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Deposit Slips Can Be A One-Way Ticket To Ehell

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.


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Threepenny July 13, 2011, 9:19 am

    Wow. That is all I can say, except that if Admin were to put you on a spit and roast you in Ehell, I would gladly light the match.

    This is greed, pure and simple.

  • Hemi Halliwell July 13, 2011, 9:20 am

    No matter how much you would prefer college money over toys, there will always be someone who is going to buy toys for a child anyway. Take admin’s advice- accept graciously and then donate, return or sell.
    There really is no way to say “Please don’t buy my daughter a stupid toy; give me money instead!”, without breaching etiquette and coming across as a gimme pig mommy.

  • Zhoen July 13, 2011, 9:23 am

    Buying fun toys, one of which might become a loved child’s favorite, is a real joy. Depositing money is not fun. Follow admin’s advice on what to do with the excess toys, and be grateful you have so many generous people in your child’s life. Don’t even think of telling them how to be generous.

  • karma July 13, 2011, 9:24 am

    Well said, admin! Well said! At the end of the day two things are true:
    1. Your kid is your own to raise, feed, clothe, and send to college if that is your wish. Nobody, and I mean nobody, has any stake in that kid’s college fund but you and the kid. Close family is probably interested, but they still are not stakeholders and don’t owe squat.
    2. Some folks don’t want to give money. They just don’t. That’s totally their prerogative, and their reasons just don’t matter.

  • Snowy July 13, 2011, 9:29 am

    If you really want to avoid new, loud toys without coming across crassly, wait until someone asks and say, “You know, I’d really love a book. Maybe one you loved as a child. It can be one she’s not ready for yet–I’m already reading to her, and she’ll grow into it as I do.” No toy. A minimal-space gift. A way to build a bit of a bond with the giver, between the two of you and them and your child. And something very easy to exchange if you get a duplicate.

    If you have a party for her (aren’t those really for the parents at that age?), make it “book themed.” No one *has* to make a gift of a book, but it plants the idea.

    If you say kid toys only last a year at most, then put away the new toys you get somewhere, and as her current toys break, you can pull out the “new” ones.

    But whatever they give you–or don’t give you–just remember to be gracious. And remember that it is not up to anyone but you to fund your child’s education.

  • Wink-n-Smile July 13, 2011, 9:29 am

    What did she mean, they can deposit as little as $15? Don’t banks accept any amount of money in an already established account? I know they like to have a minimum amount to *start* the account, but after that, don’t they accept any amount of deposit?

    Unless you’re participating in their bank-gift-grab, in which case they set a minimum acceptable level for gift-giving. For some people, $15 is too much to give, especially for a 1st birthday.

    I’m so glad the OP wrote in, first, asking what to do, rather than doing it, and then asking what she did wrong. Good for you, OP, for having the sense to ask, first!

  • Twik July 13, 2011, 9:35 am

    I don’t think it’s greed – it’s human nature to sometimes look at a collection of gifts that are not, let’s say, specifically tailored to your inclinations, and think,” Hmm, there should be a way to ensure that the money people *want* to spend on me (or Baby) actually goes to something we would like to receive. Wouldn’t that avoid a lot of wasted money and effort?”

    Unfortunately, I’ve never seen a polite way to do so, but I wouldn’t roast someone who was simply wondering if it would be possible to find that method.

  • Wink-n-Smile July 13, 2011, 9:35 am

    For small children’s birthday parties, I like to give a gift, watch them open it, and then watch them play with it and enjoy it. It gives me warm fuzzies, regardless of my relationship to the child.

    Donating to a college fund? Luke-warm fuzzies, at best, and that’s for a relative I love. You see, if I watch them use and enjoy the gift, I know they’ll get good use out of it. The college fund MAY be used for college. Or it may be used to buy a car or to tour Europe. Or the child may die before ever reaching college, and never get to enjoy my gift, at all. Or the child may go to college and promptly flunk out. Or the child may decide not to go to college, at all, and become a plumber, instead (good living there, and you can enjoy the hands-on work, knowing you’re helping people, and seeing the immediate results of your work – go plumbers!), and if the child decides to do blue-collar work, instead, there’s the possibility that the parents will keep the college fund for themselves, and then where did my gift go?

