My daughter’s first birthday is fast approaching, and I’ve been trying to figure out a quandary. My husband and I started a college savings for our daughter when she was born, and rather than getting a bunch of loud, obnoxious baby toys (she has a TON of toys already, and we live in a small apartment so space is extremely limited), we’d really prefer people to use the money they would have spent on a gift and deposit it into the savings.
The particular savings account we chose has a feature that allows people other than my husband and I to deposit money into it, and they can deposit as little as $15, so it’s not going to break anyone’s bank. I can either e-mail a form to people who want to deposit, or I can hand deposit slips to them in person.
I’m torn. On the one hand, the practicality of giving college money, rather than toys that are going to last a year tops, appeals to me greatly. However, I’m afraid of coming across as some kind of no-fun-having money grubber. I also don’t know how to word the invitations, “Please don’t buy my daughter a stupid toy; give me money instead!” Do I just ask for a check and deposit like that, or should I have deposit slips at the party for people who want to do it that way?
Please help! I don’t want to end up in Ehell as a “gimme mommy!” 0712-11
There is simply no possible way you can directly ask people for money without appearing to be a gigundo gimme pig. Handing out deposit slips or noting in the birthday invitations that guests are to keep their stinking, bothersome toy gifts far, far away will surely have one of your guests running at break neck speed to this site to tattle on you. And then I would figuratively put you on the Ehell BBQ spit and roast you to a crispy golden brown.
The only way you can possibly direct your guests to give money is if they ask you FIRST what would be an appropriate gift. It’s no different than wedding registry information….it’s OK if the guest PULLS the information from you as to your gift preferences but in no way can we ever PUSH that information. Gifts are not a mandatory element of a birthday and you should really scale back your expectations that your child deserves gifts and that somehow you can have any control over the generosity of your guests or their giftgiving decision making process.
And if your guests do give loud, noisy, unneeded toys, express appropriate gratitude that the giver took the time to earn the money he/she spent, took time to choose a gift, wrap and carry it to the party and then either donate the toys to a charity that would be thrilled to receive them, return for a refund or sell them on ebay.
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I think this is a no-win situation. To most readers here (it seems), asking for money is a faux pas. But I think it really depends how your social circle runs. In my friends and family, to give and receive money/gift cards AND also ask about it (they also look relieved!). We would just straight up ask what the person wants–since we have limited funds, we don’t want to guess and waste it on something impractical!
IMO, you can mention the college fund so guests can pick that option on their own discretion. “Please, no gifts are required–we would just love to have your presence. However, if you would like to do otherwise, please consider our baby’s college fund we have started with so-and-so bank. Thank you.” Honestly, one will never know until one asks.
But no matter what happens, someone will always be doing their own thing. As hostess, you just must gracefully accept and figure a way to regift/donate/resell their gift. Good luck!
anonymous is wise.
I think most of what I wanted to say has been covered – good for you for asking before doing, but unfortunately your understandable desire is just not possible.
One thing I wanted to add though is that many of the gifts my children recieved when they were young were NOT what I would have picked myself. Yet they were utterly loved by my children, more so than many of the toys I thought were great. Many of them also came with sweet stories attached about how the giver’s children or the giver themselves had loved this toy, or how they remembered being given something similar when they were young, etc etc. It really did make for a very special sort of experience, especially as those stories could be passed on. It really can be a worthwhile thing to share those stories and memories, even if ‘clutter’, or the chore of sorting out what to keep, results.
Anonymous- I agree. A registry can be great for some couples and not so great for others. I think it all depends on how it is used, and the attitude of the couple. Couples who have registries can be lovely and gracious, while couples who don’t have them can still be demanding, entitled gimme pigs.
My husband and I had a registry. We kept it modest and followed the admin’s “push/pull” rule. We certainly did not expect gifts or demand/expect that any gifts we received be bought off the registry. As it happened, we received many wonderful and generous gifts. Many of them were bought off our registry; however, some people gave us lovely, thoughtful gifts that were not on the registry, some gave us cash, some simply gave us cards, and some gave us nothing at all. All of that was fine with us- we were just happy to have the people we loved there to celebrate with us on our special day.
