Thursday, July 16, 2009

Asking Misses (and Misters) Manners

So, Will is turning one year old in just a little over a month. We are in full party planning mode here. I am thrilled to be throwing a party to celebrate this momentous occasion, even if it seems absolutely impossible that Little Man is. . . well, not so little anymore!

Here is my latest party dilemma. M and I have decided that Will really needs nothing else. Seriously, it is ridiculous how many toys, books, and clothes he already has. We don't even have room for what he currently owns and shudder to think about the new additions after a party. We have kept his guest list to family and close friends only, but there are still over thirty people that I am pretty sure will be in attendance. So, we considered asking that people not bring gifts.

That being said, I always feel uncomfortable when the invitation says no gifts. To be honest, I usually bring a gift anyway and leave it in the car. If I see other gifts (and I almost always do), I go and get it. I just feel rude not bringing anything and it stresses me out more to have "no gifts" requested than to just go and get a gift. And I like giving things to children!

Instead, we have thought about asking that people bring an unwrapped new or gently used toy or clothing so that we might make a donation to one of our favorite charities. I wonder, though, if that sounds sanctimonious. While not our intention, does it come off as a "Look at us, how good, how charitable we are"? And, will people then just bring two gifts, one for Will and one to donate? Because that really defeats the purpose and will make it a big inconvenience for our guests.

So, then another option is that we could just donate whatever we get. But then what happens if people come over and don't see their toy amongst his possessions? Would you be offended if you found out that your gift had been donated, even if to a good cause? I think I might.

What would you do? And have you seen this done? What are/were your feelings about this type of donation? And if we do decide to go ahead, how do you think the invitation should read? At this point, I guess I am leaning towards just going the traditional route and not putting anything n the invite about gifts, but I am interested for a weigh-in on this topic.

25 comments:

Rachel said...

I really like the idea of collecting donations, but if you think that's socially inappropriate (and I have no idea) I also like the idea of something like "books only." Books are easy to store, easy to exchange, (easy to donate with no one noticing), and something he will always grow into (we did a 'bring your favorite childhood book' baby shower and it was awesome).

Kim said...

We had the same issue around B's birthday, so when I had custom invites made - I had a cute little extra insert made about bringing a book instead. I will try to see if I have the file on here..

Personally, I wouldn't collect donations in lieu of gifts for a child's birthday party.

Kim said...

I should have also added that even with the adorable (and direct) insert, most people ignored it and brought a toy anyway or brought a toy AND a book (because they felt like a book wasn't 'enough'). I remember now that mine was actually phrased to bring a book instead of a CARD (and not instead of a gift), because at the time I thought that I would much prefer to have a book for her signed on the inside by the gifter, since cards are pretty close in price. But some people took that as JUST bringing a book and no gift (which is fine, they just didn't get what I meant!).

Just know that if you do this, people will be confused either way :o)

Lori said...

I've been in this position a few times already, and it's awkward. I'd go the simple route and then donate the extra toys afterwards. On the subject of people asking where their gift is, I would always keep the items from the people that I know I will see often, others I would put away for later times or donate. When someone would ask, I would simply say, we received so many wonderful gifts that we've put them away to take out a later time, either when the child has outgrown or gotten bored with the current available toys, so that there is a toy rotation, and this way if you choose to donate you have a small white lie to go with it and hopefully you won't hurt anyone's feelings.

Anonymous said...

We just had our baby's 1st bday party 2 weeks ago, and I felt the same way about gifts. We have so much stuff already, and many of the people invited had given us hand-me-down clothes and toys, etc. etc. that they had done their part!

I really didn't feel comfortable asking people to donate to a charity -- it just seemed like a breach of ettiquete somehow. Anyway, we added the line at the bottom of the invitation "in lieu of gifts the birthday boy will be accepting hugs and kisses".

Noone payed any attention, only one guest didn't bring a gift. Although I think one good outcome was that noone got us anything huge or ostentatious -- just some outfits, a pair of shoes, a small tractor toy, etc. So all in all Im glad we made the effort.

Tracy said...

