Birthday parties celebrate how special a person is by gathering friends and family to have fun and give gifts, but sometimes there can be anxiety over what to bring, or not to bring, to the party. By recommending to guests on the invitation what they should or should not bring you can reduce stress for all involved.
On birthday invitations, there is no need to request that guests bring gifts, it is assumed friends will bring presents for the birthday honoree. This means, however, that if you do not want guests to bring presents, or to not spend above a certain amount, or to only give money, you must say so on the invitation. This is true for both adult and children's birthday parties, although if you are an adult sending out invitations for your own birthday party, it is poor etiquette to tell your guests what kind of presents you want.
For any party hosted for adults, it is a good idea to indicate whether or not guests should bring their children. Directly stating "no children" or "adults-only" could seem rude or send the wrong impression, but there are tactful ways of indicating that guests should not bring their children. If the invitation says the party is at a bar or upscale restaurant or late at night guests will understand to leave the kids at home. Addressing the invitation to "Mr. and Mrs. X" also sends that impression. If you do want guests to bring their kids, make the invitation to the entire family or simply write "children welcome" on the invitation.
Throwing a surprise party often requires special considerations in asking guests to bring things since the person hosting the party often cannot provide certain items themselves as they could ruin the surprise. If this is so, do not hesitate to ask friends to bring or pick-up cake and decorations, assuring them you will pay them back. Also be sure to make it clear on the invitation that it is a surprise party, and who the party is for, to ensure no one ruins the surprise.
If you are holding a themed birthday party, or another kind of special party such as a pool party or a costume party, let your guests know what their options are. Some people may not feel comfortable wearing a swimsuit in public, for example, and may not want to come if they think they need to swim, or someone without a costume will not want to come to a masquerade party. If such things are optional, make sure it says so on the invitation so guests know what to expect and will not cancel due to inability to fully participate.
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