common where I am and I think it’s great. Great, great, great.

    I read somewhere it’s a technical etiquette faux pas because you are not supposed to mention the fact that it’s a gift giving occasion? But that seems silly to me personally. I’d rather say it is great, great, great.

    According to my mother though, it is worthy of not speaking to someone for months and months and completely missing the entire holidays with your daughter and granddaughter. Because for someone like that, the emphasis is on the STUFF and by rejecting the stuff (even done in a kindly, explained way), they themselves feel rejected and react by going on the offensive.

    • Very interesting point about when rejecting the stiff the person may feel themselves rejected. Perhaps that is why this person reacted so angrily and unkindly to me after this. It’s been a year now and they are still not over it although I said it very gently and nicely.

  • We were overwhelmed when our son turned 5 at the amount of gifts he received. For his 6th birthday, we asked guests to bring food for our local food pantry. They felt good about having something to bring, and my son learned about helping others less fortunate. Everyone wins.

    • Even with our limits on gifts it was an overwhelming weekend for our son. We spaced out the gift and card opening but the excitement of all of it really took its toll. Our usually mild mannered and happy boy had quite a few meltdowns.
      I think we’ll try an even slower approach for gift opening at Christmas.
      Food pantry/bank donation: great idea!

    • Love this! We’ve always done a gift exchange (everybody brings an under-$10, gender-neutral, wrapped gift and then each guest gets to pick one to take home) instead of just saying no gifts because people seem so uncomfortable showing up with nothing. But I like the idea of something to donate even better!

  • A friend insisted on throwing a baby shower for my second baby, but I felt embarrassed because a lot of my friends haven’t even had a wedding shower yet… and now they’ve been to my wedding shower and TWO baby showers. It seems like too much! I thought about saying “no gifts, please,” but I knew some people would bring something anyway, and it might be something I already had or didn’t want (always an issue for minimalists). So on the invitation I wrote, “In lieu of other gifts, please bring your favorite children’s book (new or used) for our new baby boy.” It turned into a book shower (cute!), no one spent more than $10 on a gift, and my family got what we want most of all: books!

    Why not turn any birthday party into a book party? “In lieu of other gifts, please bring a copy of your child’s favorite book to share with X.” Any doubles/extras can be re-gifted easily and beautifully, too!

    • That’s what I would like to do next year. I’ve heard it suggested before and I think it is brilliant. We might even turn it into a book exchange so each child leaves with a new book.

      • We did a book exchange for my son’s 7th birthday and it was great– the year before we had asked for no gifts but got some gifts anyhow and the people who didn’t bring any felt awkward, or so they told me. The book exchange allowed everyone to bring something and took the place of a goody bag— my favorite part :)

  • I personally don’t think it’s rude to ask for no gifts.

    Each Christmas and birthday since my son has been born (and he’s only 2.5) I have been overwhelmed by the amount of stuff he is given. Now that we have 2 boys (one who has a December 22nd birthday), it’s going to be even worse. I did some rough calculations, if every family member who typically buys our boys something, purchases them each one small gift (ha, ha…typically it’s multiple part large gifts!), between the birthday gifts and Christmas gifts for two, we’ll be given around 55 new items.

    I sound negative, the reality is I’m thankful that we’re surrounded by friends and family who love our boys and want to give them gifts. I also know that for some people, giving gifts is the way they express love so I’m not telling anybody they cannot purchase gifts for our children but making sure they know I will not be offended in any way if they choose not to and that there is no expectation of gifts from us.

    This year I’ve tried to be strategic and have come up with wish lists for both boys as well as shared their clothing sizes and other things they need. I have been accused of being ‘picky’ and that people know to just buy stuff off of our list because ‘you’ll just donate it if it’s not from the list’. It’s sad that people get offended by our desire to live simply.

  • I’m attending a Birthday Bash soon and no gifts have been requested. It’s been suggested should someone want to make a gesture they do a charitable donation. I’m making and gifting the celebration cake – but it’s a secret – so don’t tell anyone 😉
    As for Christmas I’ve gone for a moderate approach. My family do like to exchange gifts so I’ve requested 2 experience gifts (guess which lucky girl is off to see Gary Barlow this December?). This works well. I get to do something out of the ordinary and yet gain no clutter!
    It’s key that family and friends understand your motivations…
    Happy Birthday Henry! Much Love From the Mainland!

  • I don’t think it’s rude to state no gifts. I did it on our wedding invitations 15 years ago. We did receive gifts and card with money, but it wasn’t expected. My husband and I were older(close to 30). I had lived by myself for 10 years and had most every thing we already needed. So, we opted for no gifts. We graciously accepted all gifts and we all had a great time!!