Oh, and as for “who gives a toaster oven as a gift these days-” well, we didn’t receive a toaster OVEN, but we did get a toaster! Plus a blender, waffle iron, tea kettle, pots and pans, coffee maker- lots of fantastic kitchen gadgets! And we love them all! 🙂
While I agree with you admin, I have some issues with the PUSH vs PULL policy.
At least in the States I think there is an expected element of “surprise” to gifts. I know that I generally feel uncomfortable asking people for what they want — not only do I feel like a spoil-sport, I think most people I know would be so afraid of looking like “gimme-pigs” and being put on the spot that I wouldn’t get an honest answer out of them.
(I realize in this case the recipient is the baby and the mother is taking care of gifts, but I since the mother is speaking for said baby the above still holds.)
I think the solution is to change our cultural expectations of being “surprised”. Sort of like how it’s becoming a thing for an engaged couple to shop for rings together, so should folks feel comfortable responding honestly and openly to gift inquiries.
I’m sympathetic to the OP. There, you can set me on fire or whatever it is that’s threatened to people around here…
I agree, however, there is no tactful way of saying this.
Whenever I have bought gifts for my nieces or other small children I know, I’ve asked the parent/s what sort of things to buy. Not only does this help with parents who can’t stand another shrieking Elmo toy (I hate Elmo so much) but it benefits the child, and ensures you won’t buy something the child already owns.
If people asked the parents more often, situations like this could be avoided.
And if I did ask, no, I wouldn’t be offended if the parent asked for money for the child’s college fund. Education is surely more important than some shrill piece of plastic. A one year old child would probably find the box it came in more interesting.
My seven year old niece’s birthday is at the end of December. Since her very first birthday, I’ve bought her books (we’re Australian, so she doesn’t need to save for 18 years to get a higher education.) She simply doesn’t need MORE toys several days after Christmas and her parents agree. It’s also just good manners to be mindful of what the parents want for their child- avoiding buying things like toy guns and swords unless the parents are explicitly OK with that kind of stuff. I know a family who bought a non-related child a kitten without checking with the parents. Who DOES that?
Also: for those who say that buying toys is fun for the buyer: well, yes. But when an adult buys a present for another adult, they should buy what they think the recipient would want- not simply buy what THEY want. Many of us will know how hurtful it is to receive a gift that is poorly thought out- something that the giver should KNOW we have no desire for or use for, but which is something that they would like. Recently it was my birthday. My younger sister, world’s worst gift-giver, gave me a scarf (it’s winter here.) Nice, yes? Except she knows I hate scarves or anything that constricts my neck. Worse, she admitted when I opened it that she had WORN the scarf- it reeked of cigarettes and perfume.
As a person who gives gifts, I want to give gifts that the recipients would like. (Or the recipients and their parents, if they are young.) I ask, and try to accomodate, whether I like the gift or not- because it ISN’T FOR ME. I gave my father a DVD set for Christmas, of a series I find obnoxious, but which he loves. And I loved that HE loved it.
I don’t understand this “I’ll buy things you don’t want or need, without checking, because buying toys is awesome fun!” attitude. Gifts are for the recipient, not to gratify the buyer.
I reiterate, though, that there’s no polite way of saying “please don’t buy any more of those obnoxious toys for my kid” without sounding crass. Also reiterating that if people ASKED what others would like, and bought gifts accordingly, this really wouldn’t happen.
The only point regarding registries that I wanted to make is that they shouldn’t be pushed on you by the couple in the wedding invitation. There is nothing wrong with registries – yes, they’re a tool – use it if you want to but if it is included in the invitation it looks as if a gift is most certainly expected and that is the problem.
I’ve also wanted to point out that I don’t think registries work for the couple either. I was forced to register by my mother and I’m sorry I did. Since my husband and I already had our own homes – we didn’t really need anything. I walked around a well known department store not knowing what I wanted and having to choose whatever the store carried for things I did want. When I chose some expensive sheets because it was what I liked – and for no other reason – it looked bad to me. It wasn’t “practical” to pay that much for sheets – I wouldn’t pay that much for sheets – I picked it because I liked it and it was “where” I registered – the store picked the price!!! If I were to really choose items that were my taste and style, I’d have to be registered everywhere – and at stores that don’t do registries. I suppose when registries were started there were only a few well know deptartment stores to buy all of those things – and less options – now – there are many places to buy affordable, quality items like towels and sheets. So registires have their drawbacks.
