The Laughing Stork

Flowchart: Should You Bring a Gift to the Kid’s Birthday Party with the Invitation That Said “No Gifts”?

A dilemma with which we’ve grappled many times…


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Candy Kirby

Candy Kirby is the founder of The Laughing Stork and a professional fun-maker who will never stop chasing her lifelong dream: to find the Pomeranian or porn star after whom her parents must have named her. She also used to be a staff writer for the soap opera, The Bold and the Beautiful, where she penned many scripts featuring prolonged heated stares and countless “Who’s the Daddy?” story lines. Candy lives in Los Angeles with her husband, two young kids and three rescue Persian cats who enjoy blanketing every inch of the house in kitty fur.


  • Oh my God, this is funny. I need to send it to my husband, who takes the “no gift” request too literally. He also is the one who is completely blasé about bringing SIBLINGS to other kids’ birthday parties, which is completely mortifying even if I refuse to accompany them.

  • I wish I’d had this guide ten years ago when I began the birthday party circuit and naively chose to believe that no gift meant you weren’t supposed to bring a gift. What a moron I was back then.

    • Yes, I was a moron, too! And felt like a jackass when I was the only one who arrived empty-handed. At the next such party, I did the donation thing. One parent thanked me and the other one gushed about all of the Baby Gap clothes they had received as gifts that day.

      I always bring a gift now. Something from Baby Gap.

  • Excuse my ignorance on this topic… I don’t have kids yet, and haven’t heard of any of my nieces and nephews experiencing this, or any of my friends’ kids. I’m completely baffled by it! Why would they say “No gift” if they are (let’s be honest) expecting one, or if they know everyone will feel obligated anyways? It seems kind of insincere.

    • Almost every birthday party we’ve attended has been a “no-gift” party. I think it’s one of those things where (most) parents genuinely don’t want people to feel obligated to spend money on their child — but, as you noted, we feel obligated anyway (and WANT to buy something if it’s the child of a close friend). And now it’s gotten to the point where if you’re the party host and DON’T say “no gifts,” you look greedy because everyone else says “no gifts.”

      Follow that?

      Yeah. A little crazy.

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