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Mommy Dearest: No Presents For Babe's Birthday

Mommy Dearest: No Presents For Babe's Birthday

Mommy Dearest,

Our daughter has too many toys so we wrote, "No presents" on her third birthday invitations.

Most of the guests brought them anyway so now we are in a pickle with no place to store them.

Should we return the gifts to their givers?

— Piles of Presents

To read the response from Mommy Dearest,


Piles of Presents,

This is a tough one. I've been invited to "no present" parties in the past and the request always makes me feel awkward.

Not comfortable with my tots attending another child's celebration empty handed, I usually opt for a book or gift certificate.

Have you considered donating the toys to children in need? I think that might be the best gesture in this circumstance.

— Mommy Dearest

Submit a question for this feature at the Mommy Dearest Group on TeamSugar.


Join The Conversation
Lil-Maw Lil-Maw 9 years
I completely agree with you keiren63. Our three year old has so many toys we're constantly filling up boxes and donating the one's he doesn't use anymore. I know that it's exciting to buy presents, but it's obviously something that the parents felt strongly enough about and there will be other parties where parents embrace the gift giving.
keiren63 keiren63 9 years
My 12 year old just went to a party where "no presents" was specified. As I know that it's a family which is very concerned about the environment, social causes etc. I wanted to respect their wishes and not give an object, but did make a donation in the child's name to a suitable charity. That's not a present anyone is going to mind! I'm reading a lot of comments about people feeling like they don't get to "enjoy" buying or giving something--they are not understanding how upsetting it can be to look around and see the pile of toys your child will never play with in a world where many go without. Don't give presents, when asked not to, and leave it to them to donate--many would feel awkward giving away a gift. That would be no more appropriate than giving a present when specifically asked not to.
keiren63 keiren63 9 years
As I've sent my kids to birthday parties over the years, I've watched as parents decided that presents were to opened when all the guests had left so that no children were embarrassed if they felt their presents didn't measure up or if the birthday child didn't respond with enough enthusiasm. I've seen mothers chase down others to explain that a present had been duplicated and could the mother please return it and get the child a new present! I've seen parties where people have invited so many children that there is a ridiculous amount of presents. I don't mind when parents are specific.
juliem juliem 9 years
Just a thought, but if you see an invitation that specifically says "no gifts," why would you go against the parents' wishes? They're obviously putting it on the invite for a reason. In lieu of gifts for friends with babies/toddlers (who really don't need yet another toy!), I've made donations in the child's name to the local zoo, museum, etc, or purchased a savings bond. This way, you get to spend the money and get that warm happy feeling, and the parents don't need to worry about yet another toy that can get lost, stolen, broken, or shoved in the DVD player.
fashionhore fashionhore 9 years
Donating would be the best idea in this situation. But I really hate when people don't go along with what invites or registrations say; it was put there for a reason. I think gift giving is kind of unneeded for kids under 3 simply because they don't really understand what is going on, and they have so much stuff already. But I understand why people give gifts-it's tradition and thoughtful. And from experience, parties with no gifts allowed for yougner kids are much more fun becuase people aren't worried that they didn't spend as much as person Z, and you don't see the same gift opened 9 times. Because of this there is less tension between adults and competing relatives.
Renees3 Renees3 9 years
I think it's a great idea to donate the toys. Perhaps keep some new toys and donate old? Or just donate the new ones. It's your child so it's your choice and right to ask the parents to not bring toys. But maybe next time ask them to either not bring a toy or bring a toy to be donated to a charity. That;s a win win situation!
macgirl macgirl 9 years
A little girl at my sons school had a birthday party in January and in the invitation it said something along the lines of her having everything she needs and she would rather have money or supplies to donate to our local "no kill" animal shelter as those animals were more in need. I thought this was a fantastic idea. Both of my sons have January birthdays which is really hard so close to Christmas. They just get so much that it is impossible for them to really appreciate everything they get.
