No Gifts Please: What to say on an invitation

by epi on June 1, 2009

Q: I am throwing a birthday party for my son and want to invite his whole class. I don’t want other parents to be inconvenienced and would rather this be a B-day party with no gifts. Of course we will have a dinner and give presents from family and close friends after the class party is over. How do I let parents who I don’t know well know that they should not bring gifts?

A: Gifts are expected for birthday and anniversary parties, but when honorees really don’t want presents, their wishes should be respected. In the past, any reference to gifts on invitations was considered in poor taste, because guests were assumed to know the occasions when gifts were obligatory, and even today, it’s incorrect to mention gifts on wedding invitations. But in light of the current gifts-for-every craze, it’s a courtesy to inform guests when presents are not expected. The etiquette is to write “No gifts, please” at the bottom of the invitation – or to tell invitees when inviting them in person or by phone.

When you receive an invitation with such a request, it should be honored. Showing up with a present when asked not to would embarrass the hosts, the honoree, and other guests who, correctly, didn’t bring anything. If you want to give a special token of affection, you may do so at another time.

{ 196 comments… read them below or add one }

Trudy August 17, 2009 at 6:56 am

What if the party is for a 70 year old & you would like to have a special birthday fund is there any polite way to say so if they would like to bring a card and donate?

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Daniel Post Senning August 17, 2009 at 12:27 pm

The best option here would be to use word of mouth to spread the idea. You could ask close friends and family to pass the word that you are organizing a group gift that will be collected at the party. It is entirely reasonable to ask people if they would like to join you in a group gift as long as you don’t assume that everyone is going to participate.

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Leslie November 15, 2009 at 1:25 pm

One of the fourth graders had a party where she requested that, instead of gifts, her friends bring pet food or pet supplies that would be donated to a local pet “food pantry”.

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Jessica March 19, 2012 at 9:37 am

I love this!

Is this a good way to word it…”If you would like to bring a gift we are collecting donations for the Bonnie Hayes Animal Shelter, in the form of pet food and pet toys.”

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Colleen March 15, 2014 at 8:34 pm

I think this is great, Jessica! Just what we were looking for!

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Lucy May 11, 2010 at 6:17 am

I’ve used the phrase, at the bottom of an invitation, “Your presence is the only present desired.”

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Svetlana October 9, 2011 at 12:56 pm

Hi Luci,
Thank you for idea. Beautiful phrase and advise. Using in all invites now :-)

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Minu October 15, 2012 at 3:26 am

very sweet and rhyming… Good thought.. I am gonna try this for my lil ones first Birthday

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cheryl May 1, 2013 at 12:30 pm

awesome wording – I love it!

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Maria Bridges June 16, 2010 at 12:01 pm

My husband and I are celebrating our 30th Wedding Anniversay and after 30 years we really do not need gifts. How can we word planning “Second Honeymoon” donations welcomed? Please advise.

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Graceandhonor July 25, 2010 at 4:13 pm

There is no mannerly way to state this on an invitation. If someone asks a family member what you’d like, they could tell them for you.

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Johnny July 24, 2010 at 5:59 pm

“But in light of the current gifts-for-every craze, it’s a courtesy to inform guests when presents are not expected. The etiquette is to write “No gifts, please” at the bottom of the invitation – or to tell invitees when inviting them in person or by phone.”

Says who? Why do you get to change what is proper etiquettte? Etiquette dicates that you do refrain from drawing attention to the whole gift issue. Why are you having a party? To celebrate. Why do people give gifts? To show their appreciation for being asked to participate. Accept gifts graciously. If you don’t want a gift that someone brings donate it yourself. Don’t complicate the issue by directing guests how to respond to your invitation. Why is this so difficult?

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No Gifts Please December 21, 2010 at 7:35 am

RE Johnny: “Why do you get to change what is proper etiquette?” Etiquette has always changed to reflect the times. For example, an etiquette guide for Victorian ladies dictated: “When introduced to a man, a lady should never offer her hand, merely bow politely and say, ‘I am happy to make your acquaintance.’” Today, if I refused to shake hands with a business colleauge because they were of the opposite gender I would, quite rightly, be considered shockingly rude!

The etiquette of gift-giving is making a healthy shift in response to the overabundance of modern society. In this age where even those of us below the poverty line are drowning in unwanted material possessions, even to the extent that expensive outside help is sometimes needed to deal with the clutter and debris, we need to revise etiquette to allow both hosts and guests to avoid the burden of over-consumption!

“Johnny,” while you may believe that gifts are freely given in “appreciation for being asked to participate,” I know that many gifts are given out of a sense of obligation to the occasion, even when the gift-giver knows that the recipient is suffering under many material burdens. Most people feel uncomfortable going against prevailing social norms, and currently unless “no gifts” is explicitly stated, gifts are seen as a mandatory part of a (admittedly outdated) social ritual, not an optional item freely given.

That is why hosts that are in the process of changing the old ways need err on the side of directness. Except on wedding invitations, it is best to put “no gifts” in writing so there is no doubt. It is such a huge relief for your guests when expectations are clear.

The only excuse I can think of for a guest not to respect the ‘no gifts’ request is if the guest is from another era (your 99 year old great-grandmother, perhaps) or a foreign culture and truly cannot grasp the concept. In that case, of course be gracious and accept the gift. If possible, explain face to face that you are giving all gifts to charity out of respect for the occasion, and send a follow-up thank you note both from yourself and the charity.

However, it would be so much better if guests could respect the ‘no gifts’ rule. Giving a gift that goes straight into the donation pile is a deadweight loss; a new item can lose 80% of its value just because it goes into the donation bin, which is sad for all concerned. Those resources could be so much better spent.

Guests should simply respect the “no gifts” wishes. Certainly not giving a gift is not so terribly difficult?

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Sarah May 26, 2013 at 12:49 pm

I understand the reasoning but what about the case where a grandma is invited only once a year for 2 days to see her grandkids and the birthday party is no gifts? Giving a birthday gift is one way for her to relate to her grandchildren, especially when she tries diligently long-distance with no response.

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Alicia May 27, 2013 at 4:01 am

Go ahead and give a gift just not during the party give it before or after.

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Grace December 29, 2013 at 12:03 pm

For our daughter’s first birthday party we are requesting no gifts, but grandparents and great-grandparents are still planning to give her something special or donate to her college fund at another time outside of the party itself. In our case, the “no gifts” request really applies to the friends invited, not so much the immediate family, so no one feels pressured or obligated to bring a present.

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janet August 8, 2010 at 5:58 am

We threw a 50th anniversary party for my in-laws a few years back. We put a small note on the bottom of the invite, “Your love is a precious gift. We request no other.” I was told by several people they appreciated the thought.

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Ellie July 31, 2012 at 2:08 pm

This is a lovely way to word it. I am using this!

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Brandi April 18, 2013 at 2:05 pm

I am struggling with some wording, maybe you can help. It is for a 50th Anniversary Invite.
Your friendship and attendance are the only gifts we require. or
Your presence and fellowship are precious gifts, we request no other.

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Alicia April 18, 2013 at 2:26 pm

You do not mention gifts on an invite. So skip all that wording as gifts are never assumed. Any wording implies that you would otherwise expect gifts and is so incorrect that people then assume you expect them to bring cash.
Skip all mention of gifts no gifts are required for an anniversary party. If anyone gives you anything graciously accept and send thank you notes.

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kate January 24, 2011 at 7:17 pm

I am throwing a surprise party for my boyfriend’s 40th birthday. Having just been at a 40th surprise party, I noticed that the honoree received a lot of bottles of hard liquor. My BF doesn’t drink any hard liquor, just beer, wine and occasionally, champagne. What can I include on the invitiation, so that people would not waste money on useless bottles of scotch, whiskey, etc. (knowing that no liquor can be returned). Thanks.

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kate January 24, 2011 at 7:19 pm

To be more specific, I’d like to indicate that “your presence is all that is requested, in the event you’d like to bring a gift ………..(how do I write in what I need to say)

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Just Laura January 24, 2011 at 7:20 pm

You’re inviting your boyfriend’s friends to this party, correct? Wouldn’t his friends know what he likes?
Please make no mention of gifts on the invitation, even if it’s to say “please don’t bring a gift” (for some reason, that’s a faux pas). If he happens to receive a bottle Johnny Walker Blue, just smile knowing he will be giving someone else a really nice present in the future. Have a great time planning the party!

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kate January 24, 2011 at 7:22 pm

Yes, his friends and co-workers. I guess word of mouth would be best, or, you’re correct in the fact it’s all re-giftable! Thank you.

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Ruth January 25, 2011 at 4:06 pm

I want to invite my 7 year olds whole class but in these hard times I think the thought of buying a gift may keep some of the classmates from attending. Is there something I can add to each invitation that can assure each parent that this is a celebration and the only gift necessary is the gift of there friendship and their participation in the party.

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susan February 2, 2011 at 4:40 am

In this day and age, I think it’s absolutely fine to say “No gifts please but if your son has a favorite charity (ie; a homeless shelter) what a great way and time to teach children the importance and joy of helping others) so maybe ask for a can of food, a book, a piece of clothing to donate to a local shelter.

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karen June 13, 2011 at 10:12 pm

so, how do you say, No Gifts Please, but pay for your own meal?

