Birthday Party Invite Wording for My Soon-to-be 4-Year-old

Updated on July 17, 2011
K.U. asks from Detroit, MI
19 answers

So my daughter is turning 4 next month and we are contemplating have a birthday party for her at our house and inviting some of the kids from her preschool class and some other kids that live in our neighborhood. Some of the kids she has played with more than others, some not as much, but I thought it would be nice to have them come to the party as a way of extending ourselves and get to know the families better and try to start fostering more friendships between the kids. At the very least, it would be a chance for my daughter and the other kids to have a lot of fun. What I don't want is for people to think that since we don't know them that well yet, we are only inviting them to get a present for our daughter. Honestly, I would be happy if DD didn't get tons more toys, she's got enough as it is! But I don't want people to think that if they do want to get her a gift, that we won't appreciate it either (like I said, some we are closer with than others). And of course I am sure that DD will be expecting at least some gifts. But then I don't want people who don't bring a gift to feel bad if and when others do. How can I word it on the invite that gifts are appreciated but not expected? Should I just say it like that, or say something along the lines of their "presence means more than presents?" Any ideas are welcome and appreciated! Thanks in advance!

1 mom found this helpful

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So What Happened?

Thank you for the responses so far...I was thinking about it and realized that if my daughter got an invite to a b-day party, even if we did not know the family that well, I would be happy to have a fun event to take my daughter to, rather than thinking they are just fishing for gifts. And I'd probably just spend $10 at the most and that would be it. I would invite all the kids in the class (her preschool class from this past year) as well as all the kids in the neighborhood that we know, and figure most likely if many don't come because it's summer and they have other plans, that's fine - and if they all show up, that's okay too! I would just be having it outside in our back yard and probably just get a big inflatable water park kind of thing for them to have fun on. Another little girl's mom from preschool invited everyone to her daughter's b-day party a few months ago - they had it outside at their house, rented a bounce house, and the kids had a blast!

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answers from Phoenix on

A friend of mine said on her invitations- "instead of a gift please bring a new book wrapped for a book exchange". Every child at the party brought a book and got to pick another one out to bring home. They were all wrapped, so all the kids felt like they were taking a gift home.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

Don't over think it.
Just make the usual kid invitations.
No biggie.

Don't mention anything about gifts.
It is customary to bring gifts.
And the Birthday child, gets a kick out of it too.
It is all INNOCENT.

DO NOT mention little details about presents or not.
It is, tacky. And un-needed.
It is just a birthday party.

I really think, nowadays, too much of a big deal is made over their kids "not" getting gifts for their Birthdays!
Its their birthday, kids 'expect' presents and it is not a 'greedy' attitude. It is customary. And it is a birthday, after all.
That is all a part of childhood "memories." For a child.
Its nice and innocent at this age.
No harm in it.
Especially for young children.

3 moms found this helpful

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answers from Rochester on

It's your daughter's birthday, let her have her gifts. Afterwards, if there are some that should be donated, she can choose which ones.

I think that most parents like to see their child invited, rather than being left out. The more invited, the better (as many as you can handle, that is). I think only a tiny percentage would entertain the idea that you were after more gifts, especially considering the cost to hold a good birthday party often far exceeds the retail values of the gifts.

I would say nothing whatsoever about gifts.

Have fun planning a great party with your daughter!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

You're over thinking this. It's a child's birthday party - people will bring presents. Do not mention gifts on the invite at all, which by strict etiquette standards is still tacky, even if it's to say "no gifts."

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

We always include a slip of paper with the invitation that says something along the lines of, "If you'd like to bring a gift, G is collecting donations for XYZ at the party."

For his first birthday, it was a charity that created birthday packages for local foster kids. The second was Harvesters food bank. The third was an animal shelter. I think almost everyone* donates something (all three take used items or just things around the house so no one HAD to buy something new) and about half of the guests brought a present for him anyway.

People seem to like the idea of bringing something even if it is not for the birthday boy and of course they still get thank you notes. We open any presents for G after the party and take a photo of him opening each one to send to the giver so they don't miss his reaction.

Of course, as I write this I realize you just want to say no gifts and not create a plan to collect anything! SO...I've received many invitations that say "no gifts" "gifts not necessary" "just bring yourselves" "your presence is a present" and have never felt weird or pressured. I bring a gift for very close friends and nothing but a homemade card by my son for others.

*my MIL seems to be the only party goer that habitually refuses to do a donation. go figure.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Anchorage on

I would not say anything about presents at all, just that they are invited to help you celebrate.

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answers from Houston on

I've worded an invitation like similar to this, like "come to have fun, no need to bring gifts!" Of course, people usually still do.

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answers from Boca Raton on

That's tricky because if some people show up with gifts, and others don't - people may feel badly. That just happened to me at my sister's wedding(2nd marriage for both, established home, etc.). We were told "no gifts" - then the groom's family all brought presents.

I probably wouldn't address it at all or simply say "no gifts."

OTOH it's fun for kids to get birthday gifts.

This is a tough one DVMMom! I do like your "presence means more than presents" verbiage.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Austin on

Hmm... what about wording it some way that..

"Although it is Susie's birthday, she has plenty of toys... We want this to be a fun get-together for the kids so they can get to know each other better.

If you want your child to have the fun of picking out a gift, all gifts will be donated to the local Blue Santa program for Christmas gifts for underprivileged kids.

"Your presence means more than presents."

