28 answers

How Do You Politely Ask for Money Instead of Physical Gift for a Birthday Party?

Hi, mamas. My daughter's birthday is approaching--sh'e turning 4. We are excited and have a fun theme planned for the party. We'll be inviting around 20-25 kids/families we know. Here's the dilemna: Is there a proper way to let people know we would prefer money or gift cards? Don't get me wrong, I don't expect anything, and that's not why we are having the party! But I know my relatives and friends will start asking what our daughter needs/wants, and the truth is, we are over-run with clothes and toys. Between things I bought on sale last year, Christmas, 4 sets of grandparents spoiling her, etc.....this child is SET. There's no more space in her bedroom or play area! (And that's even after a garage sale/give-away pile). The only thing we could really use for her is help to pay for swim lessons and a few enrichment camps this summer (I find art/music lessons, etc to be more valuable than toys anyway!). Is that too rude to mention to guests we invite? I don't want to offend anybody, but we really don' need any material things this year. Thanks in advance for your input!

1 mom found this helpful

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

I appreciate the many responses from moms who understood where I was coming from! The thing with our group of family and friends is that they ALWAYS ask what she wants for a gift, and in the past, I have always tried to think of a specific, tangible thing to tell each person. So I was just trying to figure out how to work the response when they ask this year. I never assume that anyone has to get her anything! I believe I said that in my original question even. We are NOT materialistic people! And like us, many of our friends are tight on funds because of the ecomony, but for the friends and relatives who are doing well, I know that when they ask, they are wanting to really give her something she wants or uses. So I want to be honest, that's all. Thanks again for all your responses...I think I will go with "no gifts necessary" on the E-vite and then handle questions that arise on an individual basis.

Featured Answers

There is no polite way to ask for money as a gift. It's exceptionally rude and presumptuous.

The best way to "ask" for money is if the gift-givers approach you and ask "So, Susie's birthday is coming up - what might she like for her birthday?" and THEN you can ask for cash gifts. They're still not required to give that as a gift though.

2 moms found this helpful

You can't tell people what to give ... that's rude. However, if they ask for ideas, you could say something like, "Daughter just loves to go shopping, so a small gift card would be fun for her." Another thought is to ask people to make a donation to a charity in her name, since it sounds like you've been very fortunate and she's well stocked with toys and clothes. You can't really expect people to want to pay for special activities like swim lessons, unless perhaps it's a grandparent.

2 moms found this helpful

I always frown upon being told what to give, however, as a mom I understand. Try saying "gift cards optional" at the bottom of the invite. Or even being honest " in lieu of gifts we are trying to send baby to swim lessons! Any monetary contributions are welcomed!"

2 moms found this helpful

More Answers

Rude Rude Rude....I don't care what the situation is. If you ask for a specific gift such as money than you are missing the whole point of someone giving you a gift and you are implying that you expect a gift at all. Let people get what they want. You have three options: use it, donate it, or regift it.

*Edited* I was not in any way trying to attack you. You asked in your headline---"how to politely ask for money in place of physical gifts?" It is my personal opinion that there is NO polite way to do any such thing, recommending any gift is assuming you are getting one. I don't think I misunderstood you, I just disagree with what you are trying to do. "Your gift is present enough" on the invite would be as far as I would take it. I don't agree with putting something about gift cards or soliciting money towards your child's activities. I think it is tacky period. If grandma call and asks, I think you say that any gift is appreciated and leave it at that. Again this is all just my opinion, and if you didn't want different opinions, then don't ask.

5 moms found this helpful

FIRST: I am sorry you are getting so slammed here but it must be something you need to hear....

The thought of asking for money when you are throwing a birthday party (or ANY party, wedding) for your child is TACKY. You are not hosting a fundraiser!

If you can't afford the party, DON"T THROW IT. I would never go to a party where $$ was requested....plain no no tacky in my book.

At our parties, I say no gifts please. A couple of times, I asked people to bring something for the animal shelter if they wanted to bring something and thenwe delivered the goods to the shelter. Another time was donating for the food pantry and we delivered that as well.

Parties are not supposed to be given to received gifts. PLEASE do not do this.

4 moms found this helpful

If she already has enough, then tell people "No gifts, please". I wouldn't mention gift cards, money or ask people to pay for my kids lessons. I, too, agree that lessons are more important than toys, but that's something that shouldn't be expected from others. Your family will need to pay for these yourself. Or, if you have that kind of relationship with your relatives, ask them. But not your child's friends.

