I find it impossible to go to a child’s birthday party without bringing a gift, even if the invitation says “no gifts please” as lots we’re receiving lately do. Perhaps this is because I come from a family of overgifters or perhaps it’s because I get too much joy out of giving (and buying) gifts.
Putting aside the question of whether it’s appropriate etiquettewise to ask for no gifts (the consensus seems to be that it’s best to give guests a choice), people who say “no gifts” really seem to mean it.
“Don’t bring anything. [Parents who ask for ‘no gifts’ are] not playing mind games with you. They just don’t want more stuff [i.e. toys] in their house,” wrote one “no gifts please” mom in a message board conversation on the topic.
But it seems that there are a couple exceptions to this rule. So if you’re an overgifter like me, here are two gifts that even those who ask for “no gifts” seem to appreciate.
1.) Cards (along with any kind of gift that can fit in the card envelope). Whether you bring a homemade card or a store bought one, it seems to be okay to put small gifts inside like stickers (an idea from a mom chatting on BabyCenter.com), hair clips (like a commenter on the Minimalist Mom blog suggests), coloring pages, gift certificates or a note saying you made a donation to a charity in the child’s honor. One parent on a moms’ message board who asked for no gifts said she thought such a gift (specifically a handmade card with a $5 ice-cream store certificate) for her child “was sweet.”
2.) Something for the parents, like a bottle of wine or champagne.
What are your go-to gifts for “no gift” parties and why?