    If I do donat to a savings program for the child, I put it in the child’s name, with no strings attached. And if the child wants to use it to buy a bicycle when they turn 10, that’s fine with me.

  • gramma dishes July 13, 2011, 9:43 am

    Although it may possibly not apply to a one year old, I can assure you that part of the fun of a birthday is opening the presents. True, you child may actually prefer the boxes and packaging to the actual toys, but the delight in seeing the child’s reaction and her facial expression is priceless to the gift giver.

    We do give our grandsons gifts. We also choose to hand Mommy or Daddy a separate envelope with a check precisely intended to the child’s college fund. But the children still have a gift to open. And we ‘donate’ the the college fund because we WANT to, not because we were directed to do so.

    Quite frankly if we were told to do it, we probably wouldn’t want to. I’m very stubborn that way.

  • Anna July 13, 2011, 9:49 am

    Are you really celebrating your daughter#s first brithday? And are you really expecting gifts for her?

    Well, maybe this is an American custom, but here in Germany, at least as far as I know, birthday parties for kids are thrown for them when they have come to an age where they can appreciate it, which is clearly not going to happen in the first 12 month of their life.

    And usually, adults aren’t invited to such a party. It would be a kid’s party with child specific gifts who can also be appreciated by the guest of honor.

    For me, expecting gifts “as little” als 15$ for a first year old is nothing but greed.

  • Hanna July 13, 2011, 9:49 am

    You simply cannot tell people what to give to you as a gift. That’s why I as a general rule, think registers are tacky. The people in your life don’t have to give you anything at ALL, and you have the audacity to tell them exactly what you want from them?

    I, too do not like the idea of piling up a 1-year old with even more loud, plastic toys that will be useless in a number of months. So, let people know it’s a “no gifts birthday party” (or don’t have one at all. I’m sure the 1-year old won’t mind). If you want people to give deposits of money to the child for a college fund instead, be the first example of that, and instead of buying her presents for her birthday, let people know you’ll be depositing that money you would have spent into her college fund instead. You never know, people might respond with, “Oo, that’s a good idea, can I do that for your daughter too?”

    People buy toys for 1-year olds because it’s fun. Giving money is not fun. You must understand that. If you don’t want the excess toys (or the excess plastic hair clips), simply don’t have a huge party for a 1-year old. When my sister’s oldest daughter turned one, she and her husband had a nice little quiet evening with her (cake included), just the three of them. That’s what I’d like to do for my children until they at least reach the age where they know what the heck is going on.

  • Alex July 13, 2011, 9:50 am

    I agree with others already. There has never been and never will be a classy way to ask for money over gifts, anytime it happens the person seems rude and ungrateful and a lot of times people will not buy anything or give money on principle. As already mentioned your best bet is to:

    1. if someone asks you for gift ideas tell them about the college fund.
    2. return the gifts given and put that money yourself in the college fund.

  • livvy July 13, 2011, 9:51 am

    Your preferences can be interpreted as expectations, which is the heart of the problem. Any gift is a wonderful, unexpected surprise, and is meant to be a token of affection from the giver to the receiver. Therefore, as admin explains so well, you cannot show the slightest sign that you even know anyone would think of doing such a thoughtful thing. Miss Manners even says it’s rude to put “no presents” on birthday invites, because the mere mention of presents suggests an obligation.
    (I will say, that’s one area where I am willingly rude – I’d personally rather be a little gauche and confirm that I have zero expectations of a present, I just want their company!)

  • GEna July 13, 2011, 9:56 am

    I think we are unnecessarily roasting the OP. When my child was young, there were certain people that I knew were going to buy her gifts (grandparents, aunts, etc), so it’ not as if I equated the birthday with “expecting” gifts – she was getting them whether I expected them or not. And I don’t think it’s greedy, if asked, to suggest the person give money to the college fund. If they want to, fine, if not that is also fine.

    Nobody owes your kids a college fund? that’s true, but nobody owes them toys either. And I have found that many people (grandmothers mostly) would get upset that they gave my daughter a toy, a week later they would ask her “What did grandma give you?” and she wouldn’t know.

