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

mom2alex&max

October 8th, 2009
7:06 am

I’m of two minds on this one. On one hand, my kids (and most kids I know) certainly do not need ANY more stuff. At all. On the other hand, kids really enjoy this aspect of their birthday. Seems wrong to take it away.

Vork

October 8th, 2009
7:16 am

Here’s the deal if they put on the invite no presents neccessary they are relieving you of the obligation of having to bring a gift. If you feel guilty and want to bring a gift, fine, do so, if not you don’t have to, and ideally you don’t have to be made to feel guilty because they asked you not to bring any gifts. Why this is even a topic for discussion is beyond me……sigh.

Candler Park

October 8th, 2009
7:16 am

Theresa, if we invited your child to our house and indicated no presents and your brought one you would be doing us a big disservice. And I’d either send you home with it, or just donate it to charity.

My son is 8 and since he was born we’ve stressed that he should only expect presents from us (Mom and Dad) and grandparents. He’s been raised to understand that birthday parties, for him, are all about hanging out with friends and having a good time.

For you to show up with a present ANYWAY undermines the value system we’re trying to instill. Of course, for you to show up with a present anyway doesn’t ruin things. It would be a teachable moment for our son – he’d get to pick out which charity the gift goes to.

Vork

October 8th, 2009
7:23 am

I pose a question for you Theresa, oh ruler of the mundane topics, what if you had been the only one to bring a gift? What would you have done then?

deidre_NC

October 8th, 2009
7:40 am

it is so instilled in us to bring a gift to birthday parties it would be hard not to. i think i would honor the request…maybe make a donation to a charity in the childs name (something child appropriate like an animal charity or a childrens charity) a child that age, tho, really wouldnt appreciate that i think. and if you dont bring one and everyone else does then you feel stupid…i think if i had a party like that i would make a separate call and say i REALLY mean DO NOT bring a gift!! people really arent sure these days….if i sent invites that said that i would mean it…but im sure some parents wouldnt think i did…touchy thing..

maybe these parents are trying to start off this kids life trying to make her not expect gifts from everyone all the time..i think thats great…kids (most) get way too much stuff…and ive always wondered why a kid should expect gifts for being born…where did that come from anyway…ive never liked that concept (altho i did like getting presents when i was little lol) i still say the mom should get the gifts on the kids bd :)

Meme

October 8th, 2009
7:51 am

I have never run into this problem with a child. I think I would have to respect the wishes of the parents.

Miss Spider

October 8th, 2009
7:52 am

Happy Hatchday! Even Miss Spider’s kids get gifts.

KMM

October 8th, 2009
7:57 am

Good topic. We said no presents necessary on our 2 year old’s bday party invites, but only 1 other kid was coming – it was mostly our single friends from work. We didn’t want them to feel obligated. So the neighbor boy who came brought a small gift. Then when his bday rolled around – his invite said NO GIFTS. Stronger language. I should have gotten something anyway since they got something for ours, but I didn’t and we were the only ones who didn’t bring a gift. I felt terrible!

I think the whole idea needs to be thrown out, unless you mean it and plan to hide the presents you do get and not let anyone else see who brought something.

deidre_NC

October 8th, 2009
8:04 am

ok..maybe parents who really mean no gifts (and why else would you say it?)…should have a large box at the door with DONATIONS TO ********* whatever charity they will donate the gifts to…that way they really show the parents that they meant it…you could take the box of gifts to any number of charities–save them for christmas kids charity orgs..whatever..just put on the box where the presents will be going…thats one way to solve the problem and not let your child have to gifts if thats what you want…

deidre_NC

October 8th, 2009
8:06 am

and dont forget the thank you notes…saying thank you for the donation to so and so charity…maybe thats why the new no gifts thing…parents dont want to write or make their kids write the thankyou notes lol

FCM

October 8th, 2009
8:09 am

I agree with this portion of Vork’s comment: “Here’s the deal if they put on the invite no presents necessary they are relieving you of the obligation of having to bring a gift. If you feel guilty and want to bring a gift, fine, do so, if not you don’t have to, and ideally you don’t have to be made to feel guilty because they asked you not to bring any gifts.”

@ Candler Park: If you do not want her to bring a gift you state that in less ambiguous terms that “not necessary” or “optional”. Although, I checked several online sites and it says telling the guest what to bring (like the drawings in NY) or not to bring anything is a serious breach of etiquette. What you could do is say thank you to the gifts and then do what you wish with them.

