Would you throw a birthday party with no presents?

Lilina was invited to her very first little friend birthday party last week. I was surprised at the bottom on the invitation it said “No presents necessary.”

I wasn’t sure what to make of the request. I don’t know the family very well so I’m not sure if they are just opposed to consumerism or if in such bad economic times they didn’t want friends to feel pressure to spend.

Later that week, a mom friend who lives in New York, posted on her Facebook status an item about her daughter’s little buddy requesting no presents just drawings on 8.5 by 11 paper.

There was a big debate following her posting and apparently lots of families in New York City are making that same request. It makes sense up there because space is so limited in apartments.

My feeling in general is I’m not showing up to any child’s birthday party without a present in hand. We picked up Lilina’s favorite book “Go Dog Go” (about $8) to share with her friend and a Dora coloring book ($2), and the little girl was thrilled with her present.

As it turned out, I think everyone brought a gift so I would have looked like an idiot and felt terrible if I hadn’t brought something.

What do you think? With today’s economic hardship should families request no presents? Is it a reaction to over-consumerism? Is it fair to the kids who don’t get birthday presents? How do you like the alternative idea of drawing pictures as presents? What are other alternative ideas to presents?

106 comments Add your comment

lmno

October 8th, 2009
10:29 am

I know its for the kids, but does any adult here actually enjoy going to a kids party?

Like at a bouncy place or chuck e. cheese?

Honestly, it actually is a total nightmare. If I die and go to hell, I am sure that there will be animatronic animals singing in chipmunk voices over and over and over again while children sream at the top of their lungs.

Parents would do well to offer the adults something at their parties. I usually do a BBQ and serve beer and wine while the kids eat their pizza and ice cream and stuff.

If you are planning a party for your child and you want to make it a special day for them, and you realize that other parents are really sacrificing their one day a week away from the toils of work to make your child’s day special, the least you could do is offer them a beer.

barbara

October 8th, 2009
10:30 am

I think this is a great idea, redardless of the economy. The parents most likely are buying the child gifts, so they will have something to open. What is the problem here? Kids are so spoiled, they will live without a stack of presents! Shame on everyone who brought a gift and did not respect the hostess’ wishes and blatant request.

New Stepmom

October 8th, 2009
10:31 am

Uconn-you did not come off as rude. Did you see last week’s “The Office”, they dealt with that very thing.

lmno

October 8th, 2009
10:31 am

“YOU are heading for a very hectic day!”

You’re right, but I am prepared for that. I will probably smoke a whole pig in addition to the hot dogs and hamburgers. We will have several games and things. Kind of like a field day at school. Plus I will have a keg of beer.

Here is a question, since I will be inviting kids with parents that I do not know, should I specify on the invitation that alcohol will be served so that any that might be offended by that can opt out?

Uconn

October 8th, 2009
10:36 am

Thanks New stepmom – Ha … I loved last week’s episode… Can’t wait for the office tonight!!!

Glad I'm Not Diane's Kid

October 8th, 2009
10:36 am

I think the idea of not opening gifts until Thank-You notes are written is fine – it teaches manners and etiquette – things that are sadly too often missing in this day and age. However, having grandma asking little Sally how she is enjoying the Lite Brite set and having Sally answer “I don’t remember getting that” because she can’t play with it until April is a little too much. And I can really see Sally saying to her mom, “I can’t wait until my party on Saturday so I can collect some more cans for the food pantry.” Yeah, right.

lmno

October 8th, 2009
10:43 am

“And I can really see Sally saying to her mom, “I can’t wait until my party on Saturday so I can collect some more cans for the food pantry.” Yeah, right.”

Hopefully, if you have raised them correctly, they aren’t looking forward to their party so that they can receive gifts either.

What a place we raise our kids! We have everything and still complain.

Morgan

October 8th, 2009
10:45 am

“No presents necessary” does NOT MEAN do not bring gifts at all. It means it’s optional. Theresa you were fine to take a gift — or not. I don’t think anyone of you disrespected the parents in this case. Had the note said “Please do not bring gifts” or something more definitive then it would have been an issue.

