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How to Ask People NOT to Buy Gifts!

My daughter will be having her First Communion in April and I don't know how to tell our friends and family NOT to buy her gifts. We have already had a few say that they saw a "cute picture frame" or asking what she would like from a particular store. What she REALLY wants is to be able to buy a TV for her room. So, how do I politely ask people to contribute to her "TV Fund", rather than another knick-knack? Our house is on over-load with toys, clothes, etc. and I would much rather buy her ONE item that she wants, rather than having another closet-full of returns/re-gifts. I do appreciate everything we receive and I am grateful, but for this time, I would like help in how to let everyone know that there is something in particular that she wants. Help , please, on how to approach even those that did not ask what she wants, and how to offer the information to them.

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Thanks for all the input. Will take them into consideration.

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I didn't read any of the responses so I apologize if I'm repeating anything. If it were me, I would just put "No Gifts Please" on the invitation. The reality is that you're inviting people to share in her 1st communion and it's not request for gifts. That said, we all know most people will bring a gift anyway. I personally would uncomfortable telling people what to get since a gift giving is very personal. I would just hope for the best and whatever money cards you receive could go towards the TV Fund. If people aren't asking what she wants, then you do need to respect the idea that they want to give her something of their own choosing.

One of my friends, very generously suggested on their shower cards that they were so blessed that they preferred that any gifts go to a specific children's charity - not everyone took them at their word, but some did and so some children that don't have much got some lovely books and other toys.

hi C.,
on the invites just ask Please no gifts. but get them out soon so all will know.
it works great and no one is affended.
hope this helps

More Answers

Well I am probably going to have a super-unpopular opinion here, but I'll share it.

This is a communion. This is not a birthday, or a graduation...it is the celebration of a religious event. Gifts are, IMHO, very unnecessary, and have traditionally been given to commemerate the event. So yes, picture frames, religious "knick-knacks"...those are the things given.

Again, IMHO, you have three APPROPRIATE choices.

#1. Put on the invitations, "In lieu of gifts, please make a donation to _____," and have your daughter choose her favorite charity/cause. This seems to me to be the one that would make everyone the "happiest." You would not have knick-knacks, your daughter would get to have the experience of giving, and the gift-giver would feel fulfilled.

#2. Put on the invitations, "No gifts, please."

#3. Accept whatever gifts are given graciously, understanding the meaning and thought behind the gifts.

I am with the other poster who said that the TV is a bad idea, especially at age 8. And really, what child DOESN'T want a TV in their room??? Of course she does! That doesn't mean it's the best for children! Kids also want to wear make up to school, shorts when it's too cold outside, and to ride their bikes in the streets. Parents have to say "no" to some things.

You certainly do not want for you or your child to come off as "tacky" and I truly think that you will come off that way if you ask for money for a TV.

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Good luck with that. This is a religious event of a lifetime and you are worried about a TV for her room?? Wow.....
Well, people usually give a gift of money for these events anyways. Or religious items, rosary, cross necklace, bible, etc. Something I am sure she should cherish much more than a TV. Does she fully understand the purpose of her first communion? Do you?
Not to mention none of kids will ever have a TV or computer in their room! I enjoy time with my kids.
I am sorry to be so blunt but what is this world coming to???

Mom to four appreciative kids.

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accept the gifts, put then aside later and pray and ask the Lord what to do with them, i wouldnt tell someone not to give me a gift, you might need it later on or you may have a need later on and recieve it recieve it,

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I find it a little curious that a young girl would get a TV as a gift for receiving her First Communion - but that is beside your point that you also do want a house full of toys and clutter to celebrate this occasion in your daughter's journey of faith. I would suggest asking your family and friends to donate to a charity of your daughter's choice.

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I don't think that you can be choosy when it comes to gifts, especially for something so important as a first communion. I think a "TV fund" is tacky. There's really no good way to communicate this. All the etiquette books I've seen say when someone specifically asks "what does your daughter want?", then you can give them specifics, but you shouldn't write anything on an invitation--even "No Gifts". People are often offended by that. It's always been my experience that people give money for communions anyhow.