  • I don’t think it’s rude to have a “no gifts” policy. I do think it’s rude to put rules to what can be brought. I was onc invited to a young child’s birthday party (not a milestone, just a regular ole 11-year-old party) and was given a Toys R Us gift registry. That, I thought, was a bit “much.”

    • I think it’s dependent upon the wording, but I generally think registries are just suggestions rather than rule. I actually prefer registries as they allow me to know what the child really wants, so I avoid wasting money.

  • It’s certainly possible to have a minimalist party with lots of guests, as you just did 😉 Simple food, decoration, games, gifts… it’s all possible with a larger party. My girl’s third birthday we had about 25 to 30 people (I forget..) in our 600 sf apartment, some of the guests sat on the floor on cushions and so on. It was a lovely party :)

    And no, I don’t think it’s rude to ask for no gifts, but just like you said, accept any gifts you get anyway graciously! (You can always give them away later..)

  • Wow a light went off when you said I could regift or donate…
    I have struggled for 4 years with excessive influx (in my opinion) at birthdays and christmas.
    Except for 1 occasion when my dad asked something the kids would need, I’ve never been asked about gifts.
    I’ve been told how rude it is to request no gifts, and ignored one time when I requested no presents ever so politely.

    So then since they don’t ask, then I have no obligations and can remove things that don’t work for our family. Happy Holidays to me!

  • I don’t think it’s rude but I have a sneaking suspicion many others aren’t like us minimalists do. I recently asked not to have any baby showers.. This was met with so much resistance it was unbelievable. I was literally reduced to tears several times a week at the amount of harassment I received. “You’ll see!” “We’re going to throw you one behind your back, open all of the gifts and then dump them on your doorstep.”, “But babies NEED stuff!” It eventually came to me leaving an emotional leave me alone message on facebook. That did the trick although I didn’t feel good about it. No one bothers me about it anymore. I feel like I was rude, but the nice guy routine wasn’t working. Now, that being said, if someone does give us a gift, I will graciously accept and thank them, of course! I just don’t feel comfortable with going to a party thrown for me for the reason of giving me things that I said for people to buy. Awkward.

  • In the past I have returned a great number of things and then put that money in a savings account for the child the gift was for. It is rude of me to do that, but I did it anyways. Now that the kids are getting older, I wont because I don’t want to teach them to be ungrateful. Luckily for us though, they don’t get many things anyways.

  • Christmas is a challenge for us, because like many other people here we have relatives whose Love Language is gifts, so limiting them feels hurtful.

    But we’ve gotten birthday down, I think. We ask the people who come to bring a picture of themselves or a card they’ve made. We have a table filled with craft supplies so that people can make cards once they arrive, but before games, etc. get started. We made a big poster of all the items and photos this year and my son hung it in his room and talks about it regularly. I think next year we will make a little album of the items instead for better mobility. He got wonderful cards from his friends, and his godmother wrote him a beautiful poem which we cherish far more than any piece of plastic she might have gotten for him.

  • I don’t think is rude not to ask for gifts, but I understand some people feel like they should bring a present anyway. So why not ask for donations for a charity instead?
    My daughter just attended a birthday for her best friend and she didn’t want presents. she asked for donations for the local humane society. My daughter was so excited she was contributing for “puppies in need” as she put it in her own words.

  • My husbands side of the family has always been conservative on gifts. In December, each family would get one gift for each child, so each child would get 4 gifts from the whole family. Each family usually consulted the parents to find out what that child needed/wanted, so the gifts were well tailored to that child. When my daughter was 3 months old we asked that they give her money instead of gifts in order to open a savings account. She was too young to know she wasn’t getting any gifts. She will be able to use that money later in life. When I went to community college, all of the money that paid for that first semester was gift money that had been tucked away from my childhood.

    The adults usually bake gifts for each other. Some years I have done freezer meals for my family or baked bread. Last year, I made little photo books of our year and gave them instead of cookies. That was a big hit and it wouldn’t surprise me if I receive those this year.

    For my daughters 6th birthday we took her to Bush Gardens as her gift. As parents, we gave her a used book of Japanese folk tales and a set of miniature my little pony’s (I like them because they get played with constantly, yet take up almost no space.) My mother in law asked what to give her and I recommended taking her out for ice cream. My mother in law liked that and wanted to put the money she would have spent on a gift into her savings account.

    • I have been to birthdays where the parents have asked for no gifts. I like to tuck money into the card with a note that it is for their savings account. I am totally cool with no gifts and it does not bother me to come empty handed, but it just seems like such a great opportunity to bless their future.