SS

October 8th, 2009
10:50 am

I think the whole birthday party thing is out of hand! When I was a kid, we got cake, whatever we wanted for dinner and gifts from family. If we were around enough family members, there might be a family gathering. Now kids are having these parties that cost hundreds of dollars, and it seems like such a waste to me. A kid can’t enjoy more than about 3 or 4 other kids at a time. Look around, you will see the birthday boy or girl hanging out with 1 or 2 kids and all the others grouping off too. Every kid I know including mine has too much junk they don’t play with anyway. I’m no scrooge, I like a party as much as the next person–just seems wasteful in this economy to blow so much money on something that lasts an hour or two.

I like kids not opening presents at the party. No pressure for the guests to behave while someone else rakes it in and no pressure for the birthday boy/girl to have the same reaction for everyone’s gift. If they loved your gift, I’m sure they’ll mention it on the thank you card.

Parent Of A Really Happy Kid

October 8th, 2009
10:53 am

Y’all are trying too hard, here. It’s a birthday party. For a kid. Let them have fun (remember what ‘fun’ is?). Watch them smile. See them so enthusiastic that you smile, too. Revel in the moment, for soon it will be gone. Teach the “responsible” stuff later. Like when they’re in college and they’re old enough for it to stick. For now, let them be silly. And laugh. Until their faces hurt. And dance, if they want to.

hmmmm

October 8th, 2009
10:56 am

I’m not sure there is a clear cut answer to this question. People have different ideas on how to celebrate an occasion. It seems like a lot of things have changed. I would have felt uncomfortable by not bringing a gift or by bringing one since the invite specified “no gifts”. A child that young really doesn’t understand the gift thing.

I have to wonder if as parents we condition our children to expect gifts. I know an older teenager (19) who actually told the family what she wanted for her b’day and suggested everyone pool their funds since it was an expensive computer. She also told everyone what she wanted prepared for dinner that night!! This request was made in an email as a heads up, my b’day is coming. I was appalled and thought both of these requests were presumptuous and took the real meaning away from the word “gift”. However, everyone in the family seemed ok with the request which led me to believe this type of behavior was accepted. I had to wonder where the “gimme” attitude had come from.

Having said all of that, I liked your book idea and I agree with other posters about donating to charity. Most kids have more than they need. While celebrating the happy occasion it may be a good time to teach lessons about manners, social skills, others less fortunate, and the basic art of thank you notes!!

Brian

October 8th, 2009
11:02 am

My son’s birthday is in Dec, but we do the party in Nov if we decide to have it in the back-yard, we’ve decided this year on just collecting for toys-for-tots instead of gifts

Christina

October 8th, 2009
11:08 am

I’m with Morgan. By saying no gifts NECESSARY, there was no obligation, but implies the attendee may choose to bring one. If they didn’t want gifts, they should have been more direct. I agree that, as a whole, children have too much stuff. My son is no exception. I think we all go overboard, and I would love to see a general trend toward reduced consumerism. When I was growing up in the 80s my parents were on a beans-and-rice budget. A couple times a year, we were able to go to birthday parties for close friends but we could only spend $5 on a gift.

I also wanted to weigh in on the whole opening-gift-at-the-party thing. I agree with HB. I think by opening gifts at a party (and usually a production is made of it), we are emphasizing the gifts too much. When I hosted a surprise 50th for my MIL, I hadn’t planned to have her open gifts at all. My intent was not for people to bring any. But one of the (family member) guests became quite insistent that she open the gifts, so she did. When my son turned one, I debated whether or not to open gifts at the party. I remembered the drama from the MIL’s party and decided to do it. But I segregated his gifts in a separate room on the main floor of the house, where they were all but out of site during the rest of the party. When it was time for him to open gifts, I made an announcement to the family members in the kitchen, who relayed it to those in the other rooms. Then we took our son into the “gift” room, and whomever wanted to watch followed.

