Holidays | Are hosts subtly expecting gifts?

(Toronto) When you receive an invitation to a birthday, wedding or baby shower, you immediately learn most of the usual details, but some mentions can be more cryptic, such as the one saying: “Your presence is our gift” , or something like that.

This idea has been in invitations for years, but remains confusing for many guests. Is it just a hollow formula? Are the hosts subtly, despite everything, expecting gifts? What will it look like if you show up to the party empty-handed, but a mountain of presents are there?

The answer, according to event planners, often depends on the host or honoree at the party, and the message they provide.

Katelyn Hipson, owner of Elegant Productions, observes that a consistent number of couples at weddings she hosts across the Maritimes ask their guests not to bring gifts, but notes that these are one of those traditions “that are hard to get rid of”.

“Even though the couple said ‘no, we don’t want that’, we still feel inclined to do that and we have to assume that even though we, as a guest, are listening to the request of the couple, […] other people won’t listen to that request,” she explains.

“There will be gifts and there will be cards given out at any wedding, or any celebration. »

Some couples don’t want wedding gifts because, unlike some previous generations, they already live together and have the household necessities traditionally given to newlyweds. Others don’t want the people who travel to join the party to spend even more and some just don’t want to put any additional financial pressure on anyone, regardless of background.

In the case of milestone birthdays, some find gifts unnecessary, and with baby showers, many have heaps of clothes, toys, and other necessities from loved ones or children who have aged.

Mixed messages

While some guests feel compelled to give a gift, even when they’ve been told not to, others are confused because some party planners’ “no-gift” requests are sometimes accompanied by notes mentioning charity, honeymoon or first home funds that guests can contribute to if they wish.

“If they offer an option, then it’s probably best to donate money to the cause that’s mentioned,” said Lauren McCormick, co-founder of Ottawa Elopements.

“But if they don’t give an option, then I would say there’s definitely a no-gift policy in place and they’re probably really sincere. »

Mme Hipson agrees and says that if he was told there were no freebies, but then a registry or fund was mentioned, “then I would think to myself that they actually want a freebie. »

She warns party planners that such messages are “confusing” and recommends that they think more carefully about their expectations and how they may be interpreted by guests before sending out invitations.

Sometimes, couples who are getting married try to make it clear that they have enough linens, kitchen gadgets and other essentials for the home, but they wouldn’t mind receiving the money or that they don’t. a donation is made to a charity, she adds.

In this case, Hipson suggests people write in their invitation that they’ve chosen not to create a registry, but that a monetary contribution toward a honeymoon, savings goal, or cause they care about would be greatly appreciated.

“Be clear, concise, and direct, because your guests don’t want those muddy ideas that say they don’t want gifts, with a link to a honeymoon fund or something like that.” , she says.

A more personal touch

When people say they don’t want gifts, but she still feels compelled to give something, Hipson writes a card and wraps a personal or sentimental item like a bottle of wine she enjoys or a craft item that would make sense.

When Mme McCormick married in an overseas wedding, she didn’t ask for any gifts ‘just because everyone had to spend so much time and money to get to where our wedding was taking place’, without expect that carrying the gifts home would have been difficult.

Mme McCormick had then recommended that people who absolutely wanted to give something prepare a card or a thoughtful note. Most listened and did not bring gifts, although a few also gave him money.

When in doubt about gifts, she and Mme Hipson agree that it is also possible to contact a family member of the people celebrating an event, or close friends, to find out their true intentions.

Better to make sure you just ask well in advance to be able to prepare any gifts in time and not have to disturb the hosts or their loved ones while the planning of the party is in full swing, recalls Mme McCormick.

But what do you do when you arrive at a party and find that everyone has brought something and you haven’t — and you now feel obligated?

Mme McCormick suggests telling the honoree that there are plans to take them out to dinner or an experience at a later date.

“It’s often more thoughtful,” she says. We offer time and an experience where we create memories. »

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