Several years ago (about four), I threw a surprise birthday party for the Wild Boar. All I really wanted was for him to be “surprised” and he was. I ordered formal invitations and sent them out with the words, “No Gifts” on the bottom.
How could I expect people to bring him gifts when he and I do not even exchange birthday presents. There is nothing we need/want! I thought I was doing everyone a favor.
Of course everyone showed up with very generous, thoughtful and lovely gifts, even though it wasn’t necessary. It was a great party and we still have good memories of that night.
However, fast forward to now. My children have just received their sixth birthday party invitation this year that says “No Gifts”. Ugh.
OMG, I will never, never, ever, never put that statement on another party invitation as long as I live.
I didn’t realize how much stress those two words cause the party-goer.
These “no gifts” invites often include other “no statements” as well. No Sugar. No siblings. No wrapping paper. Bring only a gift to donate to charity. One even said, no gifts made in China (at first I thought are you kidding, but honestly it was better than the no gifts sentiment, at least we had the green light to bring something). We even received two Halloween party invitations indicating, “no candy.” A Halloween party without candy? Ummm…okay. Party invitations have become the equivalent of a rule book and I don’t like it.
You see, here’s what happens. After I receive these “no gift’s” invites I immediately go into overdrive thinking about what I should do. Do I purposefully shun the request of the hostess, bring a gift and potentially irritate the party-giver. Or do I follow directions, not bring a gift and stand-by as everyone else parades in with a present? Better yet, do I bring something small, you know, not really a gift, but an offering, then look cheap because it was minuscule? I’ve done all three and none of them feel right.
I’ve decided the “no gifts” statement is really power impersonating as thoughtfulness. It’s the control of having to risk getting a bunch of things you do not want in your house. I’m over it.
I would love to slap the “no gifts” policy on my children’s birthday party invites but really, this is why the kids want the party, for the presents! Do they need anything, absolutely not. What they want is the excitement of the unwrap and the possibility of what’s behind door number three. Funny thing is, my kids have received some of their favorite toys as birthday presents. Things I would have never bought them or thought they were interested in.
In all honesty, I confess having no problem purchasing more dishes and shoes than anyone could possibly ever need. However, wave another Hot Wheel or Lego set under my nose and I will almost faint from feelings of excessive, unsustainable consumption. Go figure.
So yes, I feel the “no gifts” statement is all about control and I say, let it go. My kids also love picking out the perfect present for their friends and feel good when they see how excited the child is when opening it.
I will NEVER place those words on an invite again.
Bring on the presents. Relieve the stress.