Bday Party "No Gifts"??

Updated on April 09, 2011
J.G. asks from Spring Branch, TX
30 answers

So my son will be 3 soon. He will likely WANT gifts. I notice a lot of birthday invitations that say "No gifts necessary" or "Please no gifts." or something of the sort. So if I DON'T put that phrase in my invitation, does that sound greedy or rude? It seems to be the norm to ask for no gifts, so I just want to know if I don't write "no gifts" b/c my son loves gifts, will it be weird or would you be upset or would you feel like I'm greedy if you got my invite? It's not like I am expecting gifts, I just don't know the proper way to do a kids bday party now-adays. (My son had one bday party at age 1, a family gathering where no invites were even given for age 2, and now he's almost 3. We're only planning on family and one new playdate friend to attend - 14 adults and 5 kids total).

Added: I plan to have pizza, salad, and cake/cupcakes, juice, water, soda, and probably some beer. So they'll get dinner! And I don't care if they bring a gift or not, I just want to phrase it appropriately so I don't feel greedy and so noone feels obligated to bring anything.

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So What Happened?

I sent the e-vite today and didn't mention a thing about gifts YES - I have seen invitations that say "Please no gifts" for children's parties. For one friend, they had a baby-viewing party I guess it was. On there it said 'no gifts' as well.

The message seems mixed about whether to let my son open his gifts in front of others or not. I think the guests will be upset if they don't get to see V's reaction to the gifts. I am thinking he can open them while everyone's eating cake so that other kids' hands are busy. I will make sure there is a give-away for the kids as well. And there are only 4 boys total, my 3 yr old being the youngest, so hopefully there won't be any outbursts. THANKS for all suggestions!

Featured Answers



answers from Los Angeles on

I wouldn't write anything and then you will have people who bring gifts and those who don't. That way there is no preconceived notion about either way, and the usual practice is to bring a gift when going to someone's party.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Not the norm. Just invite people and they will bring gifts - standard practice at a birthday party for a child.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Spokane on

I've never written 'no gifts' on a children's bday party invitation - nor have I ever seen this....wth? It's for kids! I mean, when people ask what my kids want/need, I give them non-toy options...but to say 'no gifts' at all? That's just weird.

3 moms found this helpful

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answers from Anchorage on

I think it is kind of tacky to put that on a child's invite. Of course a child wants gifts, and even if an invite says not to, I usually bring one anyways.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Who ever heard of a kid's party without presents? Just make sure not to compare the quality/size/expense of gifts with your son, so that he learns to understand that a person's worth should not be measured by the value of the gift they bear.

One thing I would definitely do though, is not open any of the gifts at the party. I learned the hard way that with young kids, public gift opening leads to a lot of tears from the birthday child and often many of the other children. A 3-year old will often want to play with every gift right away, and then everyone else wants to play with it too! I'm all for sharing -- but not with a brand new possession that's meant just for the guest of honor (at least for a couple of days). Plus, something inevitably gets broken, lost, etc.

It's better to thank each gift bearer as they arrive, and then put the gifts away. Let your son open them after everyone has left, and at a pace set by him. He may want to play with each item for a while before moving on to the next, or be so excited that he rips through them until there's nothing left to open.

When my kids turned 8 or 9 (third grade), I dropped this policy and let them open each gift at the party, then immediately took a photo of them with the guest and the present, after which the presents were stashed away. This made for a great way to keep track of who gave what (even if there was no card, or the card got lost), and the printed photos doubled as thank you notes. By this age, all of the children understood that birthday gifts would eventually be shared during play dates, but not during the party. Besides, there were other much more fun activities going on to enjoy.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

I went to a party once, for a child this age, and the parents specified no gifts... but instead, to bring donations for a local charity.
I felt sorry for their daughter.
I felt, she was too young, to have her party chosen this way. The parents thought they were teaching her how to be charitable.
But c'mon, the kid was only 3 years old.
When each guest came to her party with their kids, she looked sad. All the things the guests brought, were not for her. Even if it was her Birthday. It is not about the kid being 'greedy' but it is childhood. Kids feel special on their Birthdays. Kids know birthdays include presents. Nothing is wrong with that.

