A "No Gifts" Conundrum¬†We requested “no gifts” on our recent kid’s party invitation that adults were invited to attend. When the party rolled around, some people honored our request and brought “no gifts,” while others brought gifts and couldn’t imagine attending a kid’s party any other way. When the guests who did not bring gifts saw that some had brought presents, it made them feel awkward and had them asking questions. How could I have handled this situation better?

Today, parents are often asking for “no gifts” to be brought to their kids’ parties on the invitations. Although you have deliberately set forth this guideline, presents are really almost “part and parcel” of any kids’ parties. I mean that even when you write such a guideline on your party invitation, many people will ignore your request and just bring a present as party goodwill.

I can understand that when some people chose not to bring gifts, as you requested, and then saw guests with party presents in hand, that they might have felt bad to not have brought a gift as well. Still, if you were sincere with your “no gifts” request (and you were), then you can simply state that there were no gift expectations to relieve their concern over having not brought a present.

Given that many people will bring gifts, even in light of your request, it may be better to direct guests’ gift-giving energies by requesting a present under a certain amount of money or by asking for donations to a favorite charity or items to be donated to a local organization, e.g. books for a local library. In these examples, guests are given specific ideas for alternatives to traditional gifts or a spending cap to limit extravagance.

Guests are more likely to follow such a guideline rather than not bringing anything at all. Plus, if you find that some people still bring traditional gifts, the others who followed your request will not feel bad for not having brought anything to give when others do.

Say It!


  1. alternative to “no-gifts” idea is to ask that they bring a new toy which is then donated to a local charity or women’s shelter.
    We have been doing this for the past 5 years and it works great, people still can bring something to the party, it gives a teachable moment to all kids about the importance of charity & giving to those less fortunate. My daughter looks forward to the trip we take after her party to distribute the gifts at the women’s shelter.

    kirsten said on April 13, 2007
  2. Oh come off it, who doesn’t want gifts brought for their child at their own birthday party?
    It’s all part of being a kid, having a party and getting presents!

    I give stuff to charities like old stuff from my attic or whatever, charitys don’t expect new toys!

    I feel sorry for all the kids that has presents brought to their party – only to be told that they’re all going to a charity!!!

    What a silly idea!

    Chelsea said on September 5, 2012

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