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Just Laura June 13, 2011 at 10:23 pm

If folks are paying for their own meal, then there would be no formal invitation. A simple email invite or very casual invite reading “Friends are getting together to celebrate Sally’s birthday on Friday. We’ll be meeting at Excellent Restaurant on the corner of 2nd and Oak Streets. Entrees are around $18. By the way, no gifts please. Hope you can join us!”

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jasjfarrell August 16, 2011 at 10:28 pm

This is my favorite. Everybody shows up everybody pays. fun time.

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Mimi July 26, 2011 at 10:19 pm

What do you do when you get several gifts at a birthday party after putting “no gifts please” on the invitations? Do I need to send “thank you” notes anyway?

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Mikaela May 12, 2013 at 9:50 pm

I believe a thank you note is proper ANY time you receive a gift – for any reason. A hand-written note speaks volumes – a true appreciation for their thoughtfulness.

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Alicia July 27, 2011 at 6:34 am

Yes you always should send a thank you note for gifts. So send the gracious thank you notes.

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Gina August 4, 2011 at 5:09 pm

I am throwing a party because I am moving 2000 miles away taking only as much as I can fit in my car (long story short). I do not want gifts because it’s unnecessary and I probably won’t be able to take it! Also, I don’t want them to think that the party is just so I can get gifts and not feel obligated (I invited some people I haven’t seen in awhile because I’d like to see them before I leave). I wrote “Please, no gifts”. I know that people still like to give something so I added “If you wish, an “RV Gas Money” canister will be available for donations”. My thinking was that since so many people nowadays don’t carry cash it would be nice to tell them so that if they want to do something they can. I’ve experienced the “no gifts” request and people work their way around it by giving gift cards in their card – sneaky! Was that in poor taste? The invites went out already so what’s done is done but I was just wondering…

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Alicia August 5, 2011 at 3:59 pm

Yes it was in poor taste. Moving parties are not typically gift giving occasions and your note said that you did in fact think it was a gift obligatory occasion and that gift should be money. Yes it was rude. However it is done now. Satying no gifts to an event where gifts are not normally given( going away party) communicates greed. There is no way to undo this flub but in the future the polite thing is to refrain from mentioning gifts on invites ( othetrwise they are invoices) and never ever have a oplace cash here canister for anything other then a charity.

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nancy March 31, 2014 at 10:05 am

for my 50 year old party.
i wrote on the invitation the following :
In lieu of gifts, greeting cards,gift cards or flowers. Your presence and your love will be appreciated.
Tacky. Don’t know but my guests were happy to know what they would bring. i got flowers. some gift cards, greeting cards, and it went well.

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Alicia March 31, 2014 at 10:26 am

This is an etiquette site suggesting rude options is not good. Nor do you actually know your guests were happy as a polite guest would never tell a host that requesting gift cards is tacky rude and thoughtless. So no not a good suggestion at all. Nor in theory should one host a party in their own honor. That said Happy Birthday!

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Priscila October 27, 2011 at 4:40 pm

My twins’ first birthday is coming up on Thanksgiving. We’re doing a Toy Story party theme and would like to incorporate a toy drive (in lieu of gifts); however, I’m having a hard time coming up with a succint wording for the invitation! “No gifts, thank you” is not our case since we would like that guests do bring gifts except they’re going to be donated to a charity. Any ideas are greatly welcome!
Thank you!

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Alicia October 27, 2011 at 5:09 pm

Mentioning gifts on an invite is never polite. Even a worthwile idea as you are trying to do. But the kids 1st birthday is not a charity event it is a kids birthday party. Hold the party invite the guests, write the thank you notes. If then instead of letting your kids play with the toys you without mentioning it to the giver give the toy to charity or return it for money for charity that is fine. However demanding charity our of your guests is not polite and this is why the wording is incorrect.

p.s. As a twin please also sing Happy birthday to each child seperately so that by the time the kids understand your family and friends are trained they sing once per kid.

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Coral November 21, 2011 at 8:54 am

I have a joint 50th husband and wife and they do not want presents but would like everyone to bring a plate. How can I word the invitation. If anyone has any ideas in a poem or verse I would really appreciate some help.

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Country Girl November 21, 2011 at 1:22 pm

Coral, am I understanding correctly that this is to be a potluck party? (Ie. in lieu of gifts, guests are asked to bring a dish of food instead?) If so, the correct way to word the invitations is “Please join us for a potluck for Mary and Bill’s 50th (birthday/anniversary) at such-and-such time and place. No gifts please.”

And now for my (bad) attempt at a poem..

Please join us for a potluck for Mary and Bill’s 50th (birthday/anniversary) at such-and-such time and place. Your presence is the only present they wish, but if you are able, please bring your favorite dish!

***I would also keep in mind that some guests may still choose to bring a gift. If you are hosting, it would be polite for you to say something like “Oh wonderful, I will get this out of the heavy party traffic and put it in the guest room for Bill and Mary to open later.” then place gifts in a room or area away from the sight of other guests so that those who have obliged with the couple’s wishes for no gifts do not feel uncomfortable.

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Just Laura November 21, 2011 at 1:36 pm

While I have no quibble with your excellent verse, we aren’t supposed to mention gifts at all, even to say “please don’t bring ‘em.” If they could somehow keep to your poem, or say, “Bring yourself and a dish to share,” that would be great.

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Country Girl November 21, 2011 at 2:03 pm

While I always had that notion as well, above in the original post the EPI states “in light of the current gifts-for-every craze, it’s a courtesy to inform guests when presents are not expected. The etiquette is to write “No gifts, please” at the bottom of the invitation”. (obviously as EPI stated this goes for a birthday or anniversary, not a wedding.)

I agree word of mouth is best when possible. However if the host of the party doesn’t have phone information or doesn’t know many of the guests, it may not be possible to get that message out to all the guests that way.

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Just Laura November 21, 2011 at 3:15 pm

Thanks for correcting me!

Winifred Rosenburg November 21, 2011 at 4:17 pm

I have to agree with Just Laura. Gifts shouldn’t be mentioned on invitations period. If you don’t want gifts, don’t mention it’s an anniversary party. Tell people when they get there so they don’t even have a chance to consider what gift to bring for the occasion.

Marie December 8, 2011 at 5:47 pm

Is a graduation party something that people would typically bring a gift to? We want to write no gifts, please because we just had our wedding a few months ago but I first want to make sure that people would normally bring a gift. also, it’s a law enforcement related graduation…

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Alicia December 8, 2011 at 5:52 pm

I would likely bring a card not a gift for law force graduation maybe a 6 pack of beer. I would feel obligated to bring a gift if you said no gifts. Mentioning no gifts implies that gifts would otherwise be expected and will most likely make people feel obligated to bring a gift.
Do not mention gifts. If gifts are brought say thank you and move them into another room to be opened later and thank you notes written the next day.

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Jane June 2, 2012 at 11:12 pm

Alicia, for being such and authority on etiquette and “politeness” your responses are out of touch, out of date, and rather bitchy.

There is nothing wrong with clarifying to your guests that you are exclusively requesting their company at an event where gifts are customarily given.

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Just Laura June 3, 2012 at 2:46 am

Jane,
Differing opinions are always welcome; however, we do request that everyone refrain from swearing. Such language choices are unnecessary in this setting.

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Tracy W September 17, 2012 at 7:33 am

Why would you bring a gift if someone said no gifts?
Even you state that saying bring no gifts only implies that otherwise gifts would be expected. Though I think it would be rather more generous to read it as saying that the hosts fear that otherwise the guests would feel themselves under a non-existent obligation to bring gifts.

It strikes me as rather impolite to totally go against a host’s written instructions just because they were written down. If you feel that the invite was rude, the polite thing to do is either gracefully follow instructions or gracefully decline the invite.

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Alicia September 17, 2012 at 2:56 pm

Because a lot of sites incorrectly recommend people to say no gifts when they want cash. Since people are communicating that they think a gift is expected ( or else why say no gift) and because the subtext of expecting cash instead is annoying I give the gift because they have communicated that they expect one and I do not like to feel obligated to get cash, I feel obligated to give a gift. Sometimes it is because I feel that it is an occasion that is worthy of celebration in the manner of wishing to give a gift. No mention of gifts at all and I will give a gift or not entirely based on my perception of the event and if gift worthy.
But if you tell me at a wedding no gifts then I think you want only cash.
If you tell me no gifts at a kids birthday party I like getting kids presents I want to give a gift and watch the kid enjoy it so I’ll give the kid a gift anyway. Those of us who do not have kids kinda love giving kids gifts. I’d be even more inclined to give the kid a birthday gift if I thought they were not getting any then if I thought they were being smothered in gifts.
If you tell me no gifts at an adults birthday I view that as asking for cash as I would only have given a card or trinket anyway and will only give a card but the next year will give a gift or not attend as you now have communicated that you think I’m supposed to buy you a birthday gift. I will also feel bad and guilty if in years past I did not give you a gift and were clearly expecting them so likely i would buy a bigger one as you have now told me you have been expecting them all along.

Let people judge for themselves if they want to give a gift or not. People will not give more then they can and want to that way.

It is the not quite at face value undertone of what is said vs what is meant. Sadly no gifts does not come across as no gifts it comes across as either “give me cash” or” I’m better then you and your tokens of affections are useless to me” or “well this yea you can skip it but every other year you had better get me lots of stuff”
Even if you really mean no gifts it is better in my opinion to either decline the invite since I now am unsure or just buy a gift in case.