You missed the point. I never insinuated people with registries feel entitled to many presents. I said that they apparently don’t trust their friends to buy them something nice/useful, and so have made them a shopping list. What ever happened to a friend calling/email another friend and asking if there is something (dinner set, towels, wine rack) that she needs?
I believe my comments were sarcastic, and not snarky.
And yes, I buy off registries for those who have them. The one time I didn’t do that I never heard the end of it.
Thank you, Anonymous! That was well-written, and and makes perfect sense.
I agree with those saying you cannot ask for money; gifts should not be expected at all so why ever would you think you can specify and direct what they should be?
I’ve encountered a problem with money for a child’s college fund. I am godmother to my husband’s brother’s daughter. Beginning at the christening, I wrote checks to her with “for college fund” on the memo line. My husband’s brother would cash the checks for cash – they were not deposited in an account. (Oh, and he likes lottery tickets too)
My solution was to cease writing checks at all. When the child became old enough to appreciate small gifts, I would send a bracelet, a book, etc. No more checks from me – blame Daddy for that one.
Anonymous – I completely agree with you about gift registries.
I would like to add one thing – Just as it is rude to announce, without having been asked, where you are registered, it is also rude to announce, without having been asked, that you are not registered.
If you declare that you are not registered, people will assume that means you expect gifts and will accept nothing else. If you don’t mention it, at all, and someone asks about your registry, and you simply shrug and say you didn’t register anywhere, doing it in a casual manner to show you don’t care about gifts, people will not think you are greedy. They’ll think you’re unworldly.
Whatever you do, if they ask about a registry, don’t get on your soapbox on the subjects of registries. Either you like to use them, or you don’t. Maybe you like everything to match, and having a registry simplifies your shopping, especially as you look forward to the discount you’ll get after the wedding/party is over. Maybe you love surprises and eclectic decoration, and a registry would make everything too matchy-matchy for your taste. Maybe you just don’t have time or energy to go through the stoe looking at everything with a little laser gun to add things to your list, and prefer to get things yourself, one or two at a time, as the need arises. Whatever your reason to use it or not use it, keep it simple. Even if your reason is “I don’t care,” that’s simple, and it will work out just fine, so long as you wait until you are asked.
Trust me when I tell you, if I ever received an invitation for a birthday party for a 1 year old, and then got the news that I had to donate to her future college fund, I would be putting that invitation in a special file.
You know, the round one.
Why must we care about what someone “really needs” or can “really use?” A gift is nice to give and nice to receive. Who cares what it is? Buy the needed for yourself. Don’t depend on others to do it. I enjoy choosing something unusual or, more often, amusing when I buy a gift. My gifts are always well received with a smile or sincere laughter. And, I don’t give anything but regrets to piggy, list issuing people. They have no place with me and my friends. Best to offend and drive them away at once.
Anonymous – great post on registries. I also didn’t have one, but that was simply because I didn’t feel we needed one. Many of our circle disagreed and begged us to do one. LOL. My only issue with registries is how abused they are. They can be a fabulous way to give guidance. Or they can be a sure fire way to make sure your guests know you’re greedy and self-important. But…
On to the original OP. I was at a group lunch yesterday when a colleague was discussing the upcoming first birthday of her daughter. She was mentioning that her husband had recently been laid off, but had been given a fairly sizable severance. Now, with an out of work husband (and our company keeps having cuts with more due in September) she told him to be sure to put aside $1000 of his severance for the birthday. Yes folks, you read that correctly – one thousand dollars – for a birthday party for a one year old.
What ever happened to a friend calling/email another friend and asking if there is something (dinner set, towels, wine rack) that she needs?
What is the difference between this and a registry, except that calling requires you to pester the bride and groom while they’re undoubtedly busy with other things, and have them attempt to describe the needed/preferred articles?
If they register, you get a picture. Much easier. It answers the same question, except you don’t even have to ask in the first place.
And, Hal: Most newlyweds I know aren’t totally settled yet. My brother and his wife have moved five times in six years for jobs and graduate school, and have lived in tiny apartments. They don’t want to be saddled with items they can’t use and that might be jeopardized by constant relocation. I’ll give them fun and/or pretty items for Christmas later, when they have room for them. Right now, they need practical stuff.
