Why I went “No gifts” and the result

I have a 2 year old.

TWO. Like I have kept a human being alive for 2 years.

I decided well before his birthday that I wanted to do a ‘no gifts’ party. I did some research on how to present this on an invitation, which was interesting to see from both sides. I just really didn’t want or need more toys in our house! In fact, I want even less than we already have!

DH and I didn’t really agree here. He wanted Little Bach to get gifts and be able to open them. But we obviously would still be getting him gifts as would his grandparents. I really didn’t want more trucks and balls and trains, I swear this kid already has all the toys a kid needs for a lifetime. And it makes me upset when I see members of my family and B’s family who live check to check, no retirement, no college savings for the kids, and the kids have SO MANY TOYS. And at their birthday parties they get SO MANY MORE! I can’t do it. I don’t want to do it. Here were some of the reasons I gave my husband:

  • I have been that person. That person who was invited to a party that couldn’t afford to give a nice gift. The one who felt embarrassed when my friend opened other extravagant gifts and then opened mine. The person whose family had to choose between buying a birthday gift for someone and buying necessities. I don’t ever want anyone to feel like this.
  • He is 2! He won’t even remember! He doesn’t understand it anyway!
  • It’s Christmas in a month… he will get stuff. Believe me.
  • I want him to know the feeling of giving and to enjoy it even more than the feeling of getting.
  • I want him to know that spending time with family is more important than getting ‘things’ in fact there are many things more important than having ‘things’
  • Less toys = bigger imagination
  • I don’t want him to feel entitled: “You made it another year without killing yourself, have anything you want!”

After a lot of discussion DH agreed, but with the stipulation that we may not do this for birthdays in the future.

I decided to go with “No gifts please. **** would just like to celebrate with you! If you would like to gift something please consider bringing a food donation for [Local Charity Organization] instead.”

People felt really weird about this when they received it. Really just B’s family. His cousin came up to me on Thanksgiving told me she felt weird not bringing a gift to a birthday party. She asked if she could bring a card and give him a little money instead. Well of course! We have put all of his birthday and Christmas money so far in an education savings program for him. Because what will a 2 year old do with $20? Rip it up and eat it, that’s what!

But we were happy to accept the gifts of money that he got, and I know that the people giving it don’t feel like it is as personal, but I can assure them that when he graduates high school and goes to college (assuming anyway) or even if he doesn’t and takes the money out of the account and pays the taxes on it, it will be a lot more meaningful to him than that plastic truck he got when he was 2 and doesn’t remember jumping on and breaking 2 months later.

We had people who brought just cards, some gave cards with some money and some didn’t, and some brought a book (fine) and a lot of people brought food donations which Little Bach will be taking to the local pantry to donate himself. And a few still brought toys, which we did not open at the party, we told people if they wanted to see him open it, they would have to stay after. One of the things I had read about was when the invitation says “No gifts” then the kid gets a lot of gifts and the parents do the whole gift opening thing during the party and how awkward that makes people feel. I was not about to do that.

Overall, it was a little awkward, at times before the party I was regretting it just because of how weird people thought it was and it felt weird to answer their questions when they asked if they could give him money or a check, because yes, they can, and yes it would go to his college fund, but I didn’t want it to seem like this was the whole intent of the ‘no gifts’ thing. We appreciate everything that he got, and he will appreciate it even more when he gets older.

It is nice to not have a bunch more toys at the house, though I still have to purge before Christmas. But it sickens me the amount of money that people spend on toys, I mean, if you have the money for it, right on, but I swear I know so many people who will go into debt or not pay their bills but their kids have tons of toys that they will break soon! Not judging anyone, this is each person’s own choice. I’m just voicing mine.

I don’t mean to sound like a Scrooge, I am getting my son a couple of toys for Christmas, and I’m sure when he gets older and understands a little more, I will get him more than that. But at 2? He is just going to be happy to get to rip some paper apart. he won’t care what is in it!

My gift to him every year is my contribution to his Educational Savings Account. I guess growing up without having any education (or regular) savings and having to start my life out with the debt of student loans helps me to want to give my son a better start and a better opportunity.

So one of the changes I have made since becoming “Mom” is that I no longer gift toys to young kids, they get money, money that I hope goes to an account for them for later, but that is up to the parents (In the case of our families, the money probably gets spent within the week on a toy the kid wants and doesn’t already have). Their kids, their decisions.


Wow… this does sound kind of judgey… wasn’t the intention. Just sharing my views on thing, this is after all, my blog, and apparently I have some strong views on this!