  • Angelica July 13, 2011, 10:05 am

    I have to disagree with you here. I think it’s WAY more rude to allow your guests to waste their time shopping for gifts that you know you don’t want, need, or have room for. Maybe it looks better to everyone on the surface, but it seems really unfair that your guests will be going out of their way to shop for your baby when you know you’ll just be selling or donating what they give you. I thought etiquette was supposed to be about respecting others, not creating a facade and deceiving your close friends and relatives. I think the OP should mention the fund as an OPTION for gifts, either in the invitations or in person, but also leave open the option of giving traditional gifts. That way it doesn’t look like she’s grubbing for money (although I’m not really sure why that would be the case since the money is for her baby, not her, and guests are going to be spending money on gifts anyway), but the guests also don’t have to waste their time and energy shopping if they don’t choose to.

  • J's Mama July 13, 2011, 10:08 am

    My ds just turned two, but I remember all of the gifts he received when he turned one. He got way more than what he would ever play with, however my husband and I thanked each person for their gift and sent a thank you note after the party, mentioning the gift. The money he did receive, went into his bank account, and if there were toys he couldn’t play with or received duplicates of, those were taken to the store and accept a store credit. You might consider doing something like that.

    Please do not give people a deposit slip or tell them to give your child money. That is so gimmy gimmy, that I believe I stick a giftcard in a card and call it a day.

  • SHOEGAL July 13, 2011, 10:09 am

    Wow is right!!!! There is absolutely no way to do this. It may be your preference – but you can’t stipulate the items your daughter receives as gifts. In fact, you should be inviting guests because you want them to share in the occasion – and not purely to walk in the door and hand your child a gift. I agree with the admin completely.

    I recently received a wedding invitation from my cousin and enclosed was the registry information. I was talking to my sister about it and told her how wrong I thought it was. If I wanted that info – I could ask my aunt if and where the couple was registered or call my cousin myself. It seems the couple is assuming that I will buy them something and that they are only inviting me so I can give them a gift not share in their special day and also stipulating where I buy it and what it is!!! My sister said that things are becoming more lax in that department and more and more couples are including that information that it doesn’t seem wrong anymore. If this is the case – it is a real shame.

  • Just Laura July 13, 2011, 10:10 am

    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…

    This was the highlight of my week. This is why I didn’t have a wedding registry. I’m not going to assume I’m so wonderful that not only do I deserve presents, I also deserve to tell people what, exactly, to buy because all my friends are too stupid to shop without my wonderful and enlightened guidance.

  • SV July 13, 2011, 10:11 am

    Listen to the Admin!!! As much as I understand your feelings there is simply no polite way to tell people that you do not want their presents, just their money. Adults often get great joy in choosing and giving gifts to little ones. Three children later I can tell you that the best course of action is what the admin suggested- accept the gifts, say thank you, keep the ones that are appropriate and donate or sell the others. And get used to it..I am sure many parents on here will agree with me that if your child is just turning a year old you have a long, long road ahead of you of lots of gifts that you would not have chosen yourself. You cannot and should not dictate how people use their money, no matter how much we would like to when it concerns us directly 🙂 So relax, have some cake and enjoy your child’s first birthday!

  • AMC July 13, 2011, 10:27 am

    Just Laura- I have to disagree with you about registries. I find them very helpful when buying gifts for family and friends. No, I’m not so stupid that I can’t find a nice gift on my own. But I’m also not psychic enough to know what they really need and will use. And I don’t want to buy my cousin a toaster oven if Uncle Bob and Aunt Fifi have already purchased one for her.

    I will agree though that there is a right way (word of mouth when asked) and a wrong way (including gift info in the invitation) to notify people about registries.

  • Lace II July 13, 2011, 10:30 am

    Make people aware of the college fund in a really innoculous way. Mention it once or twice in passing. Don’t throw it out there as a sales pitch. Some people like to see little Jimmy go vroom with his new firetruck, and some people (like me) slip a twenty into a birthday card and call it a day. I’d love the idea of dropping that twenty into a time-deferred interest-bearing savings account instead, but only if the parents never came out and bluntly asked me to.

  • The Elf July 13, 2011, 10:32 am

    I sympathize with your problem – we all have too many “things” – but there is no polite way to ask for cash. It’s even sketchy to ask for no gifts, although I’ll cop to that one for birthday parties we throw for adults.