I don't know.
But, after that party, even my daughter commented that she felt sad for the little girl. It was a 'party'... but not for her. It was for the parents idea of donating to a local charity. Which they could have done, but not using her party for it. They could have taught her these concepts, on another day.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from San Diego on

I was taught that writing ANYTHING about gifts - even "don't bring any" - is tacky. The very first children's birthday party invitation that I ever saw that said "no gifts," I totally took them at their word. I mean, if *I* were to write "no gifts," I would totally want people to honor my wishes. Turns out I was the only one who did. I saw all the same people a few days later, and the mom of the birthday girl made a big show of giving everyone but me a thank you card for their present. So I ALWAYS bring a gift even if the invitation says not to.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

it's still the norm for gifts to be part of children's birthday parties. it's okay to have no-present parties, but please don't feel bad or ostracized for having a traditional one. just send out the invites and let your guests know you appreciate their presence as well as their presents!
you are over-thinking this.
:) khairete

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

At 3 years old I wouldn't put anything on the invite about bringing gifts or not, it's always fun for kids to have a few presents to open up at their birthday party. We always bring a small gift to the all the parties we've gone to at this age level. At the same time it wouldn't bother me if someone chose not to bring a gift, I just want everyone to come celebrate and have a good time!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Topeka on

I don't write in "No Gifts"they are all family gatherings if they come with a gift great if they don't come but still send a gift great if they don't do any that is still great just because you get an invite doesn't mean you have to provide a gift I however will provide my meal drinks & deserts for all my guests regardless.When school kids get invited in the future I still won't put "No Gifts"

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

Let's be honest, kids have b-day parties because they are a ton of fun and they love getting gifts. All of the parties I have been to that say "No gifts" - everyone brought gifts anyway. Also, for my kids, we only invite a few kids so there are only a few gifts. No need to invite everyone you know.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Cincinnati on

My thought would be to say
"instead of gifts, lets do a book exchange or wrap up an old toy and do a toys swap"..
That way your son gets some new gifts (or books) and all the other kids get toys too.
But I would only do that if the party is about 6 or less kids and I knew the parents well.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Denver on

I started saying that when I felt we were drowning in toys..and they had really stopped meaning anything to my oldest except "I have LOTS of stuff!". Before that, everyone brought gifts.

Now, some people still bring gifts but we set them aside, because opening them would not be nice (we write thank you cards). We do get many hand-drawn cards from my sons' friends. I like that - but we also open them later.

My sons have so many grandparents that there is always a pile of gifts to open from distant family members - and we do that after the party. It eases the let-down.

BUT we actually like getting other people presents. I like that my sons can learn about giving thoughtful gifts. We respect whatever the other people say though - so since we mean "no gifts please" when we say it, we assume they do too.

Asking for donations or specific items could seem greedy. Saying nothing is pretty standard. Have fun.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Milwaukee on

The only reason I put 'no gifts please' on the invites is because my daughter has tons already. Of course last year all the family got her gifts, plus her friends w/their families invited brought a few little gifts so it did not work as well as I thought it would.

Anyway to me family will bring them no matter what. I do not see anything wrong with or without the "please no gifts" phrase.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

I do put "No Gifts Necessary" on my son's invites. Believe me, the grandparents get him MORE THAN enough.

What I *hope* people take away from it is:
1. They are still welcome at the party if they don't have time/can't afford a gift.
2. Maybe instead of buying my son something large and plasticy and questionable that he'll play with at all, they'll get him something small - like a book or something or something small that they KNOW he'll like (rather than just a present for presents sake).

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pocatello on

I would not write anything one way or the other. If they bring a gift, great- if not... ok. Make sure to have a few favors for the kids who come.

If someone is worried about it, they can call and ask. If they ask, simply say that gifts are appreciated, but you aren't expecting the guests to bring gifts. I have always brought a gift (even if it is just a $5 toy or book) to any birthday party for kids... Adults- no, not always. If you know of someone who is having especially tight financial issues you could call them up and make a mutual agreement to not exchange gifts for this year.

In my family, since we are all on a budget, we don't buy gifts for extended family members (just our own units) EXCEPT for the kids. So, my daughter will get gifts from grandparents, aunts, uncles etc... but all the adults don't exchange gifts except between spouses. But that is a family agreement- and works out great for us. No one has to feel guilty that they cannot afford a gift for every individual birthday and holiday that comes along. We do gift to the kids though- because for the most part we all can scrounge up a few bucks for a birthday present every few months and some christmas presents every year- and it is worth it for them.