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Dory January 10, 2012 at 12:39 am

Hello,

I am considering throwing a 40th birthday party. I am single with no children. I have all hammy downs in my kitchen. Is it wrong for me to register for houseware items? I don’t want people to be obligated, to buy me a gift either.

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Just Laura January 10, 2012 at 1:28 am

Dory, congratulations on turning forty! It’s the new 30, from what I hear.
Did you mean, “hand-me-downs?” There’s nothing wrong with second-hand items, and I advise against registering for a birthday party you’re throwing yourself. What this says to other people is “blatant gift-grab.” If you want to throw yourself a party, please do! But don’t register. If someone asks, “Hey, what kind of present do you want/need?” reply that you could really use some housewares, and you’ve been eyeing the Calphalon One and OxO brands.

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Alicia January 10, 2012 at 7:57 am

Happy Birthday!! One generally does not register for birthday gifts. Additionally gifts are not to be expected. If someone asks you what kind of birthday gift you would like feel free to say a houshold item. However, you should not expect gifts from your guests for your birthday and should not tell them wheat to get you unless they ask.

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jay west January 14, 2012 at 3:18 pm

my 75 year old mother was given a surprise birthday party with no gifts please on the invatations. Two birthday cards were opened and money was enclosed. Is it apporiate to return the money stating your presents at the party was gift enough.

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AliciaG January 17, 2012 at 7:47 pm

How would you word on a birthday invitation not to bring gifts but donation will be accepted to the following charity?

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Judy engelmann January 28, 2012 at 2:03 pm

My husband is turning 70. We want to celebrate with family and friends….how do we say everyone pays for their own dinner and drinks??? Thanks for your help

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Just Laura January 28, 2012 at 4:40 pm

You won’t issue invitations, because that would imply you are a hostess and paying for the dinner. Instead, you might call them and say, “Husband’s 70th birthday is on the 29th. We were thinking about having dinner at Classy Restaurant. Do you think you’d like to join us?” If you choose to email them, make it clear in your email the typical price of an entree so that no one is surprised at the menu or bill.

Here’s the Emily Post Institute’s answer for a person with plans to throw a party for her brother, but didn’t want to pay.

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andrea April 19, 2012 at 8:20 pm

hi there just wanting to know how do i say i dont want any gifts, but money how do i say that in a nice way? and any ideas for a money tree? not a wishing well as its my 21st?

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Just Laura April 19, 2012 at 10:38 pm

There are no ways to do this nicely. One cannot politely dictate to his/her guest exactly how they will give you gifts. Simply have a party, and if people feel like giving you a present, they will.

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Jerry April 19, 2012 at 11:25 pm

“I don’t want gifts; just give me money so I can buy more stuff.”

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Just Laura April 19, 2012 at 11:38 pm

Please do not take our dear friend Jerry seriously. Sarcasm doesn’t translate well online.

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jane April 24, 2012 at 1:24 am

Can we say, “in lieu of gifts, help us donate to….” Then put in the organization? Thanks

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Alicia April 24, 2012 at 7:58 am

Gift really should not be mentioned in any way and that includes donations.

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Jazmin May 4, 2012 at 1:08 pm

My fiancee and I have been together for 8 yrs and living together for 6 yrs. We are getting married this fall and we really don’t have room for more “stuff”. What would be the proper etiquette to put on our wedding invitations that we would prefer money instead of gifts?

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Elizabeth May 4, 2012 at 1:52 pm

Jazmin, unfortunately there is no way to do so politely. Gifts should never be mentioned on invitations. The only way to express a preference like this is through family. If asked by your relatives, your mother could say, “You know, they already have a household’s worth of stuff, I think they would really prefer a monetary gift.” You could also send the message that you do not prefer physical gifts by simply not registering. When people ask you where you are registered, you can say “We already have everything we need, so we decided not to register.” This will give people the kind of hint you are going for. But, I repeat, you should never mention anything about gifts in your invitation. This would give people the impression that you are only inviting them for gifts.

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Alicia May 4, 2012 at 3:21 pm

You put absolutely no mention of gifts on the invite either stuff or money. Then when people ask you where you are registered just say “we did not register as we really have no space for anything but we are saving up for house/car/boat/trip to machu pichu/elephant.Besides whatever people do will be lovely.” Then the vast majority of people will give you money and those who don’t will give you stuff you hopefully enjoy.

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zehr March 6, 2013 at 5:08 am

I have seen and attended many parties/weddings where it says “no boxed gifts please” and everyone knows it means monetary gift will be more appreciated. I personally love the idea of this concept because I feel it reduces wasteful purchase in the society. I like receiving gift cards and like giving them too. I don’t think anyone minds that the guests are mentioning a need and providing a way to genuinely help. Except those who have the habit of recycling gifts, and that becomes a little pathetic, especially when the gift comes back to the original purchaser. Also it saves the guest time and energy spent on coming up with a gift idea and purchasing and preparing it.

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Maria May 15, 2012 at 9:22 pm

I think you should do what the birthday person wants. I hate that everyone has to follow these proper “rules” of etiquette. On my daughter’s 3rd birthday invitation, I just put “Bella only wants your presence there. Should you decide to bring a gift, it will not be opened during the party.” It’s honest and to the point. I don’t like to do gifts because I notice that a child sometimes reacts excitedly to some gifts but not to others, and she may hurt some people’s feelings. Also, it’s not a competition about who gives the nicest or most expensive gift, it is about celebrating the birth of an amazing person. There’s my two cents :)

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Winifred Rosenburg May 16, 2012 at 10:57 am

I agree with Alicia. As far as you hating “that everyone has to follow these proper ‘rules’ of etiquette,” I’m not sure you understand the point of this site.

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Alicia May 16, 2012 at 7:09 am

I’m sorry but that note would have made me as a guest very uncomfortable to the point of sending a larger gift in advance or declining the invite. What that note says to a guest is “well normally you would be required expected to bring bella a huge gift but we do not value your generosity”
Gifts should never be mentioned on the invite as they are always optional even for little kid birthday parties

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Tracy W September 17, 2012 at 7:09 am

There’s nothing impolite in itself about not valuing your friends’ generosity on any particular occasion. Donating an unwanted gift to charity is polite, or if a friend tries to offer something like a free haircut it’s perfectly possible to politely refuse that. And surely you think a host is free to politely reject offers of bringing a dish, in favour of serving their own food.

And I don’t read the note as saying “well normally you would be required and expected to bring bella a huge gift”, I read it as saying “no gifts please”. The host may equally as well find it a hassle to receive small gifts, which have to be kept away from the baby until the recipient can get to a charity bin.

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vivian May 30, 2012 at 7:17 pm

my daughter is throwing a party for her 2 year old. she is on a budget and asked that everyone attending bring a gift to the party for her daughter. she is going all out with the budget that she has. Was that rude of her to mention that gifts are required? We know how people are and sometimes they attend parties with the notion that they will give a gift at another time, but then they dont. I’m stuck on whether it was ok or not. I’ve gotten invitations before aaking for gifts or monetary gifts. What’s the difference?

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Just Laura May 30, 2012 at 7:42 pm

One should never ask for gifts for birthday parties. It’s like charging an entry fee before allowing your friends and relatives to see you. Besides, with few exceptions, we are all on budgets.
I simply put those invitations aside, understanding that those people want my present more than they want my presence.

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Heather June 1, 2012 at 6:37 pm

When I receive an invitation, even if it doesn’t proper etiquette, I still keep in mind the value of that relationship. I try not to judge my friends by an innocent or unintended faux pas. We are all learning and making plenty of mistakes along the way. . . .

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Just Laura June 1, 2012 at 8:57 pm

Of course you are correct, if the issue is something slight such as the incorrect wording of a formal invitation, using a salad fork for dinner, or sending a late thank-you. However, if a person is telling me that I must spend money on her before I can attend her party, that is much less innocent and another issue entirely.

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Maria June 25, 2012 at 10:05 pm

This may be on the wrong page, but what if you’re having a quinceanera and you put Money Tree on the bottom of the invitation (it was an accident on the photographers’ part) and you’re scared that the people who receive the invitation will think that they should only bring Money. Would that happen, and how could you fix it without making the invitation look less formal

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Yolande July 2, 2012 at 3:12 pm

I have sent evites for my husband’s 75th birthday, with the request that there be no gifts. I expect, though, that there will be cards of good wishes. Should these cards be read out loud at the party or should he just read them after the party?

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Elizabeth July 2, 2012 at 4:05 pm

He should just read them after the party. It might be embarrassing to some people to have their personal notes to your husband read aloud.

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Angela July 5, 2012 at 7:42 pm

I am hosting a going away party for a young married couple and their three children. They already don’t have much and now they are moving across the country and are only able to take a few things with them (just what will fit in their truck). I will not be sending out formal invitations, but rather giving a verbal invitation to our church family during Sunday School. Is it appropriate to suggest in some way that people might want to bring a monetary gift? I know they really need all the help we can give them. Any suggestions?

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Katie K July 5, 2012 at 11:04 pm

In my church tradition we do “love gifts” (cash gifts) for departing clergy, staff, and if warranted, for others of the church family. If this is part of your church’s tradition, you could announce, at the time of the verbal invitation, that a love gift will be taken for the young couple.

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Elizabeth July 5, 2012 at 11:10 pm

It really isn’t appropriate to suggest gifts of any kind. Gifts are not required (nor expected) at a going away party. If anyone asks, though, you can feel free to say that they’re moving and have limited space, but would be most helped by a monetary gift.