    The only thing you can do is offer up a suggestion IF people call and ask for gift ideas. I call and ask – if I’m stumped for a gift idea for a kid, I’ll call the parents and ask what size clothes the kid wears, or if he’s interested in super heroes, or if he’s started to read chapter books yet. If in that conversation, the parents slip in “Oh, Junior has so many toys already! He doesn’t really need anything.” then I get the hint and give cash. (I’ll also give the kid a book, on the grounds that you can never have too many books.)

    In conversations with your nearest & dearest (i.e. your sister or something) about the party, if the subject comes up, you can mention that you just don’t have room in your place for more toys and that you and your husband have set up a college fund. They can spread the word with the same mechanism described above, if the information is asked for instead of given.

  • Erin July 13, 2011, 10:38 am

    I like Snowy’s idea of having a book party. It’s a clever way to get something your little girl can enjoy without any of the space or obnoxious-toy problems, and without being rude.

  • Jai July 13, 2011, 10:40 am

    Why are most posters blaming the OP for asking – isn’t that the point of sites like this? So we can ask stuff before we put our foot in it? It would be a different matter if the OP wrote in to say ‘I asked for money and they didn’t give it to me!’ They aren’t, they are asking whether doing this would be a faux pas. As clearly stated, yes, it would be.

    I have a two year old. I’d MUCH rather she got money than gifts. Unfortunately, there’s no polite way to ask, so I smile nicely, keep some of the gifts (especially the ones from close relatives, even if they aren’t to my taste) and return the rest. As for parties, I held a party on my daughter’s first birthday. It wasn’t for her, she barely knew what was going on, but it certainly wasn’t for me – a lot of expense and hassle in my opinion. It was for the family – grandparents etc. – who desperately wanted to celebrate their only grandchild’s birthday. They would all load her with presents anyway, so I figure hosting a party and giving them some food and cake was a nice way to say thank you whilst allowing them to spend time with their grandaughter.

    It’s pretty much expected here that you will throw a party for your child at whatever age. (I’m in the UK, but no doubt this is not the norm even in other parts of the UK, expectations vary so much from area to area!)

    Anyway, my points:
    1) You can’t ask for money, much as you may want to.
    2) Throwing a party for a baby / toddler / child isn’t inherently ‘wrong’ in itself.
    3) Cut the OP some slack – they are trying to do the right thing!

  • Raven July 13, 2011, 10:44 am

    So this poor kid has 18 years of deposit slips to look forward to? How thrilling for them. Sure, a lot of kids’ toys are loud, busy, and sometimes obnoxious, but they are often that way because they are designed to help a child’s skill/sensory development. A lot of those irritating toys are actually good for kids! Besides, most kids’ attention spans are short enough that they’ll move on to something else soon enough. Smile. Relax. Watch your child enjoy a new, fun toy. Take pictures. This time is so short.

  • Just Laura July 13, 2011, 10:47 am

    AMC – but how many people really buy toaster ovens as presents these days? Nearly everyone gives gift cards, cash, or something special (expensive bottle of wine, crystal serving set, picture frame, family heirloom). I had no registry, and that was all I received. I didn’t have to return a single thing.

    My best registry horror story is from a wedding in Florida a few years back. Bride and Groom register at modestly-priced department store. One of their registry items was a little hand-towel set. On the day of the wedding, they received 8 of those sets. Why? Because none of the family members that purchased them wanted to note that they’d purchased it on the registry because they “wanted it to be a surprise!”
    My friends who have avoided registries have never had problems. They trust their friends to buy nice things.

  • Just trying July 13, 2011, 10:51 am

    Shopping for cute toys for a baby = FUN!!!

    Depositing money in an account for a baby who won’t use it for another 17 years = boring

    Parents who request money instead of toys = killjoys

  • Chocobo July 13, 2011, 11:03 am

    Basically, if YOU can’t think of a way to solicit money from someone without seeming like a beggar, no one else can either. Throw a nice party for the baby and never mention the gifts on invitations, verbal or written.

