No Gifts Please! {A Birthday Policy for My Friends}

Guest lists for my kids’ birthday parties are always an ever-growing task. There’s the obvious friends’ list which includes my kids’ classmates or sports team buddies, and then there’s the understandable family list involving the grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins. But, there’s also the “family friends” list that mostly includes my personal group of friends and their kids. This is a group that might usually consist of co-workers or old school buddies– basically my mommy tribes that get me through motherhood. This particular guest list is invited to each birthday party because even though their kids might be much older or younger than mine or attend a different school or don’t even really play together that often, the family is invited out of courtesy and respect to the friendship we have. Because of this, I have a no-gift policy for them.

If I’m inviting my friends and their kids, I’m mostly doing that for me.

They’re coming because they’re my friends and are celebrating a momentous occasion with me, and they’re bringing their kids because of the family-oriented event. But, if they’re coming more for me, I don’t need them to spend the extra time and money on a birthday gift for my child. Their presence and the added kids to the fun and playful environment are more than enough. Just having more people there to sing and celebrate and play is much appreciated by both my kids and myself.

And, what mother needs MORE toys in her house, am I right?!

By the time each classmate and family member has added their birthday gifts to the pile, my kids don’t even notice that so-and-so didn’t bring a gift. My kids already receive an abundance of fun gifts with each birthday party that’ll last them until next year’s birthday party, but I know for them, that’s part of their celebration and something they look forward to, so having their classmates and our family bring gifts is fine. But, for the small handful of “family friends” that I want there to celebrate with us, I don’t want them to go out of their way. I don’t want them spending money on something that might not even get played with that often. I don’t want them to decline because they don’t have the money to spend on someone else right now. I don’t want them to stress over a child’s birthday party – an event that might even be trivial to them in the grand scheme of their weekend to-dos. This group is usually invited because of the relationship they have with me, not necessarily with my child, so it doesn’t seem fair, to me, to ask them to put forth extra effort for my child who will be showered with gifts and love on that day anyway. I just want their happy, smiling faces as well as their kids to add to the exciting energy that is my child’s birthday party. It’s more about the experience my child has that day than anything, and no birthday present can amount to that.

So, I say to my friends, “No gifts, please. Your presence is present enough.”

Jennifer Gonzales
Wife to my high school sweetheart, Ross, and mother to 5 children: Trip, Conner, McKenzie, Piper, and Sutton, I am a born and raised Southern Louisiana Lady. I am a graduate of Mt. Carmel Academy, received my Bachelor’s in English with a concentration in Secondary Ed. from LSU followed by my Master’s of Education from UNO, and for the past 15 years, I have been outwitting high school boys as an English teacher at Holy Cross School. When I’m not grading papers, driving to baseball practices, or making grocery runs, I can be found cheering on my LSU Tigers, cutting up with my girlfriends, and attempting DIY projects around the home. I’m all about sippin’ some wine during the sunset while the kiddos play in the yard and the hubby works the grill. I’m living my best mommy life these days and am always happy to share the journey with others!


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