Bringing a gift is considered proper etiquette for birthday and anniversary parties, and most guests present a gift to a couple during a wedding reception as well. If you're having a celebration and want to emphasize to your loved ones that your don't want gifts, there are several ways to put this in writing on the invitations so guests will be properly prepared for your event.
Simple but Tactful Wording
Some couples or individuals feel that words like "Don't bring a gift" are too brash for an invitation, especially if the event is formal, like a wedding or vow renewal ceremony. Wording that is a little more charming, such as "The gift we'd appreciate most is your presence" or "The only gifts we need are your attendance and well wishes" may be more appropriate for the occasion, and will help you feel more at ease with telling your friends and family members that they don't have to shop for a gift.
Instead of Gifts
If you want to give to a charity for your birthday or wedding, indicate this on the invitation, so your loved ones know that the gift is for a great cause. For instance, write something like "Give me the birthday gift of helping others by donating school supplies to (local charity)" near the invitation's RSVP information. Or, direct your guests to the website or address where they can send donations in the same amount they would have spent on a gift for you. Wording like "(Future spouse) and I are already so blessed. In lieu of wedding gifts, please donate to (local charity) by logging onto (charity website) or calling (charity phone number)."
Using Response Cards
In the past, writing information about gifts directly on an invitation was considered improper, according to Baylor Stovall, founder of the Stovall Collection. Stovall suggests writing the directions for gifts on the invitation response card, particularly if the invitation is for a wedding. It's appropriate to simply write the words "No gifts, please" or "Gifts are not required" at the bottom of the response card.
Relay Information in Person or by Phone
If you're inviting a small group of friends to a gathering where bringing a gift would be the norm, such as a milestone birthday or anniversary dinner, simply tell your loved ones that bringing a gift is not necessary. You can say something like "Your being there is all the gift we need," or "Don't worry about trying to find a gift. It's more important to me that we're celebrating my birthday together." You can also tell your friends that they don't have to bring a gift when they call or email to RSVP for the celebration.
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