Anywhooo, with said holiday parties come the requisite etiquette issues - mo' parties mo' problems, as the saying goes. The one that I & some friends (hey, TippyL!) have run into lately is the "no gifts" instruction on party invitations.
Etiquette mavens are divided on this one. I double-checked my Emily Post (16th Edition for any fact-checkers in the audience), and though traditionally one never makes mention of gifts one way or another on a written invitation, if a host requests that no gifts be brought, then that request should be respected.
The devil is in the non-etiquette book reality, of course - culturally here in the US, people do bring presents to most events, and in particular we do for birthday parties and weddings. So when a host wants to share such a celebration with friends and family but does not, for whatever reason, want them to feel obligated to buy gifts, they end up having to convey that message proactively.
Of course, there's always one person who shows up all Smug Mummy style to one of these "no gifts" events with a gift (beautifully handcrafted and wrapped, no doubt) because OF COURSE, so there's an understandable hesitation to be the one who shows up present-free and risks looking like a cheapskate. It's unfair, and no one should feel duped for going by a host's request, but them's the Mommy Mafia rules.
My take on this all is . . . it depends (lawyered!). I've attended a number of second weddings lately as part of Weddingpalooza 2011 for which the bride and groom specifically asked for no gifts on their respective invitations. These friends are long-established in careers and households, and therefore not in need of the household goodies a bride & groom just getting started might be. Frankly, given the expense involved in attending those weddings, I was only too happy to comply with those requests* and took no offense at the suggestion.
*In the case of one of those brides, who is a close friend, I made a small donation to a charity she supports in her & her husband's name in lieu of a gift. I kinda sorta cheated here but in a way I figured the bride might approve.
Where I struggle to comply with the "no gifts" request is for children's birthday parties. I absolutely understand a parent's wanting to teach a child about the perils of materialism, and I also believe in respecting another parent's (safe, legal) choices about how they want to raise their kid. I can also see wanting to throw a party for more distant friends & family - my playgroup, for example - without wanting to add a gift obligation.
For reasons I can't quite explain, however, it just doesn't seem like a children's party to me without giving a gift. That's selfish, I realize. Call me culturally brainwashed, but it just feels strange showing up to a kid's party empty-handed - frankly, I tend not to when I'm close with the child and/or parents, though I sometimes rein in my gift budget a bit when there's a "no gifts" advisory in play.
|Master P's first birthday - yes, there were gifts. And cake. And cupcakes. And the most ridiculous hat I could find.|
Have any of you thrown a "no gifts" party? Care to share your rationale? I can go either way here - I'm bigiftual, if you will - but confess a preference for the presents when there's a kid involved...