    I would not even say you prefer cash even when someone DOES ask for gift ideas. Personally I would not feel comfortable depositing money into someone’s general account, having to trust the parents that Ickle Bicklebee will get it, eventually, maybe. The best I can think of is IF someone asks, you can indicate that you’re trying to save for Bicklebee’s college fund, and would be happy to put aside some savings bonds written in HER name, but otherwise educational toys (which tend not to boop and beep so much) would be much appreciated.

  • AS July 13, 2011, 11:12 am

    OP, I wonder if you have read this site, or if you are new to the site. Because, if you have read the site, there is no way you’d think that asking money would be condoned. If someone asks what to get the child, mention the college fund account you opened. But otherwise, don’t mention anything about any kind of gifts. If you don’t like a gift, return it to a store, or donate it. Your daughter is not entitled to any gift, college fund or otherwise.
    I also wonder why you even think of using the phrase “stupid toy”. It seems too arrogant to call something that one of your guests might want to get the kid “stupid”. If you used the phrase only for this site, you might want to avoid distractions like these, or put it in parenthesis.

    @GEna – And I don’t think it’s greedy, if asked, to suggest the person give money to the college fund.
    The catch phrase in your above sentence is “if asked”. The admin didn’t say not to let people know about the bank account if they ask. She clearly says The only way you can possibly direct your guests to give money is if they ask you FIRST what would be an appropriate gift. The trouble in the post is that OP wants to include a message in the invitations, or have deposit slips during the party, and not that she would rather have people who will buy her daughter gifts to deposit in for a college fund.

  • many bells down July 13, 2011, 11:18 am

    @ AMC – That reminded me of one of my friends who is getting married this fall. She has 4 registries. Across the 4 registries are 6 toasters, 3 deep-fryers, and 4 Crockpots. At first I was appalled, but now I think she just didn’t really “get” that the idea of a registry is to *prevent* you from getting 6 toasters!

    @ Just Laura – I remember my stepmother haranguing me for being a “bad hostess” when I got married because I refused to register. We’d both been married before and had been living together for 2 years. We had forks and spoons and toasters. We weren’t planning on upgrading our stuff at our friends’ expense, but my stepmother insisted that we were horrible people for refusing to tell people what to buy us.

  • karma July 13, 2011, 11:31 am

    You’ve got a point, Anna. In our family, the first three birthdays of my child’s life were family-only. We went to grandma and grandpa’s house for dinner, then blew out candles on a small birthday cake. My college aged sister was there as she lived with them. That brought the total guests to 5, plus the birthday child. Nobody, including us, bought first birthday gifts.

  • Xtina July 13, 2011, 11:48 am

    Sorry, OP, there’s really no correct way to request money as a gift unless someone asks about it. And quite frankly–people enjoy giving kids toys as much for the giver’s own enjoyment of watching their present bring joy to the child, so I really don’t think many people are going to be as practical-thinking as you are being when the alternative is to make the baby laugh and play. Money is a boring choice in that case! It’s just the way things when you have children, I think. The admin’s advice is as good as you’re going to get–take what you can back to the store for a refund and deposit that into the college account; otherwise, just thank everyone appropriately for what it is–a generous gesture.

    For those who are questioning a party for a one-year-old–it’s not unusual. I held a party for my son when he turned one, but I viewed it as more a celebration of us (collectively) making it that far and a good excuse to have people over to our house for a meal to celebrate with us. Obviously, my son will not remember that party. And despite how people may react as though it’s a crime not to, no child will be traumatized because he didn’t have a birthday party every year! Past that, my husband and I have decided that we will not hold any more birthday parties for my son until he is old enough to want one. People may bring a gift or not–we won’t care as long as they show up.

  • Jojo July 13, 2011, 11:50 am

    My boyfriend and I have transferred cash into savings accounts for small children before. We quite like the idea of helping out the little one when it will be appreciated on a rainy day rather than throwing overpriced plastic at them.
    The one-year-olds I know always prefer to play with the shiny wrapping on the box rather than the toy anyway!
    We tend to give a small gift, such as a book, at the same time.
    None of the parents have ever asked us to do this in advance of our offer, however. In fact, as they have so many toys, clothes, etc, they often request that we give nothing at all but come and share some cake and some fun. It is then we ask if they would like a contribution to a savings account.
    I would be inclined to be grateful that your friends and family have chosen to give generously to your child for their first birthday and to anyone who has given cash as a gift write a thank you note saying where the money went. This will help to get your message out in time for next year.
    Alternatively, you could mention in advance to relatives that you have set up a college savings account and that a percentage of any birthday/christmas money given will go straight into that for x years and the remaining would be put to a single gift of the child’s choosing for that particular festivity ( pics of child playing with said toy in thank you letters will go down well).
    That way everyone wins and family will be happy that they’re making a contribution to sprog’s future while getting some lovely pics and to play with sprog and the new toy at the same time.

