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janbb's avatar

What would you do in this birthday party situation?

Asked by janbb (61058points) 2 months ago
24 responses
“Great Question” (5points)

I’m going to a party where the celebrant has stipulated no gifts. I’ve found in the past that when I honor that, usually many other people do bring gifts and I feel embarrassed. I was thinking of giving her a gift certificate to a bookstore – she is a reader.

What do you do in a no gifts necessary situation?

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jca2's avatar

I have found similar experiences to what you described, @janbb. Most people bring gifts and then I feel like an idiot. My suggestion, and what I will be doing in the future, is a gift card for a book store and maybe a small fun book in a gift bag. If, in the unlikely event that nobody else has brought a gift, you can kind of slip the gift to the host by placing it in a corner, quietly.

longgone's avatar

I would bring a gift that is small enough to hide away, as well as “transferable”. A voucher for books is good, yes! You can take it home and use it yourself if there’s no gift exchange. Making a donation to a worthy cause also works well for this. If noone else brings a gift, you can keep the donation certificate hidden away and give it to someone else – or, if you can’t find another recipient, the worst case scenario is simply that you’ve made a donation yourself.

People often ask for “no gifts” because they’re environmentally conscious and/or trying to declutter. So I’d make sure to honour that.

canidmajor's avatar

I tend to offer a certificate for a service to be rendered, a lunch out, a movie, bringing dinner over, something like that. Written into a card. Nobody objects to a card.

HP's avatar

Send or deliver your gift ahead of the party.

ragingloli's avatar

Maybe a small envelope with some money inside. Easily hidden, and everyone loves money.

hat's avatar

My wife celebrated her 50th in July, and made it clear in the invite that there should be no gifts. Three people did bring gifts, and it was awkward. She had to figure out how to get rid of them, and she’s still trying to figure why these people decided to go against her birthday wish and bring a gift.

In this case, the people who did bring gifts were the ones who should have been embarrassed. Honoring your friend’s wishes to not bring a gift is the best “gift”!

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

I like the idea from @canidmajor. I also think it would be fine to bring a card with nothing else in it.

jca2's avatar

This is just a guess, because it’s not my personal feeling, @hat but maybe many people feel awkward showing up to someone’s house with nothing to offer. I don’t feel awkward not bringing a gift, (although I admit to feeling funny when I don’t have a gift, as requested, yet others do), but if I had no gift and the host also said “don’t bring any food,” I would probably want to pick up something – some flowers, a bottle of wine – something. Usually when bringing a gift to a party, you are not also obligated to bring food, as the gift is the offering or the food is the offering but both are not necessary. However, showing up with nothing in hand might make some people feel like that goes against what we’ve always been taught or told is correct = “never show up empty handed.”

janbb's avatar

I’m getting an idea from all your suggestions. I’m going to see her the day before the party. I think I’ll give her a card then with a gift certificate for the co-op bookstore and the idea that I will treat her to lunch in my town and book shop together.

HP's avatar

Yes. Isolate your gift from the party itself.

rebbel's avatar

I had this situation two months ago.
My kid brother had sent an invitation, to the people he wanted to come to his 50th.
In it he articulated that “attending was a gift in itself” and “I don’t want (other) gifts”.
Low and behold, I was the only one who honored his wish; I attended, with no gift brought (only a bag of ice creams for everyone attending (it was over 100 degrees)).
Everybody had brought presents (some of which were crazy expensive).

I didn’t feel embarrassed.
I felt proud!
I said to him, afterwards, “I was the only one who respected your wish”.
So he got massively disrespected by dozens of gift (many of which he had/have to “do with the givers” (like dining, or see theater, or do skydivin etc.)
So, in short, @janbb, just do you.
Honor the celebrant.

RayaHope's avatar

Do something really nice for her, take her to a movie, museum or something she would like and age appropriate.

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RedDeerGuy1's avatar

I would conceal my gift until I find out what other people are bringing. That way none know the wiser. A book store gift card can be concealed easily. I would do that. If none else are giving gifts you can use it yourself.

WhyNow's avatar

Bring a gift… at any age people love gifts! Buy her a book you read or like.
Trust me on this (that’s kinda unlikely) I hate gift certificates… feels like it’s a brush off.

A certificate for a service sounds nice, as canidmajor says. Maybe a day spa visit,
or a voice lesson, or an escort for the night… ok scratch that last on!
Oh Mods Gods! I beseech thee… forgive me!

I give gifts ALL the time. The other day I gave a 50% off coupon at pizza hut. It was
hard to part with. I’m really done for now. Can I do some more beseeching?

seawulf575's avatar

You could always do something socially acceptable like bring a bottle of wine to a party. It isn’t exactly a birthday gift, but it is something. That way if everyone brings something, you don’t look like the odd one out and if no one brings anything, it doesn’t really matter…it wasn’t a birthday gift…it was helping the party.

janbb's avatar

@seawulf575 Not a bad idea but in this instance, it is a catered party on a boat so that won’t fly.

seawulf575's avatar

Hhmmm…on a boat….a jug of rum? JK

janbb's avatar

^^ Aarrgh, Aargh, matey!

raum's avatar

I wouldn’t feel embarrassed. You’re actually honoring the host’s request. :)

I was going to suggest a bottle of wine. But in light of additional details, I’m casting a second vote for a jug of rum! :P

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Forever_Free's avatar

Some people just bring gifts no matter where they go. It is there way of thanking to just be included.
Everyone has a unique relationship with the person as well. I don’t find this a big deal at all.
Asking to not bring a gift is just taking the pressure that society has imposed on Birthday celebration being aligned with gift giving.
Give it to them on the side. Let them know that you know they said no gifts, but how special they are to you.
Don’t sweat the small stuff and most things are small stuff.

janbb's avatar

^^ Not sweating it. Already decided what I will do (see above.)

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