How do I request charitable donations instead of gifts for my 4-year-old’s birthday?

She doesn’t need more toys, and my experience with friends of mine who’ve requested that people NOT bring gifts has been ignored by well-meaning guests.

We’ve decided that instead of saying "no gifts" to politely say "if gifts, please give a donation to XX, a local children’s cancer charity." How do I write this politely on the invitations without it coming across like an expectation?
She doesn’t need more toys, and my experience with friends of mine who’ve requested that people NOT bring gifts has been ignored by well-meaning guests.

We’ve decided that instead of saying "no gifts" to politely say "if gifts, please give a donation to XX, a local children’s cancer charity." How do I write this politely on the invitations without it coming across like an expectation?

Last comment, she’s already getting all kinds of gifts from family members, this is the party with her friends. No worries, the child is NOT deprived. :-)

Word it in a way that’s funny but serious at the same time….try something like:

Please join us in supporting the local children’s cancer charity fund by giving a gift in (your child’s) name to (name of the fund). Help us find a cure for cancer!

That way people know that you support the fund too and you’re not asking them to donate AND give your child a gift.

Regardless of what you want people to do, there are bound to be some people who will insist on bring a present though so don’t be shocked.

Happy birthday wishes to your little girl!

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14 Responses to How do I request charitable donations instead of gifts for my 4-year-old’s birthday?

  1. Jody G says:

    it’s a birthaday party the only bit of it children undestand is presents, why take that away from them. What I usually do is clean out the toys that are not being played with and donate them to my daycare center thery always need updated toys.
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  2. iampatsajak says:

    How about this… "gifts to be donated to xxx charity" so they know what they are getting into.

    Have a box at the door so your child never even sees the toys.
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  3. gegesmommy says:

    It’s your daughter’s 4th birthday!!!! Let them bring her gifts. Your daughter isn’t going to care about giving to a charity right now all she’s going to care about is having a good time at her birthday party and I think that for a child’s birthday they should get gifts.
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  4. roguegirl25 says:

    I would write something like "(your 4 year-old’s name) would love it if all party-goers would contribute a birthday monetary donation to _____________________. This gift is the true gift for his/her birthday.
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  5. jilldaniel_wv says:

    Basically, you can’t. At least not without sounding tacky or pushy. And guests are still going to show up with gifts. It is poor etiquette to tell the guests how to spend their money. You can spread by word of mouth, but I certainly wouldn’t put it on the invitation.
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  6. New Mom to baby girl says:

    What you could do is either go through her current toys and give away those that are not being played with, or put on the invitation that all gifts will be donated to a womans shelter or a kids hospital.
    What you want to do sounds like a good idea, but how to do you explain to a 4 year old that the gifts are for someone else, its their birthday but you can’t keep your presents. I suggest to go through her used toys and give unused ones away. Or even better, put on the invitation…please no toys…clothes (size) or educational things only. That way the child can enjoy the party and open presents that are for her.
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  7. Kellie R says:

    Put on the invite. We ask that all gift go to this charity as we are blessed and would like to share our blessings with others in need.
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  8. phillipa_gordon says:

    Tacky and very bad taste. Return gifts with receipts and give it to charity yourself. For gifts with no receipts that your child doesn’t show any interest in, save them for "Toys for Tots" box at Christmas. Otherwise, just be happy that people are generous.
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  9. soccerref says:

    Word it in a way that’s funny but serious at the same time….try something like:

    Please join us in supporting the local children’s cancer charity fund by giving a gift in (your child’s) name to (name of the fund). Help us find a cure for cancer!

    That way people know that you support the fund too and you’re not asking them to donate AND give your child a gift.

    Regardless of what you want people to do, there are bound to be some people who will insist on bring a present though so don’t be shocked.

    Happy birthday wishes to your little girl!
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  10. cassandra says:

    Well, it’s a touchy thing, because proper etiquette on your part does not assume a gift on your guests part.

    Perhaps you can say "In addition to celebrating Sally’s 4th birthday with the joy being with friends bring, we are going to make a donation to The Cancer Charity in Sally’s name. If you were thinking of bringing a present along with your presence, won’t you please consider doing so in the form of a similar donation."

    In addition, rather than telling people how to do gift giving, the etiquette problems of which are rather formidable, you might just talk with your daughter in advance how you will donate the toys she receives to a charity. That could be just between you and her and the guests needn’t know at all.

    –Just saw a sample invite on line that said, "In the spirit of giving, any gifts will be donated to xxxx charity.’ I frankly think that’s kinda rude. But, for all the parties we go to, we know and love the kids and enjoy getting gifts tailored to their interests. Our gifts are always a big hit with the kids, so I really have mixed feelings about stopping people from giving gifts.

    Is the problem actually too many people who aren’t really close to the kids being invited to the parties?
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  11. Liss says:

    I think all 4 yr olds have more toys than they need. I agree with other comments. Clean out toys and give to charity. The best part of a 4 yr old party is the opening of gifts not the gifts themselves. I know I would have been devastated if I had no gifts to open at my party.
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  12. noellemt says:

    This is tough and I know exactly what you are going through. I have two girls that are spoiled rotten by well meaning family. I struggled a lot with what I was going to do this year when my six year old had her first friend party. The thought of more toys was killing me. But those first toys from friends are very special. I would let the kids bring toys for her. Most likely the parents won’t spend a ton of money and it will be a simple gift. Before the party tell your daughter that she is getting so many new presents that she should give some of her old things away to kids that don’t have any toys. Have her help you pick out some things to give to charity that she is done with and have her go with you to drop it off. We do this at birthdays and Christmas. I also go around after they are sleeping and do my own clean-out session of things I haven’t seen them touch or they have outgrown. Your daughter won’t pick out a bunch to get rid of, but it starts a good life lesson for her early on about being giving. Trust me it works like a charm. Because of my parents being divorced and re-married we have five sets of great grandparents (still living) and four sets of grandparents! My house is the unofficial Toys R Us! I feel your pain!
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  13. passiveaggressive says:

    Honestly, I would not ask for donations in lieu of presents for your child. I had a friend who did this and several of my friends and I not only felt obligated to bring a donation, but also bring her daughter a gift. Yes, she too stated no gifts, but most people feel funny coming empty handed. Ultimately, the decision is yours, but I am just telling you what my experience was like in this situtation.
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  14. Jennifer B says:

    I think your intention is well meaning, but it’s a hard thing to ask people to spend their money in a specific way.

    Also, part of the birthday party thing is for the guests – especially at this age they are learning how to give graciously, and the lesson is much harder to learn when the gift isn’t something they can put their hands on. And are you sure that your child is OK with the idea that they will have a party and not get any gifts? Especially if she’s experienced other parties recently, your daugher may have expectations that her party will be similar to the ones she’s attended – gifts and all.

    I think it would be OK to say "please no gifts" on the invite. You can also spread the word (but not put on the invitation) that if someone feels they must give a gift, you’d appreciate more "creative" gifts like a promise of a special play date or a handmade gift.

    Another way to limit the gift giving is to limit the guest list. One guideline I’ve seen suggested is to invite the same number of friends as the age of the birthday kid. I know it’s not always easy to keep to those exact numbers, but it would probably be a better time for all if the number was kept low….

    But asking for charitible donations for a little kid’s birthday is a harder sell.

    Good Luck!
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