You invite people to a party to enjoy their presence --- not their presents -- and their attendance should be gift enough. But guests still often come bearing gifts. Rather than scowl at all the goodies people bring, you can head off the gift-bringing before it starts with polite wording on your invitations.
Short and Simple
"No gifts, please" is the shortest and simplest way to tell guests you don't want them to bring any gifts to the party. Add the line to the bottom of the invite and you're good to go. You can, of course, jazz it up a bit with a pleasant sentiment, such as "Your presence at the party is enough of a present" or a humorous "No gifts, please. Our house is already filled with way too much stuff. By the way, you might receive an invite for a future yard sale."
Party Goods Alternative
Since guests can feel bad arriving at a party empty-handed and show up with a gift despite your request, another tactic is to request an item you can use during the festivities. For instance, request they bring their favorite party snack with "No gifts, please, but feel free to bring a sampling of your favorite party snack or beverage." Defining the quantity with a word like "sampling" lets people know they are not expected to bring a dish that can feed 50 or an entire keg of beer but rather a small plate of goodies or a 2-liter of soda.
Big Gift Alternative
If you are saving up for a big birthday gift to give the celebrants, such as enough money to buy mom and dad plane tickets to Paris, you can state so, if you do it tactfully, to close family and friends, according to the party idea and planning website Party411. The tactful approach includes throwing a birthday party with the destination as the theme, such as a French party if the gift's goal is a trip to Paris, and noting the gift on the invitation. "Our big gift to mom and dad is to send them to Paris. Instead of gifts, please consider a gift certificate from the ABC Travel Agency we are using."
Although it is perfectly acceptable to state your desire for not receiving gifts on a party invitation, the opposite is not always true. Although the fundraiser-type or party goods alternative can work in certain circumstances such as those outlined, it can be in bad taste in other circumstances, the Party411 website says. Asking for specific gifts, noting where the gift registry is set up or even requesting a donation for a specific charity in lieu of gifts is rude.
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