Life Advice


Health & Spirit

Don't bring gifts to a 'no gifts' birthday party

Carolyn Hax on

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Dear Carolyn:

Most of my friends have specified "no gifts" on their invitations for their kids' birthdays and I always abide by it because: (1) Why say it if you don't mean it?; and (2) If we throw a party for my baby, I will say "no gifts" and 100% mean it.

Yet every time I go to a birthday party where this is specified, I'm one of the only people who hasn't brought a gift for the kid and I feel terrible. What are we supposed to do?

-- No Gifts

Not bring gifts, as instructed.


And don't feel terrible, either. You're being tough on yourself just for not conforming, and that's an impulse worth breathing deeply through till it passes.

You can help the cause here, too: When you have a party for your child, specify that you'd prefer not to receive gifts but will be collecting X for Y charity, if anyone would like to contribute. That way the can't-arrive-empty-handed crowd will have an outlet, people with too much stuff won't be weighed down by more, and people in need will get a break.

Dear Carolyn:

Just a few thoughts about the wife in Monday's column who loved her exes more than she loves her husband. I think people confuse feelings that meet their fairy-tale expectations as "in love." I think of those as lust. The men she wrote about only gave her an illusion that she "loved" them, because it fit the fairy tale she wanted.


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