Mom Talk: Gift or No Gift?

Post by Jessica R.

My daughter and I spent a chunk of time this weekend addressing birthday party invitations for her big summer kick off pool party. Somewhere between forcing myself to relinquish control and letting her decorate each of her gorgeous turtle birthday party invitations and frantically searching for everyone’s mailing addresses and the correct spelling of each child’s name, I realized that I had forgotten some key wording on the actual invitation.

“No Gifts Please.”

Between friends from daycare, friends from school and friends from everywhere else, we’re sending out some 40 invitations. If each person brings a gift we’d be turning the girls’ already cramped and over stuffed room into a Toys’R’Us annex.

My kids do not need more toys. Our house cannot handle more clutter. And frankly they already have more than enough stuff.

That said, this morning as I carefully hand wrote the words on the back of each envelope, I wondered, is it rude of me to request no gifts? Am I breaking some social convention? Is my fixation on having less stuff denying party goers the right to bring something to the party girl? Am I putting those who truly want to bring her a gift in an awkward position?

By the time I had my little crisis of conscience I had already written the note on half the invitations. I couldn’t exactly stop and not send the same message to everyone, but now I’m racked with guilt over it. Even more so since one friend has already emailed to ask if she can disregard the injunction.

You tell us, is saying for “no gifts” rude or acceptable?

Present bearing girl

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Category: Mom Talk, You Tell Us
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5 Responses

  1. Ashlynn says:

    I think it’s totally fine! I wrote just that on my little girls cards & we still got some gifts … Far too many! No one said a word though, i can’t imagine someone being offended by being asked not to bring a gift.

  2. I think requesting “no gifts” is PERFECTLY acceptable. I’ve even gone as far as limiting gifts we as a family receive at Christmas. I know… GRINCH! If someone insists, I usual suggest getting my kids books.

  3. Bree Harris says:

    I think it is acceptable too but when I suggested the idea to my husband was wouldn’t hear of it. He thought it was unfair to our kids since it’s their birthday (even though they get a party) and he thought it was rude to our guests. Our kids have a playroom with seriously every girl toy for their age range. They’re only 13 months apart so between Christmas with my oversized family and his oversized family, birthdays, Easter, and any other excuse my mom can think of to give them a gift we have WAY too many toys, stuffed animals, etc. I even suggested to him having the invites say if you would like to bring a gift please bring a gift in the form for a donation to Compassion International. Although we donate money monthly to Compassion and sponsor a child, he still didn’t like the idea.

  4. I think that asking for specific items or limiting gifts are totally ok. In our family for awhile we had a rule that for each item we kept from a birthday or Christmas we had to donate TWO from our room (or one of the enw ones) to a local youth shelter. It was a great way to not only learn compassion as a child, but also begin decluttering our rooms. Lol!

    This year for my son’s birthday we are limiting his toy collection to imagination encouraging toys so we’ll setting some ground rules for gift giving – puzzles, wooden blocks, legos, etc. Still providing options for family, but not going crazy with the whizz-bangs and snarf-blats. *grin*

    Angela <

  5. Timberly says:

    I am a big fan of a ‘no gift’ policy. I don’t always do it but we’ve probably tried it for half the birthdays. The facts are: My two boys don’t need more toys and (this is totally tacky but true) most people in our circle shop at Target and we have pretty much anything Target has that we’d allow our boys to receive.

    Things we’ve tried instead:
    > Flat “no gift” policy.
    > Inviting guests to write a letter instead or children to draw a picture that we can then make into a birthday party montage for our sons’ walls.
    > Welcoming donations to a preferred charity that benefits children (generally Newborns in Need, local children’s hospital, or Court Appointed Special Advocates).
    > Hinting that contributions towards the boys’ college fund would be welcomed (I have yet to figure out a graceful way to do this and have only done it once with close family).
    > Asking for unwrapped toys for any age, male/female, for a local toy drive.

    When we haven’t done that, we instead welcome gifts and then spend time with our boys (3 and 5) the next day going through their toys and have them decide what they can share with children in need. The downside is that I fear it’ll teach them that they should share only their castoffs, not new stuff, but it’s a start and the best I have figured out so far. I welcome other suggestions though and look forward to the thread!

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