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How to politely say "no toys" for 2nd birthday party?

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LPD33 Posted: 02-04-2011 9:04 PM

I could put "no gifts necessary" on my invitations, but absolutely NO ONE I am inviting will abide by that.  They will want to buy him something. 

We don't need anymore toys for DS.  We have 2 rooms and a closet full of toys.  I kept buying them in hopes that he would actually play with them, but he doesn't really play with toys.  He is on the autism spectrum and he isn't like other children when it comes to gifts and toys.  He recently started playing with one or two toys consistently, but having too much in the room at one time overwhelms him, so we don't need anymore in our house.  Also, our friends/family get depressed when he doesn't just absolutely love the gifts they got him and truthfully, my sweetie pie will barely glance at the gifts as they are being opened. 

We got him a Backyardigans toddler bed set, a Backyardigans dvd and book, and a Discovery Toys peg board to help his motor skills.  He is in love with the Backyardigans.  We limit it to one episode a day, but he looks forward to it each and every day and has even started to sign "more" when it goes off, which is a feat in itself, so part of me wants to ask for Backyardigans items.

We wanted to build him a wooden swing set and had it all set in motion and then we started additional therapy that we are paying out of pocket and can't afford it.  If I wanted to be tacky, I could tell everyone to give us home depot cards so we could maybe build a small one Stick out tongue.  But I think that is tacky, so I don't want to do that. 

Anyway, should I just stop worrying about it and accept the toys or should I seriously tell everyone no toys please and if they want to get him a gift it can be dvds or clothes or gift cards?  I just feel like I am being awful by not wanting people to bring him toys, but seriously, I'm really depressed over the 50 different toys we already have that DS doesn't even look at as it just reminds me of the gap between him and other children. 

Anyway, what do you all think?  Feel free to tell me I am horrible, but I am seriously stressed about another party with toys.  Christmas was unbearable as everyone kept saying, "I really thought he'd like it" and giving me sad faces and then I had to go home and just stack the boxes up in his bedroom closet. 

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Onebabysofar replied on 02-04-2011 9:15 PM

Personally I don't think I would find it tacky if you chose to go with home depot gift cards.  Maybe show a picture of what you want to buy/build and say that for "DS's birthday we would love to build him this play set.  I know he is really hard to please in the "toy"department, and we just know he will love to play on this.  While gifts are certainly not necessary, if you would like to contribute to this idea, gift cards would be a huge help." 

Personally, I think I would prefer to pay toward a gift that I knew he would enjoy rather than buying a toy that will (even if he did like it) end up in the bottom of a toy bin in a few weeks. 

Maybe my opinion on this has a lot to do with me not wanting my DS to get a ton of toys for his upcoming birthday.  We are already have too many too.  Stick out tongue

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FleecyJ replied on 02-05-2011 12:15 AM

I think the previous poster's idea is great.  I feel like birthdays are a little more personal and the guests will genuinely want to contribute to something worthwhile.

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beandance replied on 02-05-2011 12:27 PM

I put "no gifts please, your presence is the best gift we could receive" on DS's invitation.  Only a couple of people gave gifts anyway.  I went to one party that requested no gifts and said something like "if you are moved to give a gift, please make a donation to our son's favorite charity".  Another idea is that you could say on the invite is that gifts received will be donated or even make that the theme of the party - select a local charity or organization that helps children and ask guests to bring a toy for that group.

Around where I live it is almost becoming trendy to do that!

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alstroemeria2806 replied on 02-05-2011 2:56 PM

 Another idea is that you could say on the invite is that gifts received will be donated

We attended a 2 yr old birthday party where the parents did this. They know some people just hate attending a party empty handed, so they just let them know ahead of time that the gifts would be donated to a local children's charity. A few people did bring things. 

I think the gift cards toward the swing set idea is a great one, too. I think most of all, guests want to contribute something the child will enjoy, so if you give a great suggestion like that, I'm sure you'd get a lot of help!