What we do in our house is clean the toybox near any gift possible times. We toss old broken ones, and get rid of the less loved. I have 2 boxes of truly loved but no longer used Little People that I was asked by the child to keep for her children one day. But if you want to give the new stuff to charity go ahead, just don’t tell your guests.

Last year one child was not going to come to one of my children’s birthdays because (unknown to me) the family had suffered multiple jobloss. When a mutual friend found out — the parent had not RSVP’d either way and the friend offered to carpool–she called to tell me. I told her not to worry it was not about gifts to send the child anyway. So she did get to go.

Heeledoutmom

October 8th, 2009
8:25 am

Theresa you did what most would have done…Most folks are conditioned to have a gift for the guest of honor when attending birthday parties…even if it’s just a card…most folks feel compelled to get something to say “here’s something special for you, on your special day!”

I also like the alternative ideas as well (donations to charity, etc)…it seems this family noted “no gifts” because they didn’t want the guests to feel obligated to get a gift…which was very thoughtful.

lmnop

October 8th, 2009
8:32 am

This Spring I intend to throw a very large party for my child. I will invite his tee ball team, his entire class, all of his friends, and a lot of mine. We will be having this party at a large pavillion. Our house is already bursting at the seams with toys that never get touched. The last thing that I was for my child is MORE toys. Since the invitation list will include about 50 children, I think gifts would be crazy. So I will have to include the strong language of “NO GIFTS”.

I will say that your choice of purchasing a book instead of a toy was a good idea. Last year we had a small party and when asked by other parents what to bring we said, “Nothing is necessary, but if you feel you must, you could bring a book”. Books are always fine. Big plastic things are NOT ok.

KC

October 8th, 2009
8:38 am

Theresa, I think that you need to get used to this and honor what the invitation/parents request. We have received invitations both ways, one that requested canned food donations that would go to a food bank and several others that specifically said “no gifts please”. While it was uncomfortable at first because I’m as conditioned as everyone else to bring something to a party, the bottom line is to HONOR WHAT THE INVITOR REQUESTS. It is more rude to bring something when they specifically said not to!

For one of the parties, when I RSVP’d, I asked about the “no gift” request and the mom responded that he gets enough gifts from family and they really don’t need any more and the boy just wanted to have a party with his friends. So, we didn’t bring anything except for a card that my child made, which if the situations were reversed, we would have treasured much more than a toy that isn’t played with after a month.

Seriously, while it’s not for my children (at their request), if others don’t want you to bring gifts, for whatever reason, don’t do it!!

Becky

October 8th, 2009
8:38 am

I’ve never had this happen either..As others said though, I would try to find out if the child had a savings account or college fund in place already and maybe try to donate to that..I didn’t see the age of this child, but if shes Lilinas age, maybe she has a zillion toys already..I know that my two (7) have more than they play with or need..So, I would honor the parents wish..

Abby

October 8th, 2009
8:38 am

Theresa, did you RSVP to the invite? If so, couldn’t you have RSVP’d by phone and asked again about the gift; I really feel you were only concerned with your feelings (as Liliana could give a toss whether or not ye showed up with a gift!), and didn’t stop to think about the parents of the birthday child and why they would have made such a request to begin with. Who cares if you would have looked like an idiot – you would have been simply honoring the parents’ requests!

JJ

October 8th, 2009
8:40 am

I have a question. How many of you do not celebrate your child’s birthday on their birthday, but wait until the family gets together?

My brother does this with his kids. He doesn’t give them presents on their birthday. His daughter’s birthday was about two weeks ago, but our family could not get together until this week. So she didn’t get any presents until two weeks AFTER her birthday.

I always make sure they get cards with money in them, on their birthdays. They LOVE getting cards in the mail and of course the cash too.

I never understood holding back presents. I’ve always given my daughter presents on her actual birth DATE….then we do the family thing.

Mike Smith

October 8th, 2009
8:40 am

If not bringing gifts is important enough to have it printed on the invitation, then you shouldn’t bring one. If you ignore the parents’ request, you are basically saying, “I disagree with your parenting skills and I know better than you.”