  • Ashley July 13, 2011, 11:55 am

    Ugh, I JUST got a wedding invite in the mail with a note from the bride and groom requesting cash. You could tell in the way it was written that they were attempting to be polite about it, but it just failed…I really do not think there is a polite way of going about it.

    As for the rest of it, take into consideration who your guests are. If you have a family that is used to first birthday parties, maybe they already know that the last thing a frazzled parent wants is a toy that will play “Pop Goes the Weasel” fifty times in a row each time a particular button is pressed. My niece’s first birthday happened recently. There were about 30 guests. She got 5 toys and about 30 outfits to help keep her dressed for the next while. Why? Because all the guests were people who had kids and KNOW what it’s like to get loud noisy toys as gifts for their kids.

  • --Lia July 13, 2011, 12:01 pm

    There used to be a rule of thumb for children’s birthday parties: One guest for each year. A 4 year old invites 4 guests. A 10 year old invites 10 guests. Obviously there might be reasons for exceptions, but it’s not a bad idea to keep in mind that if you’re really celebrating for the child, keep the numbers down to a level where the child won’t be overwhelmed and overstimulated. So the first thing that went through my mind was how the OP was going to tell one guest that they wanted money, not presents.

    Another idea: Just as you read to children before they understand, establish the habit of giving to charity before they understand. After the guests are gone and the presents opened, choose, with your child, one gift to go straight to a charity. During the Christmas season, many places will collect new, unopened toys. You can wait for Christmas, or you can do some looking ahead of time. It can become a game. Now, which of these nice toys would you like to donate? Younger children will choose their least favorite. Older children will start to think about what someone less fortunate would like.

    Other than that, all I can say is to add my WOW to the others. Bad enough that weddings have turned into profit-making enterprises for the marriagees. Now it’s first birthdays? Give me a break.

  • Serenity July 13, 2011, 12:05 pm

    I agree with Admin. It is rude to ask for money, even for a college fund. And it is also rude to expect that each guest would be able to give $15 or more. For example, maybe Great-Grandma who is 90 can only afford $5 because she only receives $200 social security per month. I think it is rude to assume that you know all the details of your guest’s financial status. Just accept whatever toys are given, make sure you at least act like you appreciate it, and send thank you notes. Then, like Admin said, you could sell or donate the unwanted items. And budget to set aside money for the college fund from you and your husbands paychecks each month.

  • Asharah July 13, 2011, 1:12 pm

    I have a fond memory of arriving at my nieces second birthday party and having her greet me at the door with a “Thank You!” as she takes the big gift wrapped box out of my hands. You can’t put a price-tag on a memory like that.

  • Riri July 13, 2011, 1:18 pm

    Good for OP for asking before doing! I totally understand not wanting a specific type of gift, but gifts are gifts; cannot be demanded and must be appreciated no matter what the gift is (unless it is like a disease or rabid animal or something). Good advice from Admin!

  • Sarah Jane July 13, 2011, 1:34 pm

    I have never heard of anyone setting out deposits slips at a child’s birthday party. I’m so glad the OP asked before doing any of this.

  • Lucy July 13, 2011, 1:45 pm

    Lighten up on registries.

    I just bought a wedding gift for a cousin that I’ve never known well and haven’t seen in person in ten years. I still wanted to send a wedding gift, but obviously there is no earthly way for me to tell what he and his fiancée could need in their home–they live literally at the other end of the country and I’ve never seen their apartment. I could ask, but doesn’t a registry answer that question for me? If I were familiar with their everyday lives then, yes, I am plenty smart enough to choose a gift. It’s not about the bride and groom thinking the guests are too dumb or too thoughtless to pick something out: It’s about helping out those of us who honestly don’t know what they might need.

    My cousin’s registry list was far from egregious. I sent towels.

