So you know when you get those invites to kid’s birthday parties, and the invite says ‘No gifts please’? That means don’t bring a gift. For real. It’s not just the parents being polite and they secretly want lots of five dollar crap (because who spends more than that for a kid you don’t know?). They seriously don’t want gifts.
A couple of weeks ago Wildling was invited to a birthday party for some twins in her class. The invite clearly stated that they did not want gifts, and suggested that a donation to a particular charity would be a good alternative. I can’t remember the exact phrasing. I didn’t make a donation to the charity, as it wasn’t one I support (I don’t care the mission, I won’t give to a charity with Angels in the name or anything invoking religion). And since the invitation said not to bring gifts, we didn’t. I’m pretty sure Wildling was the only child who showed up without a gift. Fortunately, they weren’t opened at the party.
From my own experience, I know that for Wildling’s birthday parties, I’ve always explicitly requested no gifts. Yet people bring them anyway. One of Will’s friends showed up without a gift at one party, then brought one to work with an apology a couple of days later. Will was like ‘what the hell man? You were the only one that actually listened to us. You didn’t need to do this!’ but the friend apparently felt guilty for not having brought anything when everyone else had. I passive-aggressively don’t send thank you notes for gifts given when we said no gifts. I figure people who get offended about not getting thank you notes will stop giving gifts. Of course, their reasoning maybe that it’s because we’re ungrateful assholes rather than because we asked them not to, but I don’t care.
Several years ago, we were invited to the most awkward baby non-shower ever. It was for Will’s close friends who had moved away. The friends were in town for a visit, and expecting their first baby. Some other mutual friends (who I will refer to as Host Couple A and Host Couple B) threw a non-shower for them. The invites said very clearly that Expectant Parents did not want any gifts, they were traveling from out of town, didn’t want to take anything back with them, and really just wanted to celebrate with their friends. We respected that and showed up with no gift (of course, these were good enough friends of Will’s that I made them a baby blanket, but that was sent to them later and not as part of the non-shower).
It was a pretty good sized party, as they had lived in this town for at least ten years and had tons of friends here. And there was a pretty good sized pile of gifts. Actually, beyond that. There was a huge ridiculous pile of gifts. We were a little surprised by that and figured other people must not have read the invite. But then I heard others talking about it as well – many people were starting to feel guilty/weird for not having brought anything. Then Host Couple A announced that it was time to open the presents, and dragged Expectant Couple forward.
It turned out that every single one of the items in the ginormous pile of stuff was from Host Couples A & B. Seriously. And for the next fifteen minutes, we all had to stand around and watch Expectant Couple unwrap probably thirty gifts and have to exclaim over all of them and profusely thank A & B. I’m pretty sure that the Expectant Couple were pretty embarrassed by it. They looked embarrassed, and once everyone realized that the gifts were all from A & B, I think all the other guests were pretty annoyed. I know WIll and I were, and, based on comments made, so were all the people standing near us watching the performance. I still don’t know why the Host Couples did that. Were they making it clear that they were the Best!Friends!Ever!? Were we all supposed to be shamed or awed by their display of generosity? Were they really so clueless?