Saturday, July 24, 2010

Let Your Presence Be Your Presents

Sometimes trivial quandaries that pop into my head and I can't help but wonder ... What do YOU, fellow mamas, fellow bloggers, friends near and far, SAY?  What's your opinion?  How do you handle this situation or that predicament?  Or even, what could I have done differently?  If the question/situation inspires you, please leave a comment :)

This week's question is not terribly serious, and I am asking mostly out of curiosity.

How do you feel about birthday parties without gifts?
Quite often it seems, parents are requesting "no gifts" at their child's party.  In fact, for NHV's recent birthday, I used the oh-so-clever "let your presence be your presents" line on the invitation.  My thinking was that , first of all, she already has soooooo much!  Secondly, really and truly, I just wanted to get together with my mommy friends and watch Natalie enjoy time with her little friends.  I did not want people to feel obligated to buy a gift simply because I sent out an invitation and baked cupcakes.

But then there's this part of me that feels like a party isn't really "complete" without a table full of  brightly colored boxes! Where does that mentality come from, I wonder?!  I also know that Natalie loves to tear into a gift.  Her face lights up and she immediately wants to "open it, please" so she can get right down to the business of playing and having fun and being a kid. 

At Natalie's party, I was not surprised to see several moms arrive with a package - despite my suggestion that gifts were not necessary.  (For the record, NHV received delightful presents, and I was touched by the thoughtfulness of my friends.)

Okay, enough of my recent experience ... time for the question(s) ...

Do you attend a child's birthday party ... empty-handed?
Do you show up sans gift - and respect the host's wishes?
Do you bring a little something just because it feels weird to attend a party without a present?
Do you ignore the "no gift" request and give the perfect present?
Have you made that "no gift" request?  Why or why not?

Do you let your presence be your presents?

How do you feel about birthday parties without gifts?


CJ Sime said...

Okay is this bad? For my daughter's last birthday I simply sent invitations saying we were having an early Halloween party (she's an October baby). We had several activities planned and lots of fun favors. Nobody was the wiser until we sung happy birthday.

I had two main reasons for not wanting presents. The first is our circle of friends consists of families in which the dad is attending grad school. We are all living on student loans and I know they can't afford a gift anymore than we can. The second reason I chose no gifts is my daughter's grandparents are exceedingly generous. It just ends up being way too much.

However, I think there is lots of value in kids bringing gifts for other kids. It is a good lesson in thoughfulness and generosity.

Elaina said...

I have to admit, I ignore the "no presents" request and bring one anyway. The exception to this was one party for 3 kids, where they asked that instead of a present, each person bring one book. They then had a game where the books were laid out on a table, and the kids walked around until the music stopped. Then each child took the book they were next to. It fulfilled their wishes of having no presents, but guests didn't have to feel strange coming empty-handed. Plus, it was fun for all the kids to get a book!

BJ_Mama said...

I totally ignore ANY and ALL "no gift" requests for children. I LOVE giving gifts...and seeing their reactions. (especially if it's something handmade or personalized) I just love presents! It even pains me that we exchange names with all our kids (the cousins) at Christmas time cuz I want to give them all something! It's a sickness.

Angela said...

When it comes to invites with such requests I will choose to make a donation to a charity that I think would be connected to the person. If the child/adult is into animals - the local humane society. If it's sport - the local fund that supports children less fortunate to enroll in a rec. program. Toys for children at the local women and children shelter. You can still bring something...the card that indicates where the gift went and what it did for someone else. I usually include some sort of edible treat with the envelope, especially for young children who may not fully understand the concept of donating. Just a thought...

Jessica said...

I like how you stated this on your invitation. We did BG first friend party this year. I really just wanted to throw a party for her to play with her friends. I was not concerned about gifts, but didn't know how to say it.

Chi-town momma said...

As for me, I tend to bring the gift anyone, but my latest gift idea has been to get a certificate to a local bakery so the mom and kid can have a "date" it is a gift, but not a toy.
As for my own kids, since all their friends are having no gift parties, I feel obligated to make theirs be the same. But, it makes me sad. I love the idea of presents, the excitement of opening a package, of getting new fun things to play with, of receiving more age appropriate toys. I mean really, who doesn't love opening presents???

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