    I don’t live near any of my extended family: If I were getting married, they would definitely want a registry to give them some ideas. I think it’s also worth pointing out that it spares the couple getting duplicates and having to decide whose to return. I wouldn’t want to tell my great aunt that her Crock-Pot didn’t make the cut out of the three I received, because if she were to visit, she would notice that the Crock-Pot I had wasn’t the one she gave me.

    You are not obligated to buy a gift off of the registry list. It’s a suggestion, not a gift-hijacking. (Okay, it’s a gift-hijacking for some people, but every list from which I’ve ever bought has been mostly practical items.)

  • Tracy July 13, 2011, 2:59 pm

    Anna, it is VERY common in the U.S. to throw a party for the first birthday. This party is generally considered to be “for adults,” not the birthday child, but digging into your first birthday cake is a time-honored tradition. And yes, gifts are very common as well.

    OP, in the future, you might consider limiting your own toy purchases and putting that money in the college fund instead, and then let friends and relatives buy the fun stuff as gifts.

    Also, what’s with the hating on registries? The fact that I like you enough to go to your wedding doesn’t mean I know what kind of towels you prefer or if you already have a full set of glassware.

  • Just Laura July 13, 2011, 3:04 pm

    many bells down:
    No registry? And I bet you wound up with many lovely presents anyway.
    A member of my family said something akin to what your step-mother told you. I responded that she was absolutely correct that I needed a registry. Obviously she was ill-informed on trends and her taste was atrocious, so she couldn’t be trusted to buy me something – I’d have to go register right away! She looked shocked for a second, then laughed – said she hadn’t thought of it that way. 🙂

  • Clair Seulement July 13, 2011, 3:35 pm

    I so feel for the poster, while agreeing completely with the sentiments of the admin. My comment is addressed toward some of the other comments: the OP’s point is that while toys are cute, toy accumulation is wasteful. She knows that people find it fun. It’s also fun to drive a speedboat, even though there’s really not much in the way of defensible values behind the practice. A family friend recently had a child and I heard through word of mouth that she’d mentioned trying not to buy a lot of toys for the baby (herself), since they add up. When I paid a visit, out of respect for her views and support of the way she wanted to raise her child, I brought some practical baby items instead. Because it wasn’t about me.

  • Margaret July 13, 2011, 4:02 pm

    I totally understand wanting cash for college instead of toys. However, as other commenters have clearly stated, people love giving toys to kids. I’d let the grandparents and siblings know about the existence of the college fund, and I’d also ask them to let people know that space was very limited in your apartment if they are asked what to get. Maybe someone will want to give money and a token gift, and that’s great. Probably not. I usually tell people that my kids don’t need anything, but I prefer things that get used up (e.g. craft supplies) or outdoor toys. If my kids are into something, I’ll mention it. The problem is that even my 8 year old, if asked what he wants, will usually just mention the last toy that he saw in a commercial without really giving it much thought.

    This is just something that all parents deal with. Get used to it!

  • Bint July 13, 2011, 4:13 pm

    “they can deposit as little as $15, so it’s not going to break anyone’s bank”

    Please take a step back and read the massive assumption here. I applaud you for asking for advice, but when my husband was unemployed that would have destroyed me in any given month. And ‘as little as $15’? What is that, the minimum amount acceptable for a 1 year old? I can buy two books for less than that that will last them a lifetime of memories and passing them on.

    Alongside the advice given, I would add that being given a deposit slip at a party, or emailed one, unless I had asked you beforehand to provide one, would be a guaranteed way to anger and disgust. This is something that gets missed out. Alongside the etiquette faux pas, this is the way to hurt people’s feelings – to make them feel that all you want from them is your money, and that your values are therefore very different from their own, and not ones they want to share. Please relax and enjoy your baby. Please don’t try to control or invoke people’s generosity. It is the fastest way to lose it. Give me a deposit slip without me asking and I will be both angry and very, very hurt.

  • anymousie July 13, 2011, 5:20 pm

    “and they can deposit as little as $15, so it’s not going to break anyone’s bank”

    To a college student, that is nearly a weeks worth of groceries.
    And I sure can find a nice gift for a ONE YEAR OLD for a lot less than $15. For example, most children’s books are about $5, and a cute stuffed animal about the same. Original poster, there is no way you can spread the word (short of people actually asking you what to get her) to give you money, especially with a minimum amount, with out looking like a money-grubbing person.