4 moms found this helpful

I am in the same boat with my daughter...but I couldn't possibly ask for money instead of toys. My parents asked what to get her and I said they could contribute to her college fund or do savings bonds if they liked...but that's my parents and felt totally comfy letting them know. But for friends or other relatives...it would be very rude to say bring money instead of toys/clothes.

I would say just tell them no gifts necessary. I'm sure some people may still show up with gifts and then some may get that money would be better appreciated.

3 moms found this helpful

K.M.
I'm in the "you can't ask for cash" camp. My son received an invitation with "Cash in lieu of gifts is appreciated as ---- is saving up for a Nintendo DS." I let my son go to the party, even though I was quite turned-off. I bought him a yo-yo and put $5 in a card. The yo-yo was the only gift he received.

When my son wanted drum lessons but I couldn't afford them, I let people know that a gift certificate at the music store giving them would be great. I would ask the camps and swim place if they sell gift certificates and then maybe have on the invitation, "Don't know what to get Suzie? She could always use certificates towards her swim lessons and ________ camp." It also doesn't hurt to start a college fund and let folks know that they can contribute towards that too.

Personally, I am not about the "stuff" you get in life. I'm about experiences that you can take with you through life. So I think it's great that you're providing your kids with wonderful experiences.

Hope the party is a blast.
S.

2 moms found this helpful

You cannot ask for any gift, monetary or otherwise, without being rude. To assume that one will bring gifts, and to assume that they will be unneeded/unwanted items at that, is rude, and is underestimating your loved ones.

We too are drowning in toys and games, but I wouldn't take from my children those moments of receiving those terribly thoughtful gifts, or the handmade ones, or the unbelievably useful ones or even the cash/gift card ones that showed them how much their friends and family love them and think about them. Also, I don't want to take that joy away from family members that feel as though they stay closer to nieces, nephews and grandchildren by giving them a picture to remember them by, or a book that they can share together, or seashells from a memorable trip, or anything else that they think is 'just right'. It truly is the thought that counts.

Also, we have had friends come to birthday parties without gifts, and I wasTHRILLED (and relieved!!) that my kids hardly noticed and really didn't care. They really were happy to have their friends celebrate with them! It truly is a gift in and of itself.

I hope she has the happiest birthday ever, no matter what she recieves!

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All I have to say is WOW! I am not at all wowed my your questioned I am wowed at the respones you have recieved. I read your post and I read about half of the respones and the entire time I was asking myself did these people even read her post before responding.

Anyway, I felt the same way about my son's birthday last year. I would never assume or expect someone to buy him a present. What I did was put on the bottom of his invitations "no presents needed" Please join us for a day of fun and games.

Then when actual family members still wanted to know what he wanted I let them know of all the future activities that my son would like to attend and he either recieved checks, or gift cards for those activies. For example my sister bought him a membership for the zoo. This year I will let everone know that he would like a membership to legoland if he gets it then awesome if not then I will try to find a way to budget for it myself.

I hope that you have not let some of these posts upset you. I hope your daughter has/had a wonderful birthday.

2 moms found this helpful

You can't tell people what to give ... that's rude. However, if they ask for ideas, you could say something like, "Daughter just loves to go shopping, so a small gift card would be fun for her." Another thought is to ask people to make a donation to a charity in her name, since it sounds like you've been very fortunate and she's well stocked with toys and clothes. You can't really expect people to want to pay for special activities like swim lessons, unless perhaps it's a grandparent.

2 moms found this helpful

I always frown upon being told what to give, however, as a mom I understand. Try saying "gift cards optional" at the bottom of the invite. Or even being honest " in lieu of gifts we are trying to send baby to swim lessons! Any monetary contributions are welcomed!"

2 moms found this helpful

I agree that there is no polite way to ask for something in lieu of a gift.

If people ask, you can always say you're stumped, too, and something like gift cards might be better as she can pick things out for herself.

But, honestly, the best approach I've seen lately was a 4 year-old's birthday party we attended this past weekend. The invitation said, "Please do not bring gifts. If you'd like to bring something, please make a donation to the _____ County Humane Society in her name".

And, that's what we did. We'll likely do something similar for our son's up-coming birthday.

Gifts are a pleasantry that are usually done out of good will, so to try to steer people one direction is not appropriate unless they ask first.

2 moms found this helpful

You only have three options:

1.) Say nothing and let people make there own giving decisions.
2.) Say your presence is requested not your presents
3.) We've designated a charity and prefer a gift of toys or books or non-perishable food (whatever your charity is)

2 moms found this helpful

There is no polite way to ask for money as a gift. It's exceptionally rude and presumptuous.