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Anna July 7, 2012 at 1:23 am

My brother and I are planning a surprise 25th anniversary party for our parents. They’ve been married and have settled into anything they need. I was hoping to to write “monetary gifts appreciated” on the invite so we could send them on a second honeymoon but my brother and I don’t know how to go about this. The last time they went on vacation was ten years ago. If anyone deserves anything it’s them. I come from an Italian family and there are always gifts for every occasion. But how do we stop people from buying stuff we already have? I mean I know I should appreciate all the love we get.

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Elizabeth July 7, 2012 at 10:51 am

Gifts are not required for an anniversary party. In any case, it is never appropriate to mention gifts on an invitation because it makes it sound like you’re only inviting people to get gifts from them. It is in poor taste and will offend many. Instead, if anyone asks, you can then say that your parents haven’t been on a vacation in a long time and you’d love for them to have some money towards that. (Better to make it sound like your idea rather than theirs.) This is a little dangerous, though, too – there are plenty of inexpensive vacations to go on, and if your parents don’t travel, it could be that they really just don’t like traveling or find it impossible to take the time off. If you tell a lot of people that your parents want money for a vacation, then they don’t go on one, people might be miffed. Lastly, have you considered skipping the party altogether an just using the money you would have spent on it to send them somewhere? People celebrate big anniversaries with trips (rather than parties) all the time.

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Teresa July 19, 2012 at 9:09 am

My daughter is living in Ireland…and will be getting married in South Africa…returning immediately to Ireland. They actually cannot receive any gifts because they won’t be able to take them back to Ireland. Is it not appropriate to indicate this on the invite? It would seem really rude if people give them gifts and they leave them in SA?

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Just Laura July 19, 2012 at 10:57 am

I guess my reply is along the lines of Alicia’s – Why can’t friends/family simply send the gifts to your daughter’s home? Most people do that anyway (it’s tough for any bride in her voluminous gown to lug around wedding gifts after the reception).

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Alicia July 19, 2012 at 9:20 am

No you still can not say this on the invite. Everyone invited however shoul know the couple well enough to know that they do not live in South Africa and should either give money, checks, or send gifts directly to their home in Ireland.

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Gabes Mom August 13, 2012 at 11:57 pm

we took a little different spin on this whole “no gifts” thing. maybe it’s for you, maybe not.

some friends of ours recommended a site called GiftedPath (www.giftedpath.com). they said that they set up a page for their son and received almost $900 in gift contributions which they then transferred to their son’s college savings account.

we decided to try it and worked well for us, too! we just put a link to our URL at the bottom of our party invitations. we ended up receiving around $650 dollars from our friends and fam!

this may not be for everyone, but it works for us. we don’t like the all the consumerist gifts and thought this was a tasteful way to say “no commercial gifts please”. don’t worry about gabe…no matter what you tell people, some will always show up with gifts. :)

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amy August 17, 2012 at 9:22 pm

My daughter is turning a year old in a month and we are going to have a big get together for her. I don’t care if she gets presents, but I’m already tired of all the toys that need batteries. Is there a way to request gifts that dont require batteries? my friend put a cute little poem on her kid’s birthday invites that asked for a book instead of cards, so I was wondering if you know of a cutesy poem. Or would it be ok just to put “please no gifts that require batteries”?

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Winifred Rosenburg August 18, 2012 at 8:32 am

No, there’s no polite way to specify what gifts you would or wouldn’t like on an invitation. But feel free to donate any battery-operated toys to charity.

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Tracy W September 17, 2012 at 7:12 am

Miss Manners once suggested throwing a “Great Little Books” themed-party and hoping your guests go with the theme in any gift-giving they feel inspired to do.

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Sue September 25, 2012 at 10:38 pm

Recently had a 90th surprise birthday party for our mother since we knew she would not want gifts we did in fact send out invitations our notation read as:
No Gifts to bring – it’s not her style
Just bring a card to maker her smile!

Her friends thought it was a great idea … yes there was a few gifts and thank you card were sent.

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Theresa January 6, 2013 at 12:57 am

Brilliant!

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Connie October 4, 2012 at 7:49 pm

I am having a birthday party at my home for my daughter who is turning 4 years old. I have 2 questions:
1. Would it be awkward to invite the kids from her class at school because I don’t really know their parents?
2. Most of my husband’s family either gets clothes that are many sizes too big, not what I like, or toys that are not age appropriate. Can I ask this “the gift of your presense is all we request, but if a gift is given, here are some things she likes… “?

And before a suggestion of “donate what you don’t want” is given, please note that his family asks about and or wants pics of things they have given.

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Just Laura October 4, 2012 at 8:09 pm

I understand that your husband’s family is evidently full of bad gifters. Please don’t assume the children in your daughter’s class will be the same. Additionally, wouldn’t this be a great time to get to know other parents?
It is inappropriate to mention gifts on the invitations, but if any parent calls and asks, let him/her know that no gifts are needed/expected, or that books are always welcome.

As for the clothing being too big, I’d put your daughter in the oversized dress and snap a picture. You are not only doing exactly as they request, you are gently reminding them that your little girl isn’t yet ready for pre-teen-sized garments! :)

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Connie October 5, 2012 at 12:28 pm

Makes sense, thank you for your insight! :)

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Alicia October 5, 2012 at 8:06 am

It is not awkward to invite the kids from her class as it is common for kids at 4 to go to each others birthday parties and meeting the parents will happen over all of these parties. I’ve recently been to my nieces 5th birthday party(went to 4th too a year ago) and based on those parties what happens with the parents is everyone asks oh which kid is yours and chats about kids and current events and baseball ( but that may be just the local teams here are both in the playoffs) People will be nice and friendly. I’m not a parent but as aunt I always end up hanging with parents.
When you do not know a kids size it is easy to default to too big as it can always be saved for later and they will grow into it. If too small they can not grow into it. Maybe let them know in casual conversation what size your daughter is. Ie wow just got back from target getting a new dress for daughter hard to believe she is wearing size 5 now seems like just the other day I could fit her in the crook of my arm. As far as style well you can not control the style if you do not like it you do not have to dress her in it. Toys and clothes she is not ready for can be put in a closet and taken out when she is ready for them. The gift itself is a sign of affection and love and that is something to be appreciated even if the specific gift stinks. Growing up my grandma used to get us these horrible hideous awful little house on the prarie style flannel PJ’s every year ( even until I was in college) they were awful and only got worn if grandma was visiting then given to goodwill. Now that grandma is gone oh what I would not give to be sitting at the breakfast table in awful hideous pj’s chatting with my grandma again.

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Connie October 5, 2012 at 12:26 pm

Thank you for your response, very helpful!!

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Chocobo October 5, 2012 at 3:16 pm

You can’t mention gifts on an invitation, but an effective way to let your husband’s family know what your daughter likes is to tell them well ahead of time. The best defense is a good offense, so to speak.

Offhandly, before the gift-giving event but not too close to it, you could say something like this: “Goodness! Angela is just loves her dinosaurs lately. She can’t get enough of it. It’s just dinos, dinos, dinos all the time with her. I’ve been trying to find a good book on dinosaurs for toddlers, since she loves books too, but I’m having trouble.”

You may still get some duds, but give this tactic a try. When a relative said something like this to me around Thanksgiving time, I knew very well to get their children Lego blocks that Christmas.

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Megan October 4, 2012 at 8:12 pm

I am throwing a birthday party for my son and he wants to invite his classmates. As Laura stated earlier, we’re all on budgets. That being the case, I wanted to find a way to not only accommodate incomes, but also communicate my son’s preference in toys (he is only 7 and I know I’m always at a loss shopping for a child I don’t know). The idea of registering him came to mind: we would simply chose any gifts $15 or less, and that would also guarantee that he would enjoy the presents he receives. Let’s be honest, children go through stages where they like what they like and he’s there right now. If it’s not Batman or Pokemon he’s not interested. *** I did read the above comments that no mention of gifts should be put on the invitation; but I would REALLY love to be able to include a printed note inside the invitation stating, “If you feel so inclined, Brian is registered at Target.” I personally would LOVE for this to become a trend because as I stated earlier, shopping for children you don’t know can be tedious…it would be so nice to not only know what kind of present the child prefers, but also that one won’t have to break the bank to buy it.

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Country Girl October 4, 2012 at 11:28 pm

Registering for a child’s birthday crosses the line for me, and I imagine will for other guests you invite. I would honestly think to myself “This mom is so concerned with the quality/type of gifts her child will receive that she took hours of her day to register her son (who let’s also face it we all know will outgrown nearly all gifts shortly anyway, as children always do.)”

People are very conscious of their own budgets, and can be trusted to select accordingly. Classmates will also likely have the same interests as your son since they are of the same age, so parents are in the loop on what is age-appropriate. A nice way way to communicate his preference for Batman or Pokemon would be through party theme/invitations. And if a parent/family member doesn’t trust themself to select a toy/gift for your son they will ask what he likes, at that point only should you direct them toward a gift. “Tommy is really into Batman these days, and he also has had his eye on xyz Pokemon toy. But I know he would appreciate anything you select.” 7 is a great age to teach children to show appreciation for any gift someone has taken time to select for them, not just the ones they happened to have their eye on this week.

The reason we do not mention gifts in an invitation is because the purpose of hosting a party of any type (besides a shower) is not to receive gifts. It is to celebrate the guest of honor. Mentioning gifts in ANY way on the invitation sends the message to guests that it is the reason for which they are being invited.

