We’ve started to plan Miss H’s 2nd birthday party (seriously?! How is she almost 2?!?) and we’ve put some thought into a big topic for us: gifts. As Miss H has grown, so has the amount of stuff in our house. And, unfortunately for us, our house hasn’t exactly grown alongside everything else. We still have a limited amount of storage space and every day have to be creative with how we organize everything.

Birthday parties usually mean gifts. And I’m not an ungrateful person – it’s wonderful that we have so many people in our lives that we know would love to buy Miss H something special on her birthday! But we truly feel like we are at max capacity in our home at this point in time. And Miss H is very content with the great toys that she has. She received a couple of sets of nice wooden blocks for her first birthday, which she has recently become obsessed with. She has a play kitchen, an art easel, stacking toys, a water and sand table, musical instruments, etc. Everything she has is lovely and most of it gets a fair amount of use. The things that she’s not interested in at the moment get stored away for later. She is blessed to have more than enough, and as her mother there isn’t much I can even think to buy her for her birthday this year!

While I had tried to limit the amount of toys for Christmas this year, Miss H still received quite a bit and
she got pretty overwhelmed by it all! And then we had to figure out how to store it all!


So, when putting together Miss H’s birthday invitations, we initially wanted to put a message on there along the lines of:

“Your presence is your present – no gifts please!”

I know this has been done by others and with mixed results. Some people (often parents) completely understand where you’re coming from and don’t bring a gift. While others feel strange showing up to a birthday party with no present in hand and end up bringing something small. Therefore making those who didn’t bring a gift feel a bit awkward.

Not feeling 100% comfortable to test the waters with an absolute “no gift” message, we opted for a safer approach. Since we always love buying Miss H more books (we’ll generally always buy books over toys), we included this wording on the invitation:

“Your presence is your present, but if you do feel obliged to bring a gift, please help us build Miss H’s big-kid library!”

This seemed like the easiest way to give people the option, and if they do want to bring something then they can have fun picking out a fun new book for her! Especially as we are starting to move past some of the younger board books and move into more engaging books for her age.

At the end of the day, I went back and forth on this a lot because I didn’t want it to feel like we were demanding one thing or the other from our guests. We of course just want people there to celebrate Miss H and feel happy and comfortable while they are in our home. But on the flip side, the thought of a mountain of new toys felt overwhelming – both for our small house and for Miss H!

Have you done something similar for birthday parties – either no gifts or books? If so, how did it go over with your family and friends?