Side note, we received a tip from another parent and thought it was a good idea. After the party, we put away half his new toys in a closet (he’s one–he doesn’t remember). Each month since then (June), I’ve pulled out one of those toys and it’s new to him all over again. We have one more toy to pull out in November, and then it’ll be gift season all over again . . .

Brittney's Dad

October 8th, 2009
11:27 am

Bring on the gifts! This year, my one year old wants a Wii, a new set of golf clubs, and a new motorcycle helmet. I am (I mean she is) registered at Target and Sears!

TnT's Mom

October 8th, 2009
11:30 am

I am so glad my boys are older and past most of this. We are out of the “toy stage”

We had a big pool party when the oldest turned 16 this summer. 30 teenagers in attendance, less than half brought cards. The cards contained either cash, i-tunes gift cards or a practical gift card like QT gas station or Walmart. These were very much appreciated. For several years prior to this, he would have a few friends over for a sleepover and the gifts were mainly cards with gift cards or cash. Of course most of the parties were planned via cell phone and printed invites were not sent. My son would pick a date, call his friends and say “hey come sleepover at my house this weekend!” We would cook whatever they wanted for dinner and buy a cookie cake.

The 12 yr old is following the same pattern. Makes my life much easier. We might have a bigger party for him when he turns 13 next year.

On the present topic, when you only have 3 or 4 friends in attendance, it is not such a big deal to open the presents. The kids like seeing their friend open the gift and be excited about the gift. The 12 yr even gets a kick out of the cards, especially the ones with songs and music.

Brittney's Dad

October 8th, 2009
11:31 am

Oh, yeah – bring on the cans of food too – I’m getting hungry!

Sue

October 8th, 2009
11:32 am

I too would feel funny about not taking a present. I would purchase something and then leave it in the car. Upon arriving at the party, if people have brought gifts, you can retrieve it from the car. If people haven’t brought gifts, then you can just leave it in the car and no one will know. Safe solution either way!

Generation of cheap moochers!

October 8th, 2009
11:34 am

This is really troubling in a way now that I see it starting with kids’ parties. I have no problem with “in lieu of gifts…” but it’s really gotten out of hand to where now adults that should know better show up empty handed and even leave you with a bill without a second thought to birthday parties. You are definitely in the minority if you show up merely with a card. A “friend” of mine actually showed up to my last birthday party (in April) and hour late and shouted to her husband across the room to see if he had any cash on him to give to me. What?! He didn’t and I haven’t received anything since (donations were requested to a foundation – 1 donation, btw, along with a bunch of “I did it online” lies). I also witnessed a 800+ celebrity bday party that requested donations to Hosea Feed the Hungry that raised all of a couple of hundred dollars. I can’t even begin to list who was there that not only didn’t share a cent but left unpaid tabs! What happened to bringing flowers or wine when invited to someone’s home? There’s an entire generation that’s grown and in their 40s almost that don’t even know what’s cordial. Severe entitlement going on! Thank you note – can’t even remember the last time I received one of those! Don’t even get me started with having 80 RSVPs and 20 people show one year!

New Stepmom

October 8th, 2009
11:34 am

I do not want to start a war and I have not been in the child raising business for long, so I could be wrong-BUT, doesn’t having a child open gifts in front of those who brought the gifts teach about giving and receiving? I take pride in picking thoughtful gifts that are more about the recipient than me and I think opening gifts in front of the giver helps instill that. I do think that all children should be taught to give to those less fortunate than themselves too. But I think giving graciously is as much about giving to those close to you as those less fortunate than you. And again, I may be wrong…

I also think in this age of everychild has to be the king/queen bee all of the time (or so it seems in some circles), kids opening gifts in front of other kids helps to show all children that not everyone gets the “goods” all of the time (I think that was another column ;o)!).