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Winifred Rosenburg October 4, 2012 at 11:45 pm

No, registries are inappropriate for birthday parties. If anyone asks what he would like you can make suggestions but you should either keep your suggestions general or otherwise open-ended enough that they don’t feel they have to get him this thing that might be out of their budget. “He loves anything with Batman!” is a good response.

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Alicia October 5, 2012 at 7:52 am

First shopping for children you do not know. If you are buying gifts because your son is invited to their birthday party bring your son into the shopping . Ask what does( Brian Sarah whomever) like?Kids usually know what other kids are into. So the guests would likely know that your son is uber into batman and pokemon. Bring your son into the picking out of gifts within price range too.
Second it is an important life skill to learn to show appreciation for gifts that are not exactly what you want and kids birthday parties are a great way to learn this skill of greatfullness. So lets assume some kid says your son likes superheros and picks out something your son does not like say spiderman. Well it is a good thing for your son to learn to be able to write a thank you note and be grateful for the spiderman gift even if not exactly what he would have picked out.
So no registries are not appropriate and they ruin a great chance to teach your son about being a good recipient of gifts and the other kids chance to learn to be a great giver of gifts.

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Chocobo October 5, 2012 at 9:36 am

What is the purpose of celebrating your son’s birthday? Is it to extract gifts –and the correct ones, at that– from guests? I hope not. If it is simply to celebrate his birthday with his friends and family, then what he receives should be irrelevant.

If it is important to you that your son receive the exact toys that he likes, that is your responsibility as his parent. It is a good time for him to learn that other people do not exist to fulfill his wishes, and to receive anything that is given to him with appreciation and grace. It will come in handy for him as he grows quickly into a man.

As a guests at others’ parties, it is simple to call the parents of the guest-of-honor and ask what the child likes. Better yet, encourage your son to pick out something within your budget; he of all people knows what seven-year-olds like. Get him into the habit of choosing thoughtful gifts for others: another useful life skill, particularly for the romances he will someday have.

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Jerry October 5, 2012 at 10:55 am

Megan: You’ve got an EPI article and 70+ comments opining that you should not mention gifts anywhere on, near, or around the invitation. But you want to start a trend. Ok, do so with my blessing. Just understand that a material portion of your guest list may be offended by what they perceive as a breach of etiquette on your part. (Others may like your idea, however, and there is a non-zero chance that you will be the vanguard of change in the rules of gift-giving etiquette.)

You may rest assured, however, that one may not criticize another’s etiquette without violating the cannons of etiquette. So whatever you decide, you shouldn’t hear any criticism.

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Megan October 5, 2012 at 10:45 am

Best site ever. Thank you all for your responses! I appreciate you all taking your time to answer; alas there shall be no registry :)

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Chocobo October 5, 2012 at 11:31 am

Of course! Please come back any time to ask questions of the community or to respond with your own thoughts. And a very happy birthday to your son, too.

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Elizabeth October 5, 2012 at 1:48 pm

Thanks for coming with an open mind. I definitely understand the desire for life to be a little simpler, easier. However, I think there is no way to simplify some things. Let’s face it – it IS really hard to pick out a thoughtful gift. It is time consuming, and you really have to think sometimes. That too is a life skill, and one that your son and son’s classmates will hopefully develop!

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Jacqui November 11, 2012 at 3:09 am

Thank you for your most excellent suggestions, everyone. However, since the purpose of my finding this forum was to find a way to politely say No Presents for my 50th birthday party, please, and I’ve been blatantly told that people WILL bring presents ‘because that’s what birthday parties are all about’, I think I’m going to borrow the little one-liner saying, ‘Your friendship is the greatest gift you could give, …’ but then I’m lost as to how to finish it off…. any suggestions please? I really do have a housefull of ‘stuff’!

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Jacqui November 11, 2012 at 3:10 am

actually, sorry, rather than a birthday ‘party’ it’s a Ladies Only High Tea.

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Brogeybear December 22, 2012 at 10:39 am

Wow! Reading through this was exhausting and confusing. Personally, I find all of the suggested wastage of money, resources, time spent shopping, and often child exploitation to be terrible. People do not soley gift out of the joy, they do so out of the obligation and expectation associated with an event. Stating that no gift is expected surely removes such expectation, not the opposite. Also, tell me, oh, wise people, what you would do in the situation where your ASD child does not like recieving presents? Some people expect their gift to be opened so that they may partake in the joy, in this case they would probably be met with “rude” behaviour. Others find it tasteless to open the gifts at the party at all.
People giving gifts would likely be hurt if their gift was sent straight to charity, yet this seems to be the preferred suggestion for unwanted gifts that do not fit with family ethics. As I mentioned above also, what of the ecological and sociolgical impact of these unwanted gifts?

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Jeff January 7, 2013 at 12:35 am

I am getting married in October. This will be my third marriage in 25 years and my fiancé’s first marriage. We are having a full blown formal wedding. Is it appropriate to register for gifts? We have lived together for 3 years, recently sold our home with virtually every possession in it and just bought a new condo which we are currently stocking with all of the new home necessities. I can afford to buy everything we need and am more than happy to do that, however I assume people are going to buy wedding gifts – therefore should we register for the things we know we want and will use? If we register, what is the appropriate way to convey that information to our friends and family?

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Alicia January 7, 2013 at 9:37 am

It is fine to register just liek for any wedding. But remember that just like for any wedding it is important that you do not mention the registry unless asked for info. So basically if you register that is great. If someone asks for gift ideas or where you are registered you can say that you are and what store. But do not put out info or bring up unless asked.
Also although people will probably give you gifts anyway remember that there is a limit of one obligation to give a wedding gift per person so some people may not give you a wedding gift for your third wedding from your side.. That is fine and not a statement against you or your marriage but just a practical etiquette rule.
Congrats on your wedding.

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Julie February 13, 2013 at 12:02 am

We are having a joint birthday party for our two sons. They are 3 years apart in age. Some of our guests will be family friends, and we are also inviting kids from school. I do not want the children/parents from their classes at school to feel that they need to bring a gift for our child who is not in their class (or for either, for that matter). I am afraid if we say nothing, they will feel that they need to bring a gift for both kids, and if we ask for no gifts, most of these people will still buy gifts, and possibly for both of our boys. Is the only solution to try to spread the word by mouth, or is there anything we could say in the invitation to get the point across that they do not need to bring a gift for either child, but if they feel it necessary, that they only bring one for the child in their child’s class?

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Just Laura February 13, 2013 at 10:37 am

Birthday parties for children in the states tend to be informal. As such, maybe a line on the invitation such as, “Just bring yourself, your swimsuit and a towel!” would get across the idea they don’t have to worry about gifts. But if this isn’t a pool party (or other themed party where invitees might bring a prop, such as a Harry Potter party), then perhaps word-of-mouth as you mentioned.

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Stacey February 25, 2013 at 1:31 pm

So, along those lines, I have 10 year old triplets who will be having their 11th birthday party together, but some of the guests are friends with 2 or 3 of the triplets and others are friends with only one. How would you suggest I word the invitations so that people don’t feel obligated to over compensate on multiple gifts just because there are 3 birthdays?

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Alicia February 25, 2013 at 2:22 pm

You don’t say anything. People will do what they want in terms of giving gifts to one or more of the kids. Mentioning that they do not have to will only make the situation more awkward and make the guests feel guilty if they do not give to all 3. The best situation is not to mention gifts and let the guests decide what to do in terms of gifts. I know as a twin we always combined parties and often people who were just friends with one of us would give the one they were friends with a real gift and then a token or card to the other one. I tend to follow the same method when invited to a multi honoree party. I will give a small thing or card to the other person or persons and a real gift to the honoree I am friends with.

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erika March 3, 2013 at 4:23 pm

hi i am having a bridal shower on april but i want to write on the invitation insted of what there going to to waist on the gift to donate the money but i dont know how to write it nicely with out sonding rude we want to use the money for our honey moon. please help

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Elizabeth March 3, 2013 at 5:05 pm

Erika,
The entire point of a bridal shower is to help young couples set up a new household by “showering” them with practical items (housewares, linens, towels, etc) that they might need. There is NO way of asking people for money as a gift in any situation, and it would be especially poor taste for a shower. However, part of the tradition of a shower is for the bride to open up the gifts in front of the guests (exclaiming over each one). A “money” shower would also defeat this purpose/tradition as well. If you do not want or need the kinds of gifts typically given at a shower, then you should simply not have one. People will give you gifts of money for your wedding, and you are free to spend that on a honeymoon or anything else you choose.

Finally – are you sending out your own invitations for your bridal shower? The bridal shower is always given FOR the bride, usually by her friends/bridesmaids, and now increasingly by the bride’s family. There is no acceptable way to host your own bridal shower. That’s because the purpose of a shower is to give the bride gifts, and there’s no polite way to to ask people to give you stuff. I hope I have mis-read this.

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RusHay March 10, 2013 at 1:27 am

Please no gifts or monetary contributions. This is a celebration, Only your “presents” is desired

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meredith March 19, 2013 at 6:02 pm

I have a question..I am having a sweet sixteen party at a local hall for my daughter.
She would like to have a dj dance party and invite up to sixty people. I am fine with the guest list as it is a big place and will be more fun with that many kids! The issue I have is that it seems like with so many kids coming it will be too many gifts! She cannot possibly get 60 presents….it seems greedy. I am seeing on this site that it is not polite to request no gifts but really….what are my options (she does not care about the gifts, just wants to have fun with friends).