The best way to "ask" for money is if the gift-givers approach you and ask "So, Susie's birthday is coming up - what might she like for her birthday?" and THEN you can ask for cash gifts. They're still not required to give that as a gift though.

2 moms found this helpful

I am sorry people do not understand or did not read what your request said.

I have the same family. They ALWAYS are asking what does daughter need, want.. They love giving the money towards something daughter wants or is saving for. I would never ask for the money from anyone who had not asked. But if they ask, I tell them the truth.

When she was graduating from High School, tons of people asked what does she really want or need? I told all of them that she was saving up for a particular laptop. People were thrilled to write her a check, give cash or the gift card to that company. They loved her thank you note telling them "thank you for my dream laptop". She said she "felt like a community had helped her prepare for college".

2 moms found this helpful

IMO, I would rather give something you/child wants than something she already has or won't use, so I don't think it's rude or offensive. You just have to be careful how you word it so people don't get offended. Something like the statement below or "In lieu of gifts, _______ will be attending swim and summer camp, any "gift" towards these activities is appreciated."

2 moms found this helpful

I can tell you aren't trying to be greedy by asking for $. I am totally with you in the fact, my kids don't need anything. I usually put on the invite "No Gifts Neccessary". And when people ask individually, that may be an appropriate time to say that she has plenty of toys and an activity may be the best option for her. This is where I usually defer to grandparents that want to get them something. It is a whole lot easier to tell them that our kids want to "do" something and don't need more toys. Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful

I agree in not asking for money. If anyone asks let them know she has tons of toys and no gift is needed. I have been to parties requesting gift cards and didn't like it. People usually give you a gift receipt and if it's something she doesn't need or won't learn from then exchange it or return it and use it for the swimming lessons.

1 mom found this helpful

In answer to your question....you can't. There is no polite way to do that. You CAN request NO GIFTS or "please consider a donation to XYZ charity" but that's about it. Anything else will be rude. If she is so well provided for, I'd got the NO GIFTS route.

1 mom found this helpful

It is definitely bad manners to ask or to put a request in the invitation. If a close friend or relative asks then that is ok. Telling them a store you like to receive things from might give the hint for a card, or you can exchange it later.

1 mom found this helpful

technically, I don't think you should ask for money.... BUT yes, why not say, oh a gift card is great...... most people know to include a receipt in the event something isn't right or doesn't fit... just return things if you have to .. but to ask for money..ummm... unless they ask you, would you prefer money, I am not sure it's very polite.... you know the ol saying, don't look a gift horse in the mouth....

1 mom found this helpful

You can't. I am pretty practical and love the idea of registries and always want to get something useful for a kid instead of another truck they won't use. But I would be completely turned off if I was asked to help put your child through day camps or college or swim lessons. I probably wouldn't come to the party honestly. The only way to do something like this is if your guests are mostly family and your mom wants to quietly spread the word or something. I have no problem doing this kind of thing for family. I have a cousin pregnant with twins and a laid-off husband. I would be the first person to hint to other family members that maybe she needs diapers instead of another cutesy outfit that wont get worn because it will be summer in Texas. But that is what family is for. Maybe ask the grandparents who love to spoil her to start putting money towards these things in the future instead of buying toys and clothes.

1 mom found this helpful

I too understand the dilemma but if you really want to practice good manners and don't need any more stuff/toys then the gracious thing to say is "your company is gift enough". And that's it. Just like you don't put on a wedding invitation that you want money, you don't do it now. There is no polite way to do it.

1 mom found this helpful

If anyone asks then point them in the direction you'd prefer.
You can always say that you would prefer NO gifts or instead of a gift a donation to a charity your daughter picks out. (Maybe they bring dog/cat food for the local humane society.)

* monetary gift to go towards swimming lessons and summer camps
* monetary gift to go towards purchase of family zoo/museum pass that will last all year long
* Savings bonds or college fund
*maybe a list of things she would need for those camps in the summer (new swim suit, pool noodles, art supplies, etc.)

I have made it very clear to our relatives and especially grandparents that we prefer practical gifts (bed sets, clothes, books, etc.) or funds to go towards college and/or savings bonds that won't mature for several years. If they really want to get her a toy, I don't put a fuss either as long as it is age appropriate and/or educational. :)

Good luck! I'd rather know what the parents would like for their child than to just walk the toy aisle looking for a toy that might suit the kid.