HB

October 8th, 2009
8:41 am

A popular option in my area is a birthday book swap. I worked for a nature museum that hosted bday parties and several families did this a few summers ago. One mom said they felt their kids just had too much stuff and were so inundated with commercialism that they just wanted to try to counter that with a less material practice. They said the kids still got presents from grandparents, aunts, uncles, mom and dad and just didn’t need gifts from their 15 little friends too. They tried “no gifts please” the year before and no one complied, so the next year they asked everyone to bring a book, swapped them around, and every child took a book home. I think donations to a charity picked by the child are great too.

gpkbsin

October 8th, 2009
8:43 am

Can we talk about something exactly opposite? My kid was invited to a b’day party for a 4 year old recently who had a wish list on kids r us. That was the talk of the town. The gifts were anywhere from 15 dollars to 50. What if some people cannot afford to buy that kind of gifts?

Personally, I like the idea of having no gifts at a b’day party. My kid doesn’t need any more toys than he has.. one toy box full.. thats it. We even had “no gifts” policy at our wedding.

JJ

October 8th, 2009
8:58 am

I like the book swap idea.

MsBulldawg

October 8th, 2009
9:02 am

When my sons we younger, we specified on birthday invitation that all gifts would be donated to Toys for Tots. The gifts were packed away until December when the boys & I would carry them to a local drop off. The boys looked forward to the drop off day more than they did their own birthdays. I am proud to say this annual event fostered a sense of giving in each of my sons that continues today.

YUKI

October 8th, 2009
9:06 am

I have seen this on adults birthday part invites (such as an informal get together with friends) but never on a kids invitation. I think I would have honored the parents wishes but I think bringing a small book was better than a large toy. Growing up, it was exciting to get presents at my birthday parties, and shallow as it may seem that was a big part of it. I can’t imagine having had birthday parties where I didn’t receive any gifts! But I also understand if the child already has tons of toys and the parents feel he/she doesn’t need anything else. I like the idea of a box in the front if it was specifically requested for NO GIFTS, then they could be donated to charity. It just would feel strange not bringing anything, though. I always feel as a guest I should have something to contribute!

YUKI

October 8th, 2009
9:07 am

oh, and a wish list at toys r us for a birthday party? TACKY!!

DA

October 8th, 2009
9:12 am

I’ve seen that for adult parties but not for kids parties. I’ve seen people request books for shelters or schools and even food for pets for shelters. I would also honor the parents request and maybe just have Lilina draw a nice picture for the birthday child.

Presents..yes

October 8th, 2009
9:15 am

Anytime anyone goes to any child or teen ager birthday party they should bring a gift!

Now what I think is tacky is for people that are getting married to expect their guests to pay for their wedding….that is down right tacky!

It really does not take much to please a small child…how on earth can anyone go to a child’s birthday party and not bring a gift? That is just W-R-O-N-G TO THE NTH POWER! :-(

Toys' r us???tacky

October 8th, 2009
9:22 am

I think that it is VERY TACKY for people to invite you to any party and tell you where they are registered for gifts….for a parent to put on an invitation that their child is registered at toys r us and EXPECT you to actually purchase a toy from there is just wrong too! It shouldn’t matter where a person purchases a child’s toy…now I can understand if you request for no one to purchase your child a toy knife or a toy gun or a toy weapon…but to TELL grown people where to purchase your childs’ chosen toy is just down right tacky!!! Those are just REALLY cheap parents who can’t afford to purchase their child(ren) toys from toys r us so they figure if they can provide a cheap behind cake and some ice cream that YOU should purchase expensive toys for their children….N-O-T!!!!!!!!! :-)

Jesse's Girl

October 8th, 2009
9:25 am

Interesting…..oddly enough…we have a b-day party rule in our family. With the exception of grandparents…cause they don’t listen anyway…gifts are a no-no…. from friends and extended family. We have wonderfully fun parties. But since their births, we have always asked for letters to be written to the kids. I have a huge scrap book that I put them in and they can go through them and read them. Now…Jesse and I give a gift in private. But its very silly to have cheap gifts floating around that are forgotten about in a few days. The letters serve as a reminder of how blessed they truly are…..we also only give 3 gifts per kid, not exceed $200, at Christmas. Thats just how we roll:)

lmno

October 8th, 2009
9:25 am

I have never bought anything off of any registry ever. Weddings = cash. Kids parties = books.