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Joanna April 16, 2013 at 9:52 am

Your daughter sounds truly blessed to have such a wonderful party, surrounded by family and friends wishing her well and bestowing gifts upon her on her happy day! Thus, she may want to take the opportunity to share her good fortune with other teenage girls who are not so lucky. Is there perhaps a domestic violence or homeless shelter in your area? I work for an urban school district and unfortunately, due to my specific job, have gotten an inside look at just how many children and teens are currently forced to live in both kinds of places. We often have collections of items to give them – basically everything from school supplies to personal hygeniene items to stuffed animals. Surely your daughter will receive some items that would be appropriate to donate? She will have double the pleasure, both from being remembered by her guests and of knowing she has helped brighten the day of some other teen girl.

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Kate March 26, 2013 at 3:35 pm

My fiancee and I are 55 yrs. old and both getting married for the second time. We absolutely do not want any gifts. On the rough draft of our formal invitation I wrote Your presence will be our only gift. It doesn’t look that great…any suggestions??

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Alicia March 26, 2013 at 3:55 pm

One does not mention gifts on an invite even to say no gifts. Take the line off the invite. Regardless of what you write gifts are not required for a second wedding but some people will give you gifts out of love and happiness. If someone asks you can easily say that the two of you do not really want anything as the best gift was finding each other but no mention on invite and only say anything when asked.

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Elizabeth March 26, 2013 at 5:04 pm

I agree that you should leave it off. If someone asks where you are registered, you could say that no gifts are expected or desired, but if they’d like to give a gift, you’d love them to support your favorite charity. You would not put this on your registry, but would only be something you say if asked.

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Katie April 6, 2013 at 11:58 am

Hello! My parents and myself will be hosting my graduation party and inviting close family and friends as a way to say “thank you” to them for their support and prayers throughout this long academic journey. Because I will be graduating with my Ph.D., this will technically be my 4th graduation, and I would like to specify “no gifts.” I really want this time to be more about my gratitude for them. Does anyone has a nice way of wording this that would not seem in poor taste?

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Cyra Benedict April 18, 2013 at 3:29 pm

Hi Katie,

I think the best thing you can do is just make your party all about your appreciation, and not event worry about gifts at all. If your gratitude is evident throughout the party, and you don’t open whatever presents you might receive in front of everyone, then all of your guests will feel your love whether they chose to bring you a gift or not.

But specifying “no gifts” just shows that you are, indeed, thinking about gifts.

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Judy April 16, 2013 at 12:34 am

I have a similar question to Katie’s. I just completed my PhD and will be sending out announcements. I want to inform friends and and family, but I’m afraid that such announcements can be seen as “send me money” cards. While I am willing to accept gifts if people truly want to give them, I don’t want my family/friends to feel obligated to send something. After all, I’m not even hosting anything, just sharing the happy news. My plan is to include a slip of paper in the inner envelope with the printed words, “No gifts, please.” figuring that then the only people who will give gifts are those who really want to give them, and no one will feel obligated. Thoughts?

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Alicia April 16, 2013 at 4:52 am

Mentioning gifts in an announcement is tacky. Nobody is obligated to send a gift for an announcement, ever.
As a personal opinion announcements have outlived their modern usefulness. New travels fast between email facebook and phone so that those who care about your good news will have already heard. This is no longer the world of snail mail only. This is the reason that people rarely send them and are confused when they send them as to the purpose and start to wonder if the intent is not to inform what the intent is and start to wonder if they are gift reminders.

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Cyra Benedict April 18, 2013 at 3:32 pm

Hi Judy,

I agree with Alicia, on both counts. There should be no mention of gifts in your announcement.

Also, I would only send announcements to people who truly wouldn’t know any other way. If you’ve been using social media to talk about your graduation, then anyone who is connected to you would already know and likely be confused by receiving an announcement.

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Aly May 29, 2013 at 8:37 pm

I keep reading how mentioning no gifts means that they are expected. What birthday party, graduation, bridal shower etc… have you ever been to where gifts were not mentioned at all that no gifts were received? Most if not all people are under the assumption when you are invited to a party that you bring a gift. I agree that you should not ask for gifts or money, but to say no gifts to an event where they are typically given is not. By not saying anything people with automatically bring gifts, so by not stating the opposite you are essentially wasting the money your friends and family have worked hard to earn.

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Alicia May 29, 2013 at 11:04 pm

Gifts should not be expected for any of those events except showers which are all about gifts( if you do not want gifts you should not be having a shower). But an adult birthday party or a graduation gifts are not necessarily expected. You are not wasting peoples money if they do get you a gift however as what that gift shows is their affection for you and that is beyond any tangible money in value.

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Nazzar April 19, 2013 at 7:37 am

Hi
If anyone could help i need a suggestion to add on invitations for I am having a 21st dinner the day before i leave for a 2 week trip overseas for my birthday, i know my friends always do presents but how to say no presents but money is preferred .

any thoughts are greatly appreciated :)

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Cyra April 19, 2013 at 11:36 am

Sorry Nazzar, no polite way to do that. Best to just leave off any mention of gifts or money and be thankful for whatever your friends choose to honor you with. If any of them asks what you want for your birthday, then you have the opportunity to say “well, actually….”

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Alicia April 19, 2013 at 11:38 am

When and if people ask you what you would like simply say that since you are heading overseas that really foreign spending money would be the best. But really you can not gift gift input unless asked.

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EJ April 29, 2013 at 1:29 am

1 week ago, we ‘rescued’ a 4 month puppy and gave him a forever home. Naturally, part of adopting this puppy – was that he became a birthday gift for my son since his birthday is upcoming so closely. The whole adoption was last minute and somewhat impulsive, we haven’t had a dog in 5 years although we considered one many times. We are going into this with our eyes open – we know the time and commitment a pet requires and we are trying to emphasize this with our 7 year that by calling this particular pet ‘his own’ it will require him to be responsible. (with our help as parents of course! I’ve done this before with my college-age son) We also have had other pets and still have a rescued cat in residence.
Now for my question… My son’s birthday party will be held in a large open park in a picnic pavilion, it is one of our usual spots for (birthday) parties. We bring lawn games, picnic and often walk and play in the creek next to the pavilion. The park allows pets on leashes. For these reasons, this year I have made the invitations saying “it’s a puppy party’ on the front on invite with a picture of my son walking the pup. Inside I have details on time, date location and mention that the park is ideal for play clothes and creek walks and fishing. I also wrote
“A.’s Birthday Gift this year was a 4-month old Beagle puppy in need of rescue and a forever home! Please join us and meet and socialize with “Symphony” A.K.A. “Phiny”! ”

Should I rephrase this to say that A. just became the “Lead Dog Walker and Caretaker” of a 4 month old Beagle…etc…?

I want to let everyone know that the dog will be present at the party for multiple reasons – yes it is my son’s birthday present – the puppy also needs socializing time – Is it ok to mention that the puppy was a birthday gift to my son A.? Is that hinting at the whole ‘gift giving issue’ ?

Argh this whole thing is too confusing!!!
Help

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Winifred Rosenburg April 29, 2013 at 8:05 am

I don’t think what you said will make people think gifts are required. However I think people might get confused by the “puppy party” invitations. If they don’t read it carefully, they might think it’s a party for the puppy, not your son. Perhaps it would be better to tell people about the puppy by word of mouth, e.g. when they call to rsvp mention the puppy situation.

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Elizabeth April 29, 2013 at 9:06 am

If I received your invitation, I would think that you were not only inviting the kids but also their own dogs to the party as well (to socialize with your new puppy). Is that what you intended? If not, leave any mention of the puppy off the invitation. Whether or not the puppy is there will not matter to the kids, (unless they are allergic, but even then they can simply keep their distance as it is outdoors), they’re just interested in the fun parts of the birthday party. The puppy’s socialization will take place no matter what by just being around people.

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Alicia April 29, 2013 at 9:43 am

Calling it a puppy party is confusing. It makes it about the dog not the kid. Also the forever home thing implies that others who adopt dogs are planning on getting rid of the dog in a year or so and comes off holier then thou and judgmental of course if you adopt a dog it should be for life of dog.. The other thing is that you do not want the puppy to be the center of a party until socialized so do not stick the dog as the theme. It is not nice to the puppy nor the kids to corner the dog that way and is asking for problems as little kids and puppies can be unpredictable until better trained on how to behave around each other. Make the party about your son and just have the dog there as a side thing not the center of a huge gaggle of kids.

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Jamie Elder May 1, 2013 at 12:38 pm

My husband and I are moving to a different country for 2 years. There are some essential small things that we are needing in larger quantities, such as batteries, sunscreen, mosquito repellant, etc. My mom is planning a going away party for us and was wanting to include a small list of items that we are needing with the invitation. We are only inviting VERY close friends and family. Is it inappropriate to ask for these items? If not, what is the proper way to present it?

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Cyra May 1, 2013 at 1:03 pm

Hi Jamie,

It’s always inappropriate to ask for gifts in an invitation, and a going-away party is not something one typically would bring a gift to anyway. However, if any one asks if there are things you need, you are then able to list a couple of things.

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Jamie Elder May 1, 2013 at 4:06 pm

Thank you so much!

