Party All the Time

A few weeks ago, I was invited to (and attended) a birthday party for one of O’s friends, L.

L and her family live down the street from us. Her mom and I have connected a few times—playing with the kids in my backyard and chatting on the street. She’s really cool, down-to-earth, and just chill. Her older daughter just turned two, she also has a three-month-old daughter, AND she works full-time. I get tired simply thinking about her, but she’s always smiling and happy. I’ve come to grips with the fact that she’s just way, way cooler a person than I. (Humph. Whatevs.) Despite that, I welcomed the chance to get to know her more by attending L’s party, but I think might have committed a major party faux pas.

Here’s how it went down:

I saw L’s mom in the grocery store a few weeks ago, and she told me she was having a party for L. She told me not to bring a present, and said she’d put an invite in my mailbox. When she said mentioned not getting a present, I immediately thought she said that to be nice and figured I’d get one anyway.

Then I got the invite. It said (in all caps) “NO PRESENTS PLEASE.” If it was one of my close friends, I would probably call him or her up and be like “Really? No presents? REALLY?!” or bring one anyway.

This was different. The request was in ALL CAPS. I didn’t want to offend by bringing a present. (Maybe there was a reason we weren’t supposed to bring presents?)

So, I went against my gut and didn’t bring a gift. My stomach dropped as I walked up to the house and saw two different sets of people entering the house with large, wrapped boxes.

I looked down at the card O and I had made for L. It was definitely cute, but not a present. We put an elephant on the front, and I later found out L loves elephants, so that was something, I guess. Still, I felt very awkward entering the party sans present, and the feeling grew during “present-opening” time. Luckily, O decided present-opening time was also potty-going time, so we missed a large chunk of it.

What do other WMAGs due when they get invites like this? Bring a present, or no?

12 thoughts on “Party All the Time

  1. redheadedreader says:

    Bring a gift, as generic as possible, and leave it in the car. You can always say you forgot to grab it on your way in.

    If people followed the parent’s request, as they SHOULD have…(I’m a believer that parties are not for presents, they’re for enjoying friends), you aren’t the one to break the request, and you can keep the gift for your own kid down the road, or use it for another party.

  2. OMG! I think you did the right thing in not bringing a present. You should not feel bad!! The fault lies with L’s mom for setting you up to feel like a schmuck!

    I agree with the redheadedreader that the safest thing to do would to have brought a present and left it in the car — but only in hindsight!

    That being said.. if the invite explicitly asked for no presents, then L’s mom should *not* have had L open the presents at the party. They should have waited until everyone went home and opened up the presents in private.

    Opening presents at the party is exactly the way to make everyone who followed the “no presents” rule feel really bad!! …and to make no one believe you next time when you say “No Presents”.

  3. This is why I don’t like to have kids open presents at a party. Inevitably there are two of something, or someone can’t afford big fancy presents, or someone shows off by giving a REALLY fancy present, or some kid says something rude about one of the presents. We just stick them in a trash bag and open them later.

    You did the right thing in this situation. There should not have been a present opening time when the invitation was very clear about presents.

  4. You did as she asked, so that’s not a faux pas at all.

  5. I think you did the right thing. If anything, maybe next time considering making a small donation to some charity in the child’s name – the child won’t get it, but the parents would/should appreciate it.

  6. FreshHell says:

    You did right. It said no presents so you didn’t bring one, as instructed. What I don’t understand are people who do not rsvp AT ALL. If you can’t come (or don’t want to) just call and say, sorry. I’m not going to cry but I would like to know how many people to expect. Is there no common courtesy anymore?

  7. Offering It Up says:

    I think I can help with this…

    Last year, I requested no gifts for my 1yr old’s party. She wouldn’t know the difference, and we have a house full of toys for her 2.5yr old sister.

    Several members of my family love to show off what they bought, and before I knew what was happening, gifts were being opened, photos taken, etc. It was awkward for everyone, but especially me.

    Chances are, L’s mom didn’t want the gifts, and was not planning to open them in front of everyone. I bet she’s more embarrassed than you are. Don’t worry, you did the right thing. Nearly every party we’ve been to this year has requested no gifts.

  8. We were invited to a friend’s 7 yr. old birthday party and it also was a ‘no presents’ party. It was REALLY strange for us – the first of its kind for us too. Hubby decided that he just couldn’t let the opportunity go to purchase a b-day gift for our little friend, but he understood the spirit of what the mom had requested so he brought a bouquet of flowers for the birthday girl. It was so cute!
    I don’t think this would have worked with a boy – but could be an idea for little girls.

  9. You have nothing to worry about. It said no presents – you did what you were asked. Personally I get really irritated when people can’t be bothered to respect my wishes and bring a present when I’ve specifically asked them not to.

  10. Thanks everyone.

    I truly think that L’s mom didn’t want anyone to bring presents. Right before the present-opening time, she mentioned that no one had listened to directions. She probably felt she had to open them (and like, seriously, EVERYONE brought a present except for me).

    I just wondered if there are people out there that have “no present” parties and actually don’t get presents. Or if I need to bring a present “just in case.” I might do the generic gift thing, just to be sure… good suggestion redheadedreader!

  11. If the invite said “NO PRESENTS” why on earth was there a “present opening time?” The hostess should have politely thanked the givers of gifts and stashed them in another room so as not to embarrass the people who actually followed her request not to bring gifts.

    Her faux pas. Not yours.

  12. just4ofus says:

    I agree with Robyn .. there shouldn’t have been a gift opening time. Even at my kids parties.. we don’t open gifts.. we put the aside and take them home to open them there. This allows for birthday party fun.
    I too went to a party where this happened and I didn’t bring a gift.. as the invitation said.. and I felt like a schmuck too.
    Don’t feel bad..

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