  • Etta Kett July 13, 2011, 6:02 pm

    Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but I have to agree with those who think throwing anything other than a very small get together for a one year old is over the top.

  • 8daysaweek July 13, 2011, 6:07 pm

    For those asking about the $15 minimum, I suspect OP is referring to a 529 college savings plan, not just a regular bank account. We have one for our 15-month-old. Some family members have asked to contribute to that in lieu of a more traditional gift but we would never suggest it or ask. People seem to really enjoy picking out an outfit they think will look cute on her or a toy she’ll enjoy.

    Generally, it’s a good idea to remember that gifts, while sometimes customary, are almost always optional. Telling people your expectations of their optional gift to you is always rude.

  • TheBardess July 13, 2011, 7:06 pm

    “This is why I didn’t have a wedding registry. I’m not going to assume I’m so wonderful that not only do I deserve presents, I also deserve to tell people what, exactly, to buy because all my friends are too stupid to shop without my wonderful and enlightened guidance.”

    So, instead you’re going to come on here and brag about NOT having a registry and make snarky comments insinuating that people who did are puffed up on their own wonderfulness and believe themselves entitled to oodles of presents?


  • anonymous July 13, 2011, 8:20 pm

    Although it’s off topic for this OP, I’m gonna roll with the wedding registry sub-discussion.

    I think we could all save ourselves a lot of angst if we’d just accept that registries are *neither* good *nor* bad – there is no inherent moral judgement in having or not having a registry. There is no final ruling on whether people should or should not have one. They are a tool, and that is all they are. A tool you can choose to use or not depending on your lifestyle and inclinations.

    Registries are a really good idea for *some people* – people who know they will probably receive many gifts from well-meaning relatives who might not otherwise know their tastes. It happens – being close to someone is absolutely not a guarantee that they’ll know what you want and like and be able to pick it out accordingly (I’ve heard the “if you don’t know someone well enough to know what they’d like, why are you buying them a gift?” canard and it’s just wrong: I love my Grandpa very much and we are quite close, yet I have no idea what to buy him when it’s time to choose a gift. My Dad is wonderful and yet he never seems to know what I’d like. This happens a lot between relatives). It’s great for people following a more traditional life path who do need items to furnish a new home and begin a new life together. It’s great for people who don’t mind boxed (non-money) gifts, and who have a traditional family that expects a registry (in which case it can work out great for everyone).

    But just because it’s great for those people doesn’t mean it’s great for everyone.

    Registries are not great for people who already have what they need, especially if what they have is already good quality (no desire or need to upgrade to something nicer if a guest feels so moved to buy them such a gift). They’re not great for people who live in tiny apartments and have no room or use for all the *stuff* they’re going to get. They’re not great for expats who have to return to the foreign country where they live and can’t bring all that stuff with them, don’t have a use for it abroad anyway, and shipping and storage are both too expensive. They’re not great for people who don’t intend to settle after getting married: tying the knot absolutely does not mean you have to kill your wanderlust. Plenty of couples roam around the country or world for years after marriage or for the rest of their lives – marriage is not an edict to buy a house, have a kid and settle down.

    Some of the latter group may find they get gifts they don’t want or multiples, and that’s too bad, but others find that they get exactly what they want: nothing, or money, or small, thoughtful, personal gifts…or some combination thereof. We did not register, said no gifts were necessary, linked to a few charities we support on our website, and got what we figured we’d get all along: some well wishes, some charity donations, a few small gifts and a ton of cash (none of it asked-for).

    But just because registries don’t work for those people doesn’t mean they don’t work for the first group.

    So come on. Criticizing registries is like criticizing a wrench. What’s the point? It’s just a tool. Just because you might need a wrench doesn’t mean everybody does, and just because you don’t need a wrench doesn’t mean nobody does.

    Have a registry if you need/want it, don’t have one if you don’t – and don’t listen to anyone who harangues you about it, they are neither etiquette-mandated nor are they required for all couples. But don’t act like just because you wanted/didn’t want one that everyone should / shouldn’t do the same.