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kamal May 9, 2013 at 4:06 am

want guests to give cash as my kids birthday gift and not toys. how do i put it in the card?

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Alicia May 9, 2013 at 6:06 am

You do not mention gifts unless specifically asked what would be a good gift for the kids.

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Hannah Styles May 10, 2013 at 7:21 am

I’m having a joint party with my daughter she will be 13 and i will be 40. I dont want gifts but if people would like to donate to breast cancer there will be collection pot on the night. But my daughter would like gifts bless her. Can anyone help with the right wording for my invites..

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Alicia May 10, 2013 at 9:02 am

Gifts are never to be mentioned on a party invite. Anything that people make the choice to give or not give you or your daughter should be greatfully received but not expected. A collection should not be taken up at a party unless that party is really a fundraiser and in which case it should not be mixed in with a birthday party. If you want to support breast cancer research which would be wonderful either donate yourself, help with a fundraiser, or forgo the party expense and instead donate that money to the cause. As great a cause as it is you should not be telling others how to spend their money be it gifts , no gifts, donations, no donations.

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Joanna June 26, 2013 at 2:16 pm

Agreed.

Overall, I’m mighty sick of being asked to contributed to XYZ Charity at other people’s direction. Yes, on the one hand, it’s very nice that people have become considerably more charity-minded in recent years, often choosing to forego gifts on their special occasions in order to donate instead, etc. But if I make a donation to XYZ Charity, I end up on their mailing list for the rest of my life! This makes me a bit hesitant, especially if it’s an organization that I have nothing against but wouldn’t ordinarily give to, y’know?

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Doreen May 14, 2013 at 8:18 pm

I am getting remarried. We are having a nice dinner celebration with our closest family members at a very special restaurant. We do not want gifts. Isn’t it okay to write, “No gifts, please. Your presence is our gift” on the invitation ?

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Winifred Rosenburg May 14, 2013 at 9:25 pm

It is considered crass to mention gifts on invitations, even to state that you don’t want any for two reasons: 1) You should not indicate that you assumed people would have given you gifts. 2) There is a common misconception that “no gifts please” means “bring gifts please.” Despite the fact that this misconception makes no sense, it is important to not risk your guests thinking you are asking for gifts in a sly way. You can spread the word by word of mouth that gifts are not necessary. In any case, gifts are not required for second weddings from anyone who gave a gift for the first wedding, which I’m guessing is most of your guests.

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Dana June 4, 2013 at 1:35 pm

Hi there – I am hosting a bridal shower for a friend who has moved to another country but is coming back home for the bridal shower & wedding. I know typically gifts are an expectation at a bridal shower but she because she has to fly to get back home, she has asked that we somehow tactfully indicate no gifts and no registry (because of the country differences) but I know people will still want to do something for her. Is there a way to tactfully ask for a “donation to set up her new home”?

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Just Laura June 4, 2013 at 1:57 pm

Not in the invitation. But if friends ask (and I’m sure they will), that would be the time to suggest it. This sounds like a very considerate and thoughtful bride.

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Cyra June 4, 2013 at 2:43 pm

I agree with Laura that there’s no way to tactfully do that. If she doesn’t want gifts, you might consider changing the type of party. Instead of calling it a bridal shower (which exists for the purpose of showering the bride with gifts), perhaps have a tea or a luncheon.

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Alicia June 4, 2013 at 2:44 pm

If no gifts at all I would call it a bridal lunch or a bridal tea not a bridal shower. Shower means to shower someone with gifts. So make it a bridal lunch or tea instead and then when asked as the hostess say that no gifts are desired.

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Lauren June 10, 2013 at 11:03 pm

I am throwing a surprise birthday party for my mother. It is going to be a casual picnic and I want to be sure that guests don’t feel they need to bring a gift. Is this wording at the bottom of the invite inappropriate? “Please bring only well wishes to help Karen celebrate”

Thank you.

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Cyra June 11, 2013 at 12:48 pm

No need to say anything, because presents are not expected for an adult’s birthday party. Guests who wish to bring her a present should feel free, and those who do not wish to are under no obligation!

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Carly June 11, 2013 at 1:38 pm

I am having a joint Sweet 16/1st birthday party. A few of the invited guests have never met my 16 year old or may have only met her once, as the girls have different fathers. I do not want these guests to feel obligated to bring my oldest a gift. Is there a way to say this by including a note in the invitation?

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Elizabeth June 11, 2013 at 3:01 pm

There isn’t, because then you’d be implying that you DO expect gifts for your one year old. Leave it off, let people decide for themselves who to buy for and what to buy.

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Carly June 11, 2013 at 3:38 pm

I wondered about that, Elizabeth. Thank you!

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Joanna June 26, 2013 at 11:01 am

Is this a family-only party? Because otherwise, I would think it might be odd for your 16-year-old, who will naturally have her own teen friends there, doing their own thing, to be watching the baby smash her cake and you opening little outfits for her…and likewise for friends coming simply because of their association with you and the baby, to find themselves also attending a Sweet Sixteen. I could see if the girls were close in age, like maybe two years apart and also had close in date birthdays, then of course, but otherwise…

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Valerie J. Smith June 25, 2013 at 7:35 pm

I want to give my husband a 70th Birthday dinner with close family and a few friends. My daughter-in-law’s father passed away this month and his birthday was the day before my husbands. Would it be proper to invite her mother and sister to my husband’s party? I don’t plan on having it on the exact day. What would be the best way to handle this situation?
Valerie

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Cyra June 26, 2013 at 11:55 am

I think the best thing to do is ask your daughter-in-law since she is your close family. She will know whether that invitation would be appropriate or not.

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Elizabeth June 26, 2013 at 12:00 pm

I have heard opinions on both sides of this question. On one hand, you want to be sensitive to their grieving process, but on the other you don’t want to shun them when they might like to be around people. You might send them an invitation, but also include a note acknowledging their loss and offering sympathies, and one that says something to the effect that you’ll understand if they don’t feel up to it. I would think that most people will appreciate being thought of, and also appreciate knowing that a decline won’t be taken personally.

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SUSIE VELEZ June 26, 2013 at 11:50 am

I am living in Puerto Rico and invited to a wedding in Los Angeles that I will no attend. Do I send a gift in the reply. thank you

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Cyra June 26, 2013 at 11:59 am

You have asked a hotly debated question! The Emily Post Institute says that you should send a gift in reply to a wedding invitation, whether you attend or not. Other etiquette experts say that a gift is required only if you attend. I say, if you’re not attending, send a gift if you wish, but at least send a note of congratulations.

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Joanna June 26, 2013 at 2:18 pm

Personally, I think it really boils down to how close you and the bride/groom are…

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Jennie July 5, 2013 at 12:13 pm

I’m hosting a 1st birthday party for my 3rd child. As you can imagine, we have more toys than anyone in this world could possibly need. I am interested in printing the following on the back of the invitation:

“No gifts please but if you do, bring (child) a book that’s special to you.”

Is this in poor taste?

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Cyra July 5, 2013 at 1:01 pm

Hi Jennie,

Simply put, yes, it is in poor taste to put any mention of gifts on an invitation. If your guests ask you what little Johnny or Suzie needs, then you could mention “Oh, he/she has plenty of toys. Maybe a book that was special to you as a child?” Otherwise, get ready to write those thank-you notes and donate anything you don’t want to keep around.

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trupti July 10, 2013 at 3:15 pm

I am organizing 2nd birthday for my daughter and i am inviting her preschool friends. I want them to bring in there old/new gifts which i will donate it to the orphanage. So what should i write on the invitation card.

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Alicia July 10, 2013 at 4:05 pm

You are welcome to do whatever you wish with the gifts you recieve or even that a two year old recieved but mentioning that you only want gifts given to your kid so that you can thus give them to charity is not good. Seperate the two ideas. Your charity and your kids second birthday are not the same. Now I’d you want to give old or even new toys from your kid to charity great but no mentioning on the invite that.

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Kendra July 26, 2013 at 7:07 pm

My Daughter will be turning two in a few months and she has too many toys (anytime I mention this to anyone they tell me to go through and get rid of toys she’s too big for or doesn’t play with, theres the problem, no toys are too little for her and she plays with all of them) is there any way to request NOT gettin toys as a gift. She loves reading so books are fine and anything else but we just don’t want anymore toys! (I also know everyone were inviting will be bringing a present)

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Maegen August 7, 2013 at 2:57 pm

I am in the same predicament and curious about this also! My son will be 3 next month and I always get such negative feedback from certain family members when I mention that he has too many toys and would appreciate books or movies (even clothes). I still have toys from his last birthday that have never been opened!

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Kim August 4, 2013 at 9:38 pm

I must say, reading this article and the comments has left me more confused than when I started.

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Stephanie August 11, 2013 at 6:40 pm

I request no presents because my son goes to a low income school and these children can not afford to buy a present every time they are invited to a birthday party. I would rather my son have a great party and run around with ALL his friends then only the 2 or 3 who could afford to come.

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Sylvia September 20, 2013 at 8:16 am

My siblings are giving me a 50 th birthday dinner.
They want to put on the invitation monetary gifts is this appropriate to do so.
I understand why they want to say this. I feel at this age I don’t want gifts that collect dust… LOL… Thanks for any input.

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Winifred Rosenburg September 20, 2013 at 1:18 pm

It would be rude to say this on an invitation. Your invitees don’t have to give you gifts and this makes it sound like there will be an entrance fee. Additionally, many people are uncomfortable giving monetary gifts and if they would like to give you a gift from their heart it is rude to instruct them that their gift idea was wrong. Do not mention gifts on the invitation. If people ask you if you would prefer money, you can give an honest answer.