I probably wouldn't say or do anything. I think people LIKE to buy gifts for 1-year olds, so let them, and if you so choose, you can donate the toys/clothes/books that you wish to after the fact.

I am astounded that people would ask where their gift is when they come for a visit later. I would never do that...that seems rude to me. Like, "Where's the toy I got him for his birthday?" I just would never ask that.

Anyway, if they DID ask, I'd have no qualms with telling the guest that we've put it away until a later time, or even that "Evan and Rowan have so many toys that we have donated quite a few of theirs to another child less fortunate." But I really can't see any of my friends or family asking. Maybe it's just me.

Mel said...

Truth? I have always ignored the "no gifts please" on any invitation that I've ever gotten that said it. It just feels wrong to go to a party without a present!
People just don't feel right about attending a party without presents, especially a children's party! With only one exception, no one has ever asked me where their gift was (EXCEPTION being my MIL, but that is a diff story) and I would never dream of asking anyone the same. If I were to opine on the subject, I'd say just let people bring presents and then do what you will afterwards. Keep, donate, return, exchange. The act of giving a gift brings people such joy... let your friends and family have that! ;-)
*hugs*

(and ps-he's turning one? REALLY?! wtf has the time gone????!!!!!)

WISHING...HOPING...and PRAYING said...

in the same dilemma...carson will be one on the 18th of aug and we are also party planning. we have no room for life as it is now in our town house. i agree with the other commenters....people ARE going to bring gifts no matter what you write. BUT if people ask, have a list of a few things you really would like. some people don't mind even buying diapers, pjs, shoes. gift cards to chuck e cheese are a favorite in my house as well as disney dollars which we are saving for the distant future trip to disney!

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't say anything. I completely understand where you're coming from, because my daughter is about to turn one in about a month. We definitely don't need anything else...but I know for myself whenever I see any instructions about gifts I sort of roll my eyes. A few times people have asked for donations for charities instead, and everyone brought a gift and something for charity. People love buying stuff for kids. Keep what you like, and donate the rest!

uncomplicateme said...

Our best friends put "no gifts please" on all the invitations sent to their friends. They assumed (and correctly so) that their families (grandparents especially!) will want to give an actual first birthday gift.

We always can use more books, so you could maybe ask for that? Something cutesy like "we have toys coming out of our ears but we could always use more books". And if you get duplicates, you can always donate those.

Jen said...

I always think people can get away with asking for anything, if they ask in the right way, but I am not easily offended. Maybe if you did a theme party with a book theme?

Or donate the old toys and let him keep the new ones.

Ms. J said...

We are having a "One Year Home" party to celebrate being a family with our Lil Pumpkin on August 2nd (we were united on July 28th, and came home to the USA on August 6th).

We specifically put "NO GIFTS OTHER THAN YOUR PRESENCE, PLEASE." on the e-vite, though we included a sentence that we will be taking monetary donations for the China Child of Promise program that Lil Pumpkin came to us through (it pays for some of themedical tests that CHinese children need in order to be made "paper-ready" for adoption). This way, even if somebody tosses in a $1 bill, it's going towards a good use. We will have literature available so people can see what their money pays for, too.

Seriously, stick to your guns and NO gifts!!! I actually hate going to one year old parties because people bring gifts and the kid already has too much of everything anyway.

Tina said...

I am with you on the "too much stuff!" sentiment. DS is turning 2 and we have a 4 month old so we have double the stuff all over the house and it makes me bonkers. For DS's upcoming birthday I asked people to consider a donation to the animal shelter. I figured no one could argue with the animal shelter since we all have critters. A friend asked me how I would know who donated and how much. I told her I didn't care bc that wasn't the point. I just hope no one brings more stuff!

Youmight be able to donate the extra gifts for a 1 yo but at 2? They remember stuff. I can't even hide the annoying toys anymore.

Stacy Woodruff said...

I don't know how correct this would be, but could you set up a savings account in his name, and then put on the invitation "While we have more toys than we know what to do with, Will has a savings account of his own, and his college fund could always use a boost." Then put a jar labeled "Will's College Fund" next to the cake? Sounds a little less sanctimonious than donating to your favorite charity. I don't know, just a suggestion.

