We Requested ‘No Gifts’ for Our 3-Year-Old’s Birthday Party and Here’s What Happened
You can admit it. You’ve thought about it. Fantasized about it, even.
The idea of requesting “No gifts” at your child’s next birthday party sounds as tantalizing as having Marie Kondo herself come and declutter your cabinets.
Then there’s the moral aspect. How do you teach your kids humility, hard work and gratitude when simply getting older guarantees them enough toys to entertain a toddler army?
Then again, good luck denying your mother-in-law her grandchild-gifting fix. And what do you say to the fellow parent who poo-poos your Evite plea?
We asked a mom of four who recently tried this to share her experience.
Q) Why did you decide to request "no gifts" for your child's birthday party?
My kid’s birthday is only a month after the holidays. I knew all the grandparents, aunts and uncles would still give presents, as would a few guests who didn’t, ahem, read the invitation. We opted to do a book exchange—an idea we copied from a neighbor—where people bring an unwrapped book and place it in a box, then choose a different book when they leave.
Q) Did everyone comply? Did any guests still bring gifts?
Some parents brought gifts because they didn’t read the invitation. Others who did it told me they were going to do it. Of those, some people did it because they found something they really felt was a thoughtful gift, and others did it because I think they thought they had to. The latter is particularly annoying.
Q) Did you explain this policy to your kids, and if so, what did you tell them?
With my oldest, we started doing this at his second birthday, so it has always been a given. He did ask about it and we said that he still gets a ton of gifts from family members and he didn’t seem to mind at all. That said, he is turning nine this year and has opted to have small party with three or four friends, and I won’t specify a no-gifts policy.
Q) Do you think this works well for younger kids?
I think it works best for younger kids because they don’t even know what’s going on. And with my older kids, I plan to give any extra gifts to charity. That said, I’ve learned that if you really want your kid to get in on the giving aspect, they need to physically see the gifts and help bring them to whatever organization you are donating to.
Q) Despite still receiving gifts, is this something you will do for future birthday parties?
I will always do this, albeit for somewhat selfish reasons: Fewer thank-you notes for me to write—or for me to hound my kids to write.