Mom Life

No Means No! What “No Gifts Please” Really Means


no gifts please birthday invitation

My friend Lauren’s invitation that sparked the Great Facebook Commentary

I’m new to this kid birthday party thing and one thing I keep running into over and over again is the “No Gifts Please” request. Seems pretty straightforward. They don’t need any more junk, but would love for you to celebrate with them. Just please don’t bring them any more stuff they have to find a place/use for, because they already have a ton of stuff.

However, my husband has always interpreted “No Gifts Please” as “We are just being polite, you should really bring some kind of gift or we’ll think you’re terrible people.”

This usually results in an argument where I tell him he can go get a gift if he wants, but he doesn’t, then we show up and see few people actually brought gifts, then he’s all “I told you so,” and then I feel like crap. This cycle repeats with every invitation. So when faced once again with the no gift plea, I turned to Facebook to see what the common opinion was.

Seems there’s a birthday party conspiracy theory running rampant that “No Gifts” should be interpretated as you see fit, and there are loopholes where you should actually bring a gift.

And then there’s the “I was raised to be polite and bring a gift” camp, but all those people don’t seem to realize that the polite thing to do is FOLLOW THE DAMN INSTRUCTIONS and honor the request of the people throwing the party.

If you are feeling confused, here’s the most popular reasons posted as to why they make the request for No Gifts:

1 – They live in a small space and already have too much stuff. They’d have to get rid of stuff just to fit in the stuff you brought that they didn’t want.

2 –  Their kids are getting a ton of presents from family already.

3 –  Their child is particular and probably won’t like it so they don’t want you to waste your money.

4 – Their child is turning one and isn’t going to notice anyway.

5 – They want everyone to come and have fun and not worry about spending money on a gift.

In case you are still not convinced and have to bring something to ease your pain about going against the social norm, the most popular non-gift gift solution was to get a gift card and give it discretely so you don’t make all the other people who followed directions feel bad. The other top ideas were tickets for experiences and bringing food items.

It all boils down to this: It’s not some social experiment. No Gifts Please really means don’t bring a gift. Not “get creative about your gift” or “I don’t want you to feel like you have to, but please bring a gift.” It’s straight, honest, and pretty easy to understand. And when you show up without that gift bag, I’m pretty sure the host will be happy you actually took the time to read her invitation.



6 replies »

  1. I would like to point out a slight difference in what I said (elsewhere when it was discussed) and what is conveyed here. I said to bring a gift card “just in case”. The whole “don’t bring a gift” stipulation seems to vary from person to person, party to party, in regards to how strict the rule is. You should (IMO) bring a gift card with as a BACK UP. Have it in your pocket. If the expectation shifts based on the crowd’s actions, you’re not left empty handed. If the attendees have adhered to the request, keep it in your pocket for future use. Just my two cents. 🙂


    • Lots of people mentioned the gift card given on the sly, so it was the #1 response. The gift card as back-up was mentioned 2 or 3 times so didn’t warrant a top spot mention, although it is a great suggestion for anyone needing a social safety net, lol.


  2. Thanks for destroying my computer screen with the line ” the polite thing to do is FOLLOW THE DAMN INSTRUCTIONS.” I may sound bitchy, but it was totally worth it. Thank you for giving me a great giggle this morning!


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