Thursday, September 6, 2012

No-Gift Birthday Parties: Making Them Work

Evite to a no-gifts birthday party
Sample invitation created in Evite.

Kids have more stuff than they could ever really use? Want to reign things in a bit? How about having no-gift birthday parties?

Since I know a mom with some experience in this arena, I wrote to her, saying: I know you're done please-no-gifts parties, and I thought most people cooperated. Am I remembering correctly? Do you have any insight into why your requests got honored, and other people have had no such luck?

Here's the message I got back, shared with her permission. 

Yes, I have successfully had no-gift parties for the kids since they were babies. I always send a note (on evite/email) saying that we really are having a no-gift party. I always say not to feel sorry for the birthday kid because we get them way too much stuff and they are in no way deprived of gifts. I do let immediate family give presents, but not at the party.

We just had my daughter's party and as usual there were a few people who brought gifts. In the past I have had a few people who brought gifts and they seemed very aggressive about giving them and so I relented. This year a few people brought gifts to her party but I think they just didn't pay attention to the invitation — so I just said, "Oh, didn't you read the invitation? I am so sorry for the confusion, but it's a no-gift party. You can just take that home and save it for the next birthday party." People seemed happy enough to take the present back. I suppose if they had embroidered a personalized pillow we would have had to accept it, but I think they were just generic birthday presents. My daughter didn't care. She just wanted friends at her party.

A couple of people asked if they could bring a small present and I said "No, why don't you just have your daughter/son make a nice card if you really want to bring something." She did get some cute homemade cards that I can put in a scrapbook.

A few years ago the kids asked if they could have gift parties and I said, "Well, you can either have your parents give you presents or your friends, but not both because it would be too many presents. And your friends are unlikely to get you a new bicycle or what you have written on your list." That pretty much satisfied the kids.

I did not have luck when I tried to have a toy donation instead of gifts. People really did not participate in that the way I would have thought. I realized then that "my cause is not your cause" so I just switched to no-gift parties.

I think there will always be one or two folks that will not honor the no-gift policy. But it is still a tradition I am committed to around here.


Decluttering said...

I like the idea of bringing cards only to a birthday party - it helps to give a sense of personalization to the person who's birthday it is while cutting down on the whole presents and gift giving facet of parties. Not too mention decreasing the amount of clutter left over from things like this.

Thanks for the article!

Marcie Lovett said...

You would think parents would be delighted not to have to spend the time, money and energy required to buy presents.

Giving guests the freedom not to provide a present is a gift to the partygoers!

If people insist on giving something, you can suggest they make a donation to a children's charity in the birthday kid's name. Or, if they really don't want to show up without bringing something, they could bring something to eat.

Anonymous said...

While we don't do "no-gift" parties, we do use the friend birthday party to support a local charity. The local charity is normally linked to the party theme. For example we did an Army themed party and collected items for local soldiers deployed to Iraq. We have also collected items for the local homeless shelter, a food pantry, and a therapeutic horseback riding center. The invitation usually says "In lieu of gifts we are collecting for ..." Most parents have really appreciated not needing to buy a plastic present, and the kids enjoy helping out in the community. I also make sure that we personally deliver the donations and that the kids learn something about the organization we are donating to. The kids get their presents from family, so they don't really miss out.

Jeri Dansky said...

Anonymous, I'm glad you've had such good luck with the "collect for charity" idea; it's such a lovely thing to do. Some other parents I know who tried this haven't had the success you've had - so congratulations on making this work so well!