Monday, July 19, 2010

No Gifts Please

Almost as frustrating as people not RSVPing to an event, is the line "no gifts please" attached at the end of a birthday invitation.  Especially a child's birthday invitation.  Maybe it is the "Southern Bell" coming out in me...but who can go to a party of any sort empty handed?  That is just unheard of where I come from!  Even if you are going down the street to your best friend's house for supper, you come with something in hand, whether it be a jug of kool aid or a bouquet of fresh roses you "borrowed" from the neighbor's bushes.

Besides, half the fun of a party I am not hosting is planning and creating a fun gift for the birthday child that I hope they will enjoy.

This line was attached at the end of a party we attended just before we left for Louisiana.  The line in the evite said, "No gifts please-and I mean it!"  (Sorry to use your example K, but I still love you!)

I took it as a personal challenge to BRING the birthday child a gift :)  I do that sometimes, get all worked up over something small.  And, I had a lot of fun making a pink and white tutu for little ms. 4 year old.  I guess sort of like I am getting all worked up over this post lol.

Now, here's the thing...I could care less if you bring my child a gift or not when you attend his party.  Because it is not about the gift.  Seriously.  I know these "hard economic times" make it almost impossible to balance the bills, let alone any extras...don't let that keep you from coming and having fun, because really, that is what is most important.  If I could not afford to buy a present, I would not, and based on the situation, would decide if I'd allow my child to attend the party or not. (If I don't really know someone and couldn't do it, it'd be different then a really good friend inviting my child)

However, when an invitation says, "No gifts", a few thoughts run through my head.

If it is for a girl and I have a craft I want to try out, I get a bit angry. :-)  I don't have girls!  Birthday parties are basically the only time I get to get crafty and pink and curly and cute.  Saying "no gifts" is like slapping this mom of three boys who is crafty in the face!

Another thought..."yeah, your kid has a hellofalot of toys, I get that...but couldn't you let me decide if I want to add to your madness or not?"  Though, as pointed out in comments, that is kind of rude of me to not honor a parent's wishes. am I supposed to teach my child the value of a dollar (if he spends his own money on a present) or the importance of giving instead of getting (yes, I know that contradicts the me getting mad at no presents things) ???  Edited:  Maybe teaching them that parties aren't about getting is good, too :)

And finally..."how is your kid going to feel when we come to her party empty handed, leave with a rockin' (if we are lucky) goodie bag and when your kid comes to my kid's party, and I did not say "no gifts" because I feel it is up to the adult to decide if they want to bring one or not (and don't run to the dollar tree and grab a few crappy toys if you are on a budget...just come and have fun, stress free!),then the child comes bearing gifts of gold, Frankenstein, and cool presents?  She's going to start to wonder why no one loves her as much as they love my kid."  Yep. time you send me an invitation saying, "No gifts" prepared.  I don't always follow instructions.  AND...if you have a girl, you BETTER not even think about banning me from making some cute (or not so cute, we will have to wait and see) idea I found floating around in bloggy-land.  :)

So, what do you think?  Should a parent specifically list to not bring presents?  Should the parent just leave it up to those invited to decide for themselves?  Maybe add a tag line like, "presents appreciated but not necessary" so that those attending don't feel the need to bring a gift but know they can if they want.  Do you think by letting kids get lots of presents at parties we are setting up some wacky morals that kids can get whatever they want?
Oh, and this past year, I sent out a super tacky email asking if someone happened to want to bring a present for Jack, if they didn't already have a present/have something in mind, he would love a few dollars to go towards a cool rocket ship toy he wanted.  So, he got a few presents and all the money (about $75 or so) to buy the rocket.  I kind of want to always do this...narrow down what he is getting and still allow parents to just give for the sake of giving if they so desire.  (And I think Brennan wants to take horse back riding lessons and those don't just pay for themselves :) )

FYI:  This post was written while I am really if it rambles on and on or just doesn't make sense or pisses you off, sorry!  And Ladub...don't be mad, but I maybe already planned out a little something for someone who lives with you...but come on!  She's a GIRL so you gotta let me do it :)

7 Words to brighten my day:

-Veronica said...

