“No Gifts Please” – A Kids’ Birthday Party Trend?

For the third time in nine months, my daughter received a birthday party invitation that specifically states, “No gifts please.” To be honest, this concept baffled me at first. Simply because, while I have received invitations myself for my adult friends’ birthday parties that ask for no gifts, I have never heard of it for a child’s birthday party until nine months ago. I thought about it for a while and came up with all kinds of possibilities – some nice and some not so nice – but I couldn’t decide which was most accurate so I put it out there on facebook for my friends to weigh in on. Read on to see what some people had to say.

Anne of SavingsChick.com pointed out a few good possibilities based on the condition of the poor economy:

  • Parents want their child’s friends to feel welcome and be able to attend the birthday party without feeling obligated to bring a gift that they might not be able to afford.
  • Some families may struggle to even spend an extra $10 on a gift while it seems like the average amount people tend to spend on kids’ gifts is around $25 these days. That can really add up and hurt the wallet if you are invited to a few birthday parties in a short period of time.
  • When a party host says, “No gifts please,” it may keep some guests from bailing on the party because they would not be able to afford to give a gift.

My friend Amanda said that she and her family never judge someone based on the gifts they give (or don’t give) because for them birthday parties are all about celebrating the birthday and the person and that gifts are “just a perk.” That is very true for many families, but…it does bring up a good point and makes you think about the ugly truth that not everyone in this world sees things “through rose colored glasses,” as she put it. Sadly, there are some people out there that will pass judgements based on irrelevant (and silly) things like what kind of birthday gift is (or is not) given and just not having gifts as an option takes that possibility away and puts everyone on a level playing field.

On that last note of not having gifts at a birthday party putting everyone on a level playing field…I almost wrote that it takes the possibility of judgements away and makes everyone feel more comfortable, but that’s not exactly true. While it does take away the potential judging by some kids or parents, it may still make some parents uncomfortable. Take me, for example. I have never heard of this trend before and have always welcomed birthday presents at my daughter’s birthday parties. Since her friends give her a birthday gift I feel like she should give them a birthday gift in return. I never ever take cost or size of what they give her into consideration when I buy presents for THEM as I teach her to be equally thankful no matter what. On the flip side, however, I would never care one way or another if someone she gave a gift to didn’t bring a gift for her to her party because them being there is all that matters to us. (Yes, I know, I’m quite a complicated person. Like Amanda up in the previous paragraph, I like to see things through rose colored glasses and be happy about everything if I can).

One last thought that I had was that maybe sometimes the attendance of a child at a birthday party is requested without gifts because sometimes birthday parties are held at a venue that requires about a half hour drive to get to. The time, effort, and gas just to be a party of the birthday boy or girl’s special day is enough to make them and their parents happy. 🙂

To sum it all up, my friend Mike put it perfectly by pretty much saying that to the birthday boy/girl’s parents it might be more important to have their child’s friends all come to the party rather then to have their parents have worry about a gift when the birthday boy or girl likely has plenty already.

So what do you think? So you think that one, or all, of the ideas mentioned here is most accurate, or do you have another thought on why some parents say, “No gifts please,” for their child’s birthday party?

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