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Our house is also full of too many toys, my children pick out every few months toys to give to charity. Also, when there are duplicate toys given, they happily give to a charity as well. I also feel that asking for money is inappropriate, especially for a communion. Though, my son just had his First Communion last year and was given gifts of money by several people so that will happen without you saying so. Specifically stating that cash is your wish is not very tasteful.
Also, regarding TVs in bedroom, studies show that students with TVs in their bedroom have more behavior problems down the line and their academics can suffer as well. Just a thought...
Congratulations to your child receiving this special sacrament.

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I just had this same situation with my 3 year old daughters birthday party. She had her birthday in February and she already had so many gifts from Christmas. I was trying to think what would be a practical gift to get her. She has been sleeping in her daybed for the past 6 months and she really needed a twin bed. So I emailed all my family & friends to explain the situation. I asked them NOT to get her presents but to write a check for a certain amount of money so we can put that towards the bed. Everyone thought that was a great idea, and also liked the idea of not having to go out and buy something. You would be surprised at some of the reactions (smile). Just be upfront and honest with everyone.

I sent out evites and explained the whole thing in a very professional and fun way. I had zero problems with it, and we got a great bed with sheets and a duvet cover and a bed skirt. We still have some money left over.

The great thing is that your daughter has no clue what is going on. I bought a couple gifts for my 3 year old so she didn't feel completely present less. But even then, she didn't have a clue. She was just happy to have her balloons and cake (smile).

Good Luck,

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First of all, I totally understand your child wanting a TV in her room. I wanted and had one when I was a kid. I got it for Christmas-a small blk and white set. I loved it! She's obviously a normal kid. That being said--I don't actually think it's a good idea. I realize that's not what you're actually asking in your inquiry but I felt compelled to say so. I realize that you are on here doing what we all are doing--trying to make the best decisions for your kids. I don't think it's a trivial issue, either. Did I mention that I was a classic under-achiever with a very limited attention span? For more information in making your decision here are some links with compelling info. Cheers! P.S. How about a nice new desk that she picks out?





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I have put on the bottom of invitations/evites "No gifts please" or similar. I don't think there is a tactful way to ask for cash, and that is usually the advice I see in parenting magazines. The only people I would probably ask for a specific gift is maybe grandparents, since my parents usually ask for some direction on gift buying. Hope that helps! If your daughter gets a lot of stuff she doesn't need, maybe gift to a charity as part of her first communion?


My response is not going to be what you expect, but I really want to put it out there for you to consider. Having a television in a child or teenager's room is not a good idea. It isolates the child/teenager and makes it very easy for them to separate from the family (which they already have a natural tendency to do as they mature). I have talked to more moms who have said, "I wish I'd never allowed a television in his/her room. That was the beginning of the end of his/her connection to the family." Televisions and computers are best kept in common areas of the home where they can foster family involvement and be monitored as well. And remember that there are alot of things that our kids want that isn't necessarily the best for them. Before you make that decision, make sure that you've really thought through the implications of it all.

Basically tell them politely that u have enough toys and clothes and your daughter really wants a nice T.V. for her and could they help by contributing money to her fund to get one. Maybe even after everyone gives you money have your daughter pick out her own T.V. to make it even more special!

I too have a son making his first communion in April and I too would rather not get a bunch of little toys. In my family however, it is typically the custom to give savings bonds or money for the future with a small religious item or keepsake for these sacraments. I would certainly not discourage anyone from bringing an item that they think is of value to my son, but I am not sure that a TV is an appropriate communion gift either (but I am a book person when it come to children anyway). If you really want to collect for the TV you might consider adding something to the invitation like,
"(child's name) is growing up so fast and learning the value of saving for what she wants. If you feel it neccesary to give a gift please consider contributing to her "My very own TV fund" that she has started. All additional funds will be saved for college. "
Just a thought, but it might just work. People are usually willing to consider what the child really wants of needs these days and it takes the burden of shopping for the perfect gift away too.

Let us know what you decide. Good luck.