  • Off topic, but even telling a pregnant woman she looks fantastic can be inappropriate, if it turns out you’re wrong and she’s actually not pregnant. This happened to me, and I’m a reasonably petite person. Fun stuff!

    Anyway, back to the topic at hand. I don’t think asking for no gifts is rude. However, I do think that it becomes less practical as kids get older. While I do try to keep expectations reasonable, I couldn’t see asking people not to bring gifts for my 7-year-old, for instance. She goes to birthday parties, she knows the drill, and it would be an unreasonable expectation for my kid, based on my experience.

    The other thing I’ve run into is attending a party where no gifts were requested, but we were the only people who honoured the request. That felt kind of awkward, to be the only people coming empty-handed. It leaves me in a quandary when I get invitations that request no gifts now. Honouring the host’s wishes seems like the most polite thing to do, but what if you’re the only one who does?

    • Yikes. I would never compliment a pregnant woman on her pregnant appearance unless she had told me herself that she was pregnant. Someone congratulated me on my pregnancy a month before I was even pregnant. She was mortified when I told her I wasn’t pregnant (the congratulations were a misunderstanding over something I had said).
      Yes, no gifts will become less practical with an older child. I’m sure we’ll have different approaches as the years go on.

  • We have been to a couple of birthday parties where we were asked not to bring a gift (not formally on an invitation, but they weren’t formal invites). While we complied, it seemed everyone else didn’t or didn’t get the same message. When there was a gift opening time during the party, it made me feel self-conscious (worried that others would look down on us for not having brought a gift). If you’re going to request no gifts, each unexpected gift should be opened individually as an exchange with just the giver/recipient (as much as possible), either upon arrival or departure of the giver, or opened after the party. To have an organized time for it seems rude to the guests who were complicit with your request.

    • We just open after the party or, as it sometimes happens, all the friends will leave and relatives stay for present opening. Even still, there’s generally some self-consciousness as my family tends to abundantly gift while my in-laws moderately gift. Sometimes I feel like there is never a win in gifting situations.

    • Woah?! They asked for no gifts and then had a gift opening time during the party? That just seems all wrong.
      We thanked those friends that brought gifts and then tucked them away mostly out of sight. Henry opened them later at home. We’ll follow up with a thank you card soon.

      • We had to do that for my baby shower. We requested no gifts, but everyone brought a gift anyway, and wanted to watch me open them. . . so we did. It felt weird to open gifts when we really just wanted to hang out with our friends.

  • It’s not rude. But….

    People enjoy giving and receiving gifts. It’s a lovely part of our culture, and I think it should be encouraged. Please understand that this is coming from a fairly strict minimalist. My children love selecting/making gifts for their friends and family and I want to foster and encourage this attitude as much as I can. “No gifts,” though I completely understand and sympathize with the reasons, still will always have a stifling sort of ring to it – like you are snuffing out a lovely part of human behavior, when there are so many bad things people do to one another every day. For some, (like my MIL, for example) gift giving is their primary love language. I can think of a couple of my friends for whom this is the case as well. So no, it’s not rude, but it’s not necessarily taking the hearts and desires of our friends/family into account as well as we could. Our solution, like yours up until now, is very small birthday parties. We throw big parties/gatherings too, with just as much big-party-fun, but just not for birthdays. We have parties just to celebrate being together, and then gifts are left completely out of the equation with no hurt feelings. I will still contend that birthdays parties are more meaningful and memorable for the children involved ( both guests and host) when it’s small and intimate.

    The second part of our solution is setting an example with gift giving, at Christmas and birthdays alike. We give homemade, or “experience” gifts, often involving homemade gift certificates for special outings together. Over the years many of our friends and family have caught on to this mode of giving and give us these types of gifts in return.

    And lastly, yes, I 100% agree that you’re going to give the rule-followers among your guests a panic attack – will I be the only one following the rules and not brining a gift???? :)

    • Hi R, Thanks for sharing your take on no gift giving. Food for thought as we continue to navigate the gift giving occasions while not wanting to accumulate a lot of stuff.
      I felt that our party was a gift to our friends and their attendance and participation was a gift to us. A few friends really wanted to bring a gift and did so. We were very thankful and appreciative of the gifts and let our son open them the next day.
      We really enjoyed this big party. It was a milestone of sorts. We’ve lived here for a year and a half and it was nice to see the community of friends we have all together in one place. Unfortunately we can’t have a lot of people in our home at once because a) it’s on the small side and b) we live in an old building with thin floors and hollow walls. We’ve had complaints from neighbors when we had three little friends over in the daytime :(
      Rule followers: :) Well… I think most of the rule followers had a talk with me before the party and I eased their mind. The friends that did bring gifts were thanked and we tucked the gifts away to take home later. Hopefully no one had a panic attack!

