Best Party Ever

Why I'm Having a 'No Gift' Birthday Party for My Son

8th birthday

In early March, my son will be turning 8 years old (WTF?!?) -- and of course, we're throwing him a fun birthday party with his friends and classmates at a local indoor amusement center. There will be pizza and cake. And laser tag. And arcade fun. And a decent amount of time spent playing in bounce houses. But you know what there won't be? Gifts.

That's right ... I'm finally breaking down this year and writing, "No gifts, please" on the invitations in addition to the date, time, place, and RSVP stuff.

There are at least three reasons why I've decided celebrating his birthday with his friends is way better than getting a bunch of stuff.

First of all, the kid has enough toys, books, games, DVDs, and the like as it is. Seriously ... you should see our playroom. It's like a damn Toys R' Us up in there. And I'm over it. The last thing he needs is more stuff he'll play with once and promptly forget about to fill it up.

Second, I hate having to deal with writing thank-you notes. Or making him write them. It's not that I don't appreciate the gifts -- it's just such a pain in the ass to sit down and write out the notes, let alone carve out the time it takes to write them in our already hectic schedules. And then if too much time passes in between the party and when we send out the notes, we look like we're ungrateful, which is definitely not the case.

Lastly, I want him to get used to the idea of celebrating special occasions by having fun experiences in lieu of receiving gifts. Memories are worth so much more than material things, so it will do him good to learn that he doesn't need to be opening something to be happy.

The good news is that when I told him we were going to throw him a gift-free party? He looked at me and said, "That's ok, Mom. The gifts aren't that important anyway."

I may not be a perfect parent, but it looks like I must be doing something right. Now let's just hope people actually take me seriously as far as the "no gift" thing goes. If someone shows up with one, it will screw up my whole plan.

Have you had a gift-free party for your child?


Image via ND Strupler/Flickr

boys, birthdays


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nonmember avatar Lily

I agree with every point in the article... other than the thank-you note portion. Regardless of whether there are gifts or not, a "thank you for celebrating with me!" card is just common courtesy.

Robin Hartman

I like it. My daughter is having her 9th birthday and she is requesting donations for the animal shelter instead of gifts. It's nice because kids can still bring something and it goes to a good cause. I also thought everyone could bring a book for the public library. Maybe that will be next year. 

nonmember avatar Benderz

My son is 11 and we have been doing this for three years now for much of the same reasons - too much stuff! However, his birthday is on Halloween and we ask for donations for various Christmas charities. Thank you notes are pre-printed "thanks for the donation to..." and signed by my son. It is a win win all around!

nonmember avatar Emmie

We had a no gift party and people brought gifts anyway, so get ready! Among our circle of friends, we vetoed thank you notes. None of us recall ever receiving them as kids after attending a kid party. It has always been a given that the favor bag is the "thank you". We all chatted one day and admitted the cards get tossed after being read, so why waste the energy or paper!

ashjo85 ashjo85

Good luck, they'll bring gifts anyway.

CLM3345 CLM3345

If someone brings a gift, have him donate a gently used one in it's place? I always listen when the invite says no gifts/charity item, it's the respectful thing to do. I think kids should do that around their bdays and Christmas anyway since they know they'll be getting a bunch of new stuff. I think these are a great idea! I've been doing gift cards to the zoo, indoor play places, etc instead of toys lately. Mom and Dads appreciate the free, fun activites and it doesn't create more clutter in their home. You're doing a great job raising your son! I also have never gotten a thank you note for attending a kid's bday party.

Ginger Rafalowich

welcome to the most disappointed kid ever party.  worst case you could have donated them to a local charity.   and the fact you pointed out youre too lazy to write out thank you notes but you spend time writing stupid articles like this?  get your priorities in order.  sorry but your kid has a birthday once a year.  let him be a normal kid and enjoy the perks. 

nonmember avatar Jlw1403

Mary is just trying to make herself look like a good mom because half of her articles are about how she can't stand her kid and how she's always going on vacations without him.

nonmember avatar Sarah

^Jlw1403, I completely agree! Pretty sure Mary wrote this article so everyone would tell her how incredible and selfless she is.

wendy... wendywendy

My niece has had a few.  What they usually do is say no presents, but more than half would bring some anyway.  So then they asked that parents write a check for $15-$20, made out to a charity that my niece picked ahead of time.  The week after her birthday party she would take the checks to the charity.  The first year she donated to the NICU where my daughter had stayed a few weeks after she was born premature.

My nephew usually picks the local fire or police department.

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