"Or....... in lieu of gifts, please pick out a new or gently used book to donate to a local "books for tots" program..." (See what type of programs are in your area.)

Just have a Barrel or basket (like a laundry basket) by the door for people to put their presents in. If they are wrapped, you might want to unwrap them after the guests leave, since the Blue Santa programs usually want unwrapped gifts.

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answers from Medford on

I love the idea of the book exchange too!

I don't care much for the "no gifts please" invites. I always think its important to bring a little something for the birthday child. It helps teach my kids that giving is important. But we do more sentimental than material. I set a $10 limit and that includes wrapping. My kids taking the time to make wrapping paper and hand design a card mean much more than buying them in the store.

I have to admit though that I am tempted in considering the book exchange for my daughter's next bday. She had only 4 girls at her party because she wanted a sleepover. Then when brother had his he had a lot more, which meant a lot more presents...after his party she asked where she could have her party. I mentioned the swimming pool. She asked how many people she could have and I said about 20. So she said that she wanted that because then she will get a lot of presents!!! OH NO!!! So, we are working on this one. :)

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answers from Detroit on

We saw this at one of my son's friends parties and we have done it for our kids every party since. We have simple stated at the bottom of the invite *present optional. When people ask what to get, I remind them that hand-me-downs and second hand toys/clothes are awesome. At the same time our friends without kids come to the parties and don't feel they have to bring an obligatory gift. Families who have fallen on hard times bring home-made or hand-me-down gifts. It's been a great way for us to bring more friends and family together for parties.



answers from Norfolk on

Etiquette dictates any mention of gifts in the invitation is inappropriate. So, you send an invitation and hope for the best. If anyone calls to ask about gifts, consider inviting them to donate to something in your daughter's honor instead. This year, a friend of mine's husband was hospitalized and she lost her job, so for my birthday, I asked friends and family to donate to their support fund instead of gifts.

My latest crusade is little baby Leah. Here is a link to her parents' blog.
On the right-hand side, you can click the link to Donations to get info on how to contribute.

Happy Birthday to your little girl.


answers from Dover on

You could say "your presence is gift enough" or "presence requested, presents optional" or "presents not necessary".

Then you could do like many people have started doing an letting the kids play (on their own, organized, and maybe some crafts) and waiting until after the party to open gifts so there is no emphasis or perceived emphasis on the gifts.

My daughter does still open her gifts at the party but we only invite family and closer friends.



answers from Detroit on

So glad you want to limit presents. Good idea, not thought of often. You might say that you'd love to have them come and you'd like them to know that a gift is not expected.


answers from Grand Rapids on

There really aren't many children out there who "need" anything, these days. The real gift is being able to have a party with friends to celebrate their birthday. A friend of mine began having birthday parties at about age 4. She asks that in lieu of presents, the party guests bring a non-perishable food item/ children's book instead. She does one or the other, not both at the same birthday. They then take the items to donate to a food pantry or take the books to a woman's shelter or somewhere like that sometime in the next week or so. It is a wonderful idea, because a) No added toys to lay around your house that kids don't need anyway! b) It teaches them to think of other's besides themselves and the value of giving to others and makes them feel good that they were able to help someone else. c) It does the same for the party goers and parents who might take this idea and do some good for others too. d) It is inexpensive, and possibly even free if they have an item they can bring from home, for the party goer and most people love that they are donating to a worthy cause! I love this idea and will use it for my soon to be 4 year old's party next month. A variation on the theme could also be bringing an item for your local animal shelter. Call and find out what they need. Also, coats, blankets, or toiletries for a local shelter.



answers from Madison on

I would send a invitation without any mention of gifts. I don't like to receive invitations that say "no gifts necessary". It leaves the person receiving the invitation feeling unsure of what to do. If they decide not to bring a gift, they end up feeling bad when they see that others have brought something.

I like the idea of a book exchange if you really would rather not get presents. Otherwise just do a normal invitation without mention of gifts. I don't think people will think you're looking for more presents by inviting those you don't know well.



answers from Dallas on

I haven't read through all your responses to this, but one thing we do (learned it from a party we attended) is we don't open the gifts at the party. There are a couple of reasons -- first, if anyone didn't bring a gift we don't want to make that an embarrassing time for them. Also, when my kids opened gifts with a lot of other kids around, it always seemed like the presents were snatched away and they were having to open more before they even got a good look at what they had received. It's much more relaxing to open them later, after everyone has rested from the party and when they can do it at a comfortable speed. An added bonus is that the kids--who are inclined to say just what they think, in spite of coaching to be nice!--don't blurt out that they hate a present or already have it. It's just calmer and more pleasant all around, and we've used that time to take pictures of them with the gift to include in the thank-you note.

At first I really thought it was odd not to open at the party, but it has worked so much better for us, and some of our friends now do the same!



answers from Topeka on

I love love LOVE the idea of the book exchange....what a fabulous idea!! I am going to suggest this to my daughter for her son's 4th birthday in Dec!!! Love it love it love it!!!



answers from Miami on

wow having it at your house. Your brave. We always have it at a park. Rent a pavilion invite the whole class cause really at that age its actually wrong to be leaving any kids out. Seriously if your inviting one you should invite them all. Hotdogs hambergers and a park playground. The kids are happy. I think your worrying to much about the gift. If they can afford you'll get a nice one and if they can't you'll get a cheap one. Never open the gifts at the party. Do that at home where you can write down who got what for thank you cards.

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