Uconn

October 8th, 2009
9:26 am

Why is it ok to expect gifts for a child at their birthday party, but not for a wedding? Same thing, is it not? A party where the host provides food and drink … Hmmm…. Interesting… Could it be because no one wants to hurt a child’s feelings and its ok for the adults not to get gifts? Why do we as a society place less importance on adults (the veterns of childhood) and more on children? When you give, give, give to kids, won’t that make them expect to get gifts at their wedding? I am getting married in Feb, do I expect people to get me a gift? No. Do most people brings gifts? Yes. I think that is why most people come to EXPECT gifts at a wedding. The thing that gets me about weddings is when people RSVP yes and then don’t show up. THAT makes me want to call them and ask for their meal cost… Don’t make me spend the money if you have no intention on showing up! Emergencies I understand … Now I will sit back and wait for the mud to be slung *smiles*

Cammi317

October 8th, 2009
9:27 am

I always do this because I know at various times people are struggling and I do not want parents to feel obligated to purchase items for my daughter. Most of the time, everyone brings something anyway.

pws

October 8th, 2009
9:31 am

Hey Theresa, Off topic, but you mentioning that her favorite book brought back a lot of memories. My daughter is now 20, and I can still read that particular book by heart, because we had to read it every night before she went to bed from the time she was about 18 months old until she was old enough to read it herself! When a friend of hers had a baby, she gave him a copy of that book for his first birthday. His dad told her later that he has to read that book every night to his son… A classic is always a classic!

Jesse's Girl

October 8th, 2009
9:32 am

UCONN…you are absolutely right about the wedding. We were scheduled to got one last weekend and couldn’t make it due to 2/3rds of our children coming down with the ickiness. So….as part of my gift, I am including a little extra cash to make up for the 4 seats we reserved. Its only right….Having planned and paid for a huge wedding myself…I know how insane prices are.

New Stepmom

October 8th, 2009
9:33 am

Wow…b-day parties have changed since I was a kid. I took my step daughter to a party last fall and they brought gifts and had them beautifully displayed, but did not open them at the party. I thought that was a shame since my step daughter was very thoughtful in picking out the gift and would have loved to see the birthday girl open it.

I am like Theresa, I would have brought a small gift and I always do books instead of toys for the under 5 crowd. It is kind of like I always take a bottle of wine to a dinner partt, I would feel weird showing up to any kind of party completely empty handed.

JJ, I am with you, give the kids the gifts on their day. If there is a family event it just spreads the joy a little longer.

I am a stickler for thank you notes, so I think that if parents are requesting no gifts to avoid thank you notes as one suggested then that is awful. I hope it is an avoidance of consumerism and too much stuff.

mom in decatur

October 8th, 2009
9:35 am

I have a two year old and he recently was invited yo a party where they requested us to bring items for the local Shelter instead of gifts. They worded it wonderfully stating that their son already had plenty of toys and would rather support people in need. They included a list of food items that were needed. I thought it was a great idea. I went out and got several items on the list and they took them to the Woman’s Shelter. Living where we do in mostly small 50’s ranches we are all short on space in our homes and our children really do have everything they need and a lot of wants met. I am thinking I will do the same thing for my son’s third Birthday and my daughter’s first this year. I think it will be even more perfect for a one year old since she already has all of her brother’s hand me downs to play with.

New Stepmom

October 8th, 2009
9:38 am

Uconn, you are right. I missed a wedding due to an emergency several years ago and offered to pay for our meals. The bride and groom declined, but it was the right thing to do.

Citizen of the World

October 8th, 2009
9:40 am

When my kids were young and we were struggling, it just about broke me having to buy birthday presents practically every month for one or more kids. And to me the issue wasn’t the gift so much as it was, why did every kid have a big birthday party every year? It got so out of hand that I decided to “be the change I wanted to see in the world” and let my children have birthday parties on what I thought of as “milestone” years — like 6, 10, 13, 16. The rest of the time we had family celebrations. They thought I was some sort of grinch for this, but the deprivation was character building. They learned that the fact of their birth was not an occasion for the world to stop and lavish gifts on them.

Presents, No Party

October 8th, 2009
9:43 am

I think I’m going to send out the following announcement for my daughter:
Katherine is turning 5!
There is no party but presents are welcome.
Please drop them off on our porch Saturday between noon and 4PM.
Thanks in advance!

Cammi317

October 8th, 2009
9:49 am

LOL @ “Presents, No Party” Thanks for the morning giggle.

Diane

October 8th, 2009
9:49 am

A lot of times I will buy a book and give a little money for the “college fund”. It’s hard for a small child to understand not giving or getting a gift at a party. When my daughter is older, we will most likely do a charity donation instead of gifts at her parties, but for now, I hold back some of her gifts and dole them out throughout the year (her birthday is in February, so I save gifts as surprises when she’s bored during the summer. I also try to clean out her toys every couple of months.

cookie19

October 8th, 2009
9:51 am

A lot of times children are happy just to get a cake and have friends over. Some parents go all out for parties becuase it means more if they are able to do so. It is up to the parents not to request gifts as long as they expalin their reasoning beforehand and it is still a joyous and memorable occasion.