I like 1st birthday parties. So many babies die of SIDS, pre-birth defects, and home accidents that a first birthday is to be celebrated.
INeedANap, the surprise element is why I like to call the parent of, friend of, sibling of the gift recipient. Since those people are really close to the person, they can give me gift insight. Since they are also that close, they can also deliver the hint that cash is best. Even if the person hasn’t told them, they’ve probably gotten wind of the college fund and gotten gripes about lack of space in the tiny apartment in previous conversations. It’s not hard to put 2 and 2 together.
Edhla, I’m so with you on Elmo. How he bacame the most popular Sesame Street/Muppet character is beyond me. I’m all about Mr. Snuffleupagus and the Gonzo The Great, and they are so often ignored.
To JustLaura, who said “What ever happened to a friend calling/email another friend and asking if there is something (dinner set, towels, wine rack) that she needs?”
This is what a registry is. It’s your friend telling you what she needs.
I like annoymous’ post (might have spelt that wrong, sorry!). I brought something form a registery, I found it useful as I knew what the couple wanted. One firend had brought a resturant voucher – she thought it was boring but I thought it was a lovely gift, it wasn’t on the registery but it meant the new couple could spoil themselves and spend time together. I liked the way this couple handled it, they didn’t live together before they were married due to religious grounds (I respect them just the same if they had) but they gave their guests a choice 1) Buy anything guest felt apprioate 2) use the registery 3) cash gift, done in such a passive polite way that wasn’t greedy or gimmie pig at all.
It’s one thing if a guest gives money as a gift without a hint or you requesting money – you could always put that in a little savings account for your child, that would be different. As your child gets older firends/family might decide to give money so she can choose what she wants – she can choose to save it all, spend it all or save part and spend part.
“What ever happened to a friend calling/email another friend and asking if there is something (dinner set, towels, wine rack) that she needs?”
A full dinner set can be very expensive and splits down into about 25 separate gifts a lot of the time. Your friends and family want to ensure you have the set and ask what you’d like – good luck arranging that without a registry.
Also, what if the friend is told the bride needs something that said friend cannot afford? At least on most registries the friend can buy a spatula!
Just register if you want, don’t if you don’t – wait to be asked and then leave it to your guests to decide whether they want to use it or not. I really think reading so much into people’s motivations over perfectly normal wedding lists is ridiculous. Whether to register or not is a logistical choice for most people that will vary according to their own situations.
Someone commented on a recent post here that there seemed to be a recent trend of a kind of “reverse snobbery” regarding weddings- that is, rather than people bragging about how big and lavish their weddings were, they were bragging about how small and inexpensive their weddings were instead. So instead of “Oh, we spent $60,000 on the flowers alone and had 700 guests who all enjoyed a five course gourmet dinner and the gown was hand-stitched in pure gold by an ancient order of Tibetan monks,” we get a lot of “WE got married at the Justice of the Peace and I wore a homemade burlap sack to save money and the whole affair only cost $1.50, because WE care about the MARRIAGE not the WEDDING.” I think we’re kind of seeing something similar here with regard to registries- there’s lots of a sort of superior attitude of “Well, WE didn’t HAVE a registry because WE didn’t EXPECT gifts, plus we TRUST our friends to get us nice things and don’t feel the need to DICTATE to them like gimme pigs!”
I think it would probably behoove us all to take a step back and remember that there is nothing inherently wrong or rude or tacky about either big, lavish weddings or registries. It’s all in how the wedding is done, how the registry is used, and the attitude of the bride and groom. Having a big wedding doesn’t mean you care more about the ceremony than the marriage and having a registry doesn’t make you a money-grubbing gimme pig who doesn’t think the taste of friends and family is to be trusted.While it is perhaps true that huge, fancy weddings and long, expensive registries tend to pair up with bridezilla gimme pigs more often than small weddings and no registries, that isn’t always the case, and the simple fact that someone has a big wedding or a registry does not automatically make them rude or greedy, anymore than having a small wedding and no registry automatically makes someone a pinnacle of etiquette. It is entirely possible for a couple who has a small wedding and/or no registry to be rude, gift-grubbing Boorons (maybe they didn’t have a registry because they just printed “CASH ONLY” on all their invites?) and for a couple who has a lavish wedding and/or a registry to be gracious, generous, wonderful, polite hosts.
