Come To My Birthday Party, But No Presents Please!

That’s how my daughter, just turned 8, invited her friends over. We had braced ourselves for protests from the invitees’ parents and sure enough the intercom never stopped ringing that day.

Come To My Birthday Party, But No Presents Please - Party Without Gifts

“A birthday party without gifts? Please Sharon, don’t force your opinions on your child.”

“but she is a child, which kid doesn’t like presents on their birthday?”,

“wow, you are inculcating such good values in your child, we admire you”

“…but please don’t give the other kids return gifts then, if you don’t want presents”,

So why really, did we as a family, decide on a party without gifts? Let me start with the birthday girl’s points of view.

Reason #1 – We had also recently participated in a “give-away old things to the more needy” drive. My daughter got a first-hand experience at seeing the stuff that kids who don’t have much make do with.

Reason #2 – We follow a loose policy of “get something new, let go of something old” in our home – like I said, it’s a loose guideline, and giving away is never forced, always voluntary. So every birthday, my daughter gives away a few things after she opens her new birthday gifts. This year, my daughter decided that she loved all her current playthings too much, to give anything away.

Reason #3– She is still reeling from her Christmas loot. We head to our roots every Christmas, and the kids have tons of gifts under the tree courtesy the aunt, uncle and grandparent Santas. Xmas 2013 was especially bountiful, with some “extra” Santas around, and therefore, it was much easier to say “no presents, please” this birthday.

Reason #4 – it would not completely be a “no present” birthday. She was getting that coveted new bicycle, an art and craft business of her own (yes!), her own email id, and gifts

I will admit I was the one who hesitantly put forth the no-presents idea. So when the daughter accepted it for the above reasons, we as parents were both thrilled and proud. The benefits for parents, you wonder?

  • Birthdays are always awful for the “other” sibling. In this case, sibling envy is ruled out.
  • No keeping tabs of who gave what so that we can “return appropriately” (yes, we hate to admit it, but don’t we all surreptitiously do it?)
  • A mess-free post-party home. Last year, after her birthday, we took days to find space for her new presents. Until they found proper shelf-space, they were stacked on the upper bunk of her bed for weeks! Speaking of messes, you are actually doing your bit to save the environment – think of all the glossy wrapping paper you avoided

cake1 (1)

It was time for the party, and there were many sweet surprises. Children walked in with lovely hand-made cards, small bars of chocolate and big smiles! It was so wonderful!

It was a birthday party like the good old days – homemade cake and food, old-fashioned games, a good amount of laughter and fun!

And return gifts? Yes. Small tokens of our love, unwrapped, but enough to make them feel good!

What a lovely party we had!

Sharon Colaco D’Souza is a mother of two kids, a girl and a boy. She is a business management post graduate, and works as a content strategist for a living. She is passionate about home decor and design, and blogs at The Keybunch. Parenting is ‘that continuously-unravelling mystery’ for her and she views Parentous as a great place for parenting information, as well as a place to share her own parenting discoveries. She is currently working on a book idea on indigenous architecture and hopes to see it to fruition!

  • Arun

    If we are invited for birthday parties, we tend to buy gifts for birthday baby and siblings as well (normally one sibling). Thus other child getting upset of not getting gifts could be avoided.

    Nice article albeit and great idea of parties with no gifts..

    • sharon

      Hi Arun, thanks for your comment. Yes, you are right…as adults, we tend to buy for any kids that may be living with the bday kid…however, in a housing society such as mine, where there are many kids (and hence many bday parties every month), and only kids come to bday parties, the general done thing is to get one gift for the bday kid only.

      • Arun

        In such situations buying gifts for all children is difficult to comprehend.

        Would like to know how other parents responded to this idea of not bringing gifts, did they appreciate or were there any raised eyebrows?

        • sharon

          Like I said, they felt awkward coming to a party without gifts…so they sent their kids with small “tokens” – a flower, a bar of chocolate, a hand-written note, a hand-drawn card….they were such touching gifts! My daughter was quite happy.

          Post-party, the parents seemed happier – we are still stopped by parents to tell us how much their kids enjoyed the party – we tried to replicate an old-fashioned bday party (the kind we had growing up) – homemade food, lots of fun, singing, minimal parental supervision (I have to write a whole new post about this, because we were astounded by the bonhomie we witnessed when they were left alone)….

          We are not against gifts per se – we just think that when kids get expensive gifts at bday parties – it inculcates a materialistic attitude to birthdays. Instead, birthdays are a time to celebrate life, to bond with our family and friends, and to be thankful!

          • Arun

            Absolutely agree with you and I must say last paragraph is a bitter reality.

            Wishing great times ahead and belated birthday wishes for your daughter.

          • sharon

            Thank you Arun, it was a pleasure interacting with you on this forum!

  • Rajeshwari

    when a birthday party invitation asks for no gifts, it really does mean no gifts. Most parents are not trying to sugar coat anything, make anyone feel better or even upset you. When I tell someone I don’t want gifts for my kids, it means I don’t want anything else in my house. I spend all year trying to declutter, manage toys, and weed out stuff that doesn’t get played with anyway.

    You can
    also download the app called Parentlane They give super amazing advices & tips on parenting and baby growth!