  • I don’t think it’s rude at all. I still feel a little weird showing up without a gift, but I usually bring a nice card. I have to admit I’m not crazy about the requesting of donations. To me, it is the same as requesting a gift, and I may not agree with the chosen charity.

  • I think the right word is “awkard” instead of “rude.” Is it awkward to ask for no presents at a birthday party? The answer to that is “yes.” It’s awkard because it goes against the social norms. Because of that, I think it’s up to the host to try to do his or her best to allievate the feelings of awkardness that come both with showing up without a gift (esp. if you have multiple kids) and showing up with a gift (against the host’s wishes).

  • I agree with Azure that it’s more a question of awkwardness than rudeness. Since we’ve been doing this since our son was born (at least for birthdays), it’s normal for him. My only frustration is in attending other birthdays where we feel obligated to bring a gift. I’m trying to figure out other solutions before our boys get any older, like offering a sleep over or taking kiddos to the park/fun place.

  • I’ve asked every year for no gifts. My mother is hugely offended. From the time we were children she presented us with HER wishlist (lengthy and expensive) and enjoys big holiday gifting. I stuck to my guns because I am who I am. I am a minimalist, I am careful of my spending, conscientious of my time and sincere in my affections. I feel no shame or guilt in asking that we not exchange gifts every year. Her outrage has dwindled and she’s nearly accepted it, begrudgingly, I’m sure.

  • Here in NZ, “no gifts” is common for birthday parties of all ages. Typically, people bring food as gifts, which is quite sweet really.

    Also, there aren’t goody bags or treats to take home, either. Well, there are. But it’s something like “face painting” or cookies or flowers. It’s so simple. It’s so nice! No pressure!

    In the US, we did “no gifts” for DS, and any gifts given we would thank people, evaluate it, and find a home for it if we didn’t want it. DS was little when we left for NZ (14 months), so it wasn’t that long or that many holidays. Since moving here, it’s easy to just say “no gifts” and everyone anticipates that anyway (one friend told me “you don’t need to say that here. we all know that no one wants gifts.” LOL Ahh, different cultures!

    But, we still have quite an onslaught from family back home, so as a minimalist, I have to be mindful about it. I have to work carefully to make sure that the family feels that we know that they love them, and that we receive their love/care and appreciate them even if we don’t get objects. It’s tough though. DS is saturated with clothes. I was really good at keeping his wardrobe as a capsule, but now it’s quite a disaster of clothing (he has a new outfit for at least 35 days. which is excessive.). My mom got the idea that clothes were “safe” to send me, and so she impulse buys and sends it. So, I think we’ll just go back to the “I’ll tell you what I want and when I want it” process which we did when we first moved here.

    Hopefully, that will work, and not be too. . . troublesome.

  • My daughter had a growth spurt just before her second birthday a month ago and the winter is coming up. I refrained from buying her new clothes and instead asked whoever wanted to bring a gift to bring her a piece of clothing. It turned out really well, now she has a few nice pieces for the coming cold weather and a very lovely albeit expensive winter jacket (that a few friends pitched in together to buy). And best of all, everyone seemed relieved not to have to figure out what to buy for a 2 year old.

  • No, I think you said it perfectly. It isn’t rude or not rude to request no gifts, but don’t make someone feel bad for bringing one. The point is to celebrate an occasion, your friends will understand your request and as long as everybody has a good time whether they brought a gift or not, then it is a success. Right?

  • Hi, I am a new follower. I found your blog from the international board on The Bump. My son is turning one next month, and we will have a small party, mostly my Mom friends and kids. I will be writing “no gifts” on the invitations. I don’t think it is rude at all to say please don’t bring a gift.

    I was invited to a few one year birthday parties over the past two months, and some said “no gift” but then did open gifts that some brought (or that grandparents shipped) and I found that very inappropriate.

    • I’d find that inappropriate too. We thanked people for the gifts, tucked them away, and opened later. We’ll follow up with a thank you card.
      One of the reasons behind requesting no gifts was that we wanted to have activities and socialize with our friends. Three year-olds can only last so long at a party!