I certainly didn’t mean to imply there was anything wrong with a registry; like I said, it’s to ensure you don’t get 6 toasters from well-meaning relatives. I was more amused at my stepmother’s insistence that I HAD to register, that it was a requirement regardless of whether I wanted or needed new towels and blenders.
I begged her to tell people that asked that we didn’t want gifts, but I honestly think she just complained to everyone that I was being “difficult” and not registering. Fortunately my father is a lot more practical and diplomatic.
@ Bardass: “I think it would probably behoove us all to take a step back and remember that there is nothing inherently wrong or rude or tacky about either big, lavish weddings or registries. It’s all in how the wedding is done, how the registry is used, and the attitude of the bride and groom”
1) I think attitudes have changed a bit where weddings can be seen as away of showing off and that some couples use the excuse “it costs £25000 to get married that’s too much we can’t afford” – instead of having a wedding which is about them getting married.
2) There are some stories on the forum and in the archives about people going on the cheap for their wedding. E.g. one family turning up in jogging bottoms/jeans and a vest as well as not putting any effort at all into catering and people get drunk on cheap beer and having a fight.
3) It’s all about getting a balence. Weddings do seem to be over comersilised like Christamas and Easter as well as events like Valentines’ Day, Haowellon, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day etc. I remember one commedian making a joke about “wedding planners” who wanted him and his then fiance to pay £1500+ on invitations – the audience’s intake of breath was very audiable! However if this comedian could afford that it would be different.
4) I also think that if a marriage ends in divoice and the couple are STILL paying for their wedding day they have spent too much. When I was temping there was one man who had been married for 18 months and it took him and his now ex wife a further 6 months to pay everything off from their wedding day.
5) A simple wedding, does not mean the couple are more focused on marriage then those with a big wedding.
I can see having a “close family party only” for a year old child. Cake, ice cream, a few small taken gifts. Invite a bunch of people over for a barbecue later if you want something more but don’t mention the birthday. Just make it a barbecue supper for folks you like.
i have to agree. contributing to your daughters college fund is your job, not your guest. i highly believe that cash for gifts should never be asked for. for any occasion. not even a wedding let alone a child’s birthday. i think everyone who receives a gift should be thankful for it no matter the occasion. no one is obligated to separate themselves from their hard earned money for you. i know a college fund is practical for you, but never the less, its still a blatant ask for money. and therefor tacky.
Hmm, back in the day (and by that I mean the 80’s) people were encouraged to give U.S. savings bonds for just such a situation. By time the bond matured it was time for the kid to go to college. Nobody thought it was crass to tell grandma or grandpa to buy one of those for a gift.
Kids like gifts, not donations for a college fund. I agree with the previous posters who have said that it is YOUR job to fund your child’s education. If you’re afraid your tiny apartment will be cluttered with a lot of toys, you’re inviting too many people to the party. (A party the baby won’t remember anyway!) And, personally I HATED cash gifts of any kind when I was a kid. Why? Because I never got to keep them. I know people assumed they were giving me the chance to choose something I really wanted. What they were actually doing was giving money to my parents. They took it away from me and I never saw it again, not for college or anything else. I had to write a thank-you note of course, thus perpetuating the myth that the cash was a much appreciated gift. It was appreciated all right, just not by me. For this reason I give children books and toys. Teenagers might get cash or gift cards, but ONLY if I know that THEY will be the ones to spend it. If I give an infant a gift it is always boring and practical-onesies or blankets, for example, and that would be at a baby shower. Toddlers and small children get books or toys from the dollar store. As people have already pointed out, kids are usually happy playing with the boxes the toys come in anyway. An account that will allow deposits of ‘as little as’ $15?!? If $15 is such a small amount to you, you don’t need my contributions anyway, and can probably afford a larger apartment as well. Asking how you can tactfully suggest donations to your child’s college fund instead of gifts for the child is like asking how you can tactfully suggest that you prefer presents for yourself instead.
@ Alexis I’m shocked at what your parents did. Evil Enna would want to “accidentally” drop parents in it!
I have a feeling Alexis isn’t alone in having never used her monetary gifts. I remember getting to pick things out with mine, but it was never necessarily things I wanted, it was more things my parents insisted I needed. So, sure it was for me, but not necessarily the carefree purchases I would have made on my own.