uptown_girl uptown_girl 9 years
I can't wait to have kids, but after seeing the excess in stuff that my cousins kids have (the first grandkids AND first great-grandkids for a close-knit extended family), I don't want my kids to have that much JUNK!!! BLAH! I think once they get to the age of birthdays & presents, if you get X amount of toys, that's the number of toys you will be donating to charity, or something like that. I know I am saying that because I don't have kids right now, but, it just seems like so much junk! When I go to their birthdays, if I do bring a gift (which they tell us they don't expect us to, but understand if we WANT to pick something out), I usually pick a cutesy outfit for the girl, sports team shirt for the boy, or a good book they could share. Also, I like getting clothes because my cousin works almost 40 hours a week, AND is getting her special ed degree, AND has two kids, and her & her husband pinch pennies, so she likes having yard sales to make a little extra money. Clothes generally sale pretty well at yard sales.
duck-duck-goose duck-duck-goose 9 years
Funny, I attended a "no gift" birthday party for a two year old today -- it was tons of fun for the kids. There were crafts and activities set up at different areas of the house, a playroom with toys in the front, and everyone got their own cupcake, plus they all participated in a treasure hunt. I *loved* it, and so did the children and the other adults attending. I cannot comprehend why anyone would feel offended by the concept of a "no gift" party. It seems very sweet to me, asking only to enjoy a person's company for a birthday celebration, rather than expecting gifts or money. I don't intend to discredit the validity of dissenting opinions on this issue, I just have tremendous difficulty relating to them. **To answer the original question** "Should we return the gifts to their givers?" Absolutely NOT! It would be (inadvertently) ungracious, while appearing simultaneously tacky and tactless. True, the gift-givers did not honor your request (if they are adults, they should know better!), but (as the hostess) it falls to you to make them feel welcomed. Their intentions were worthy and charitable, so there's no good reason to embarrass them by making a show of something so insignificant. (Plus, I'm sure their feelings might be very hurt -- is it really worth it?) Donate -- it's a win-win. (This way, no one feels mortified, and others can benefit from your situation.)
fsquaash fsquaash 9 years
Graterfinn--we also have first grandchildern who are twins. I never buy them toys and we still have more than they need!
graterfinn graterfinn 9 years
i don't really understand how the invitee would feel confused about what to do. if the parents ask not to bring gifts, then DON'T. end of story. many parties i attend away from one's home don't even include a present opening part these days. they just take them home and do it there, so what fun do they miss? the fun is being with friends and having a good time, in my opinion, not in opening the gifts. we once had a party where we asked guests not to bring a gift and all but one did. i said we had enough and didn't want more, but most didn't heed my request. and to those who wonder, kids have too many toys when they are the first grandchildren and are twins, therefore, two of everything must be purchased. that's what happened to us at least. we haven't bought most of what our (now three) kids have.
rgrl rgrl 9 years
Discocactus, you must not have children. There is nothing wrong with getting people together and celebrating a birthday... even at three. And believe it or not children need things to keep engaged, they don't just eat, sleep and sit in one spot all day. As far as the no gifts, donating sounds like a good idea to me, giving gifts back is the rudest thing I can ever imagine.
sassy_chick sassy_chick 9 years
to answer the question about why a three year old has so many toys anyway--- people like some of those who responded who insist on bringing a gift to every event. the kid has already had two birthdays for people to bring things, and others get spoiled. most of the time, kids get junk anyway, even if the giver was well-meaning.
faerymagick15 faerymagick15 9 years
I have never been invited to a "no gifts" party. I honestly don't know what the heck I would do!! I enjoy picking out gifts for kids! It is a birthday for pete's sake! Let them enjoy and get a few new trinkets to play with. How many toys could a 3 year old have! I kinda find asking to donate to "new bedroom fund" a bit strange. That, I assume, is MY responsibility...not that of my bday party guests! I just don't know what to say to this one!!
discocactus discocactus 9 years