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LPD33 replied on 02-05-2011 3:39 PM

I have heard that many areas have the "no gifts or gifts to charity" as more of a norm.  I live in the south and if you have a birthday party to attend, you bring a gift for that child :).  It is mostly my friends from high school and family and a couple mothers from our playgroup that are coming, but my childless friends really LOVE buying my little guy gifts.  I think I will mention the swing set to them.   I thought about not doing a party this year, but last year everyone had an awesome time and I've already gotten calls from friends about when his second birthday is going to be, so a party it is.  I did remember, though, that my friends are pretty cool about gift receipts, so maybe I can take the toys back and buy diapers and such with the money Embarrassed

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BabyCatcher replied on 02-05-2011 3:41 PM

Oh, yes.  I think the swing idea would be wonderful.  I think people would be delighted to know that they are pitching in to get your child something he will really like and use.  Esp if you do use the photo so people can see what it is.  I know that if I received and invite like that I'd be really happy.  Everyone wants to get a child something they will like, and I would find it quite a relief and help to have someone say "this."  But then I'm also speaking as a mom with a 2 year old who has to clear the couch of toys in order to find a spot to nurse my baby. I think I will use that idea for my son's next birthday! 

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pammi1101 replied on 02-14-2011 8:46 PM

as someone who almost dislikes trying to buy presents for my neices because they have rooms full of toys and then get a car load or two more at xmas; I LOVE the idea of contributing to something a child will actually use and like. i always buy somethign and feel like i'm doing it more for thier parents to say 'look i bought a gift' but really they open it, toss it aside and open the next one... then who knows what happens when they get home. one gift i bought i found in the closet unopened when i babysat several months later.

I love how the previous poster phrased it as well. i think especially if it is close friends and family who know your situation they will totally understand and want to contribute something to a gift he will use and enjoy. i would even maybe go get a picture of him on a sample if the store has one out! (and or send out pictures of him using it after).

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blueangelmilw replied on 02-15-2011 11:50 AM

I agree that "Your presence is requested -- not your presents!" would be good to mention in your invitations.

Of course, some people just can't go to a party empty-handed and will want to bring something. For those people you might want to use a generic gift registry like That way, you can list the Backyardigan DVDs that you don't already have, as well as any educational toys that may be appropriate for your LO. There's also an option for money donations. Ours promises that the money will go into DD's savings account. Yours could say it'll go toward his new swing set. Most people would rather put a check in a card than donate online, which is fine. But the service is a polite way of asking for money without sounding greedy.

Does he like puzzles? I found some good ones at Also, have you seen Oriental Trading Company's website? It's an educators' supply house. They've got some great stuff that your DS might actually enjoy. It's not a toy store by any stretch of the imagination. And you can't beat the prices. Again, using the registry website, you can choose the "toys" in advance and your guests can feel pretty confident that he'd get some use out of them. Admittedly, I know very little about about ASD, so I might be way off base here. Just throwing ideas out there for ya.


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rhesp1212 replied on 02-15-2011 5:55 PM

I would go with the gift card thing or making donations to a charity ideas if it were me. But, if you're not comfortable with that another option would be to take him to some place like Toys R Us if possible and let him pick out toys that he might like (Backyardigans, etc.) and put them on a wishlist. Ask people to buy things off the wishlist only.

Does he like books? If so, you could request books only to help build up your son's library!

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eabaldwin replied on 02-15-2011 6:46 PM


I just recently sent out invites for DD's first birthday party, and this is what I said:

We really hope that you can join us for Katie’s first birthday.  Please don’t feel like you need to bring a gift.   She doesn’t really need anything, and we would rather have you with us to share in this special day.  If you would like to bring something for her, she could always use more board books!

I just printed out 4 on a sheet of paper, cut them up, put a Very Hungry Caterpillar sticker on the top (the "theme"), and stuck one inside each invitation.  We invited only family and a few close friends.  Most of my family don't have a lot of money, and I didn't want them to feel like the couldn't/shouldn't come just because they can't afford to buy her a gift.  Plus, we don't really  have room for tons more toys in our little house!  Stick out tongue  I tried to write something cutesy and rhyme-y, but I decided to just be straight to the point.  


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