I find honesty to not only be helpful to me but to the gift-buyers. I was so tired of toys (especially ones we'd never buy ourselves for our girls) so when friends/family ask about their birthdays I just tell them, "Honestly, I could use gift cards so I can get them things when they need them". So, for my daughter Jordyn (June baby) I let people know I'll be needing to buy her a lot of fall clothes in a few months b/c the handmedowns from Morgan (Dec baby) probably won't go far for her. People really seemed to appreciate that they were getting her things she NEEDED rather than just buying her a gift just to get her something.

And, there's nothing wrong w/ telling people that your daughter really would love a TV for her room and so adding to her TV fund would actually bring her the most happiness. People like to know they're doing something that REALLY makes the child/parent happy, so if that's what will do it for her, then people will probably be happy to contribute.

Tread lightly with people when mentioning what it would be used for. I am not a big fan of TV in the bedrooms, and would likely not even give cash then knowing that is what it would go for. But others would be OK with that. Know your audience.

hi C.,
on the invites just ask Please no gifts. but get them out soon so all will know.
it works great and no one is affended.
hope this helps

HI C. - when mine were little we started a campaign for cash gifts that we turned into college bonds, my family was delighted to participate in that very worthy cause and was actually more generous in the cash gift giving than the thing gift giving - with one in college now and a very large part of it being paid for with bonds - it's a pretyy amazing thing!!

I have done this with my son's birthday parties. I just include a little piece in the invitation that says something like...(Your daughter's name) would really like to have a TV for her room, so gift certificates to (insert store name) would really be appreciated! People do like to know what you want as a gift. However, people also like to just give whatever they like too. No one was offended when I put this in my sons bday invite. Good luck!

I would agree that if someone asked specifically what she wants, you can tell them that she is saving her money for something she really wants and might love a gift for her "savings account"...otherwise, I guess you kind of have to accept that people are going to pick out things they think celebrate the event--although I also agree that often you can ask your own family for specifics, if you feel comfortable with it.

In my personal opinion, if you know what you want and I ask you what you want, I would like for you to tell me just that. Friends and family will understand that your daughter would like a tv. I would love to just give money towards something that will be used. If the gift giver knows what they are going to get your daughter, then they will not be asking you what to get her. Other wise why are they asking?

It is easier buying a large ticket item if a couple people chip in. Maybe the people giving a cash/check gift that know your daughter wants a tv can put on the card something like have a watching tv - don't forget to study! :) You could also print a large picture of a tv and cut it into smaller pieces, one per each gift giver. They can put the picture puzzle piece in the card envelope. Your daughter can then put them all together like a picture to figure out what she is getting.

My sister is picky and she prefers her kids to get cash or gift cards for holidays/special occasions. It makes it easier on us, the gift giver, because we know it will not be returned. If we did buy something we all know she will be the first in the return line. It is just who she is.

If they don't like the fact that you are asking for money towards the tv, then they should not ask what you want.

Good luck

I know how it feels to not want more presents. My family has always been wonderful about asking what my daughters (6 & 2) want, or what I want for them for the holidays. Some of your friends may be open to suggestions, others may just be telling you that they're excited for this wonderful time and are thinking of you and her.

I have to agree with the "unpopular" opinion here. I was 16 when I got my own TV (I earned the money) and it really separated me from my family. With all the inappropriate things that are on TV now I would be scared to put one in my daughter's room. Who knows what she might turn to, or accidentally see. If you feel your home needs another TV, consider a room that is open so you can monitor it.

I don't think group gifts are tacky, but I think the "TV fund" is. What else is she interested in? Books? Sports? Music? Maybe a new stereo, ipod, set of books, new bicycle...

I'm not sure how First Communion is done, but if someone else is hosting an after-party, maybe they could arrange the group gift, like at a baby shower.

Good luck.

The pitch-in gift works great! Evite is a great idea to spread the word in a fun way. If you already know the tv you want, a gift card for that store would work as well as a check would.
Another suggestion about the toys: get the kids involved in giving to charity. Most areas have a local collection site for Goodwill and making room for new toys is always a good incentive. We always "make room" in November before Christmas comes, so there will be room for their new stuff. Watch a couple episodes of a show like "Clean Sweep" for inspiration. It is a great way to raise the kids' awareness of those less fortunate, and will make it much easier for them to keep their rooms clean, easier to find the toys they love, etc.

