How to Host a 'No Gift' Party Without Making Guests Feel Weird

When Simone Tyner asked her daughter what she wanted for her 7th birthday, she was stumped. "When she couldn't come up with anything, it occurred to both of us that she didn't want anything," says Tyner, an event planner and blogger at Her Life Inspired. "And she certainly didn't need anything: She has enough toys, games, and dolls to last through the next two birthdays!"

That's when she and her daughter came up with a daring idea: They'd host a "no gift" party, where guests wouldn't be required to bring a present. According to Tyner, abstaining from presents is becoming a popular trend. "I believe that 'no gift' parties are on the rise because parents are starting to realize that their kids have too much stuff," Tyner says.


Sure it's a nice idea ... only announcing "no gifts" on your invitation can cause some awkwardness with guests: They may want to bring a gift or just feel weird arriving at the party empty-handed. One alternative is to ask guests to give a donation to a charity of the child's choice.

"I would always try to tie a charitable piece into a 'no gift' party for two reasons: First, it teaches children the importance of giving to other and how a small act of kindness can make a big difference," says Tyner. "Second, it removes that awkward feeling of showing up to a party empty-handed. For our party, the invitation stated that we would be accepting loose change as donations to a local children's hospital. We collected over $200."

But even if your invitation clearly states "no gifts," keep in mind that certain guests may bring gifts anyway. "If that happens, definitely be gracious about it," says Christine Landry a blogger on modern etiquette at Retroette. "But don't display the gifts front and center and don't open the gifts at the party either. It might make others feel bad who honored the no-gift request."

More from The Stir: 'No Gift' Kid Birthday Parties: What's a Guest to Do?

Yet another consideration when hosting a "no gift" party is your child. Because let's face it -- denying your kids presents on their birthday is pretty cruel if they're not on board with it. "Depending on your child's age, you may want to have a discussion about hosting a 'no gift' party before deciding to do it," says Tyner. "When we hosted our birthday philanthroparty, I explained to my daughter that her birthday wasn't about gifts and that when you give -- especially to others in need -- the blessings you receive are so much greater. Including her in the decision empowered her choose how she could make a difference and who she was going to help."

And once kids see the impact of their generosity, the excitement will rival any present they could have unwrapped, says Tyner: "My daughter, for one, was so excited about how much money she could raise for her charity, she forgot all about the gifts."

Do you think "no gift" kid birthday parties are a good idea?


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