Kathy

October 8th, 2009
9:53 am

I took Little E to a b’day party one year and the mom would not let her son open the gifts until after everyone had left, like the party new stepmom went to. Several of the moms at the party were very upset with this mother because we had helped our children pick out the gift and even let the kids help wrap the gift and then not to see the child open the gift……I think it is just plain rude to do that . I think if you invite a child to a party, it is only right to open their gift and thank them (and their parent) for it right then.

Glad I'm Not Diane's Kid

October 8th, 2009
9:56 am

“but for now, I hold back some of her gifts and dole them out throughout the year” – You are so cruel! I was wondering how anyone could be so thoughtless but then your other line helped me understand: ” When my daughter is older, we will most likely do a charity donation instead of gifts” – now it’s clear that you’re a Kum-ba-ya singing, save-the-world, ‘co-exist’-bumper-sticker, liberal who cares SO much about the world but neglects her own family. Pitiful.

Theresa Giarrusso

October 8th, 2009
10:11 am

Kathy — that is really common — and I used to think it was very rude but now I just expect it. I think the main reason for waiting to open to the presents is it just gets tooo wild and you can’t write down what was given. Also the kids immediately start playing with everything which is not really fair to the birthday child that they don’t get first dibs on their present.

Stookie

October 8th, 2009
10:15 am

@ Glad I’m Not Diane’s Kid, great job making this a political thing, but I do agree with you on a certain level. My son just turned 7 and I loved seeing his face when he opened a present. He was so happy with the gifts he got and I would never want to take that away from him, no matter where the money would have gone.

HB

October 8th, 2009
10:18 am

Wow. Encouraging a child to celebrate her birthday by picking a charity and giving to others is “neglecting her own family”. I know lots of families who do this and the kids get really excited about how much money they raise or how many cans of food they have to drop off.

I also think it’s interesting that some people find it rude when presents are not opened at the party because I think the intent is just the opposite. Rather than have children sit around watching the birthday child open gifts for 15 minutes, they are focusing on entertaining their guests. I think that is especially common at parties held at a special site with planned activities. For example, the museum where I worked had an activity-packed hour and a half with crafts, animal demos, a nature hike, sci demo, etc, and left just 10-15 minutes at the end for cake. Gifts were bagged up and taken home to be opened. I’ve also known families who didn’t open gifts at home parties, though, especially if there were a lot of guests, like one family that some years had one large, joint pool/cookout party for their two sons whose birthdays were a couple of weeks apart.

meme's mommy

October 8th, 2009
10:19 am

It’s funny this is today’s topic. I’m actually having a party for my daughter at the end of the month and instead of presents I’ve asked our friends to bring something to donate to the Atlanta Children’s Shelter. Even though she’s turning two, it’s important that she realize that every little girl and boy doesn’t have it as well as she does (note: we are by no means wealthy but she’s an only child/grandchild..ya’ll get the picture!)I checked with the shelter and the volunteer coordinator mentioned they needed things like diapers and wipes that parents were having a hard time affording. My hope is this is something we can turn into a tradition…maybe if I start early enough she’ll look forward to donating time/efforts to those less fortunate.

Uconn

October 8th, 2009
10:24 am

I hope I did not come off as rude, but as I said its the people who say “oh yes I will be there” and they don’t come because they forgot their favorite TV show was on or something like that … Sickness and the like is unavoidable…

motherjanegoose

October 8th, 2009
10:24 am

Off to a meeting here in Wisconsin and I did not have time to to read all the comments. My thoughts are ( if anyone cares….haha) that sometimes it becomes a competition over who brings the coolest gift and maybe there are some ( invited) whose parents are in a bit of a crunch. I would never throw a party for my small child and ask for no gifts but I do think you can get something suitable for $15 tops.

Is there any way you could tastefully suggest a limited amount? Like when you have a gift swap for a holiday party…I am not sure.

Many parents make everything a contest and try to one up each other.

My guests at my 50th surprise birthday dinner party brought me gifts.
Of course, I had nothing to do with it but it was so much fun to open things that folks who knew me thought I would enjoy. It was not that I needed anything but I was delighted in the thoughtful gestures.