I don't think there is a way to "politely ask people to contribute" towards a purchase. My suggestion is that you send invitations that contain a line that reads: Cards only; no gifts. That way, people feel no obligation yet do have ample opportunity to give cash in the card if they feel so inclined.


I too believe it is tacky to ask for money. As a giver, I like to think about the person to whom I am giving the gift and choose something I think the person will like, perhaps something that they can look at later and remember that it was a gift from "aunt, or cousin whomever" for their special occasion.

As a "veteran" mom of older childern, I also wonder at the wisdom of a television for a child of that age. Children need to be more active and a tv in their room is difficult to limit and supervise, to be sure they are watching appropriate programs.

It is a good thing for children to "want" for something. One of the biggest mistakes made today is to rush in and provide our children with everything we can afford! Saving and working for something, with the anticipation and longing involved is good for all of us, adults included.

Let people have the fun of choosing their own gift and put off a tv for a much later time, when your daughter has saved and saved. She'll appreciate it more!

One of my friends, very generously suggested on their shower cards that they were so blessed that they preferred that any gifts go to a specific children's charity - not everyone took them at their word, but some did and so some children that don't have much got some lovely books and other toys.

I didn't read any of the responses so I apologize if I'm repeating anything. If it were me, I would just put "No Gifts Please" on the invitation. The reality is that you're inviting people to share in her 1st communion and it's not request for gifts. That said, we all know most people will bring a gift anyway. I personally would uncomfortable telling people what to get since a gift giving is very personal. I would just hope for the best and whatever money cards you receive could go towards the TV Fund. If people aren't asking what she wants, then you do need to respect the idea that they want to give her something of their own choosing.

I too have kids that have more than they need, so I completely understand. On the other hand, I feel that a TV is not an appropriate gift for a first communion. If YOU want to buy her one that is your decision, but you should not make everyone else feel that this is what they need to do.

The reason people buy picture frames or momentos is so that your daughter will have reminders of this special time in her life and that they were there to support her. If she receives gifts of money or savings bonds, they are usually given with the intentions of her using them towards her education.

This is a great teaching moment for her about being appreciative. Also about charity when you donate some of the excess that you say she already has. And don't forget about having her help with the thank you notes. She doesn't have to write them, but having her put them in envelopes and put the stamps on teaches her about their importance.

It is much easier to teach kids these things when they are small.

Good luck.

I don't think that there is a polite way to ask for money. I'd give up that idea and accept the gifts that are offered. If you don't need them, you can have her donate them to a children's hospital or wing, Goodwill, Salvation Army, a women and children's shelter or what have you. I wouldn't even think about approaching people that haven't asked what she wanted. This is a special time in your daughter's life and that's what I'd keep the focus on. Good luck to you.

As everyone knows just because you ask...does not mean you will get!!! When my daughter was baptized I was asked what she wanted. I said money (I opened a savings account for her) and wanted to add to it. Half gave money the other half gave those great hand me downs/regifts!! Tell close family members that your daughter really wants a tv and so money or gift card to store (walmart,best buy, etc.) would be greatly appreciated. And tell them you know its an odd request but this is something you really want to do for your daughter hopefully everyone will understand and help...good luck

Well... Studies show that having a tv in a child's room is a BAD idea. That said... I think you could easily let people who ask know that your daughter is saving for a certain item and that gift certificates to a certain store would help her make her purchase. But only if someone asks. Otherwise just let people get what they want to get and hope there are gift receipts!

Well, if you read any of the syndicated advice and manners columns, they all say it's tacky and rude to say "Don't buy this for her, buy this instead." This often comes up with couples are getting married, who want money and want to ask for it. There's really no good way. You could always take the stuff back yourself, or buy the TV for her yourself.

I am the mom of a 3-year-old and I've always sent out lists as a guideline, but always add, "She'd love anything you get her." Which is true. As a baby, sure, people want to know what you need for her, but as she gets older, this somehow feels icky to tell people what to buy. Like you don't trust them or don't want what they would have picked out for you.

