Alternative Ideas to Requesting No Gifts and a Giveaway

no gifts please at kids parties

no gifts please at kids parties

I am glad to introduce the first guest blogger who gave me an hand during my trip in Japan.  The first one is Lisa Kothari of Dear Peppers and Pollywogs. Lisa is an author who runs a kids party planning business since 2005. Lisa provides practical solutions and good planning advices to parents.

Today, more and more parents are opting to request No Gifts on their kids’ party invitations.  It often doesn’t work out very well, as some people adhere to the guideline while others ignore it altogether and bring a gift.  The fact is people want to bring something to a child’s party, as a result, to get around embracing the concept of traditional gifts or no gifts at all; there are creative ideas that offer an in-between the two options:

  • Host a book exchange and organize it in a few different ways:
    • Guests bring a wrapped gift and everyone takes one home.
    • Some open the books on the spot; others wait until the kids have gone home.
  • Give your child an experience rather than a party. If you allow friends to be invited, let the experience be the celebration, not the stuff.
  • Hold an inexpensive gift exchange (under $10) so that every child receives a gift.
  • Request art supplies and donate them to a shelter.
  • Hobbit Practice – Better to Give than to Receive! Each child receives a gift, although they do not bring one.
  • Request a donation to a great organization like
  • Contact a charity that is a favorite and ask for a Wish List, i.e. a list of stuff the organization really needs. As an example, the humane society may need leashes, collars, toys, etc. Request guests bring these items in lieu of birthday gifts to donate and make the wishes come true!

Whatever donations are brought to the party for a favorite charity, have the birthday child deliver the donations to his chosen charity.

This is a great round-up of ideas that are alternatives to traditional party gifts.  Also, keep in mind if you are concerned about the amount people will spend on a party gift for your child, it is appropriate to write in your invitation, Gifts under $__ would be appreciated.  Putting a price limit guideline on the invitation can help to keep gift-giving budget friendly.

Happy Gifting ─ or not!


dear peppers and pollywogs book written by lisa kothari

Lisa Kothari is giving away a copy of her book, Dear Peppers and Pollywogs…: What Parents Want to Know About Planning Their Kids’ Parties in which she answered non obvious questions that many parents will face. She sent me a copy two years ago and I found that it is an excellent resources for parents.

To enter this giveaway, simply share what is the best kids party theme you ever saw? Write your answer by commenting on this post. The winner will be determined by a random draw of all the answers received before noon ET on Wednesday, April 21st, 2010.

Update: The winner of the giveaway is #8 Kim – The TomKat Studio. Read more about the random draw.

  • Pooh!
    April 18, 2010 at 12:56

    not very exotic but it was very different – elephants and maharanis

  • Aimee @ Simple Bites
    April 18, 2010 at 14:07

    I recently saw photos from a precious ‘Alice in Wonderland’ themed party, but I will have to say my favorite so far was my own idea of a ‘Pat the Bunny’ theme for my 1 year old son!

  • Sabina
    April 18, 2010 at 15:46

    We did a “Little Princess” (the movie) themed party with an India vibe – pillows on the floor – flowers in bowls – and music as well. Everyone dressed in formal costumes. It was so much fun and very memorable. Here’s the link to some photos –


  • kristen
    April 18, 2010 at 23:00

    My niece’s 3rd birthday was ballet princess themed…her mom made adorable tutus and crowns for all the girls (to keep) and for the lone boy a Knight’s cape, crown and sword…followed by some very creative toddler dancing!

  • Issa
    April 19, 2010 at 00:00

    My niece was born during October and her 1st birthday theme was Oktoberfest. They served rootbeer floats in huge beer mugs, pretzels (the salty ones and those covered and chocolate) and if I can remember right, they had sausages too. The best part was the giveaway — rootbeer scented organic shampoo placed in little vials and labeled just like a beer bottle. It was handmade by our organic products company (SPA Ingredients) and was labeled “Happy Beer-day!” lol 🙂

  • Julie
    April 19, 2010 at 09:26

    For my son’s 7th birthday party we had his friends bring items from the local animal shelter’s wish list. Of course at that age, he still wanted a few gifts, so relatives bought gifts to the house, but for his organized kid party they brought shelter items. He LOVED delivering them to the shelter and he got his picture in their newsletter too.
    We have recently been invited to a couple of birthday parties that said “no gifts please” so instead of showing up empty handed we made a gift card that said “good for one after-party experience” movie, mini-golf, etc. However with kids’ busy schedule these days I haven’t been able to fulfill them yet. Nice idea, but is adding more stress knowing that I have 2 IOUs outstanding.

  • Camila F.
    April 19, 2010 at 10:30

    The green party! If the birthday boy or girl is a budding environmentalist, build the theme around going green. Activities include playing old-fashioned games, such as kick the can, or making a craft, like wind chimes, out of items from nature, old silverware and trinkets found at secondhand shops.

    The food should be natural and healthy, like cut fruits and vegetables and homemade family favorites. You’ll likely want to use cloth napkins and washable dinnerware. Even the party hats could be reusable, and the cake can have an eco theme, too. For favors, send each child home with a sapling to plant.

  • Kim - The TomKat Studio
    April 19, 2010 at 17:19

    I would love to win a copy of Lisa’s book! My favorite birthday theme would have to be the Fairy Garden theme we just did for my daughter’s 3rd birthday! 🙂

  • Jessica Howard
    April 20, 2010 at 01:05

    I love Lisa’s ideas for the book and small gift exchanges. We have tried having parties (and been invited to ones) where the “no gifts, please” request was ignored.

    As for a good party theme, we recently went to an ice skating party at a local rink. It was great that the kids got to throw their energy into skating, rather than running around in a house or play area. Cake was served by the rink staff, and then the kids went back out and did more skating. No fuss, no muss.

  • oil painting
    April 20, 2010 at 03:03

    As for a good party theme, we recently went to an ice skating party at a local rink. It was great that the kids got to throw their energy into skating, rather than running around in a house or play area.

  • Domenica-M is for Monkey
    April 20, 2010 at 20:33

    I’d love to win Lisa’s book, Dear Pepper’s and Pollywogs! What a great resource to have when panning any children’s party! My favorite party theme is my daughter’s upcoming summer Vintage Garden Party! A great way for children to be physically active, get fresh air, and learn about plants!

  • Vicky
    April 21, 2010 at 01:30

    I would love to win:) I am posting this week on a pinwheel and pearl party that we just threw for a sweet little one year old. I believe it is my favorite theme yet!