No Gifts, Please :: Why We Ask Guests Not to Bring Presents to Our Kids’ Parties

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We just celebrated our daughter’s seventh birthday with a fun party at our home. It was filled with balloons, cupcakes, and a dozen kids running around our backyard on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. It had all the traditional markings of an awesome party. Except for…a colorful pile of gifts.

In fact, we specifically requested that our guests only bring themselves. At the bottom of our invitations read the simple line: “No gifts, please. Your presence is a present!”

So what do we have against gifts? Nothing! Gifts are great, but we don’t think they’re a requirement for our family to have a memorable celebration.

Why we ask guests not to bring presents to our children’s party

First, we simply do not have space in our home for more possessions. My kids are incredibly fortunate to have a playroom already overflowing with toys, games, art supplies, and books. Despite our frequent decluttering, my girls have more things to keep them busy than they will ever need. They will inevitably get gifts from their grandparents, and it would be overwhelming and unnecessary to add a dozen more items to the mix.

We also discourage guests from bringing our kids gifts because we don’t want to be a burden on their wallet or their schedule. I know how stressful it can be to get young kids out of the door at a decent time, not to mention shopping and wrapping gifts each time you’re headed to an event. I’ve even known people who have declined a party invitation because they couldn’t afford to bring a gift, and I would hate for that to be the situation at one of our gatherings. Life is hectic enough, and our hope is that our family and friends can show up at our home with as little effort as possible.

Celebrations in our family are centered around sharing quality time together. The purpose is fellowship and socialization. When children are consumed with unwrapping presents, the focus shifts to the material possessions they receive. As my kids reflect on their birthdays, the goal is for them to remember who showed up and how happy they felt spending time with them, not the shiny new toys they were given.

That being said, my daughter did receive gifts even after we asked people not to bring them. Sometimes it’s because guests feel uncomfortable arriving empty-handed, and sometimes it’s because gifts are how they express love. We understand and that is perfectly fine! I still teach my children to show gratitude. My seven-year-old said thank you, waited until our guests left to open them, and then we decided if we could find a place for them in our home. Four presents are much easier to manage than 12.

On a slightly related note, we also didn’t prepare goody bags or party favors for our guests. One of the activities during the party was making beaded bracelets, so the kids were able to wear those home. They also played with jumbo bubble wands, and we encouraged the kids to each take one at the end of the party. Not a single child asked for a goody bag, and they all left with smiles on their faces.

If you’re invited to a party and the host asks for no gifts, look at it as an opportunity to learn about and respect different customs. My daughters attend parties where the birthday child opens presents, but they don’t feel like that element is missing from their own festivities. It’s wonderful for children to be introduced to households different than their own, and to see that while presents are fun, you can still have a special celebration without them.

Do you have gifts at your children’s party? Why or why not?

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Tasheena is a California native who moved to Columbia in the Fall of 2018. She has been married to her college sweetheart since 2013 and together they’re raising two feisty little girls. Tasheena has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary Education with a minor degree in Child and Family Science. She worked as a kindergarten teacher until her second daughter was born in 2017 and she transitioned to life as a stay-at-home mom. Although being home full time has its challenges, she loves being her girls’ first teacher and experiencing the world their eyes. Tasheena enjoys yoga, impromptu dance parties, exploring the community, solo trips to the grocery store, and sharing pieces of her life on her blog, The Cinnamon Mom. With so many transplant families in Columbia, she hopes to share a newcomer’s perspective and connect with more mommies in the area!

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