  • I have a 5 year old and a 15 month old. For my daughter’s 5th party last year we put a note on the invite that said she has heaps of toys, but that any gifts of craft or outdoor items would be gratefully received. For my boy’s first birthday we asked that everyone bring a book they think he should read before his 13th birthday. For my daughter’s 6th birthday party this year (the first with school friends) we have asked people to bring a donation of products for out local animal shelter instead of a gift. My daughter is fine with this, she can’t wait to go visit the kittens and puppies when we hand the goodies over! For her, the party is about the food and the games and the running around screaming with her friends. I have explained many times that this means they won’t bring her presents, but she really diesn’t seem to care. We’ll see how it goes on the day!

    I live in Australia, and I’ve never been to a no gift party that wasn’t from my own family.

  • I’m considering no gifts for my son’s upcoming 5th birthday party. We have way too much stuff, but that’s not the reason…..It’s gotten to the point where we actually have to budget each month for gifts. ~$100 and when my neighbor mentioned they did the same them, it worried me. We have many friends that are out of work or single income homes and are invited to just as many parties. I would love it if all parties were no gift. I hate that celebrating life and friends can cause a financial burden. I know some people dont attend parties b/c they can’t afford a gift and don’t want to show up emptied handed. I’m at a loss. I wish there was a simple way to say, “we don’t want you to spend money, we just want you to be here” without it coming across as rude or inconsiderate. Also, we know our families will give gifts regardless, so DS will have gifts to open. Such a pickle.

  • As a family member who gets invited to the big birthday and Christmas bashes for two toddlers, I am simply overwhelmed at the amount of “things” these kids receive. They receive so much they cannot possibly enjoy even one of them. It is too much period. My resolution is one small toy and some money for their savings accounts from now on. I feel as if I am throwing money into the garbage by purchasing these expensive toys that are never really appreciated by the children. They are allowed to play on ipads and computers so anything I can give them would be of no interest. However, in the midst of all the Christmas and birthday excess, I still see them focusing on the old standbys like Lincoln logs or lego. Good to know that some things never change.

  • I’m so glad to see this post! I have B/G twins and their first birthday is coming up. I was overwhelmed by the Christmas gifts they got – even from my husband and myself! I can’t imagine what their birthday will bring. My son was born with a cleft lip and has had surgery to correct it. I’m planning on including a card along with the invitation saying how blessed they are to have everything they need and that they are trying to raise money to donate to Operation Smile. Although it would be appreciated, in lieu of a gift they would love for you to help them raise money for a donation that will be made in their name after the party.
    I’m hoping that because of the personal connection with the charity people will be even more understanding. I really want to continue this tradition in some form so my children realize that their birthday or holidays are not about getting stuff but celebrating everything we have with our family and friends.

  • I appreciate what Tucker’s mom said about the budge restrictions of differant families. When my daughter was in
    Kindergarden/ aged 5 she was invited to a birthday party for a girl in her class who was the daughter of two doctors. The gift we gave was equivalent to what was given as a take home gift for the guests. She wasn’t invited to any other parties. If I’d have known the expectation I’m ashamedto say I probably would have spent more on the birthday girls gift than we could have afforded!

  • We all have our underlying reasons for not wanting gifts brought. The main reason I find is that the parents feels their kids have too much stuff, and/or they don’t want to make people feel obligated to buy their kids a gift.
    However, for me, I think its important to teach my kids the importance of giving to others, weather it is a friend or someone in need. It almost feels like when the “No Gift Please” policy is given, the parent is, unintentionally I’m sure, teaching me what is right and wrong, instead of teaching their child what is right and wrong. So, instead of telling me what to do, make the gift giving statement optional, “Gifts are unimportant, your presence is more important.” or “Gifts are considered optional, your are considered mandatory.”
    Put it is the guests court, if they want to bring a gift they can but don’t have too. In my case I like to teach my kids to give, but other people might not have the money or not like having to give, with this statement it is totally optional and I am not telling any parent what they can and can’t do.
    If gifts are brought, and you are totally against excess, then teach “your” child how to handle excess, teach them how to give their excess to charity. You might have to still deal with the mine meltdown, but at least you are not making other parents feel like giving is right or wrong. The lesson of excess will be much more prominent if you teach your kids to give their excess away, rather than never give them that opportunity.
    The most important lesson I can teach my child is to be selfless, but I don’t need to teach other people how to be selfless, they can decide how to learn that for themselves.

  • For my sons 1st birthday, we wrote a poem on the invitation…

    This birthday boy has lots of toys
    but one thing that he’s missing
    A jungle gym with swing and rings,
    the gift that keeps on giving!

    In lieu of gifts, we humbly ask
    His jungle gym contribute.
    To play for hours, days, and years
    On this first years salute!

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