No Gift Birthday Parties

Before I had a child if you asked me if they would be given presents at their birthday party I would have looked at you like you were crazy. Of course my child would have presents at their birthday party! What kind of mom bans presents from their kids’ birthday party?  

Well, now I’m that mom and I’m going to tell you why it works for us.

No Gift Birthday Parties

My daughter’s birthday is two short months after Christmas.  She is also the only grandchild of six doting grandparents. We are just getting over the Christmas hangover when her birthday rolls around.

For her first birthday party, we did the traditional birthday party where guests brings gifts and we all sat around in a circle and watched her open her presents. After it was all said and done, our very generous guests had showered our daughter with SO MANY PRESENTS. I got to thinking, “Was this really necessary for my child? Especially after we just had Christmas?”

When starting to plan her second birthday, I happened upon an article about a “no gift” birthday party. Kids would still have a party with friends, food, and fun, but guests would be asked not to bring gifts. We decided to try it!

No Gift Birthday Parties

These are some tips that worked for us:

Communicate to guests.

We chose our invitations to say: Your presences is our present, no gifts please.

Understand that not everyone will be on board.  

When we asked around about the idea, some people couldn’t believe we wouldn’t want presents for our daughter.  We had to be confident in our decision and know what would be right for our family.

Think about grandparents.   

We knew that there was no way we would be able to keep grandparents from giving our daughter birthday presents.  We decided to have them over before the party to open gifts.  Our daughter got the experience of opening birthday gifts without the overload of friends bringing her presents.  

Consider Charities.  

I’ve seen ideas where instead of gifts, families have asked for guests to bring donations for a charity. An easy and meaningful gift guests could donate is items from the wish list of our local Ronald MacDonald house. Donations could also match the theme of the party. For example, for an animal-themed party, party-goers could bring pet supplies for a local shelter. 

While we don’t know if we’ll do this for every birthday party in the future, it has worked well for us now. We are looking forward our daughter’s third birthday party filled with fun, food, and friends (but minus the gifts).

Have you thrown a “no gift” birthday party?  Do you have any tips to include?  


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Meredith was born and raised in Cedar Rapids before attending Central College in Pella and settling in Vinton. She and her husband married in 2011 and welcomed their daughter, Claire, in February of 2014. Meredith is a Title 1 Reading Teacher at Shellsburg Elementary. She is passionate about her family, connecting with friends and teaching. When she’s not spending time with her daughter, you can find Meredith catching up on social media, watching reality TV or eating tacos.

1 COMMENT

  1. I LOVE this post! We have done donations for every birthday party and love it. I’ve found that my kids really appreciate the gifts they get from us and their grandparents because they are not overwhelmed with stuff. We also have our kids get each other gifts on their birthdays, so they are often the most excited to see what their sibling picked for them. Not having a ton of toys coming in from friends at a party makes their sibling’s toy pick that much more special to them. Great idea! Keep it up, mama!

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