Again I have not done this for long, so I may be completely wrong, but that is my thought about opening gifts at the party….

mom3boys

October 8th, 2009
11:35 am

We have a neighbor whose house rule is no gifts at parties after age 10. She is adamant about this. My son always gives him a gift on another random occassion, just to thwart the mom…last year he gave him something for Hannukah…the year before it was a Labor Day gift. I told my son the end of middle school brings the end of birthday parties…I am done.

Mel L.

October 8th, 2009
11:36 am

I read this blog frequently but I think this is the first time I’ve actually posted a comment!
My son R just had his 3rd birthday party. In lieu of gifts, we asked for donations to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta’s Sibley Heart Center, where our son unfortunately spent a few weeks after his birth. While we did have SOME people bring small gifts, R got PLENTY of loot from his grandparents, his parents and a few other relatives. He was NOT deprived AT ALL. Plus, we raised some $500 for Sibley, and I’m proud of our friends’ generosity.
Personally, I think it’s a nice gesture for parents to acknowledge that kids have SO MUCH STUFF these days — how much more do they need? Besides, parents, grandparents and relatives always give gifts, and must we all be overwhelmed with more toys and stuff?
We have gotten many birthday invites saying “no gifts” or whatever…we usually just bring a card and a balloon so we don’t come empty-handed.

GT

October 8th, 2009
11:38 am

Hey, I saw that same Facebook post. I think the idea of drawings is a good one. They can be compiled into a scrapbook the child can and will keep long after the toys have been outgrown.

Gail

October 8th, 2009
11:40 am

I think the intent was that you weren’t obligated to giving a gift. I know for really little ones the parents shop for the gifts but when my children were a bit older they enjoyed shopping for their friends. The giver gets enjoyment in making their friend happy. Maybe that’s selfish.

Birdie

October 8th, 2009
11:40 am

For my son’s first and second birthdays, I requested no gifts from his playmates. About half still brought gifts. Last year I forgot to put that on the invitation and we ended up with a lot more than a 3 year old needs for his birthday. I will remember this year to say no gifts necessary.

When we get invitations that say no gift is necessary, I make the decision on whether to get a gift by factors including whether I know that family will get my kid a gift and if we are close to the child. And, even for the kids for whom we get gifts, I try to get things like a big box of art supplies which get used up and are always fun. When he is a little older, I might let him have some input. I kinda like the idea of getting a drawing from friends and collecting that into a book!

Becky

October 8th, 2009
11:42 am

I knew a family once that never bought the kids a toy or gift for their birthday or Christmas, they were always given a savings bond..They were bought toys during the year..This was a very wealthy family, so not sure if this is common with people that are “better” off or not..My family has always given gifts and yes we usually wait until the party to give them..As they are older though, we do give them something on their actual birth date and this seems to have worked well..

I do agree about “hiding” the gifts and giving them out later..My older sister’s husband was laid off once and she had been a SAHM, so they took toys that their daughter already had, wrapped them and gave them to her..Of course this was many, many years ago when the niece was only 5, so she never knew.

CougarHunter

October 8th, 2009
12:22 pm

Becky will you be my cougar…RAWR!!!

Vork

October 8th, 2009
1:23 pm

You know what would be a great topic Theresa? Seeing how North Cobb High School has to deal with a cross-dressing confused teen how about a topic on how to deal with that? SOMETHING FARKING REAL!!!!

Becky

October 8th, 2009
1:49 pm

@VORK, that would be a great topic..

Denise

October 8th, 2009
1:54 pm

I’m torn about this one. I cannot imagine coming to a party empty handed even if I’m just a guest. As an adult I at least call to see if the hosts need anything before I get there. As for a birthday party, if the request no gifts, get a nice card and put a little cash in there. If it’s a little kid, have your little kid make the card and put a little cash in there. No one will complain about you giving their kid $10 or so. If it’s a matter of “don’t bring another dang toy to this house or we’ll scream”, the small monetary gift won’t cause any problems.

HB

October 8th, 2009
1:57 pm

“As for a birthday party, if the request no gifts, get a nice card and put a little cash in there.”