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Veronica October 1, 2013 at 2:52 pm

I hope someone can help me with this wording…or no wording (as the case seems to be in most of these that I have read).
I have a 3 year old daughter and I am having a baby boy in a few months.
My mother wants to throw me a baby celebration of some kind, so I suggested a scrap-booking party to make an album for his first year. Creative, fun, and a nice way to spend some time with close friends and family. We do not need anything, or want people to feel like they need to buy us something. My mother is ordering invitations to send out, and wants to put “No gifts please” on the invitation. I think it sends the wrong message but I do like the “Your presence is the only present desired” wording if I need to put something at all.
The invitations will say “Please join us for a scrapbook party celebrating baby boy (Last name)” or something like that. No mention of it being a baby shower or sprinkle so it will not give the wrong impression (I hope). Is there a way to avoid addressing the gifts on the invitation or is it necessary since babies are usually a reason people buy gifts.
I know there are a few people I have told about the party (close family) and they want to bring a gift anyway, so I told them to stay after the party and I will open it if they would like.
My mom wants to throw this to have a special event for this baby, and wants to send out invitations, not email invites. I don’t want to look ungrateful or rude. I appreciate your help.

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Just Laura October 1, 2013 at 3:45 pm

I like your idea for wording: Please join us for a scrapbook party.
Some people will bring presents, but I didn’t read anything in your suggestion which implied you expect presents.

Congratulations on your impending arrival!

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Veronica October 1, 2013 at 11:34 pm

Thank you for your help! She ordered the invitations tonight without any mention of gifts. I am much happier with them!
Thank you very much for the well wishes also!

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Wendy October 4, 2013 at 8:49 am

Hi,
We are having a party for my parents who will have been married for 60 years soon.
How do we word it that they don’t want/need any Diamond Anniversary presents but ‘cash’ would be appreciated if they want to give something as a gift?

Thanks

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Ruth Peltier October 4, 2013 at 1:07 pm

To put the matter bluntly, you don’t. It is not polite to put any mention of gifts on any invitation. If people ask what they want, then you can mention no need for gifts and that cash would be better.

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Chelsey October 11, 2013 at 12:43 pm

This is very helpful! I completely forgot to mention “no gifts” on my invitation and didn’t catch it until it was printed. Everyone on my guest list has a Facebook, though. Is it OK for me to send them all a message letting them know that gifts are unnecessary?

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Chelsey October 11, 2013 at 12:50 pm

When it comes to putting a mention of it on the gift, I really think that depends on the crowd. When I sent out my wedding invitations a few years ago, I didn’t mentioon gifts because all the magazines and etiquette websites said not to. As a result, I got calls from EVERY SINGLE GUEST demanding to know why I didn’t put my gift registry on the invitation because that’s the only way they know whether to bring a gift and what they should get. There were some who explicitly said I would not receive one since I was so inconsiderate. (Not that I cared about that, but the rudeness was uncalled for.)

People are weird and inconsistent. Some people are snobs about etiquette, but I’ve found that most people just want whatever will make life easier for them. In the end, you can’t win either way, so do what you want.

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Nicole November 12, 2013 at 4:47 pm

What would your recommendation be if you have specifically indicated NO GIFTS on a birthday dinner party invite, and were given gifts regardless? Friends bought me birthday gifts although I said not to. Should I now feel obligated to do the same for their birthdays? I should mention as well that I’ve bought gifts for their kids and don’t have my own, and I’m not willing to spend 100′s of dollars on presents for every Tom Dick & Harry beyond my immediate family.

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Elizabeth November 12, 2013 at 5:18 pm

Hmmm…well, your immediate obligation is to thank those people that have given you gifts. As for whether you are now obligated to give gifts in return, it’s a tricky question. There is a whole world between nothing and a gift costing hundreds. You could give a friend a paperback copy of a good book you enjoyed, an inexpensive hat or scarf that you found at an outdoor market, a gift-certificate to a pedi. This is all well under $50. In my circle, we usually treat friends to a dinner or drinks rather than buying an object. You can certainly stick to your no-gifts policy, and your friends will learn in time that you are not a person with whom they exchange gifts. This realization may or may not alter your relationship, depending on how they feel about the importance of gift-giving.

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Winifred Rosenburg November 12, 2013 at 9:47 pm

Your obligations do not change because they gave you a gift. If they have a birthday party (by that I mean a hosted event that is designated to be in honor of the person’s birthday) for which there is not indication that you aren’t expected to bring a gift, then you should bring a gift of any cost you choose. If not, you don’t need to give a gift.

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Jennifer November 20, 2013 at 10:36 pm

Hosting a 50th wedding anniversary surprise party for my in-laws. Would like the guests to be prepared w a written memory of the couple . How do I word that? Every time I try it sounds a bit like their deceased! :)
“Please bring a special memory of the couple to share.” ?

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Alicia November 21, 2013 at 8:32 am

Please write out a short funny or touching story about BOb and Julie we will be collecting then gor a booklet. (Or reading them outloud at the party).
Calling it a story not a memory makes it sound less memorial. Also please say why or what the story is for. Some stories would be great in a booklet for the couple but maybe not read in front of grandkids for example.

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Vanessa November 25, 2013 at 5:28 am

I’m hosting a morning tea for my Mother’s 70th Birthday in January and she really, sincerely does not want (or need) any gifts, so we would like to ask guests to bring a small plate of food/treats to share in lieu of a gift. What is the best wording to use on the invitation to reflect this?
Thank you.

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Elizabeth November 25, 2013 at 9:51 am

In that case, you are not “hosting a tea” but rather “organizing a potluck.” You could very well say something on the invitation like: “In lieu of gifts, we request that you bring a small plate of goodies to share.” However, some people may be turned off at the prospect of having to bake or cook in order to attend. You could go back to actually “hosting,” i.e. paying for all of the refreshments yourself, and redirect the guests in another way. You could ask the guests to write down a memory or story of your mother for collection in a book; you could also include something like “The only present we ask for is your presence.” I will say that these sorts of things are not looked upon favorably by etiquette experts because they still mention a gift (even the absence of a gift), and that is a big no-no on an invitation.

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Samantha December 30, 2013 at 1:50 am

I am throwing my sister and brother-in-law a gender reveal party to announce the sex of the baby to both of our families. They’ve said that they do not want gifts (of any kind) since there will be a baby shower a few months later where they will have a registry. I’ve honestly never been to a gender reveal party, is it expected to bring gifts to these? Do I write “Your presence is the only present desired”?

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Lea February 9, 2014 at 1:52 am

I am having a 50th birthday party for myself. I don’t REALLY have the money to pay for it cash, but I am asking for no gifts, (stuff) but any gift i do get will go towards the celebration with family and friends. Not all party goers know my financial status. Please help in wording this on the invite! Thanks!

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Alicia February 9, 2014 at 10:41 am

Scale back the party to something you really have the budget for.

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Alyssa March 30, 2014 at 11:43 pm

For my sixteenth I am having a little over 100 (not my doing but that is besides the point). I kind of felt really uncomfortable having all these people come and bring a present, so I thought it would be a nice idea to ask for books for a charity that gives them to children on their birthdays and such. I was really set on doing this and then when looking for ways to phrase it, I came upon a lot of people who thought it was rude. Honestly, it obviously wasn’t intended to be rude I just though that would be a nice thing to do since I don’t need or want anything else; just to spend time with friends and family. Someone made the comment that people will feel uncomfortable not bringing a gift and bringing one anyway along with the “donation” and how that is financially burdening, but I believe if it says “no gifts” it means no gifts and attendees should respect it. I think in my invite, I phrased it, “Your presence is present enough! However, if you would like to, please bring something for Cradles to crayons. They are in need of books, especially for two years and younger, and puzzles and board games.” Hope his helps someone!

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Maggie Barnes April 15, 2014 at 2:29 pm

For our 20th anniversary this year, my husband and I are asking for no gifts. But our families and friends are very thoughtful, so we are considering asking for donations to our favorite charities to mark the occasion.

Right or wrong?

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Elizabeth April 15, 2014 at 5:09 pm

wrong. simply do not mention gifts on the invitation and you will be all set. When people donate to charities they prefer to donate to their own causes. Just say nothing and have a great event!

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greytaunt April 16, 2014 at 2:06 pm

I’m putting together an invite for my son’s college graduation party.
He has everything he needs in life and then some – and I truly want it to be a enjoyable event for those that attend – vs. the frantic search for a gift that usually results in $50 dollars stuffed in an envelope.

It’s a relaxed gathering of family and friends at a local bistro, lunch and bar on us.

I’ve been tossing around “The pleasure of your company is all you need to bring”

Thoughts???

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Elizabeth April 16, 2014 at 2:48 pm

It is improper to mention gifts (even to ask for no gifts) on an invitation. Simply issue a regular invitation, worded as warmly as you like, and allow people to bring whatever they like. I can assure you that very few people frantically search for a graduation gift. Cash in a card is just about the easiest gift there is. If people ask, you can easily tell them that no gift is needed, just to come and enjoy themselves. However, your son is now an adult, and this is a good opportunity for him to learn to express thanks, via thank you note, on his own steam. If he really doesn’t need the money, he is free to donate any gifts to charity.

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