The first time I got an invitation for a child’s birthday party that said “no gifts” I was torn, but also relieved. One less gift to buy – yay! But when my daughter and I arrived at that little girl’s party, lo and behold, there was a table FULL of birthday presents! Uh oh.
I totally get the “no gifts” bandwagon. I believe it is a trend that is a result of people going way overboard with gift-giving. After all, most children in America don’t need 20 brand new toys on their birthday (on top of what their parents and grandparents give them!). So sensible moms came up with a solution: no gifts at friend birthday parties.
But there are those who are rather old-fashioned and, like me, think a magical part of childhood is when friends bring presents to your birthday party. These people will bring gifts no matter what the invitation says, but in doing so, often leave the other guests feeling guilty for not doing the same.
It’s such a conundrum – so what are we to do?
Here are my ideas for being gracious and thoughtful in this “What To Do When” scenario:
1. If an invitation says “no gifts,” honor that request. If a family has invited the entire class to the party, they are probably requesting “no gifts” to avoid having to find a place for 22 new toys in their house! They also don’t want to have to persuade/bribe/threaten their child to write 22 thank you notes to their friends! I get that. So if they say no gifts, don’t bring one. And don’t feel bad about it either. (However, if your child feels bad about it, then see number 3!).
2. If you absolutely must give the birthday girl or boy a nice gift, consider dropping it off on their porch before or after the party. Having a table full of gifts at a “no gift” party makes the non-gift givers feel bad. And I’m sure that’s the last thing the host or hostess want their guests to feel.
3. If your child really feels like she needs to bring something, consider bringing a small – and I mean so small it’s more like a favor – gift. Because my seven year old daughter feels self-conscious if she thinks that she’s the only one who didn’t bring a gift, I’ll sometimes let her bring something like the Bath and Body Works keychain set pictured below, which costs all of about five dollars. (The girls at her school love to collect and trade these so it’s not totally random, I promise!). Doing this allows her to feel good about bringing a present to her friend, but it’s also small enough that a thank you note is not warranted (and I will write “no thank you note needed” just to make that clear!).
Another “small” and inconspicuous option is to give a gift card. I think the best gift for a 7-10 year old boy or girl is a $10 Target gift card. That age LOVES picking out something fun for themselves, whether it be an action hero or a few bags of candy. And gift cards are little enough so they don’t draw a lot of attention when you hand it to the child’s mother at the party.
4. If you are a mom who is contemplating a “no gifts” party, another option is to have guests bring a book or toy to donate to a local hospital or Ronald McDonald house. This satisfies those who have a hard time showing up empty-handed at parties and, more importantly, channels those gifts to children in need. You can even say “gently used” books or toys so parents don’t feel like they have to buy something new.
4. Finally, whether you have children or not, let’s all try to tame down the gift-giving to children. It’s perfectly acceptable to give a $5 coloring book or a $10 puzzle to a child. I love it when people give my children something as simple as new crayons or markers!
On this note, I recently put together the cutest $8 gifts for some eight year old girls who had a joint birthday party. I found these pencil cases and scissors at Target (they seem to be a back-to-school seasonal item, in stores only). These cases are so cute they could also double as a toiletry bag or a little wristlet. One thing I know about girls is that they love bags, compartments, and boxes – anything in which to hide their little treasures!
Using cellophane and ribbon I already had at home, these gifts turned out so darling that I wanted to keep one for myself!
Even though they didn’t cost a lot of money, these were totally appropriate and adorable for children, don’t you think?
How do you handle gift-giving to children in your life? Would love to hear some more tips! And if you found this post helpful, please consider sharing on Facebook (click the Facebook button below).
More from DoSayGive…
Striped Thank You Notes: Target
Brown Craft Paper – The Home Depot
Blue Ribbon on Gift – Jo Ann Fabric
Golf Gift Card Holder – The Container Store
Pencil Cases, Scissors, Pencils, Ribbon, Gift Tags – Target