Have a five dollar bill party. On the invitations include "five dollar bill party" People will ask what is a $5 bill party and you can say "Oh everyone is doing it now, instead of buying a gift, just bring 5 dollars"
Parents love the idea because it saves them money. Asking for more then $5 is rude.
open the cards at home after the party some people might give more then one $5 dollar bill.

I read most of the responses to this. Funny how everyone has an opinon on this.

Yes, it's tacky to ask for money and most moms would probably be turned off from going to the party as T.F said. But at the same time, unless I was anticipating your daughters bday and had a gift in mind, I would maybe be relieved to not have to go shopping, just pull a $10 bill out of my wallet.

I don't know what your bday theme is, but if it's swimming, then perhaps suggest in the invitation like Sandy S suggested that people bring swim themed gifts (pool toys, beach towels, goggles, etc). Or sometimes, if you write an invite from the childs point of view, people think it's funny, like "I'm having a bday party . . . Mom says that it's not nice to ask people for money for a gift, but I really want to go to music lessons this summer...."

If you decide not to ask in any way for money/gift cards/etc, then you could either try to sell back un-opened gifts, re-gift them to someone else later, or let her play with one new toy a month. My 2 yr old loves pulling a new gift out of the closet. Pulled out a Xmas gift just this week. He'd never played with it. What a treat for him!

Grandparents want to spoil their grandkids. So I agree with most of the other posters when I say to ask them or ask your parents fora cash gift, as long as they know what it's going to.

A year ago all these people answered your question with some of the stupidest answers I have ever heard. No it's not impolite to ask for money or gift cards as a gift....after all ...you are providing entertainment and food and did not HAVE to invite them. Relative or not...it's improper to show up at a birthday party empty handed...yes, gifts are expected and appreciated...after all..it's just once a year!! And why on earth would you want to give someone something that they don't want? People that say "no gifts please" are the rudest people of all because that tells someone..."I don't want whatever hideous gift you decide to bring so don't even bother". I would much rather give a VISA gift card to the guest of honor as a thank you for including me in celebrating your day than give them a gift that they may not like and may not be able to return. Get real people....think of the time, gas and money you will spend trying to find that "perfect" gift that may be the most horrible gift the birthday boy/girl has ever received. Just fork over the cash...stop being so greedy...I think the only people that complain about as they put it "being told what to gift" are the ones that save up those unwanted gifts that they re-gift when they get invited to parties....

I actually think there is nothing wrong with asking relatives "only" if they would be able to just give money for the events you have planned for her(if they ask). My mom and grandparents, and so on dont think it is rude, but I wouldn't ask my friends or others that aren't related for money.

IM SORRY TO DISAGREE WITH ALL YOU THE MOMMAS.

I HAVE A DAUGHTER AND FOR ALL HER PARTIES IVE SENT IN THE INVITE THAT WE WOULD PREFER INSTEAD OF A GIFT, A DONATION OF ANY AMOUNT TO HER COLLEGE FUND.

OUR DAUGHTER TOO HAS IT ALL AND WE HAVE NO SPACE OR NEED FOR MORE TOYS OR CLOTHES. SO WE THOUGHT OF SOMETHING THAT WILL HELP HER IN HER FUTURE WHICH IS A COLLEGE FUND.

FOR HER BAPTISM AND HER 1ST BDAY PARTY WE GOT MANY DONATIONS AND NOW ALL THE MOMS THAT I KNOW, DO THE SAME.

SO NO I DONT THINK ITS RUDE, AND IF IM GIVING A PRESENT I RATHER GIVE SOMETHING THAT THE CHILD WILL NEED OR MAKE USE OF. I PREFER THAT THEN THE PERSON RETURN OR REGIFT MY PRESENT.

i WORD ON THE INVITES..."IF YOU WERE THINKING OF GETTING ME A GIFT TO CELEBRATE MY DAY; A GIFT OF CASH WOULD HELP ME ON MY WAY; AND THAT WOULD REALLY MAKE MOMMY & DADDY'S DAY! THANK YOU OLIVIA"

I am Mexican and we are not offended if a monetary gift is requested. It is easier to buy a card and give the gift of money than trying to figure out what the child would like. I do not see it as rude or inappropriate. It is your child's birthday and if she would like a gift card or money then that's what she should ask for. I think requesting money is the same as listing the child's shoe and clothing size and saying please no toys. Do what you feel is appropriate for your friends and family and if someone is put off by it then they do not have to attend.

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