When I kept seeing a trend pop up about the no gift birthday party, I was intrigued. The idea of not having gifts sure seemed like it would take some stress out of the day, but how would it work? Would my guests comply? Would they be irritated or relieved? Would my kids hate me forever? I needed some intel.
So I asked 50 moms what they thought of the trend. Twenty seven moms were actively practicing the no gift birthday party and had positive experiences. Eight moms mentioned that they have tried to ask for no presents but that their guests still brought them or it caused an issue of some sort. Nine moms said they do not like the trend. And a few had not heard of the trend but were supportive, some were not a fan.
The top three reasons why most said they have done it were:
- Not about the stuff
Most moms mentioned that they were trying to curb the amount of stuff that enters the home. (Well, they actually said ‘crap’ because we all know most of those toys won’t last a year). It’s a shift to a more minimalist way of living. Between Christmas, spoiling from family, Happy Meal toys, etc., most felt their kids had more toys in their lives than was needed. Plus, inevitably, someone always buys that annoying toy that you hope has a short battery life. Or the toy that is not age appropriate but you feel like you can’t take it away since your kid just fell in love with it in front of a crowd. So this puts an end to the unwanted gift.
- Stress free for everyone
Another pro for opting to forego gifts is eliminating some stress from the day. Nothing is worse than having your kid open up a gift and toss it aside nonchalantly because it’s something they aren’t in to. Even if they are gracious and say thank you, no one is fooled. They hated the gift. What a punch in the gut that can be after spending the time and money to purchase something.Many moms also cited that asking guests to not bring gifts levels the playing field for everyone. Some may not be able to afford a gift and may skip out on the party all together. While others may bring something that seems to get overshadowed by a pricey gift that gets all the ooohhs and ahhhhs. And the gift opening process can take FOREVER when small children are involved. Everyone wants to get in on the action, wrapping paper is flying, new toys are being shared that the birthday boy doesn’t want to share, tears start flowing. It can be overwhelming.
- Presence over presents
Another popular reason moms cited for having a no gifts birthday party was to teach their kids that the celebration shouldn’t be focused on receiving gifts but about the experience itself. Many said they use the popular phrase ‘presence over presents’ in their invitations. They want their kids to just have fun hanging out with their friends. Others have opted to ask for donations in lieu of gifts, with many taking a trip after the birthday party to deliver the donation in person.
As a mom of two under five my ultimate daily goal is to parent with as little added stress as possible. Because the two tiny humans I’m taking care of will provide plenty of stress organically. I streamline as much of my life as possible (thank you curbside grocery pickup!). And I eliminate as much B.S. as I possibly can.
So I decided to jump on the no gift birthday party bandwagon this year with my kids’ joint birthday party. And I have to say, it was pretty awesome. Full disclosure, we did have family over before the party and had a small gift opening prior to our guests arriving. I couldn’t quite get on board with asking grandparents to not bring gifts. I mean, when I have grand kids I plan on spoiling the hell out of them. It comes with the territory, right?
But I did ask my guests to not bring gifts, and instead come and enjoy the local YMCA pool and eat some pizza and cake. This was the first time we invited friends to join us in the birthday celebration so I was trying to go for low key so I could enjoy the day instead of being stressed.
And I have to say, I am a fan. My kids really enjoyed their party and they loved playing with their friends. I loved not having to interrupt the fun to have the ‘great present opening ceremony’ and I didn’t have to keep track of who brought what to send out thank you notes after.
A few weeks later I even had a couple of the parents who attended the party mention to me how much they enjoyed it because of how easy going it was and how they didn’t have to run out last minute and grab a gift they weren’t sure my kids would like.
Would I do it again? YUP. It certainly worked for us so we’ll give it another shot next year. All I know is at the end of the party, as I cleaned up cake crumbs and spilled juice, I realized I actually enjoyed the party. It was a whirlwind, as these things tend to be, but I enjoyed it instead of stressing over it. That means everything.
What about you? Have you tried the no gifts party? What was your experience?
If you are getting ready to host a party at your home, try this recipe for Buffalo Chicken Sliders in the crock pot!