Nicky said...

Hubby and I have been discussing this at length as well. Our conclusion: people who want to bring a gift are going to bring a gift of their choosing no matter what you say. Saying "No gifts, please" or anything along those lines will deter very few people. But, asking for donations to charity WILL guilt people into doing that in *addition* to the gift, which seems rude, so we're not going to bother.

You could take the indirect route: whenever you're talking to friends/family, mention that you're excited about the party, but a little nervous that you'll end up with too much stuff. Repeating "We really don't need any more toys! Books are always appreciated, or maybe some bigger-sized clothes, but we wouldn't even know where to put more toys!" will at least plant ideas in people's heads.

K @ ourboxofrain said...

I have trouble with the gift issue. I have long feared (confirmed by the comments here!) that I am the only person who assumes the inviter meant it when they requested no gifts (or requests donations in lieu of gifts or a specific type of gift only). As a result, we were the only people to show up giftless at a turning-one party for 3 of Harry's friends last weekend. Left me feeling like an asshole (you think I would have learned after the last one-year party we went to where the parents asked people to bring a book in lieu of a gift, and we were the only people who only brought a book).

What I learned: Everyone will just do as they please regardless of what you want for your family and your child and regardless of what you write in the invitation. I was taught that was bad etiquette, but apparently times have changed. We may just skip a party altogether to avoid the lesson that birthdays are about collecting stuff rather than being a celebration of a year in one's life and those with whom it is shared. {/bah-humbug rant}

Tina said...

I didn't realize I am being sanctimonious by suggesting people give to a charity instead of a gift. Hrm.

Ijust went to a party and took a book and a Borders giftcard for later use. But had the mother told me otherwise, that's what I wouldve done.

Allison said...

I wouldn't ask for donations. I would simply state on the invite something like (albeit kind of corny) "Your presence is present enough"
And since it's only family and close friends, just spread the word that you REALLY don't need/want gifts.

Stacy Woodruff said...

Tina, I didn't mean you specifically! I hope I didn't offend you. That wasn't the intention. Some people think that asking for donations to a favorite charity in lieu of gifts is like saying "Your gifts aren't good enough for me or my child." I don't feel that way, but I have heard that feeling voiced before. I wasn't directing it at you. Sorry about that.

Joy said...

That's a hard decision to make but one I UNDERSTAND. When people ask me what my girls want/need I'm always stumped because honestly, they don't need anything!

After reading through some comments I am getting the idea that it won't matter what you put on there. People will bring Will gifts!

Mommy Shoes said...

This is fascinating to me because I was thinking of the same thing for Z's birthday- even specifically asking for nonperishable food to donate to the food shelf instead of stuff for him. Now, I am sort of re-thinking. Thnaks to you for raising the issue and thanks to all who commented.

Fertilized said...

unfortunately - we did the whole- your presents are Austin's present route. I still received presents. It's one of those things you are just going to deal with. I would not suggest collecting/donating to charity. I suggest saving to regift or getting rid of the old toys to your local charity if you want to donate. Remember, you are inviting friends/family to celebrate WITH you - Let them Celebrate and then you can weed through the old stuff later

Lucy said...

Honestly, I say, let the kid get presents! It's his first birthday, the only one he'll ever have! Keep some toys at your parents/in-laws, etc..., donate some you already have that aren't used as much, and keep some put away for a rainy day!

The Wright Family said...

What if you let them bring gifts (bc they will anyway) and donate his "baby" toys to charity rather than his new ones. This way you get to get rid of things he may have outgrown or doesn't play with and he'll get to keep the more age appropriate toys (and probably some he could grow into) rather than you thinking you have too much now and in 3 months he doesn't like anything and then you have to spend money to replace them. Just a thought...this is what I would do...that way you still get to donate to charity (yay!) but you don't have to worry about someone coming over and not seeing their new toy.

GrapeSeed said...

I would just teach them to sort through the older stuff bc u must make way for newer stuff and donate their gently used toys!