No-gift birthday parties – making them work


You’re in for a treat, my guest poster for this week is the talented and like-minded, Jeri Dansky.

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.

You can find more of Jeri’s words of wisdom at her blog, or if you’re based in the San Francisco Bay Area, she can come to your space and help you with hands on organising.  Thanks for letting me share this post, Jeri!

4 responses to “No-gift birthday parties – making them work

  1. Thanks for this one. I tried that last year for my son’s 3rd birthday unsuccessfully. Everyone brought a gift so I didn’t bother saying anything this year as no-one listened. I am encouraged to try it again next year after reading this. He does have too much stuff and he even knows that and is very good at passing his toys on. I have started giving “experiences” rather than gifts to friend’s kids rather than add to their accumulation of stuff.

    • Change takes time and effort. Glad you are encouraged to try again! It took me many years to remind those around me “I don’t do Christmas/gifts” and eventually, I won 🙂

      Persistence is the key. Good luck Jodi! Keep us posted.

  2. Hi Lissane, it was lovely to see your pic with your amazing Nanna Margaret in the Portside Messenger this week. 100 years young and still bright and vital. A reminder that health and happiness are the best possessions.

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