Noooooo! If the request is “no gifts,” then that should be honored! Bring the card and leave off the cash.

Razz

October 8th, 2009
2:35 pm

Theresa, I agree also that Vork’s topic idea would make for a great discussion…

Tonya C.

October 8th, 2009
2:44 pm

The issue of the transgender teen was addressed on the Get Schooled blog. Just an idea of why she may have bypassed it.

DB

October 8th, 2009
2:56 pm

OK, I may be reading this wrong, but the note, “No Gifts Necessary” sounds a little wishy-washy to me. Either say “No Gifts, Please” or leave it off. The “Necessary” makes it sound as if it were an optional thing. I can understand the mom wanting to include her child’s friends and not wanting to leave anyone out in case they couldn’t afford a gift — but I think the comment could have been more specific.

Basically, I’m in favor of honoring the parent’s wishes in cases like this. Most of the kids I know are swimming in plastic crap. My daughter went to a party at 16 where everyone was asked to bring a Spanish-language book for a new library in Central America — that was an interesting shopping trip!

penguinmom

October 8th, 2009
2:59 pm

I definitely think the ‘no gifts’ thing is meant to say ‘come even if you don’t have a gift’.

If you truly don’t want gifts given, then instead of saying ‘No gifts’, suggest a charity idea. For example, ‘Instead of gifts we are collecting books to donate to the local homeless shelter.’ or something like that.

We have a similar problem, in that, my husband’s extended relatives give our kids Christmas presents (which they don’t get until January usually) even though they don’t see them very often. My kids do not need any more toys and I’d much prefer the presents go to some needy family near the relatives whose children will enjoy the gifts that much more. Unfortunately, I can’t just take the gifts and donate them to Toys For Tots because my in-laws are always there when they are opened. They take them out of the pacakaging because they want to see my kids play with the toys. I would love to be able to tell the relatives to not give gifts but I think it would cause too much family tension.

Tiffany

October 8th, 2009
3:00 pm

Theresa was totally in the right to bring a gift. If the invitation says it’s not necessary- that means for the guests to not feel obligated. You may still bring something if you feel you must. However- if it said NO GIFTS- I would honor that, because people have their reasons for it. As far as the parties where the kids get presents, but they do not open them at the party…my daughter has been invited to a few of these. She always feels a little put out by not getting to see her friend open the gift that she personally selected. I understand that the parents probably feel like they are saving the guests from jealous rages. However- to us that is part of the fun of the party getting to see what loot got raked in by the birthday kid. Also thats what party favors are for- everyone goes home with something. Another thing, the birthday child opens the gift and then can personally thank each child for the present. I think thats the way it should be.

Lori

October 8th, 2009
3:49 pm

You guys are bashing her on this, but the invitation said “No presents Necessary” not “Please no presents”. There is a difference. This mother was simply stating don’t feel bad if you don’t bring one. If it’s a big party with lots of kids, the birthday kid probably wouldn’t even notice if one or two kids didn’t bring one. A lot of times I feel weird when my son gets invited to a party for a kid in his class we barely know. I never know what to get because I don’t know the child or their parents. I say, if ever in doubt, simply ask the other parent when you RSVP. I personally would’t throw a no present party, but then, I also don’t really like large parties where you invite the whole class just for the sake of it. We have smaller parties with the closest friends, that way we can have more fun and less chaos. Smaller parties are better in my opinion anyway because then we can afford to do things like go bowling, etc and offer to pay for the other kids. When we do that, then we don’t have to do that party favor thing, because the “favor” was paying their way.

Lori

October 8th, 2009
3:52 pm

I do have to say that for the big Christmas extended family gatherings, we used to do gifts, and now we don’t. Everyone in my family agrees that it is so much nicer to be able to have time to spend with each other and talk since we only see each other once a year, rather than spending the whole night opening random gifts that are just going to be donated to charity the next day.

