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No Gifts, Please!
Am I a jerk to boycott presents at kid birthday parties?
Our 5-year-old daughter gets invited to so many birthday parties. It started out as just good friends, but now in pre-K, she’s invited to all of her classmates’ parties.
Over the past few years, we’ve gone through some financial struggles and also receive too much stuff from family, so I made a rule to not give (or ask for) gifts. For birthdays, we host big parties because they’re fun, but we always explicitly request no presents. This year, we had some new attendees (classmates) whose parents we had never met and insisted on bringing something. One mom pushed for things my daughter likes, so I suggested art supplies (crayons are cheap! We’ll use them!). Instead she came with what looked like $25-plus worth of gifts!
Recently I attended a friend’s son’s party and, per my rule, didn’t bring a gift. The birthday boy asked, “Where’s the gift you brought?” and I said, “Well, we didn’t bring one.” He asked why not. I felt like such a jerk—I don’t want to have a threshold of how well we know a kid to get them a gift, and I don’t want to give everyone terrible, cheapie gifts (they should be thoughtful if anything!). I don’t have the time or money to be giving gifts to all kids! Am I being a jerk for not bringing gifts at all? Is a handmade card enough?
—We All Have Enough Crap