When you have too much, you have too much! I have been so tempted to put this on invites, but never had the guts to do it.

I would personally give a nice card and include a "coupon" for a play date or something fun to do together later on.

Otherwise, I would consider donating something to a charity or books to the library in the child's name.

You could still bring some flowers or kool-aid and I'm sure that would be a nice gesture.

Why not honor the request? They are the ones who are going to have to trash yet another toy they don't need. But that is just me. :)

Jessica said...

I guess I like to try and think of something different or creative for presents...but I bet as the boys get older and I no longer can control what goes to the parties, any time someone says "no gifts please" i will do it...or send cash or a gift card, which I know my boys always like :)

Lexi said...

I have said 'presents not necessary' before because I didn't want the parents to feel obligated to buy something just so they could come. We tend to have smaller parties so the kids can do their thing and the parents come to hang out. If it was between someone not coming because they thought that they'd be embarrassed coming empty handed, I'd rather save them the worry and have them come because it's all about seeing them and spending time with friends. Those are the real memories-- not always the gifts. I can't tell you what I got for what birthday, but I can tell you when I had friends over and the games we played or the sleepovers we had. I'm all about the social aspect of it. But I get what you mean when you say you feel strange not bringing something--I have also brought flowers or something to drink or a plate of cookies. And if they strictly say, 'no gifts', I double check with them and if they are emphatic, I try to honor their wishes. It's hard though, because I like the challenge of looking for something that matches the theme of the party or the interests of the child. I love birthdays!

Megan R. said...

I always both love and hate seeing this on invites. I love it, because we just really do not have the budget for extras right now, but then I hate it because most people bring gifts anyway, and I feel extremely awkward showing up without one.

Maren said...

I know how much kids love presents...but Laney is going to turn 1 in October and if we have a party, I will for sure say "No gifts please." She won't remember it and we don't need more stuff. Beyond the first birthday, though...BRING THEM ON!!

Heather - Chickabug said...

According to etiquette you're actually not supposed to mention anything about gifts on an invitation - for or against! Even saying "no gifts" implies that someone SHOULD have brought a gift otherwise, and technically it's never okay to require a gift from a guest.

(I'm a huge dork - I actually read a 300 page book by Miss Manners from cover to cover and loved every word.) ; )

Of course, in real life experience, I know that even when someone says "no gifts" everyone will still bring them anyway. So maybe it's best not to mention gifts not only for etiquette purposes but also because it just doesn't make a difference WHAT you say! : )

Angelkris said...

What you did was for Joss was perfect. You took something you already had and made something that Joss would appreciate. I will not ALWAYS ask for no gifts as she gets older, this won't be very fair to her. She will notice that others are getting gifts at their parties, and she is not. BUT- for right now, at age 4, she thinks that homemade cards and stickers ARE gifts. She doesn't distinguish the difference. Also, she doesn't know if somebody did bring a gift or didn't. I think 3-4 people broke the rules and brought gifts, but one was a simple yet lovely book, one was your tutu, one was $4.44 because it was her 4th birthday, and the last was a sheet of stickers. To her, that was treasure and that was enough. The no gifts and I mean it was to ensure that if anybody brought something, they surely would not go overboard.

Also, I am selective about my kids' toys. I hate toys that have a bunch of pieces that need to be kept together and I hate toys that are the equivalent to Happy Meal toys. I don't want them around and usually end up donating them or tossing them out because they are an inconvenience. By asking for no toys, I can help keep the toy clutter to a minimum and avoid getting toys that will drive ME crazy.

Sorry to bum you out on the birthday gift thing. I understand your position, but have my own for doing it that way. I understand that this doesn't work for everybody.