Here's a thought- maybe a three year old just doesn't need a party. I think it says something when your biggest problem isn't a lack of something (education, health, a job) but an excess of it. Why does a three year old have so many toys anyways?
lickety-split lickety-split 9 years
we always say "in lieu of gifts (name of child) requests a (book/video) be brought for donation to (children's hospital/school library)" my kids know they have more toys/book/clothes/whatever than they could ever need anyway. they get appropriate gifts from family members (grandparent/aunts and uncles/us) the rest is usually things i wouldn't want them to have anyway. my kids have gotten make-up (for a 5 year old?), candy making kit (nice for the child with an anaphylactic allergy to the ingerdiants!) and a date tracking diary (again for a 5 year old) from people who don't follow the "no gifts please" comment on the invitation. they go to goodwill. we've had parties at movie theaters, build a bear, bowling parties, disney princess parties, the girls always have a great time. at our house the party is about celebrating with friends, not getting gifts. if it seems "rude" to attend a party where such a request has been made; don't go. everyone has different family values and it's important to honor yours and those of other people.
phatE phatE 9 years
i HATE when invitations say no gifts, because people usually bring them anyway, and it's incredibly awkward.. instead, why not ask guests to bring books, and they will be donated to a local library or hospital, or any other cause? As for now, I would donate the toys, returning them to the person who bought it is not appropriate.. I never know what people do with my gifts after I give them... But, if someone were to give it back, I would be like what the heck am I supposed to do with this now..
anniekim anniekim 9 years
I recently attended a party for a friend who was in the middle of moving. She requested "no gifts" (a pain to move) but was accepting donations to the "new bedroom fund" for her boys. I gave $ to the fund, mostly, but also stopped by the dollar store for a few little trinkets for my kids to give and hers to open. That seemed to make everyone happy. Once the deed is done, however? I guess donations. Or could she re-gift the nicer stuff? is it horrible to even suggest that?
abqmama abqmama 9 years
I don't like it when invitations say no gifts. I actually like picking out a gift, especially for a girl since I have none, and watching the child (or parents) open it. My son does as well. I think it is part of the whole birthday party. Maybe it's just me.
schnappycat schnappycat 9 years
I just got an invite that said "no gifts--your presence is gift enough" on it for a 2 year old's party. I was actually wondering if I still should bring one. The mom has asked that we bring cake mix to donate to a foster home for kids instead. It's definitely puts the attendee in an odd position, but I also understand where she is coming from.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 9 years
i dont think its rude to say "no toys" the fun part really is playing games, eating cake and just running around like mad one year olds....
fsquaash fsquaash 9 years
If you are hosting the party you can set the terms. I use the "no gifts" note to avoid people being obligated to bring gifts. Also, my kids don't need more toys or clothes either. Rally Re--I can't understand why it offends you if a parent offers an opportunity to save money. Don't we want our kids to avoid materialism?
stina829 stina829 9 years
I don't care how many toys my son has - I don't think I'll ever ask that they don't bring presents. That's just a part of having a birthday party! I wouldn't want to take that away from my son.
SugarKim4203 SugarKim4203 9 years
RallyRE, do you remember your first birthday? Yeah, neither will the kid, therapy bill avoided. I think once a child gets a little older and is able to understand what's going on, then start with the traditional party.
Rally-RE Rally-RE 9 years
i think it's rude to have a party and tell people they can't bring gifts. while your child may have too many toys, it doesn't mean you pull the rug out from under the fun of having a birthday party and opening gifts (and taking the fun away from the kids invited who get to go out and choose which gift to bring)! there was always excitment when your gift was the one being opened. and the kid who has a party minus the gifts will have a horrible memory of his/her 3rd birthday. years from now you'll be paying dearly in therapy bills! i like the idea of donating the toys that are in excess but make the child part of it - teach them when they are young it's good to give to those who are in need. and, regarding the request for the 'no gifts', i think it'd be better to offer gift suggestions on the invite ... like for books or clothing. kids can never have too many books and they always need a new pair of clothes.
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