Good Luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Houston on

What a refreshing change to have someone worried about seeming greedy rather than someone worrying about how much her child will/should be getting.

But, to answer your question; he's only three, send out the normal invitations to his party, and it's up to the guests to decide what to do. If they're like me, they'll call to rsvp and ask for any ideas as to what he likes and they'll go from there. Just because someone is invited does not mean their "admittance fee" is a gift. They give it because it's something they want to do, just like you wanted them to come and join in the celebration of a happy event.

So don't worry, send the invitations, and have a lot of fun. What a wonderful reason to have a party - right?

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Odessa on

I say: Let him eat cake AND enjoy his presents!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Columbia on

I haven't seen invites with no gifts on them as of yet but I think it is right to bring a gift. Something as simple as a $1 coloring book would be delightful for him. However, if someone doesn't bring a gift their presence is gift enough. I wouldn't put "no gifts necessary" unless that's what you really want. I wouldn't call you greedy. A small gift is a small price to pay for free cake, food, and socializing.

B. Thorpe
Enhancing Lives One Family at a Time!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Austin on

Half of the joy of going to a little person's birthday party is watching them tear into gifts. Part of the rest is picking out or making just the right thing to give them. Are these invitations you're seeing for little kids? I can see that for an adult, but I absolutely think its fine to just leave the invitation with no comment about gifts at all and not stress out about it. Enjoy the party and whatever gifts he receives.



answers from Houston on

You are so sweet to even consider it! I don't think one should solicit gifts (put out a wish list) but is okay to believe that most folks will want to give him/her something. If someone says does DS like Lego's? it's okay to say, yes, he loves them ! Happy Birthday to your little one!



answers from Augusta on

I put that on there b/c my kids already get a ton from the grandparents so they don't need any more gifts.
every kid loves gifts but sometimes it gets to be too much.
it gets frustrating when someone brings a gift when asked not to.



answers from Houston on

Just invite people to the party, no stipulations. Those who really want to bring a gift will do so, anyway. Just let the chips fall....



answers from Houston on

I wouldn't write anything like that on an invitation--tacky and parties especially for kids is about opening presents, whether we have tons of toys already, it's still expected. It's not about us, it's about kids. If you wind up having too many toys, just donate ones that aren't being used. Just think it is weird and tacky, and puts people in an awkward spot if anything is written about gifts.


answers from Rochester on

I would not even think twice about seeing it or not seeing it. If we're invited to something for a friends' child I always ask the parent if there is anything specific they need or want that is inexpensive (since we don't have much), and most of our friends either suggest clothes or a book or say they don't need anything, so if we bring anything it is not expected. My kids are also always thrilled to open a $0.97 Hot Wheels car, but I also understand not wanting people to bring gifts. My kids know what gifts are and love them so I don't think I would say "no gifts" myself, either, since that is half the fun for kids. I might get to the point approaching birthdays and Christmas, though, where I make them weed through some toys they don't use or like since we don't have room for any more. :)


answers from Santa Fe on

Sounds like a nice party. Where we live you just get an invite and it does not mention gifts. Everyone buys a gift (whatever they feel like spending) and that is that. It's fun. Kids love to get some presents. It's their big exciting day! I would not worry about other people saying "no gifts" and just invite your family/friend and have a nice time.



answers from Oklahoma City on

I never have seen a birthday invitation with no gifts write on it.....



answers from Victoria on

fyi i put "no gifts" on my sons 2 yr old party (he is a january baby and did not need anything else after christmas). not one person showed up with out a gift. every person had one!

just leave the invite as an invite. i would bring a gift even if it said no gifts please. most likely i would bring a book though.
This link has lots of ideas about the party and gift. hope it is useful for you


answers from Houston on

Well I am not too far from you and here in the west side of town everybody I know still does gifts. I just invite people and don't put anything about gifts on the invite. I am going to a party on Saturday and would never dream of showing up without a gift. I don't get it, bday parties are to celebrate someone and take a small gift, at least in our culture, so I think gifts are great! I would never go to a party without a gift.



answers from Pittsburgh on

People will spend what they can and what they want.
Let him get gifts!
OR you could do a book party, but he might be disappointed...

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