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Best of the Forums: Gifts When Host Requests None?

Posted By Communications Manager, Tuesday, November 22, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, November 22, 2016
Do you bring birthday gifts for children's birthday parties when the host has noted "please no gifts" in the invitation? 

We have always requested no gifts and ALWAYS some people bring gifts. But lately I've noticed at a few birthday parties we've attended where the host also requested "no gifts" almost EVERY guest came with a gift. 

We try to honor the request when I see it in an invitation. Instead I have my kids take time to make a nice handmade card and write a note for their classmate/friend and sometimes we will also make a bookmark or add stickers inside the card. But I'm often then questioning not bringing a gift when I see most guests coming with them. I believe that parents are sincere in their request because when we've made that request for our parties we truly don't want more gifts for our kids, we just want a time for our kids to celebrate with friends.

Curious - what do you do? If you bring gifts when a person writes "no gifts," why do you bring them?

  • I have occasionally brought a gift to a "no gifts" party, and it's been a book. I just think you can never have too many books. My kids always make homemade birthday cards as well. 

    On a related note, we have been to 4 birthday parties in the past 6 weeks (all invitations from my son's new kindergarten class friends) and I have noticed that they are all receiving goodie bags with books in them. That seems to be the trend. I've personally never been a fan of the goodie bag but now is it expected?
  • I have brought gifts in the past -- we try to respect the wishes of the family but I have three kids and sometimes forget which invitations are which. Plus, like the previous poster, we usually give books, and think there is no such thing as too many books. Although if there is you can always donate them to your school/classroom library -- our school librarian will put a nice sticker in saying who donated the book and my kids love seeing "their" books circulating.
  • One suggestion: if you have a no gift policy, make the few stray gifts quickly disappear from sight. If people in your social group go to no-gift parties and see a table with presents while they came empty handed, they might get confused and start overcompensating at the following parties.
  • We have also been to many parties with goodie bags. Lately in lieu of goodie bags, my younger has received a book, a hula hoop (from a luau birthday party) and lots of candy from a pinata - from the birthday parties recently. Not exactly goodie bags but I'm actually happier without any parting gift. I do not think they are necessary but it does seem that they are expected -- by kids, not parents!
  • I've been to parties where the no-gift request was replaced with "please bring an item to donate to a charity of the birthday child's choice." I like this because, for the most part, it reminds kids there are those less fortunate than themselves (and some parents too). When it's a party where the whole class is invited and I know my child isn't "best friends," I stick with the hand made card and stickers. If it's someone I know my child plays with and talks to a lot, then I have my child choose the theme of the book or the book to give as a gift.
  • I just went to the "no toys please, but a book is fine" birthday party yesterday where some parents brought giagantic bags with presents. I myself bought a few presents for this party at ToysRUs the night before (because I completely forgot the specific instructions on the invitation that I received a month or so ago). But when I saw this very thread on PAMP, I went back and re-read the invitation; then I scrambled to replace my gift with a good educational book at the last minute because I wanted to honor the family wishes. However, every time I come with no gift or a book and see someone with lots of other presents, I can't help it but feel a little ... hmm... embarrassed, stingy, etc -- even though I am obeying the specific instructions from the parents (I know it's silly - can't help it! And my mind always has a quick detour: should I have also brought something extra??). But I did feel more at ease after reading this thread yesterday.

    For my older daughter's first birthday, I chose to ask for donations to the charity that I support in lieu of gifts (I asked for checks, not toys or books), but some parents still brought gifts (some did both: a donation AND a gift for my child). Of course my daughter LOVED receiving them, even though she was only one and I thought she wouldn't even care. So the next year I decided to let her indulge (it's only twice a year: birthday and Xmas for our family; plus, we actually do not buy birthday or Xmas gifts for them ourselves because they receive so many from others!).  

    Anyway, I was very grateful for this thread! HAPPY HOLIDAY SEASON TO ALL!!! And happy birthday parties - gifts or no gifts, whatever your policy and personal preference may be! Love our community where we can be who we are and respect each other's choices!  

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