One final thought on the registries thing – the difference between friends/family telling people what you want/need and a registry is friends and family will say, “They’d need a toaster.” Registry says, “They want this specific toaster that costs more than you make in a day, and you can only buy it at this store, even if you can get a better deal elsewhere.” Like I said before, I like the concept of registries very much, but think they have become horribly abused. As for me, I had family insist I had to register as well. I didn’t, because I personally didn’t want to and neither did my husband. I gave my mom and sister a list of about 10 household items that we could use, and then said if people asked they could recommend an item off the list or simply tell the person if they wished to give a gift they could give us the one thing they found most useful in their life/home/kitchen, etc. We received many lovely things. 🙂
Thanks for the responses, everyone (even the ones alighting me on fire)! I think I did a poor job explaining some of the situations involved in my original post, so here I go trying to dig myself out…
I’ve attended a lot of 1-year-old parties lately, because that’s the age group of mothers I spend most of my time with. The first thing I noticed is that even if you say “no gifts,” people bring them anyway. The second thing is the child whose birthday it is hardly even pays the gifts any mind. They don’t open the presents themselves, and don’t even realize what they are. I got my nephew a toy dump truck because he LOVES dump trucks… but 4 or 5 other people also got him the same toy dump truck. It made me feel like I did a terrible job choosing a gift for him, even though when I asked what I should get him, I was told, “Oh, he loves dump trucks!” I’m certain they took a few of the dump truck toys back to the store, which is practical, but has never really sat well with me. If someone got my daughter a toy that I ended up taking back to the store, I’d be mortified if they asked later “So, does she like the toy I got her?” Then, I’d either have to lie and say “Oh yes!” or tell the truth and possibly upset them.
I was with a girlfriend and running my quandary past her, and she was the one who suggested bringing deposit slips to the party. I was like, “Are you sure?” and she said, “That’s what I’d do, and I’d take one if you had them.” Which is why I thought maybe that kind of thing was more acceptable than I’d thought…
My husband has a huge family, and they’d be disappointed if there was no party. I’ve also invited some of my friends who have kids about the same age as my daughter, because I’ve gone to their birthday parties. It’s not going to be anything spectacular – probably just a BBQ-type thing with some cupcakes – and I’ve already been asked about what to get her. I mention the college fund then (which is indeed a 529), but otherwise haven’t really specified anything to get or not to get.
I must apologize for the “as little as $15” thing. A lot of the other college savings we looked at had minimum deposits of $50, which seemed way too much for our tastes, so when we found the 529 for $15, it really did seem like “just $15.” I do understand that you can get things, like books, for babies for less than $15, and again offer my apologies for being crass about that.
On the topic of books, having a book-themed baby party is a great idea! I’d been having trouble trying to determine what to “theme” it, and having it book-themed is a fantastic idea that I’d never have thought of myself. So what say the Ehell posters to this on the invitation: “No gifts necessary, but if you feel the need to get her something, she’d love a book with a message from you inside.” And there will be no further talk of money donations! 🙂
“One final thought on the registries thing – the difference between friends/family telling people what you want/need and a registry is friends and family will say, “They’d need a toaster.” Registry says, “They want this specific toaster that costs more than you make in a day, and you can only buy it at this store, even if you can get a better deal elsewhere.” ”
Once again, I don’t think that’s necessarily what a *registry itself* says- I think that’s the attitude of the *couple.* A registry itself is not inherently rude or greedy- it’s all in the attitude of the couple and how they use it. So, it could be the “We need this specific, super-expensive toaster that you must buy here even if you find it cheaper elsewhere” attitude mentioned above, or it could be “We happen to really like this reasonably priced toaster. We happened to find it at this store, but it doesn’t really matter.”
It’s the attitude of the couple behind it that makes a registry objectionable- not the registry itself.
That would be lovely! My kids have many inscribed books from friends and will keep them for theirs own children.
I agree with Admin. Don’t mention gifts on the invites, accept any gifts graciously, donate the toys to charity and put your own money or money voluntarily given into the savings account.
I think the OP is far too over the top for a baby’s first birthday. I never ever give money or ask for money but I do give fun and quirky gifts that people love. Your post shows how ungrateful you would be if a guest brought a gift rather than give money