I think a nice picture frame in which you could place her First Communion photo would have more meaning than a TV. This occasion should be viewed as a religious rite of passage, not another gift-giving holiday. Besides, don't most people give money for religious milestones? I know my daughter received a lot of checks for her baptism.

Hi there. WHat i did for my daughters first birthday, since she was overloaded with clothes and toys already, was pu ta wish list in her invitation. College fund was at the top of the list. she really didnt need anything, except maybe a few things that she could use, like books, and things like that. SOme people though it was great idea, and some people let us know they thought it was inappropriate. but mythoughts were, hey do you wanna know what she needs or wants, or do you want us to ask you for a gift receipt? You will never make everyone happy. I would definitely put an insert or write on the ivitation that she is really "Praying" to save enough money to purchase her own tv, or college funds are always welcome. Good luck.

I just went through this with my daughters. Are you doing printed invitations? If you look at what true etiquette would be - you cannot ask people NOT to bring gifts. However, in this day & age, lots of people do ask on invitations for NO GIFTS. There are other, more creative or cutesy ways to say it, other than the traditional "no gifts, please." ... You can say, "no gifts, thank you", which is still simple, but somehow sounds nicer, I think. You can also say something like, "Your presence is your present." or "Your presence is your gift." We ended up saying "No gifts, thank you. (Your presence is your present!)" ... Through all of this, you can mention to those close to you that you are serious about not wanting gifts, but you cannot be upset when people bring them anyway. And if they do, don't put them out on display or open them in front of everyone - just say thank you and bring them to another room. One other suggestion I've seen is to request that in lieu of gifts, the guests bring a nice inspirational poem/writing or photos for a memory book.

All this being said, if you look at etiquette guides (and frankly, what seems like the "right thing to do"), you CANNOT ask people for a DIFFERENT gift (a.k.a. the TV). The one exception may be as an informal discussion with really close family/friends (grandparents, etc.) regarding what your daughter really wants. But I think it would be pretty tacky to be approached about this topic or to receive a printed invitation with the request for a contribution to a TV Fund.

I don't mean to sound judgemental, but I'm trying to tell you how it sounds as someone invited to such an event. Not only would I interpret it as tacky, but I might be annoyed that you just put me in a really difficult position. Do I contribute to a TV Fund & disregard the fact that it doesn't seem to go along with a religious event AND totally goes against my better judgment (I wouldn't put a TV in my kids' room!!)? Or do I do what I feel is right, buy your daughter something else, and know that you and she will both be disappointed, no matter the gift.

If it were me, I would simply ask people for no gifts, knowing she will get some anyway, and might have to return some. Knowing that I wouldn't want to put even ONE person in that predicament I described above, I would avoid the request for contributions to the TV fund.

Well, I have/had the same problem with my in-laws...with birthdays/holidays, my two step-kids (11 & 12 1/2) would get things that well didn't really interest them and then the toys would just lay around half the time i would look into their closets and the toy would still be in the original wrapping...so what I started doing a few years back, is i would send out e-mails letting everyone know about the party and what that child would like...At first I thought that it might be kinda rude, but I figured i would rather they get something they like and want instead of preteding to like the gift....unfortunately with both of the First Communion's it wasn't as if they were getting great gifts/money - it was more religous items, which I have more than my far share.....I do have a 13 month old right now and pretty much did the same for his b-day, sent an email requesting clothes instead of toys - unfortunately not eveeryone is always going to listen but in your invitation, i would simply write..."to celebrate our First Holy Communion would are requesting a donation to our TV fund"

C. -

I understand exactly. My suggestion would be if you are close enough to the friends to invite for the First Communion, you should be able to be truthful with them. Say exactly what you said, "she would like the picture frame, but what she REALLY wants and is saving her money for is a TV for her room. She is also learning the value of money and howe to spend it wisely. Most friends and family would be greatful to buy her a card and had either cash or a check. My daughter use to really think it was special for someone to write her a check and she got to go to the bank to sign her name and get the money back. Best wishes.

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