Becky

October 8th, 2009
3:59 pm

I didn’t see where Theresa was being bashed..Just suggestions of what others would do..Or how others felt about gift giving or not..

JATL

October 8th, 2009
4:34 pm

I’m with Parent of a Really Happy Kid -I’m also throwing a birthday party for my about to be one year old on Saturday. I LOVE kids birthday parties! I always provide adult beverages and food choices too. I cannot believe how many spoil sports and duds are on this board! Rationing out presents? Making your kid give their presents to charity if you’ve asked people not to bring them? GEEEEEEZZZ -have fun with the therapy in a few years! How joyless not to let your child delight in opening gifts. I personally don’t care if anyone brings a gift to my children’s birthdays or not, but we always take at least a little something -even if it’s just a few Hotwheels or some Play Doh.

And if you’re just DYING to make it a learning experience (why in God’s name must everything be an educational experience these days?), how about how to accept gifts graciously -even if it’s something you don’ t want -and write thank you notes? When your child goes to a birthday party how about the lesson of learning how much fun it is to choose and give a gift? I understand if you don’t want to be inundated with toys, but if someone brings your child a gift, you should be gracious. Society is missing way too much graciousness these days, and it’s easy to see why!

April

October 8th, 2009
4:39 pm

I disagree with the whole opening of gifts after the party thing. My kids usually personally choose the gifts they give and want to see the recipient open it. It is just as important to learn to express gratitude in person as it is in a thank you note. I have always gotten the feeling that parents who insist on gifts being opened after the party don’t want the child to see all of them so they can decide which ones to return for a refund. Tacky, Tacky

We have actually gotten several “No gifts” invites over the years. Some said it was optional and others were more emphatic. We have also been to several charity parties. If the child was a very close friend we took a little extra, personal gift. Parties involving the entire grade level are common at my children’s school, and these are usually charity parties. Swimming birthday parties will often involve 50+ kids. For some of those, we have only taken the gift for charity.

Theresa, if the invite said “no gift necessary” I think you were right to take a gift if that is what you felt was the best thing to do.

SA

October 8th, 2009
5:33 pm

In this age where there are freaking gift registries for birthday parties, I think “no gifts” is a breath of fresh air. Why does a child need a giant pile of gifts for their birthday anyway?

JATL

October 8th, 2009
6:30 pm

I forgot to add – a gift registry for a kid’s birthday party is one of the tackiest things I’ve heard of. Also PLEASE open gifts at the party! If you don’t want mayhem. a mess and excitement, then don’t have a party and feel free to continue with your dull, over-controlled lives.

And yes, I get it if the whole class is invited or there are 50 kids swimming or something to say “no gifts”, but be thankful if some do bring gifts and let your kid have them!

fk

October 8th, 2009
7:10 pm

Since the invitation did not say, “No gifts please,” I probably would have sent my son with something, maybe a gift card for $10 to the bookstore, little kids McD’s (kids love them), or for an older kid, to the movie theater. As my son got older (4th-8th grades), we let him invite his buds over for the night, sometimes we took the boys to the movies, sometimes they just hung out. The kids never knew it was my son’s b’day, they were invited to come over for pizza and spend the night. They only realized it was his b’day when we lit the candles on the cake. If you really don’t want people to bring gifts, skip the birthday party invitations and simply invite the friends over.

We’ve given both my parents parties for big b’days (most recently, 80th for Mom & 90th for Dad) as well as anniversaries (25th, 40th & 50th). We have always stated “no gifts please”, on the invitations, but they still received extravagant gifts – big gift certs and cash. The reasons why we have always done that is b/c #1, they don’t need anything, and #2, writing thank yous is a hassle. This year, we took a pic of my dad at his party and had it made into a thank you card to keep it simple – he just had to sign them. He came up with about 4 different lines and hand wrote one of them on each of the cards. They were very funny and the party-goers all enjoyed receiving them…three months later.