@lmnop:

YOU ARE FREE TO DO WHATEVER YOU WANT BUT IMHO…this sentence makes me thing YOU are heading for a very hectic day! If you can pull off a birthday party with 50 children and foot the bill, MY HAT IS OFF TO YOU! Keep us posted, if you are still standing.

Since the invitation list will include about 50 children, I think gifts would be crazy.

New Stepmom

October 8th, 2009
10:27 am

Kathy, I am glad that I am not the only one that thought that the gift opening post-party was unfortunate. Like I said, I feel like I have a lot to learn.

As far as kid’s party registries go-TACKY! We did register for our wedding, because that is what you do in the south, but I did not let any shower hostesses print the places on any shower invites (my grandmother would have rolled over) and only those who asked were told the 2 stores where we did a registry. It was fun to do the registry, but we did not expect gifts from anyone and those who did give a gift got a well thought out personal thank you note from me.

If you guys think Diane is cruel, my mom would not let us play with our Christmas toys from others until out Thank you notes were written (at the age of 34 I am very thankful for that). I think Diane’s philosophy is great and it does ensure each thoughful gift gets proper play time.

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.

Lucy

December 1st, 2009
12:24 am

We do not allow gifts. We type the directions in bold and discuss it again when people RSVP. The kids understand and have been focused each time on just enjoying their friends’ company.

We do do presents as a family.

I encourage parents to make the leap. I would say take it farther– drawings– cards– all of it needs to go by the wayside. Parties should be all about being together and celebrating.

Jess

December 22nd, 2009
4:11 pm

This past weekend, my son attended a b-day party. On the invite, it stated…..No Gifts, Please….Instead, donate to The Children’s Hospital. So, that’s exactly what I did.
We were the 1st one’s to arrive at the party & I watched guest after guest, bring in a gift. It seems that we were the only one’s that followed the request. I strongly believe that people do things for a reason & others should follow the request. Try explaining to a 5 year old, why he was one of the only one’s that didn’t bring a b-day gift……When all I was doing was following instructions.

KJ

January 1st, 2010
1:41 pm

Most of our children’s birthdays have been without presents. They don’t even miss it, seriously. We ask for a food donation to the food bank in lieu of gifts, then they don’t feeel empty handed when they show up to the party. We also get to take our food (and cheque) donations to the food bank and they give you a wonderful tour and thank your child personally and with a lovely letter in the mail. obviously there is age appropriate-ness involved here. I wouldn’t drag my 2 year old around the food bank, but my 7 year old thought it was really neat. My son was so proud of himself that this is what is chooses to do. We do not tell him he has to do this. With 3 kids and aunts and uncles, and grandparents my house is already overflowing with too much stuff and too many families are struggling to make ends meet every month. Just seems logical to pass the benefit on to others. A nice present from family should be more than enough.

KJ

January 1st, 2010
1:45 pm

I should add that I assure and re-assure people NO PRESENTS when they RSVP. It can’t be whisy-washy, otherwise pepople get scared they will be the only one without. Be decisive, but also don’t be rude about it.

madre of 3

January 14th, 2010
3:11 pm

Our family received a birthday party invitation for a 2 year old, stating the child has lots of toys and clothes and would rather have contributions towards their vacation. Sorry… the only people I’m “Contributing” towards to go on a vacation is my OWN family. I thought it was incredibly tacky. I’m sure the parents meant well when they put that on the invitation-but come on. If you are asking for money, something a 2 year old has zero interest in, you might as well ask for no gifts. People always include gift receipts nowadays-they could return the gifts at will and “collect” for their little vacation.

Kym

May 2nd, 2010
9:50 pm

Hi, after reading the tons of replies ( all very interesting ) i agree and disagree with some parts but i am not posting to argue or to say your opinion is wrong.
I live in australia and this idea of no presents is just comming in over here. We do ask no presents for the adult birthdays but in lue we ask nicely for every one to pay for their own meals at a resteraunt of our choice, we all ways try to find something within our price range ( small to medium) with great quality of food and some where for the children included to play. Some people still bring presents ( in our families case they are normally handmade presents) which is fine as that is their choice to do this. I agree with the comments about how many toys do children need, but instead of asking for no presents ( to me the party is the company and presesnts for childrens parties) we ask every one to put in like $5 or so ( more if they like) to an envelope and one friend or family member collects all the envelopes and picks out on decent good value present to the amount provided. This is a great way to get your children items for outside play you would normally overlook or not be able to afford. We also offer the option of books as i am a big believer in myself and my children reading books.