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How Do I Plan a No-Gift Birthday Party?

By Nya Bruce
Updated May 23, 2024
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To plan a no-gift birthday party, invitations must be sent out that make it clear to guests that the party is gift-free. The host must also decide what will take the place of the gift giving. Other than the issue of presents, planning a no-gift party is much the same as throwing any other birthday celebration. Things like food, decorations, entertainment and other activities must also be arranged.

Like any other party, invitations must be sent in advance. When planning a no-gift birthday party, these invitations should include a note that clearly specifies no gifts. Before sending out the invites there are several steps that need to be taken.

If planning a party for a child, it is important to inform him in advance that there will be no gifts. Typically, people who throw this type of party for their child do not entirely deny him presents. Often gifts come from parents and other family members instead of the party guests. Telling the child that he will still get gifts will often make it easier for him to accept that there will be no gifts at the party.

Next, plan what will take the place of presents. One option is to ask the invited guests to donate a toy, money or some other appropriate item to charity instead of giving it as a gift. The charity should be one that is supported by the person for whom the party is being held. If the party is for a child, talk to him about charities and giving to others. Mention several types of charities and allow him to pick.

Make note on the invitation if donations will be accepted in the place of presents. Gift giving is a choice and it should also be the guests' choice to donate. Word the invitation in a way that guests do not feel obligated to give.

Send out the invitations several weeks before the date of the party. If taking donations on the day of the no-gift birthday party, contact and inform the charity in advance. Pick a theme for the party and purchase the necessary decorations. Set a decorated bin near the front entrance so that guests can easily drop off their donations when they arrive.

Plan plenty of activities to keep guests busy and entertained. Although it is a no-gift birthday party, the lack of presents should not take away from the fun. Food is another necessity at any type of party. Provide plenty of food and drink for guests.

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Discussion Comments

By nextcorrea — On Jul 31, 2012

I usually have no gift parties but I have one friend who always insists on bring me a gift. It is sweet in its own way but also kind of annoying. I make one specific request and she always disregards it.

It is not so much that I hate receiving her gifts, it just creates awkwardness for everyone when she is the only one who brings a gift. It makes the other guests feel bad and me feel like a bad host. Does anyone have any recommendations for how I can get her to understand that I really don't want any gifts?

By Ivan83 — On Jul 30, 2012

I really prefer no gift birthday parties, both as a host and as a guest. In fact, I think once you reach adulthood the gift part is the worst part of the birthday. In most cases you do not need anything, you just want to have a good time with your friends. Adding the obligation to bring a gift just adds a sheen of materialism to the whole thing. Better to give and receive the gift of your friend's company.

By backdraft — On Jul 29, 2012
The best way to plan a no-gift birthday party is to be really explicit about your wishes. If you do not want gifts, make sure everyone knows that and knows that you are serious. Put a mention in the invites and go out of your way to remind people.

The problem is that many people want to buy gifts even when you do not want to receive them. People that are into that sort of thing really cannot understand what it is like to feel the other way. So make your wishes known. If your guests respect you and what you want they will avoid bringing gifts.

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