Kawla

October 8th, 2009
9:47 pm

My daughter went to a birthday party last year that said ‘no presents necessary’. The mother is very much opposed to most mainstream toys, no Barbies or whatnot, so I thought she meant it and didnt bring a gift. She later told me she couldnt believe we were one of the few that didnt bring one! (Our daughters are very close) I couldnt believe that she put that on the invitation and then chose to get upset that I took her up on it!

I also dont like the not opening gifts at a party. My children and I spend a lot of time picking out just the ‘perfect’ thing, and we get excited to see the other child open the gift. Otherwise you often dont ever hear a word about it, and are left to wonder how they liked it…

I did specify ‘no presents necessary’ for my two year olds party last year though. Mainly because he only invited two friends and I really wanted both of them to be able to come. I knew one was on a tight budget, and I didnt want that to be a reason not to come. They both ended up coming and bringing presents though, which was fine too. I figured at two, my child wouldnt care either way anyway- he was happy to have a a party.

DB

October 8th, 2009
10:18 pm

RE: gift registries. I always felt like gift registries were just suggestions, not requirements. If I have a gift in mind for someone, then I’ll get it. If I’m clueless, then the gift registry is a nice tool to see what their interests are (i.e., why buy a Lego set for a kid who isn’t in to them?) I’ve never felt obligated to buy something off of a registry.

We always opened presents at the party, because to us, that was part of the fun factor. But that was just us. Life’s too short to judge anyone else’s preferences as far as a kid’s birthday party. I might not agree, but hey, it’s not my kid to raise, y’know?

Jessica

October 8th, 2009
10:18 pm

I thought about putting NO GIFTS on the invitation for my son’s upcoming birthday because I know that at least one family is having some financial hardship right now, but I was concerned that most people would show up with a gift anyway and the ones who didn’t might feel embarassed. At the same time, I hope our friends know that we value them much more than presents and that it would be totally okay to show up with a very small gift or no gift at all.

Becky

October 9th, 2009
8:18 am

I’ve never thought of thank you cards as a hassle..I keep about 4-5 boxes in my desk at all times and all I have to do is sign it and send it out..The kids have their own cards that they send out and they send them out for ALL gifts..

Been There

October 9th, 2009
1:12 pm

A lot of people enjoy getting in a huff over eitquette issues. Although a thank- you note is never wrong (how could appreciation, courtesy and thoughtfulness be wrong?!), it is truly not necessary for a birthday party gift. I’m not making this up; see Emily Post:
http://www.emilypost.com/everyday/thank_u_note_qna.htm

The key here is to open in front of the giver and offer thanks right then. I think that opening in front of the giver is part of showing appreciation. Many (hopefully most) children enjoy choosing an ideal gift for their own friend, even if the adults involved don’t appreciate it, and they want to see it opened and oohed over. It’s also a good time to reinforce the “now it’s his turn, your turn will come later” principle of child-rearing.

We’ve always hosted birthday parties at home, so there’s no compulsion to get all the bang we can for the bucks we’re forking over for the venue. We have games, general playing (never under-estimate the appeal of playing with someone else’s stuff!), crafts & coloring available, plenty of food, including for the parents — although we don’t offer alcoholic. I don’t want to provide the opportunity to drink and drive with kids in tow, but that’s just me.

I was stunned by the all the gifts they received for their first birthday. We have twins, and I really thought of the party as a chance to celebrate making it through that harrowning first year with all the people who helped us out and loved our babies. For the second birthday, I added “Your love is a precious gift to us – no other is necessary.” I see now that was a little wishy-washy.

I really like the suggestion above of a book-swap. We may try that this year.

Becky

October 9th, 2009
4:49 pm

@Been There..My family is big on alcohol at everything..I don’t drink anymore, so I usually leave early..Like you, I don’t think a childs party is the place to be drunk and that is what my family drinks for..At least most of them..

Elizabeth

October 16th, 2009
1:52 pm

My family was very poor. Our birthdays never had presents—but we did have a homemade cake.

I think my four siblings and I turned out OK. No trauma or scars.