'No Gifts please' - Presumptive?

I’ve got a milestone birthday approaching rapidly, [cough] 40 [cough, cough] and my wife is insisting on a song and dance, friends, relatives, etc, etc.

I think we’re just going to host it at home, get some caterers in, fill up the esky’s with beer and wine and away we go. If I have to do this, I just want an enjoyable night with friends and family, I’m not interested in being bombarded with birthday gifts.

Sending out invitations (likely by email in the first instance) is it uncouth presumption to include a note of ‘No Gifts Please’? Or are birthday presents (even for an adult birthday) well enough expected that a note of that kind is fine?

What say the Doper doyens of etiquette?

It is sort of presumptuous, because it makes it sound like you were expecting them.

However, if you don’t, people will give you stuff, probably most of which you don’t want.

So, do you want to be rude or cluttered?

I don’t think that’s a problem with that at all. You’ll probably find that half the people will still bring something anyways.

Depending on schnockered you’d like everyone to get and how many people you’re expecting, you could make it a BYOB party. Then people don’t feel bad for not getting you something (that you probably don’t want anyways) and you’ll save a ton on booze.

Actually not quite BYOB because you don’t want anyone to feel like they have to, but maybe something like “Please, no gifts, but feel free to bring six pack of your favorite beer or a cheap bottle of wine”. Although there must be a better way to word that so they can come empty handed too without saying something cheesy like “Your presence in present enough”

Or just say “No Gifts Please” and let the people who must bring something bring something.

For my 40th birthday, I included a note that instead of bringing gifts, I was asking for canned goods for a local food bank. I left a few large bins outside for people to drop stuff off, so they could do so in private before coming into the house.

It provided a way for my friends to “give” something that I cared about, without getting lots of odd gifts.

Given the amount of food I collected, I don’t think anyone was offended.

Which, given that it’s his birthday, is a very reasonable expectation…

On an etiquette board that I frequent it’s recommended to spread the word verbally that no gifts are wanted or that you’d prefer donations to such and such instead. Apparently it’s considered gauche to make any mention of gifts at all on an invitation. If you think your friends would be ok with such a note though, then I think it’s fine (such as in Digital is the new Analog****'s example). It all depends on the individual circumstances and how much of a stickler for absolutely proper etiquette the group you’re planning on inviting is.

“No gifts, please” or even better what was suggested: (If you want to give a gift, please give to this fine charitable organization) is entirely fine. Not presumptuous at all, IMO.

“Gifts bought locally with receipt or cash only please”

Yes, but since they aren’t required you hate to make people think they should. Just like you tell your kids that their birthday guests don’t have to bring them anything, that their friends would be generous to do that, and yet you and your kid know the guests will have gifts. You can’t let them think you expect them.

So you don’t want me to name a star for you or donate $50 in your name to the charity of my choice?

In my opinion etiquette should be about communicating clearly and politely, not about select people possessing secret knowledge that’s relevant to all attendees but only dispensed to those who ask the right question of the right person. Everyone knows that everyone brings a gift to these things. You don’t want them to. Put that on the invitation and save everyone some time.

There’s no polite way to indicate the expectation of presents, even with the request not to bring them, on an invitation. However, there’s a very easy way to avoid them. Simply invite attendees to a party where you hope to enjoy the company of your family and friends, without any mention of it being your birthday. Then, during the party, you can reveal the occasion, and say that’s why you wanted to celebrate with the people you’re close to. Fun party, no presents!

Except that the reality of the situation is that they, in fact, are required.

No, it’s not legally required, but it is an unbreakable rule of social interaction that will brand anyone who doesn’t abide by it as a cheapskate.

Nobody believes that birthday gifts are spontaneous generosity, not even little kids.

**Lucretia **beat me to it. Invite folks to a party, not a birthday party. And if anyone shows up with a gift, thank them politely and set it aside to open later.

“No gifts, please. If you bring one I will set it on fire.”

We didn’t want wedding gifts, so we got a few select, close and trustworthy friends to spread the word for us. It mostly worked, and I think the people who gave us stuff simply ignored the request. We did get some cash, and our main concern was that we didn’t need more clutter, so we didn’t mind. We also got a few creative things, like magazine subscriptions, and gift cards to the place we bought our dogs’ food. We really, truly just wanted people to come to our wedding and celebrate with us, though. Anyway, make sure your word-of-mouthers say you don’t want presents, period, not just no clutter, or people will try to think of something clutter-free.

My last big shindig I specified, “Please, no gifts. But if you insist, make it spectacular.”

I got a few really spectacular gifts.

“No gifts, please” is fine. It’s not presumptious in the least.

My wife’s last big birthday, we asked that non-perishable food be brought to be donated to our local food pantry, in lieu of gifts. We got a truckload (the food pantry sent a truck to pick it up.) Most people have old cans of stuff that they bought on whim that they aren’t going to eat, that they’d be glad to donate. It’s a real feel-good situation.

All I got for my 40th were gag gifts. (Which was fine by me)
Other than a card, or buying someone diner, I don’t think I’ve ever bought someone a B-day gift as an adult. Do people really do that?

These are his friends, so they’ll probably know it’s his birthday. If he’s on Facebook it will probably tell them anyway. Also, you get more people coming to your party if they know it’s your birthday.

No gifts please is fine. Perhaps rephrase as “please don’t worry about bringing a gift - I have too much stuff already - we just want our friends there.” I also like the “or if you want to, make them spectacular!” line because that could be fun.